Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Girl with alot of Tattoos...and hacking skillz


I started this book on recommendation of a few of my colleagues and I have to say I couldn't put it down.  The book is kind of seperated into two parts (which are tied into the main characters).  In one story line,  a financial reporter named Mikael gets sentenced to jail for libel comments (and possibly very true) against a big corporation.  Afterwards the story takes us through his journey and how he plans to get even with the owneer.  On the other story line, Mikael is offered a job to solve a murder that happened 40 years ago and calls in the assistance of a hacker/deviant/awesome girl named Lisbeth.  (loving the name too!)

I didn't know really what to expect out of this novel and I definitely did not expect for the outcome to be the way it was--sorry folks, I'm trying not to give out spoilers here.  So of course, I finished the book quickly because I loved the way it was written and how easily it flowed between the two situations.  I thought it would take me forever to finish and it ended up being a very interesting read in a very short time.

MINI SPOILER ALERT:
My only dislike was how casually Mikael had sex with 3 women during the course of the book...it just didn't seem right, and it ended up hurting feelings.  I don't know...I guess I'm old fashioned like that. 
I was going to break up the series a bit by reading another book inbetween, but I think I've decided that I will stick with this until the bitter end!

Rating: 4 1/2 (I'm taking off the half because the guy is a playa!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vicious, vicious man!



I read this book by Erik Larson last week on the recommendation of the Nesties.  I have to say overall, the book was very enjoyable.
(SPOILER ALERT:  Basically the novel is regarding how Chicago acquired the World's Fair in the late 1800s.  During that time, crime in Chicago was extremely high and the police force were enept at dealing with all of the issues.  This being said, a gentleman by the name of H.H. Holmes was able to get away with brutally torturing and murdering several young women. )

Most of the book regarded the fair construction, set up, approvals, etc.  I have to say that these parts dragged on (escrutiatingly so at some points).  However, it was interesting to find out how much they had to go through for it to become a reality, especially given the "bad rep" Chicago had at the time.  I also found it interesting how they designed the first ferris wheel.  The rest of the book was incredibly intense and gripping.  Seeing how unbelieveably callous and calculating Holmes was throughout was terrifying.  He showed no remorse or emotion during his trial or during the killings. 

Even though the fair parts dragged on and was so detailed that I had to skim a few pages here and there, I honestly enjoyed the book's overall feel.  I do feel like sometimes the two different "sections" weren't tied together like I wanted it to be, but it was still an interesting read and it was nice to get some history lessons in the process. 

Rating: 4
The rest of me...
So this weekend marked a very big time for me.  We are officially Nashvillians.  I turned in my keys in Chattanooga and said goodbye to our little townhome.  It was bittersweet, honestly, and I'm hoping someday to make Chattanooga my home again.  That being said, it really does take a load off because now I can go there for pleasure instead of having to go every other weekend to clean or pack or move.  It's like a huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders.  SO that being said, my diet started again.  Just drinking water and watching portions and snacking.  The only thing I'm really trying not to stress right now are car problems--and whatever needs to be done will be done, I know--so I'm not going to worry...right? :)

BTW, that Philadelphia cooking cream is phenomenal.  I probably shouldn't be eating that on my diet but I cooked with it last night and it was yummy.  I just had a little bit. =)

Now off to work...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Immortal?



Ok, so I will admit to you all that yes, at first, I honestly thought this was a book about vampires, since I had it on my Kindle and wasn't able to explore the cover a little more.  After the initial shock of reality wore off (and I actually started getting into the book), I realized that this was about a woman who made such a difference in the world, and she didn't even know it.  Henrietta was a poor black woman who developed an extremely fast spreading case of cervical cancer.  When the doctors started treatment, they cut off a sliver of the tumor to use for testing (without Henrietta's consent).  As it turns out, Henrietta's cells survived testing and still survive today.  The HeLa cells are the reason for many medical advances from the 50s on to today.  As the story goes on, you see that the family received absolutely nothing from the HeLa cells and were still living in poverty with a ton of medical issues and no way to pay the bills.  The author talks to the family long after Henrietta has died and explores exactly what happened during all the time that has passed.  Nothing was ever offered to them and for a while, the wrong person was credited for the cells.  The reason for the story was to give Henrietta the credit she deserved.

I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in myself for not hearing about this story earlier in life, since these cells were the beginning of so many wonderful inventions/cures/procedures, but better late than never, I suppose. The writing was pretty standard.  The author repeated herself a few times, but there was a wealth of information about cell production and processes that made it very interesting.  It is a little bit scientific, so if that's not your "thing" I am not sure if you'd enjoy the entire book.  That being said, the story was an incredible one, offering a glimpse into this family's life as well as Henriettas.  I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought I would. 
  
Rating: 4 1/2

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Haunting Jasmine

Jasmine is an extremely bitter character who just divorced her cheating husband and is trying to figure out where her next move will be. As a defense mechanism, it seems she immerses herself in her work as an investment manager until she gets a call to watch a "special" bookstore while her aunt makes a trip to India to "fix her heart."  Once she gets to the finding out a lot about herself through "visitors" of the store.

