Friday, May 28, 2010

Review: The Lost Symbol

Title: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Source: I read this one on my boyfriend's Kindle
LendMe Status: Unavailable

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object -- artfully encoded with five symbols -- is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation . . . one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon -- a prominent Mason and philanthropist -- is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations -- all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.


Okay, yes, I read The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, and yes, I was expecting this novel to top those in every way - but, although the story was very intriguing and the characters just as well developed as one would expect from Dan Brown, I wasn't as enchanted by this novel as I was with his other Robert Langdon books. Generally, I like Brown's style. He definitely knows how to write a cliff-hanger, I'll give him that. Though, as a departure from his other novels, this time - I felt he used the cliff-hanger inappropriately, leaving the character not only for another story, but another time - often unnecessarily. Let me rephrase. There were a lot of flash back sequences in this novel, and they were often inserted in a strange place for me as a reader. For example, when a character we're currently following is about to bleed to death... is not the time for the narration to shift focus and talk about something that happened 25 years prior in the character's life. It just didn't have the same effect for me.

That said, I still really enjoyed the world Brown creates for his readers by mixing real science and history with fantastical insider information readers should feel privileged to hear. This book does offer what's expected of a Dan Brown novel in this sense and is well worth the read.


Now, another type of review: Since I read this novel on my boyfriend's Kindle instead of on my Nook, I feel I should comment on the use of this device in comparison. I have to say, I did sort of miss the interface I'd gotten so used to on my Nook. The look and feel of the Kindle does vary enough to make the experience very different. I mean, obviously, there was a reason I picked the Nook over the Kindle and it wasn't purely aesthetics. He made his choice, and I made mine. But... I'm glad to have my Nook back!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Currently eReading... on my KINDLE? *gasp!*

In a departure from all I believe in, I've borrowed my boyfriend's Amazon Kindle and on it, I am currently reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. I will not apologize further though, I have to say - it just seemed silly for me to buy this novel and for him to buy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (previously reviewed here) when we'd already bought them for the other device. So, I'll still review it here, but with the caveat - it probably would have been better on the Nook! :)

Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Title: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Source: Downloaded from Barnes & Noble
LendMe Status: Not Available

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble:
A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue.

It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism, and an unexpected connection between themselves.


Part murder mystery, part Dan Brown-esque writing style, part techie, part history - this novel has a lot going on. I've meant to read this novel for so long, and I'm glad I finally got to it! 

It starts out sort of slowly, though and-  if I wasn't determined to read it because "everyone has read it, and I'm a librarian so I should read it too..." and many of the people I know that have read it warned me that it was slow to start, I may have abandoned it. But, after the first 50 pages or so, you wouldn't have been able to pry it from my hands!

I saw there is a  film base on the movie that was shown at the Wisconsin Film Festival a few weeks ago, and is now touring the country - but at the time, I hadn't read the novel and didn't have the opportunity to go.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: Shanghai Girls

Title: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Source: Downloaded from Overdrive through Verona Public Library
LendMe Status: Unavailable, but you can download it for free through Overdrive! Ask for details at your local library.

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble:
May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.

But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)—where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months—they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.

I haven't read any other novels by this author, but she's been on my list for a long time - and now I know why! I loved this novel. It really opened my eyes to a part of America's history that I didn't know much about. The only thing that I didn't like about this novel was the ending. Not the content, per se, more the abruptness of it. I'm not sure if this is just the author's style, but it seemed to leave itself open to a sequel - though I don't think there will be one. At least nothing I've seen points to one, though this novel is just over a year old. I'm looking forward to reading more of See's novels soon!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Review: Water for Elephants

Title: Water for Elephants by Sarah Guren
Source: Downloaded from Barned & Noble
LendMe Status: Available!

Synopsis - From Barnes & Noble:

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.


I know, I know - I've come to this party a bit late, but I LOVED this novel! The great weaving of Jacob's amazing past with the regretful attitude towards his present, and who could dislike a love story! I read it as if Jacob were a grandfather figure finally sharing his life story with me, which of course - made me cry a few times at how unhappy he was in his current situation "stuck" in the nursing home. I was so glad he got his chance to "break free" at the end.

And - just as a side note - I see there's a movie in the works!! Robert Pattison as Jacob... should be interesting :)

Review: As You Wish

Title: As You Wish by Jennifer Malin
Source: Downloaded from Barnes and Noble
Lend Me Status: Available!

In this simple, yet engaging mix of historical fiction, romance and drama - we meet Leah Cantrell, a very modern woman who's traveling in Europe with her friend. When they visit an old English estate, Leah finds an old wishing well that until recently had been dried up and unusable. While peering over the edge, she notices an old coin and wonders who originally wished upon that coin. Suddenly she is transported back to 1815 - and gets her chance to make her own wishes come true

This was a quick but fun read, people who enjoy historical fiction, and light romance will enjoy this novel!

If you'd like to read it, please leave a comment with your email below and we can set up an exchange through our Nooks!