Monday, January 31, 2011

too much information

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction
Challenges: 100 Book Challenge 2011, 2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge
Review: Ordinarily, I would say that lots of detail in a book is a good thing, but here I think it's a little excessive. I don't need to know the timing of a character's action to the exact minute or the brand of coffee maker they use, unless it actually furthers the plot, which it generally doesn't here. That and astonishingly large cast of characters that I had trouble keeping track of are the only reasons this book didn't get all 5 stars.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

save the best for last

Songs of Love and Death by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, eds.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Genre: anthology
Challenge: 100 Book Challenge 2011
Review: The problem with reading collections of short stories by many different authors is that there's likely to be a lot of inconsistency. Such was definitely the case here. Some of the stories were absolute dreck, some were ok, some were actually pretty good, and at least one was excellent. Unfortunately, the excellent one was the last one in the book, and it was only barely worth it to read all the stories that came before it to get to that one.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

100 book challenge 2011

You didn't really think I was going to stop with just one challenge, did you? Certain people who shall remain nameless virtually dared me to do the 100 Book Challenge, so of course I took up that gauntlet. I'll keep a running list throughout the year on this post, so check back to see how much progress I'm making.

  1. On Beauty by Zadie Smith (finished 1/9/11)
  2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman (finished 1/11/11)
  3. Songs of Love and Death by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, eds. (finished 1/20/11)
  4. Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix (finished 1/22/11)
  5. Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix (finished 1/23/11)
  6. Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix (finished 1/25/11)
  7. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson (finished 1/31/11)
  8. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (finished 1/31/11)
  9. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (finished 2/4/11)
  10. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (finished 2/9/11)
  11. Sapphique by Catherine Fisher (finished 2/11/11)
  12. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (finished 2/14/11)
  13. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (finished 2/17/11)
  14. The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton (finished 2/27/11)
  15. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (finished 3/2/11)
  16. Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore (finished 3/5/11)
  17. Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle (finished 3/7/11)
  18. Pompeii by Robert Harris (finished 3/12/11)
  19. One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde (finished 3/19/11)
  20. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (finished 3/24/11)
  21. Room by Emma Donoghue (finished 3/25/11)
  22. The Photograph by Penelope Lively (finished 3/29/11)
  23. The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers (finished 4/3/11)
  24. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (finished 4/11/11)
  25. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (finished 4/14/11)
  26. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (finished 4/22/11)
  27. A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary (finished 4/27/11)
  28. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon (finished 4/29/11)
  29. My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary (finished 4/30/11)
  30. The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer (finished 5/3/11)
  31. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (finished 5/7/11)
  32. The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury (finished 5/8/11)
  33. Aurora 7 by Thomas Mallon (finished 5/13/11)
  34. The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming (finished 5/15/11)
  35. Doc by Mary Doria Russell (finished 5/26/11)
  36. Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon (finished 5/27/11)
  37. The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford (finished 5/31/11)
  38. Where She Went by Gayle Forman (finished 6/2/11)
  39. The House on Salt Hay Road by Carin Clevidence (finished 6/9/11)
  40. Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt (finished 6/10/11)
  41. Lapham Rising by Roger Rosenblatt (finished 6/17/11)
  42. Half a Life by Darin Strauss (finished 6/21/11)
  43. SEAL of Honor by Gary Williams (finished 6/25/11)
  44. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon (finished 6/26/11)
  45. The Report Card by Andrew Clements (finished 6/29/11)
  46. The Last Refuge by Chris Knopf (finished 7/1/11)
  47. Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle (finished 7/3/11)
  48. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (finished 7/5/11)
  49. Good Eggs by Phoebe Potts (finished 7/5/11)
  50. The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman (finished 7/8/11)
  51. Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon (finished 7/10/11)
  52. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (finished 7/13/11)
  53. Encore Provence by Peter Mayle (finished 7/14/11)
  54. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert (finished 7/17/11)
  55. Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (finished 7/28/11)
  56. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (finished 8/1/11)
  57. The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer (finished 8/5/11)
  58. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (finished 8/7/11)
  59. Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler (finished 8/9/11)
  60. If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince? by Melissa Kantor (finished 8/10/11)
  61. When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman (finished 8/18/11)
  62. Love Lies Bleeding by Jess McConkey (finished 8/25/11)
  63. The Train of Small Mercies by David Rowell (finished 8/30/11)
  64. A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay (finished 9/3/11)
  65. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (finished 9/7/11)
  66. Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg (finished 9/9/11)
  67. Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian (finished 9/13/11)
  68. Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace (finished 9/16/11)
  69. Going Bovine by Libba Bray (finished 9/19/11)
  70. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (finished 9/22/11)
  71. Nightwoods by Charles Frazier (finished 9/29/11)
  72. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (finished 10/6/11)
  73. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (finished 10/7/11)
  74. My Hollywood by Mona Simpson (finished 10/13/11)
  75. Zeke Bartholomew: Superspy! by Jason Pinter (finished 10/15/11)
  76. Homer & Langley by E. L. Doctorow (finished 10/15/11)
  77. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney (finished 10/18/11)
  78. Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech (finished 10/20/11)
  79. The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian (finished 10/31/11)
  80. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (finished 11/5/11) 
  81. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (finished 11/9/11)
  82. The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd (finished 11/10/11)
  83. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (finished 11/11/11)
  84. Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire (finished 11/23/11) 
  85. The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (finished 11/24/11)
  86. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (finished 11/26/11)
  87. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (finished 11/28/11)
  88. Room by Emma Donoghue (finished 11/29/11)
  89. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart (finished 12/1/11) 
  90. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart (finished 12/3/11)
  91. The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon (finished 12/6/11)
  92. Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar (finished 12/6/11)
  93. Torn by Margaret Peterson Haddix (finished 12/8/11)
  94. No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene (finished 12/11/11)
  95. The School for the Insanely Gifted by Dan Elish (finished 12/11/11)
  96. Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix (finished 12/11/11)
  97. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green (finished 12/12/11)
  98. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (finished 12/15/11)
  99. Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix (finished 12/16/11)
  100. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (finished 12/23/11)
  101. Great House by Nicole Krauss (finished 12/31/11)

