Printer’s Row Lit Fest and Summer Reading

Last weekend I got to experience the Printer’s Row Lit Fest here in Chicago. It is the biggest book fair in the midwest. I signed up to volunteer, although I did more shopping than volunteering! It really was a great festival with more books than I could have imagined. There were all sorts of author events, readings, and music. I was just a “greeter” this year, which wasn’t a very demanding job, but next year maybe I’ll take on a more active role.

I bought a handful of used books while there including:

  • Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
  • A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  • Personal Injuries by Scott Turow
  • Love Walked In by Maria de Santos
  • Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo

I’m really looking forward to diving into some of these this week. I’m going on a cruise with my entire family, 18 of us. It will be busy and we will be doing lots of the excursions, but hopefully there will also be some time for some quality reading, preferably by the pool! There is also a beautiful two story library on board that I’m looking forward to checking out!

I’ve been reading a decent amount since school ended, but I really want to make it a goal to read at least a book a week this summer, but hopefully more. I have so many books sitting on my shelf just waiting to be read. In addition to the ones listed above, I also have Old Filth by Jane Gardam, The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian, Innocent by Scott Turow, The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen, and Columbine by David Cullen. Not to mention I still have to buy and read The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. There have just been too many good book sales lately!

Ah, so much reading to do, so little time. I probably won’t update for over a week since I’ll be cruising, but I hope to have many reviews to write when I return home!

The Red Tent

Book: The Red Tent

Author: Anita Diamant

Short Summary:
Dinah, the only daughter of biblical Jacob, is the narrator in this story. She tells the tale of the days of old through a woman’s perspective. With her birth mother Leah and three other “mothers” Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah she spent time in the red tent, away from the men in her family, learning the secrets of what it means to be a woman. Using what she has learned from her childhood, Dinah uses her strength and character to live an extraordinary life.

My Thoughts:
This book was like a revisit to Sunday school, but with an interesting twist. I loved how it was told from a woman’s perspective, one rarely mentioned in the bible. I don’t claim to know too much about the bible, and Dinah’s name is one I never heard. I tried reading this book when I was it first came out, but couldn’t quite get into it. I think I was too young. I am very glad I gave it another try.

This book was highly entertaining, and educational as well. The characters of the bible and the matriarchs were brought to life. Dinah was a great protagonist. She had such a deep connection to her “mother’s”. The time spent in the red tent together showed how strong the bonds of women can be.

This book had it all; love, sex, friendship, violence, betrayal, and history all wrapped in one. It was a great read which I would highly recommend.

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Girl Who Played With Fire

Book: The Girl Who Played With Fire

Author: Stieg Larsson

Short Summary:
In his second installment of the Millenium trilogy, we are once again taken into the lives of Lisbeth Salander and Mikel Bloomkvist. Two of Mikel’s co-workers and friends are murdered right before a scandalous story they wrote was to be published. Lisbeth is the prime suspect and her fingerprints have been found on the murder weapon. Bloomkvist is convinced that Salander is innocent of the crime and does all he can to prove it.

My Thoughts:
This was another wonderful effort from the late Stieg Larsson. It was easy to fall right into the story because the characters were already so familiar. I also enjoyed diving deeper and deeper into the life of Lisbeth Salander and learning more about her past and what makes her the way she is.

It’s pretty hard to write about this book without giving too much away. It definitely kept me turning page after page with wonderful suspense.

I stated this in the review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but it’s worth stating again: Lisbeth Salander kicks ass. She is seriously one of the most interesting, unique, and complicated heroines that has appeared in fiction in a long time. I can’t wait to read the next installment, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I also can’t wait for the movie of this book to come out since I was so impressed with the first one.

My Rating: 4.25/5 stars

What the Dead Know

Book: What the Dead Know

Author: Laura Lippman

Short Summary:
A woman who was in a hit and run accident claims to be Heather Bethany, one of the two Bethany sisters who disappeared from a shopping mall in Baltimore 30 years ago. Nobody can be sure she is, in fact, who she claims to be. The book alternates from the day of the disappearance to the present, with little details of the mystery unraveling throughout.

My Thoughts:
This is another one I would consider to be good, but not great. I found the mystery of the missing sisters to be intriguing and suspenseful, and the ending did not leave me disappointed. I also enjoyed the way the author took us back to the very day of the disappearance. I think I enjoyed the parts that took place in the past more than those of the present day.

I listened to this book, and while I found the parts taking place in the past very easy to follow, the ones taking place in the present were more confusing. This may not have been the case had I read the book instead of listened to it. Their seemed to be a lot of characters in the present day, many who seemed unneccessary.

While the mystery in this book was a winner, the characters were not. I found it difficult to really care for any of them. I wasn’t particularly rooting for anyone and didn’t feel invested enough in any of them to wonder how their lives would turn out. This aspect of the book left me wanting more.

I have now listened to several audio books, and one thing I cannot understand is the music chosen for these books. The music in this one was particularly bad. It seemed so out of place and would come in at the most random times. I somewhat understand the use of  a little music as a transition, but for the most part I find it unneccessary and distracting, as was the case in this book.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

May in Review

Okay, so May was not a very good month in terms of blogging or reading. I only got through 4 books, two read and two audio. I had a lot going on in my personal life and the second half of the month I was MIA from my blog. But now I am back! My summer vacation has officially started which mean lots of time to read! In the past few days I have bought 7 new books, so there will be plenty to keep me busy.

Here is what I read in May:

My favorite was The Girl Who Played with Fire and I am very much looking forward to The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Secrets of Eden was fantastic as well.

I am currently reading The Red Tent which is great so far. This month I plan to read To Kill a Mockingbird which I have never read! I also have Columbine, Half a Yellow Sun, The Stormchasers, and Innocent in sight. We shall see what I get to. I am going on a family cruise for a week at the end of the month and have to decide what to bring with!

I have been flirting with the idea of reading a graphic novel. I don’t have any, but I think I might start with Persepolis. If anyone has suggestions for a graphic novel which would be good to start with I’m all ears.

While May has not been a productive reading/blogging month, I hope that I can redeem myself in June! Happy Summer everyone!