Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What I read in September

This is what progress looks like, Gentle Readers.

Life According to Steph

Rating scale:

1/5 - Hated it, didn't finish.
2/5 - Tolerated it on principle to finish, didn't like it.
3/5 - Eh, didn't love it, didn't hate it.  Had some good parts/kept me interested/finished it on principle.
4/5 - I liked it.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

Skimmers, stick with the bold text (TL;DR* parts).
PS. Possible spoilers included in reviews.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson  2.5/5  (TGwtDT)
Until about 75% through this book, I was tolerating it on principle to finish it.  The pacing was slow and the narrator was dry (I listened to this on audio while running).  The female voices were particularly grating.  But I survived.  I'm a mabillionty years late on the "cool" curve reading this book, but whatevs.  #Imnotcool

Then towards the end, something strange happened... I started wanting to listen/read to the book!  So +.5 points.  Up until that point, I felt like we'd been presented with random facts that had no discernible links, particularly the flowers at the beginning.  Obviously they were important enough to talk about first thing, but then we didn't hear another thing about them until the end as a symbol that what's her face had, in fact, been alive the entire time that everyone thought she was dead, oops.

My biggest complaint stems from my unfamiliarity with Swedish names and listening to an audiobook.  In text, I can keep the characters straight because I can see their names.  When I'm listening to the story, I couldn't differentiate between the characters for a large portion of the book.  In addition, they were referenced by first name, last name, and first and last name, and there were a lot of characters in the same family.  This isn't Game of Thrones, get it together Larsson.  #holyconfusionbatman

I know that this book belongs to a series, but I'm not sure I want to read any of the other books.  I'm sure they would be tolerable, but I don't have time for tolerable books, I want GREAT books!  Especially after the torture I've put myself through with this challenge and some of the books that I've read/endured.

I got very annoyed that Lisbeth's character was never fleshed out other than how fucked up she was and little we knew about her.  I got it, we don't know shit about her, we were told a mabillionty times, a mabillionty ways.  I was over it quickly.  Either tell me about her or don't, but don't keep reminding me of the enigma that was Lisbeth Salander.  Also, did anyone else find Lisbeth and Mikael's relationship weird?  Then, by the end I wanted them to work out and all those sappy feelings I could relate to, awwwwww #yesplease.

The gruesome parts of this book that made it interesting were very minimal.  Despite the horrification that I experienced when the gruesome parts were occurring, had the book been more of that and less of the needless banter, I might have continued on with the series.  Or maybe not depending on how awful they were.

Oh yeah, and again with the different titles in English.  In Sweden, the book is called, "Men Who Hate Women," which is way more fitting than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Larsson actually refused to let the publishers change the name... I would assume because THE TITLE MATTERS AND PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE READING ABOUT.  Oops sorry, caps lock got stuck for a second. 

TL;DR: If you can stand the round-about way of Swedish authors, by all means, go for this book.  Also, know that the real title is "Men Who Hate Women" which is a way better title than TGwtDT because it's more reflective of the book.  Finally, be prepared for some gruesome scenes.

My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman by Lisa Scottoline  3.5/5
This felt like a Jenny Larson book.  I'm not sure why I always compare random books of stories with Jenny Larson's but whatevs.  #IdowhatIwawnt

I was worried that I was picking up a Mommy book (after I had already ordered it, I read the summary), but it turned out to be not so scary.  I was thinking that this would be a Spinster-esque book, but that wasn't the case.  Scottoline has written several books (based on my understanding, not research) and she must be well-to-do because her, featured, daughter graduated from Princeton and lives in NYC.  There were some parts that gave me the giggles because they applied to all women, but there were other parts that I was all, "kthxnext."

I'm sure part of that was because I was reading a book about life from a middle-aged woman and I'm not there yet.  I did appreciate the tales of her mother's quirks, even though I felt like there were points where they were overly referenced.  When she started referencing other chapters in the book, it felt slightly weird, but also brought out a feeling of cohesion to the book like all these things weren't random at all, but more like a snapshot of a year in the life of Lisa Scottoline.  I think my favorite chapters were those written by her daughter and anything about the dogs.

Also, let the blond go. 

TL;DR: An easy read, but you're not missing anything if you pass this up.  This might not be for you if you're not a divorcee/middle aged woman with an obsession with your dogs and a child who you wish wasn't self-sufficient.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty  4/5
I know what I said last month about not starting any new books until I finished my in progress books, but I have a good excuse!  I was fearful that TGwtDT would end before I finished my 1/2 marathon and I wanted to be prepared so I started a free trial of Audible so I could download an audiobook to listen to, since none were able to be "acquired."  Since I had actually purchased several hard copies of books, I made sure that the audiobook I downloaded wasn't one that I had a hard copy of... aka What Alice Forgot was the only book that I didn't have a hard copy of.