Monday, January 3, 2011

in the army

You Know When the Men Are Gone by Shiobhan Fallon
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction, short stories
Review: In this collection of short, loosely connected stories, Shiobhan Fallon tries to give the reader an insider's view of military family life. The stories all deal with an army cavalry division deployed from Fort Hood, TX to Iraq; some stories deal with the soldiers, others with their wives, and they all touch on the difficulties military families face both when they are separated for long periods of time, as well as when they are reunited.

Some of the stories ring true, like the story of a wife who is concerned that her husband has started an affair with a female soldier while he is overseas. Others strike a false note, like the one where a woman describes listening to the "wildly beating heart" of her fetus. With other stories, it seems that Fallon wrote herself into a corner she didn't know how to get of. The best example of this is the story of Meg who becomes obsessed with her new neighbor, Natalya. Natalya’s husband is deployed with Meg’s, but Natalya herself is a mystery. At the end of the story, the husbands all return (Meg’s and Natalya’s among them) and that is that. No explanation is given for any of Natalya’s actions, nor is she even mentioned in the rather abrupt conclusion.

By and large, though, these stories can be enjoyed by both military and non-military readers. They may resonate with members of the military or their family members, and will give a glimpse into military lives for those of us with no military connection.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge

I've decided it's time to take on a new reading challenge! For 2011, I'm participating in the Page to Screen Reading Challenge. My goal is to read at least 5 books that have been made into movies (and hopefully watch the movies too). All suggestions welcome!

July 13: Woohoo!  I finished Level 1!  Dare I aim for 10 books at Level 2?

  1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
  2. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
  3. The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury
  4. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  6. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  7. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
  8. Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian