Sunday, June 19, 2011

Water for Elephants

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I did like this book, I may have falling victim to being a little overexcited by the hype but for me it didn't live up.

The yellow flag was waiving for me as I was reading, but the red flag has shown itself now just a few days later....I have already forgotten the names of characters, even ones that I enjoyed. As the male lead, Jacob was interesting, developed and gave us a great beginning: small town kid from humble beginnings about to finish his Ivy League veteranary education when tragedy strikes. Enter the circus, every young runaway's sleepytime fantasy. It keeps up for a bit, and actually does manage to hold you in throughout the story, but the characterization and depth of story drops shortly after this, and drops like a lead weight.

Marlena as a the female lead and love interest is basically boring. I gathered from the blatant scenes and statements that Jacob has fallen in love with her, but even at the end of the book have no understanding of why. All we know about her is that she is beautiful, married, wears pink sequins when performing with the horses and that Jacob is in love with her. August, as her husband, is equally flat, and boxed into the stereotype of violence due to his mental illness. This part was almost over the top to me.

The story itself was fast paced in a way that kept you intrigued, but in retrospect I think it went too fast, as nothing is memorable at this point. I honestly cannot remember if the speak-easy or the drunken night in the stateroom came first.

I know it does not sound like it, but overall I did enjoy this book and would recommend it as a light read. My disappointment is primarily driven by the rave reviews it received and the hype surrounding it. Go into it with expectations of "I hope I like this" or "This might be a good book" and it can be a good book. Definitely never a great one in my book though.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was on my radar to read because so many people with different tastes were talking about it, which always intrigues me, but it wasn't on the priority list until a co-worker walked in with a "pass it around" copy and said "didn't you say you wanted to read this?" But of course, I'll never turn down a "pass it around" book that's anywhere on my to-read list :)

I honestly didn't even know what these books were about until I had the copy, and then was expecting it to be another of the stock crime dramas that gain a following because they have great writing or a creative draw. Boy did this one have both, but not even in the stock way that I expected.

FIrst, the Swedish setting drew me in because it was something different, with the different cultural areas and ways of doing things. Next, the characters were well created without being overdone, and the spacing and foreshadowing of their stories, both past and present, throughout the book were very well done. I felt as I was reading like I was actually getting to know Mikael and Lisbeth as I went, rather than getting a rundown on them to start and then straight into the story.

My only complaint is with the ending, as it was a bit too simple for all of the build up. It also seemed, contradictory to the, without giving a spoiler, "we looked everywhere" statement that was so elemental to the storyline and mystery itself.

Overall though, a great read and one that kept me tied to the couch for a few late evenings and a rainy Saturday!

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