Since this was an audiobook, there were normal audiobook concerns, but I really liked the narrator ANNNDD she had an Australian accent, so I was full of joy.  She did an excellent job on the voices making distinctions between the characters and her manly voice wasn't obnoxious and she was very expressive of the feelings of the characters.

Essentially, Alice bumps her head and loses the last 10 years of her memory so she doesn't remember a significant portion of the people in her life, to include her kids and former best friend.  Nor does she remember any of the events that shaped her to be the woman she had become, which we slowly discover throughout the book that she isn't really so awesome, despite how cool and calm her 1998-self seemed.  There was a significant amount of conflict between 1998 Alice and 2008 Alice.

I started to get frustrated when the other characters wouldn't tell Alice about things that had happened and at how insistent everyone was that she remember things.  If Moriarty was trying to make the reader feel how Alice felt, she accomplished it very well.  I was incredibly frustrated and wanted to stop, but couldn't because, would she get her memory back?  Why did she separate from Nick?  What about this boyfriend?

Then there was Elizabeth's story-line, which started to make the book feel less about Alice and more about a story of two sisters.  With both characters, I was torn.  Part of me wanted Alice to regain her memory, while part of me didn't.  The same with Elizabeth.  Part of me wanted her to get knocked up, part of me didn't.  The letters from Frannie to Phil were weird and I felt like they could have been left out.

I was very grateful for the epilogue which tied up all the loose ends in a neat package.  I was happy how the book ended, since it could have gone either way for me.  Also that whole section about Alice just putting on a show about feelings?  Woah, too close to home, kthx.

TL;DR: Read this one.  Have the feelz.  Appreciate everything you have and everything you can possibly remember.  Oh and properly prepare for intense workouts so you don't give yourself amnesia.

New Stories from the South 2001 by various (Shannon Ravenel)  2/5
Short story collections are difficult for me because I want to get into the story and then it ends.  I did like how the included the backstory for the stories after the author blurb.  Win.  Reading this definitely made me feel like I was back in my creative writing classes in college.  Some stories were super good and some stories were.. not.  I only skipped 1 or 2, but probably should have skipped a few more.  The most memorable story was about the wallpaper man and the missing girl.  The story that I should have skipped was about 2 boys driving a "hoopty car" and dealing with bullying.  Whatever, book challenge almost complete.

TL;DR: You won't be missing out on anything if you skip this one.

In Progress:

On Deck:

*TL;DR = too long, don't read


  1. I liked the Dragon Tattoo books, but it's been a while. They were definitely long, and I'm not sure how well it would have translated to audiobooks for me.

    I've been hearing a lot about What Alice Forgot, but this is the review that made me most want to read it.

  2. I found the second and third books of The Girl trilogy much easier to get through. Even reading the first I had issues with the language barrier/street names/money/people names. I don't know if I would've liked them at all if I listened to the audio books.

  3. What Alice Forgot is on my list to read. I am indulging in The Husband's Secret right now and loving it!

  4. I had no idea that Girl With The Dragon Tattoo had another (Better!) name! Shame on them for changing it! I have a Scottoline book in the works but I can't quite seem to get into it. What Alice forgot must have just been a bad moment in time for me because I just didn't really get into it either. Maybe I will try another time!

  5. The Millenium trilogy was not easy. Especially the first one. I kept having to use this family tree thing that was printed in the front of the book to keep track of who was who and who was and wasn't related. Plus all the boring banking shit. Then something clicked and it became great!

    I enjoyed What Alice Forgot but didn't love, love it. It was an enjoyable read.

  6. I haven't read any Liane Moriarty yet but have been getting a lot of recommendations. Will definitely keep your review in mind. If I try that one I'll probably go with the audiobook.

  7. What Alice Forgot has been on my list for too long! Hope you really like AJ Fikry and You, I know I did.

  8. I agree that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was pretty slow. It had me turning the pages at the end though! What Alice Forgot is on my to read list!

  9. I didn't read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but saw the English version movie. I know. I'm a bad bibliophile. Girlllllllll, you got some good books in the next cycle!

  10. "My Nest isn't Empty" sounds like something up my alley :). And I almost confused "Still Alice" with "What Alice Forgot". The second one on my list!

  11. I keep meaning to read What Alice Forgot. I may just have to get the audiobook now instead!

  12. I really liked the Girl with series. I will say that I started reading the first one and gave it up and then I gave it one more shot and I was hooked. I guess I had to just be in the right frame of mind. Lisbeth's character does it more flushed out in the series but you still really don't get the whole picture. I'm hoping the last book that just came out gives us something more. There are two movies out. One is horrible and the other is decent. I want to say the Swedish one is better. I think it's darker and stays more true to the overall vibe of the story.


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