Book Corner

Spring Reading Challenge ’11 Wrap Up

It’s time to wrap up Katrina’s 2011 Spring Reading Challenge over at Callapidder Days.

(You can read my original post here).

This is about my second (or third?) time participating in the reading challenges but my first time to actually meet my reading goals. I don’t know, I was HUNGRY to read this go-around. I’m really going to try and spend my time reading as opposed to surfing the Internet – it’s a much more productive use of my time (though I won’t necessarily say more interesting because you guys? Are a pretty interesting bunch of people). I ended up reading a total of 13 books.

Here is the list of books and a short blurb about my thoughts on the books. The ** signifies that the book was added onto my original list.

  • One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
    Have you seen the movie? It has Meryl Streep and Renee Zellweger in it. I can honestly say this is one movie I’m not interested in seeing. The book was depressing enough. And somehow, though these actresses are great, I wonder just how true to character they would portray them. Quindlen’s work is heavy on the emotions and thick with pretty descriptions but I enjoy her work, overall. I just have to have a lot of patience to read her work.
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
    What can I say? I enjoy The Hunger Games Trilogy. And I’ll be the first to admit, I’m looking forward to the movies simply because it’ll be interesting to see how they bring it to the screen (these stories have a lot of bloody action). I think the premise behind these stories is pure genius. Collins does a spectacular job of producing moral dilemmas and displaying raw emotions. I really enjoyed how she tortured her characters (quite literally, actually) and was then rewarded with their reactions.
  • 1st to Die by James Patterson
    This is my first exposure to the Women’s Murder Club and I’m hooked. I bought the 2nd through the 4th books at the library sale this past spring and I’m looking forward to reading them. I think the mix of different female roles in this story really added an interesting element to the story and really gave the mystery a human face.
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
    I’m also looking forward to watching the movie adaptation of this story, too. I watched the first movie and they did a really good job sticking to the story – which is really saying a lot considering Larsson is a very thorough writer. His stories take a bit of patience, they generally start out slow, but they soon pick up and of course, Lisbeth is a force to be reckoned with – I’d hate to get on her bad side. I already have the third book in this trilogy and I’m looking forward to seeing how Lisbeth’s story plays out.
  • Daddy’s Girl by Lisa Scottoline
    I really enjoy reading writers who were a professional first before becoming writers (like lawyers, doctors, etc). I think Scottoline’s law experience really adds another dimension to her stories. It also gives her stories authenticity. I also appreciate how concise her writing is as well – you can tell the woman knows her way around the English language. I’m on a mission to read all of her work.
  • Die for Me by Karen Rose
    This story was recommended to me by one of the Write Anything writers. I REALLY enjoyed how the story was told through four different POV’s. This sounds confusing, but Rose does a good job keeping everything straight and the multiple POV’s really added depth to the story. I’d really like to incorporate this style in my own writing as I find writing multiple POV’s challenging and quite fun. Now if I can only handle it half as well as Rose did.
  • Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
    I have to be honest, I don’t particularly care for Sparks’ writing. I think his writing is a bit stale and geared more toward telling as opposed to showing. However, his stories are quite compelling and very emotional and Sparks does a good job tapping into our basic need for solid and meaningful relationships. I have to sort of mentally pump myself up whenever I read his work because his writing really does bug me and it’s sort of emotionally draining. But, I’m learning from his ability to tell an interesting story because obviously people like him and I can learn from that attraction. I’m going to try and read all of his work, too.
  • ** Chocolat by Joanne Harris
    I saw the movie with Johnny Depp (*DROOL*) and was naturally curious to read the book. This is one of those few times that I actually liked the movie more than the book. The screenwriter inserted a love story between Vianne and Roux and though it was only a secondary story line, I thought it really gave the story an interesting twist (and I’m a sucker for romance, obviously). The real story, of course, was the spiritual battle between one’s duty to God and one’s natural inclination to be tempted with worldly pleasures (in this case, the sweet temptation of chocolate and other sweets). I ADORED the movie and really enjoyed Harris’ interesting and somewhat tormented characters.
  • ** Meet Me in Venice by Elizabeth Adler
    I enjoyed how Adler weaved two different stories into one. I also thought it was fun how the two main characters never actually met before one of them was killed. Adler does a really good job at keeping the reader interested in both the story and in compelling characters. The ending was a bit contrived and ho hum, but overall, it was a story worth reading.
  • ** The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
    I have to say, I don’t care for the title of this story, at all. It sounds like a boring documentary about the life of bees, but I’m glad I ignored my initial aversion to the title and read the story. It’s a period piece that takes place back in the Civil rights days, so the language is a bit off putting, but appropriate given the time period. This story is character driven, not plot driven, but somehow, that doesn’t slow it down. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Lily, for all children in her situation, actually, but it was satisfying to see her character grow and mature and for her story to resolve itself. The characters surrounding Lily were also really interesting and they made this story, in my opinion. I watched the movie, mainly because I really like Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning, but the screenplay was pretty true to the book and worth watching.
  • ** The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner
    This was a series of short stories so don’t expect to shut the book with any sort of satisfaction because a lot of the stories leave you hanging and not really a desire to read more. It was like Weiner compiled some of her warm-up stories and put them into a book – they weren’t bad, but not really good, either. I’m not a big fan of short stories (which is ironic considering I like writing short stories) and though I wouldn’t read this book again, it was worth a quick look.
  • ** Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
    Ah, the story of Belle and Edward. I’m not a big vampire fan. But as with so many other people, I’ve gotten sucked (pardon the pun) into the Belle and Edward story. I’ve posted my thoughts on the Twilight series here and here, so I won’t rehash that on this post. I thought it was interesting that we spend so much more time following Jacob’s story in this book. I guess Meyers wanted to show her readers Belle’s love struggle – though I never really get a sense that Belle loves Jacob anymore than a good friend, her clear obsession with Edward is almost sick in it’s intensity, but still, I suppose she had to throw a wrench in there at some point because it truly is exhausting to watch two characters nearly destroy themselves over their love for each other. I have the movie in my Netflix queue and will be watching it shortly. Fun fact: Kevin is pretty hooked on the Twilight stories, too. Which REALLY surprises me, actually.
  • ** The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen
    Gerritsen is an ex (?) doctor who writes medical thrillers. As with Scottoline, I really enjoy her stories because you can just tell the woman knows what she’s talking about, which lends an air of credibility to her stories. To spice things up, Gerritsen writes her stories centered around two strong women, one a cop and the other a medical examiner, which gives the reader two different perspectives on the same situation. At the same time, these two women have their own personal problems and though I can appreciate Gerritsen writing in some of their drama, I do find myself getting a little impatient with the detours and wish she would stick a little more to the case at hand. But her writing is interesting and pretty fast-paced so it keeps my attention. I personally admire Gerritsen and Scottoline and would like to fashion my own writing after them.

Thanks for sticking this post out. Reviews aren’t always the most interesting, unless you’re a book worm, like myself. A lot of these books are available to buy (for cheap!!) in my Amazon book store, just click on the links and it will take you there.

I hope you find some time to read this summer and I’ll see you at the Fall Reading Challenge!

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