Friday, August 21, 2009

The Sugar Queen

My brain is turning to mush like in those Hulu commercials because I read this book last week and totally forgot to post about it. To further confirm my brain-->mush theory, I actually remember very little about the book, despite having finished it only like 6 days ago.

Here’s what I can tell you –

The Sugar Queen is about Josie, who I think was in her twenties and lives in a small town and cares for her bitchy elderly mother. Then a crazy lady appears in her closet one day and it changes her life. Suddenly she’s not this lonely future-spinster, because the crazy closet lady has forced her to go out into the world and meet people and DO STUFF.

It’s mostly a sweet romance (with a touch of magic) and I rather enjoyed it for what it was. Perfect vacation or bathtub reading.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Loved it. I know there’s a lot of hype, and I caught on a little late, but when I was at Barnes and Noble buying a gift recently, there was a big table covered in this book right next to where I was waiting in line. I’d heard so many good things about it. And all I had to do was reach my hand out and… well, the rest is obvious. I bought it. And read it in like 3 days, despite it being a chunky monkey. It’s sort of an international thriller meets murder mystery - like Bourne Identity meets The Likeness, in Sweden.

I think some of the hype surrounding this book is based on the fact that the author died shortly after submitting the manuscripts for this book (and thankfully - its two sequels). Mystery surrounding mystery!

Anyways. The book is about so many things that I’m not really sure where to start. There’s the financial journalist Mikael who’s just been sentenced to 3 months in prison for libel after being tricked by a crooked financial leader about a story, and there’s Lisbeth - the tiny, spiky private investigator with man-issues. You follow their separate stories and then watch as the book brings them together to investigate the disappearance of a 16 year old girl who vanished in 1966. Somehow it (mostly) all comes together and while there were a few times where I was all, “What just happened?”, like a lot of thrillers, it either doesn’t matter that much, or things start to make sense a little bit further in.

For me, this was the type of book where I brought it to work to read during lunch, but really wanted to just shut my office door and read it all day. I didn’t necessarily feel totally satisfied at the end of the book, but they’re clearly winding you up to go right out and buy the next book in the series – The Girl that Plays with Fire, which they ensured by publishing the first chapter of it in the back of this book. So now of course I’ve read the first 10 pages of the next book and must have it. Meanwhile, I’m supposed to have a baby in like, oh ANY DAY NOW and have about a bajillion other things I should be doing, but I think instead I will buy The Girl that Plays with Fire and start it immediately.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale

I'm currently sequestered upstairs, breathing in the clean fresh air that our top floor has to offer. Jeff is downstairs, painting an elaborate system of built-in drawers and bookcases in our living room, inhaling enough toxic fumes for the two (almost three) of us. We don' t have a tv upstairs and this whole sequestering thing has become a common affair lately while Jeff completes layer after layer of primer and cream paint. This means much book reading. My most recent conquest was The Thirteenth Tale and I loved it.

When I was at Half Price Books last week I almost walked right by the bargain table. The truth is - I judge the bargain table. Part of me assumes that any book that's selling for that cheap must be lame and I usually walk on by. But this time, a stack of The Thirteenth Tale books caught my eye and sparked a memory of reading a good review for this book somewhere - was it Mari's site? Anyways, it was only a dollar! This seemed like a low risk decision, so I bought it. And let's just say that I was pleased with my ROI. This book is creepy and addictive and I a little bit loved it.

The story is about Vida Winter, an aging but very famous fiction writer in England. She's notorious for the mystery that surrounds her personal life - no reporter has ever been able to get the truth out of her. She tells every interviewer a different story about her life, none are true. But now she's old and sick and for one reason or another has chosen Margaret Lea to tell her story to. Margaret is the lonely adult daughter of an antique book seller, an avid reader and author of a few informal biographies. And PS - she also has a bit of secret past herself. Anyways, Margaret goes to stay with the crusty author and Vida tells her real story. And her story is creeepy and mysterious (and there are twins!) and I couldn't put it down. It's not Tana-French-style-creepy-genius, and there was a second where I sniffed a bit of Phillipa-Gregory-style-incest, but it was short lived and the book is still worthy. If you've read and enjoyed Nicholas Christopher (A Trip To the Stars is still one of my favs), I'd say you'd probably appreciate this book as well. No romance (sigh) but give it a try.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Piano Tuner

This book was the right book at the wrong time. It was beautifully written, with descriptions of Burma and music, but it was a bit too slow for my pregnancy and heat addled brain. Have I mentioned that it’s been HOT in Seattle? Like ridiculously hot? Well it has. In fact, last week we reached the hottest temperature ever to be recorded in Seattle. Like, ever. And this city is not like others that are equipped to deal with heat, no one here has air conditioning. So it has been an awesome time to be 8+ months pregnant. My primary defense against the heat was to draw a cold bath and sit in it with this book. For hours. And no, I didn’t turn pruny – that only happens in hot water silly! My point is, I finished this book, but it was hard.

The Piano Tuner follows Edward Drake from England during the late 1800’s to Burma. Long story short – Edward is a professional piano tuner and is commissioned on an odd mission by the military to travel to the British colonies in Burma and tune a piano in the jungle. This is the story of his travels and his experience in Burma.

The book was beautifully descriptive, sort of romantic, but in the end, pretty damn depressing. Not really my cup of tea at the moment.