05 November 2010

The Incredible Machine by Sugarland

OK - so, Sugarland is just about my favorite group right now, so I have been anxiously awaiting the debut of their new album, THE INCREDIBLE MACHINE.  Well, it is out, I have listened, and I am majorly disappointed.    I know that groups need to grow artistically,  and that no one's sound stays the same, but this album contains some drastic changes.  Gone are the beautiful melodies, catchy lyrics, etc. that were on their first and third albums.  In fact, out of 11 songs, there are only two songs, maybe three, that I even like off of this album.  Most of the songs on the album have no lyrics.  There is just one or two lines repeated over and over, or you have Jennifer Nettles just singing nonsensical syllables.  Add that to the addition of more voice time for Kristian Bush, and what you get is flat, monotone, boring, and just plain bad.  If it wasn't for "Find the Beat Again" which is actually quite good, "Every Girl Like Me", and "Stuck Like Glue" which is cute in a Bob Marley kind of way, there would be nothing on this album worth keeping.  I wanted to like "Tonight", but Jennifer Nettle sounds like she is singing with her jaw wired shut, and here again, the lyrics are so repetitive they are almost non-existent.  The Jury is still out on "Little Miss" since it has a bit too much of Kristian's voice and again, repetitive lyrics.  As for the rest --  I will just pass on them.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

A large number of my friends recently read this book and they all raved about it.  I was really excited to get my hands on a copy to read (thanks Wendy), especially since I was 267th on the list at the library and they only have 10 copies.  The beginning of the book showed promise, a good thriller premise, but once Annie was with her captor, I found the story kind of dragged for me.   Not sure why, but I really had a hard time getting through the first half of this book.  It must be because the author goes into such detail about the horrible things that happen to Annie while she was held prisoner.  I found myself wondering how so many of my "book twins" could have loved this book so much and I didn't.  Don't get me wrong, I liked the book and the story, especially the way that the protagonist told her story through her discussions with her psychiatrist after she returns.  But Annie was so abrasive, she was hard to like, and her captor was a seriously twisted individual.  And it didn't quite make sense to me why he picked Annie to abduct.

Then I got to the second half of the book.  Oh My God.  The book really took off.  As Annie begins to talk more about things that happened to her after she escaped and returned home, I couldn't get enough.  I began to see what all the raving was about and realized that I was probably going to score this book pretty high.  

Then I got to the last few chapters and the end.  OMG. This book met my number one criteria for a thriller, I DID NOT see this ending coming.  WOW.   The ending definitely solidified a 5-star rating for me.  

Chevy Stevens sure know how to tell a story!  Her characters were wonderful.  Annie is wonderfully flawed, as you would be if you had been held captive by a psychopath for a year.  Her relationships with her family, friends, and the RCMP officer working her case were spot on.  In retrospect, I even love her detailed description of Annie's captivity as it gives you the proper perspective for events that happen later in the book.

This is the debut by this author, but I sure hope that she continues to write.  I will certainly be looking forward to her next effort.

02 November 2010

The girl with the dragon tattoo by Steig Larssen

I received this book in hardback the Christmas that it first came out in the US.  Like many of the books I own, it immediately became a shelf orphan, being repeatedly passed over for books that I had checked out from the library.  I mean, they have a definite due date, where the one's I own can be read anytime, right?  Of course the problem with this is that you miss reading some really good books sometimes.  That was definitely the case with this book.  As time passed, more and more people told me how good this book was.  This, of course, scared me.  Would it really live up to the hype.  Well, it does, and I wish that I had read it a lot earlier.  In fact, I read it while I was staying at my sister's house, and I wished that I had the second book so that I could start it immediately.

The one caveat that many of my friends told me was that the first 200 or so pages go through a lot of financial details, as the main character, Mikael Bloomkvist, is a financial reporter.  They were correct, in that there is a lot of financial discussion in the first part, but I found that this did not bother me.  In fact, I have a finance background myself, so I actually found this part of the book interesting.  <

Another comment made was that the Swedish names and words took some time to get used to, but I did not find this to be true.  I think it is because I did not worry about whether I was pronouncing names and places correctly.

What everyone, including me, seems to agree on, is that the characters in the book are many faceted and interesting and that the story line is gripping, included some good twists and turns, and keeps you guessing about the outcome all the way until the end.  I know that Lisbeth and Mikael will appear in the other two books, but I also hope to see some of the other characters, such as the Vangers, <br/>Erika Berger (the editor of Millenium), and Dragan Armansky.  They were all great characters, which I would love to hear more about.

The only downside, and it is really, really small, is the way that Lisbeth reacts to seeing Bloomkvist with Erika Berger at the end of the book.  I think it was childish and not necessary, but I also realize that there are two more books in the series, so we shall see.