Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

My Review:
This book caught my attention when it came out a few years ago and luckily, my book club decided to read it this year.  Although I believe it was a great book club selection, last month when we were scheduled to discuss this book, a snowstorm caused us to postpone our meeting, resulting in very low attendance when we finally did get a chance to meet.

A couple that has seen their fair share of heartaches has decided to throw all their troubles to the wind and head north to live in Alaska.  They want to start their life over and they feel that living in the raw wilderness will be just what they need.  Life turns out to be more rough than either Jack or Mabel anticipate but they dig their heels in, doing whatever they can to make ends meet.

Mabel is especially lonely as she doesn't venture far from their remote homestead.  While Jack travels to the local town for supplies when needed, she stays back at the cabin, cooking, cleaning, or making other preparations for their survival.  When young Faina seems to appear out of a blizzard during her hour of loneliness, Mabel welcomes her with open arms.

Faina's appearances become mysterious, as when the spring thaw is upon them they know they will not see her until the next winter.  Mabel is anxious to introduce Faina to her neighbors, but whenever a friend knocks on their door Faina is nowhere to be found.

Faina fills a void in Jack and Mabel's lives, breathing fresh life into their souls.  This was a beautiful story and I'm sure the ladies in my book club enjoyed it as much as I did.  With themes of mystery, love, loss, and family, I'm sure you would enjoy this book as much as I did.  I highly recommend this novel as a book club selection or for personal leisure.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:   This book is from my personal library and I read it for my own entertainment and as a book club discussion.

Monday, January 13, 2014

What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey hosts this meme that gives you the opportunity to share the books that you have been losing yourself in lately and also the ones that you are looking forward to picking up next.

What I finished:
I just finished A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve.  Although it was chosen as our December book club selection we are just meeting tomorrow night to discuss it.  We were originally scheduled for last Monday, but the consistent sub-zero temperatures threw a crimp in our plans.  That is the second time we had to reschedule book club this winter and we have quite a bit to go!  Shreve is one of my favorite authors and I have a feeling that I enjoyed this book more than many of our other members.  You will have to watch for my review soon.
What I'm listening to now:
 I just started listening to The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and so far, so good.  I'm still on the first disc so I can't really say much about it, except for that the narrator is great!

What's next:
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker is our next book club selection so I plan on starting this one today.  I remember being intrigued by this book when I first spotted it on blogs everywhere.

So what has been keeping you busy lately?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Title:  The Girl Who Played With Fire

Author:  Stieg Larsson

Narrator:  Simon Vance

Unabridged Length:  18 hrs, 38 mn.

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

My Review:  
Since I listened to the first installment of this series, I figure there is no sense in not continuing, even though I was not impressed with the first one.   With Simon Vance narrating once again I figured I would at least get to listen to his voice for hours on end.  

Many of the characters from the first novel are carried forward into the second installment.  We get a more personal glimpse into the life of Lisbeth, learning what made her into the cautious young woman she has become.  We learn about her family life as a young girl and watch events play out as she makes connections to her past.

Blomkvist finds himself in the middle of a heated sex trafficking investigation.  He hasn't had contact with Lisbeth for quite some time, so he is surprised as more information is discovered that somehow she is connected to the operation.  Knowing Lisbeth's standards and morals, Blomkvist realizes things are probably not as they appear.

Events unfold in this novel in a way that make you look forward to getting back to it just so you know what happens next.  That said, I do have to admit that I didn't love this one either.  One of my problems is that I think there were just too many characters for me to follow, and I had a hard time keeping them straight.  With themes of mystery, secrets, and suspense, you may enjoy this book more than I did.  I recommend this novel especially for those that thrive on thrillers, and also for book clubs that read this genre.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from a friend to read for my personal entertainment.