June in Review

My cruise was fabulous! It was my first one and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to go on another one. Unfortunately, I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked. There was just so many things on the ship to do! I did get to spend some time in the beautiful library though, which was great.

June was a pretty good reading month for me. Since I’m no longer commuting to work, I have not been listening to audio books. It was kinda strange not to have any this month, but without the commute I don’t have the patience to listen.

I got five books read this month. Here they are:

  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman
  • Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
  • The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum

I’m not sure any of these will go on my favorites of 2010, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t good. I think Half a Yellow Sun and The Red Tent were probably the best of the bunch.

July looks promising with so many good books to choose from. I am currently reading Pat Conroy’s South of Broad which I bought at the airport after accidently/stupidly putting my books in with the luggage I checked. I’m glad I did though, or I might not have had the chance to read this great book! I have about 200 pages left, but so far it’s fabulous. I think To Kill a Mockingbird is going to finally be read by me this month. The others I have yet to decide.

I hope everyone had a good June!

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!

Secrets of Eden

Book: Secrets of Eden

Author: Chris Bohjalian

Short Summary:
The night of her baptism by the Reverend Stephen Drew, Alice Hayward is strangled by her abusive husband. He then went on to shoot himself. Soon, however, there are doubts about the murder, suicide, and who exactly was involved. Told through the perspective of four characters, the secrets of that one fateful night are slowly revealed.

My Review:
I listened to the audio book of this one, and I thought it was great. One thing I really enjoyed about this book was the telling of the story through four different perspectives. While I sometimes find this technique to be overused and inneffective, such as in Mudbound, in this case it worked. I also liked that each character told a whole quarter of the book. This really helped me get into their heads and understand their characters. It was much more effective than boucing back and fourth every chapter.

The four voices used in the audio book and the writing to represent the Reverend Stephen Drew, State Attorney Catherine Benencasa, author and angel loving Heather Laurent, and Alice and George’s teenage daughter, Katie Hayward were all very distinct and made this book interesting to listen to.

Some may say that the conclusion of the book was predictable and I would agree, but it did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. Secrets were revealed little by little, which kept the suspense high throughout the entire book.

If you like a highly suspenseful, well written story, this one is for you.

My Rating: 4.25/5

Limitations

Book: Limitations

Author: Scott Turow

Short Summary:
Judge George Mason, who has appeared in other Turow books, is the judge on a rape case involving several men. The rape happened a few years ago, but evidence has just arisen. This case stirs up some old memories for George that make him start to questions himself and his abilities as a judge. Meanwhile, he is getting threatening emails and text messages from an unknown perpetrator. Turow leaves the reader pondering the limitations of the law and the limitations of the people who are meant to uphold it.

My Thoughts:
I liked this book, didn’t love it. I listened to this one and it was short and to the point, yet moved slightly slowly. There are times when I crave a good legal thriller, but this book spent much more times outside the courtroom than in. I could have used more courtroom scenes that pulled me in. Turow’s Presumed Innocent were full of them and I was left wanting more out of this one.

I love the title of this books. The story dealt with the statutes of limitations according to the law, but it dove into the limitations we as humans feel to live to their full potential.

Many of the characters from Turow’s previous books make an appearance in this book. It’s always fun to see the return of a character you got to know so intimately in the past. Rusty Sabich from Presumed Innocent makes a brief appearance, which got me looking forward to the sequel of that book titled Innocent, coming out later this year.

If you like books dealing with the moral implications of the law at a relatively slow pace, you will enjoy this one. If you want more action and intense courtroom drama try one of Turow’s earlier works.

My Rating: 3.25/5 stars

April in Review

May already? Wow. First I want to apologize for being MIA lately. I had a computer malfunction last weekend. I’m back up and running, but things are a little tricky and I’m working out some kinks.

That being said, April was a pretty good month. I started doing Soundtrack Saturday and Sunday and hope to continue that. I am such a music lover and the idea from alita.reads is a great one! I got through 6 books, 4 read, 2 audio, and 1 movie based on a book. Here is what I read:

In April I also got to go see Billy Elliot the musical and Ben Folds, my all time favorite musician!

My favorite book of the month was Let the Great World Spin, but Ella Minnow Pea comes in a close second. Very different books, but both great.

I am currently reading The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson and Mudbound by Hilary Jordan. I am listening to Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian. All of them are great so far.

May is my last month of school, and I really don’t have much planned for the summer except a one week cruise with the family. I’m hoping to fit in a ton of reading during this summer, maybe fitting in some big ones like Beach Music or Pillars of the Earth. We shall see.

I hope everyone had a great month!

City of Thieves

Book: City of Thieves

Author: David Benioff

Short Summary:
This is the tale of two men during World War II, Lev and Kolya, who find themselves cellmates in jail, and then off on an unusual mission to find a dozen eggs for a colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake. Lev, a young insecure teen and Kolya, a confident former member of the red army embark through Leningrad and the surrounding areas to find these eggs that could save their lives. Along their tiring, dangerous journey, the two form an unbreakable bond.

My Thoughts:
I had a little bit of a hard time with this book. I think part of it was due to the fact that I listened to it. I listen to audio books on my way to work and my school’s spring break happened to fall after I had finished the first half of the book. There was a week break until I listened again, which made the story choppy and interrupted. This is obviously not the fault of the author or story, but my listening habits.

That being said, there were a lot of things I enjoyed in the story. Lev and Kolya had such distinctly different personalities, yet the forming of their friendship felt real and believable. Benioff wrote the story in such a way that I could actually feel the chill in the air of the cold winter Leningrad nights. The setting played a major role in this story and helped the story come alive. Another aspect of the story that I connected with was the boys’ emotions. Among death and terrible danger, the emotions of the two were so real. They could be dodging bullets at one minute, then worrying about saying the wrong or appearing nervous in front of a girl the next. These emotions gave reality to wartime and almost reminded me of Anne Frank. In her diary she was obviously fearing for her life, but still felt the normal feelings that any teenage girl would.

One other thing to note about the audio version of this book was the music interspersed throughout. I found it highly distracting and annoying. At times it was so subtle that I actually kept thinking there were weird sounds coming from my car and I should pull over. I don’t mind a little bit of music at the very beginning or very end of an audio book, but this was far too much and detracted from my overall enjoyment. I was, however, impressed with the narrator and the voices he  represented.

Although my listening of the story was sporadic and the music was annoying, I still liked this book. I didn’t love it, but it’s possible if I had read it instead of listened to it I might have. If you enjoy wartime stories, you will most likely enjoy this book.

My Rating:3.5/5 stars