Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mini Book Reviews

Here are some quick reviews and thoughts about three books I've read recently.

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen: I was excited to see that Anna Quindlen had written a new book. I loved Black and Blue and many of her collections of essays and I hadn't seen anything substantial from her in a long time. The description of the book sounded interesting as well - the story of a mom dealing with the trials of parenthood and especially her concerns over her youngest son. Quindlen did an amazing job of capturing the life and role of a typical suburban mom. I could identify completely with Mary Beth as she goes through the days of soccer practices, prom planning and guitar lessons. And then the story takes a completely unexpected turn that takes my breath away. Unlike Little Bee by Chris Cleave, Every Last One is a book that you shouldn't know too much about before you read it. My suggestion is not to read any reviews or to let anyone tell you too much about the plot. Let the story unfold naturally. I loved this book. It would be a great book club selection. But I don't want to say anything else about it. I gave Every Last One 4 stars - I really liked it.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: I had heard about this book at least a year ago (way before it became so popular) and decided that because it's a mystery/suspense/crime thriller, I wasn't interested. Then the books in the series (this is book one in a trilogy) simply exploded in popularity and I decided I had to see for myself what all the fuss is about. On top of that, my personal book club chose this book for our July selection. I will admit that I was excited to read it and was all ready to love it and anxiously devour the other two books in the series. Well, that didn't happen. While it is a good mystery/suspense/crime thriller, it isn't good enough to make me want to read more. At least not right now. Maybe next time I'm in the mood for that type of book I will pick up the next book. But for right now, I've had my fill. I gave Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 3 stars - I liked it.

The Woman Who Can't Forget: The Extraordinary Story of Living With the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science by Jill Price and Bart Davis: I stumbled upon this book quite by accident. I happened to be in a library in a nearby town when I decided to check out their collection of playaways. There are not a lot of books available on playaway through my library system, so in order to find one to read I really do need to browse the titles and see if something captures my interest. And that is exactly how I found this intriguing memoir. The title caught my eye, since I have an interest in psychology and medicine and the study of memory is a big part of the study of psychology (I have a degree in psychology). I found Jill's story absolutely fascinating. She has a remarkable autobiographical memory in that she is able to remember, in great detail, every single day of her life from the age of about 10 on. And she has many vivid memories from even earlier. She is not a savant who can perform great feats of mathematical skill nor can she recall long lists of words. Instead her memory is one that does not let her forget one single moment of her life. And these memories come to her, oftentimes, unbidden. And not just pleasant memories, but all her horrible memories as well. In addition, she experiences all the emotions of those memories each time the memory is recalled. For Jill, this ability has been a huge burden for her. I found her story fascinating. I'm not sure this book would be for everyone since it does go into some detail on memory research, brain studies and diagnostic testing. But if you have an interest in the topic, I recommend it. I gave The Woman Who Can't Forget 4 stars - I really liked it.

How about you? Have you read any good books lately? Any bad books?


"Cottage By The Sea" said...

Thanks Pam, you've peaked my interest and I'm going to try to see if I can find Anna Quindlen's new book while I'm up here in the mountains. I am getting our cabin ready to put on the market and between all the work, I'm getting some much needed reading time. There is a good shop a couple miles away that surprisingly, carries a lot of newer titles. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon will find me lazily, lying in my hammock reading "Every Last One".

Sandy said...

Two more to add to the ever lengthening list. The third one really intrigues me. TGWTDT was okay but I'm in no hurry to read the rest of the trilogy either.

MissKris said...

I haven't read the other two but I read Anna's book right when it came out. WOW! I'm going to read it again soon...there were so many nuggets of beautiful wisdom in there.

Sue Jackson said...

I'm dying to read Every Last One! It's on my list.

Sorry you weren't thrilled with Dragon Tattoo. I guess I wasn't completely taken with it at first either, but I'm now reading book 3 and can't put it down! The next two books focus on Lisbeth and just get more and more fascinating. Also, the movies (in Swedish) were excellent. I can't imagine Hollywood doing any better (though they're trying).


Midlife Jobhunter said...

Glad to hear about Quindlen's new book. I loved her columns and haven't been so happy with her novels. Looking forward to this one. And The Girl.... not for me either. Haven't read the next two.


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