SPOILERS:
I read this book all in one sitting because I could not put it down. It was very easy to get sucked in to the magic in the bookstore, where dead authors play their part in "freeing" Jasmine from her bitterness and her stress. I do feel like in parts I wanted to scream GET OVER IT to Jasmine, who after a year, kept constantly mentioning what a low life scumbag her ex-husband, Robert, was and how his new love, Lauren, was trying to take over her life, however, on the flip side, I can completely understand how hard it is to let go of something you've been holding onto for so long. But--Ok--we get it...it's time to move on. It also seemed to me like Jasmine was a bit slow because she didn't catch on to things that were happening until way after the reader probably did, but it did add to the suspense of the novel.


The writing flowed pretty well and it was definitely a fresh take on starting over and finding yourself in the most unexpected places. I would love to have seen Jasmine develop more in the end-I feel like the relationship between her and her ghost could have played more of an active role in the novel.


Overall great read and a definite recommendation for a book that will make your smile and maybe melt your heart a bit.

Rating: 4

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wrapping up February

Taking a little idea from Julie, I decided to sum up the month of February, since it was a busy one.

Books:

I had a productive month in February in regards to books. Here are the books I read and brief reviews:

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers- This was a great book about a girl who had a hard life, growing up not knowing what unconditional love was. She ended up becoming a prositute until she met a man who changed her life and her perspective on things--but not without resistance.
I enjoyed it because it talks about letting God in your life and learning to trust after being used and abused.  I can't say I can relate too much to the prostitution part but I can relate to wanting to be more accepting of love and God in my life.
I did like this book but I didn't like how there was a lot of repetition in some of the actions the main character took.  I thought "enough already" several times.   It was like the author was using 3 paragraphs when she could have used 1 1/2 to describe the situation. 
Rating: 3 1/2

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  by J.K. Rowling- What can I say about the Harry Potter Series??  This is the second time I've read these books. I figured I'd skim along not really thinking I'd have to focus too much for my book club.  I WAS WRONG.  I was drawn in again and I couldn't NOT read them, every word--every line.  I even listened to the audio books at work.  The whole series sucks you in from the beginning.  Every sentence well placed and every part just as important as the last.  One of the best series ever in terms of character development, details, entertainment value--the movies don't do it justice.
Rating: 5

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King- This book gave me the creeps.  I loved every minute of it.  It was four short stories that were about horrible things...horrible and creepy things.  I think for entertainment value, it was awesome.  Well written, not too much fluff and an easy read, even though I had nightmares about rats that night.  ERG!
Rating: 4 1/2

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice- ABSOLUTE CRAZINESS.  OK, Anne Rice wrote this under another pen name--and it was not what I was expecting at all.  This was a sex book--mostly about S&M.  TOTALLY not my kind of book.  I had to force myself to finish the pages in it.  Every page was sexually charged and there wasn't much plot.  I was told to read the other 2 books in the series, but there is no way I can do that.  It was hard enough to finish this one.  If you like erotica, go for it! This would be right up your alley.  I, for one, will skip it, thank you!
Rating: 2 1/2

Orphans of the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein- This was also a recommendation from a friend. This was a very quick sci-fi book that I read in a couple of days.  The beginning kind of lagged, but once the characters were developed a little bit, it was an interesting read.  It's not really my genre, but lets face it, I'm broadening my horizons.
Rating: 4

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf- This was a phenomenal quick read that I couldn't put down about the relationship between two sisters hiding something very dark and twisted that happened years before.  Some of the content was a little much, but given the storyline and context, it wasn't over done at all, and I enjoyed it.  It kept me on the edge of my seat, even when some of it was predictable.  I loved the writing and the story flowed well.
Rating: 4

A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson- This is a book about starting over.  It's about a woman who's  been married forever deciding maybe she was miserable in her marriage and wanted to make a few changes.  It was actually a refreshing book because the main character took chances and started a whole new life.  It was a good read...and a quick one too!
Rating: 4

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- I read this for my book club and I was just as confused about the characters at 30-something than I was in high school.  It was a phenomenal classic book.
Rating: 4

Up Close: Ella Fitzgerald by Tanya Lee- this was more of a timeline than a biography.  There aren't a lot of personal details that were revealed by Ella when she was alive, so this went through her rise
to fame.
Rating: 3


Life/Diet

As far as life is concerned, I am doing a lot better lately because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  My bills are being paid and we are thisclose to getting all of our stuff out of Chattanooga, which means that we can start turning the corner on our bills.  We are going to put Audrey in dance class, which I'm sure will make her so happy!  She is my own little stress reliever...thank goodness!

As far as diet, I read a book by Portia de Rossi called Unbearable Lightness and it really got me thinking about being comfortable in my own skin and listening to my own body.  Since these are stressful times and I am a stress eater, I have decided to drink a LOT more water...and listen to my body.  If I feel hungry, I eat, if I don't, I won't eat.  My biggest problem is that I snack all the time and usually it's not good stuff.  Especially when I am stressed, I tend to do this more.  With Lent starting tomorrow, I figured this was the best way to get this started.  Plus, watching my portion sizes is always important and I am more aware of it now.

SO March is going to be a good month, right??