Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Julie and Julia - Julie Powell

First, let me say that I love to cook. I love it. I am not a particularly fantastic cook--though I do make pretty incredible French toast--but I absolutely love to cook. So naturally, when the movie Julie and Julia came out on DVD, I got it immediately. At the time, I didn't know that it was based off of a book; thus, this was the first movie-based-on-a-book with which I saw the movie before reading the book. But I have finally read the book, and it was wonderful.

For those of you who may not have heard of Julie and Julia, it is a book about Julie Powell's grand cooking adventure in which she cooked through all 524 recipes in Julia Child's cookbook in one year. Along the way, she records her thoughts on a blog and gains many followers, especially as she gets interviews with the New York Times, CBS, and others. But mainly, the book is about her life and her cooking during this "year of cooking dangerously."

The Philadelphia Inquirer called this book a "kind of Bridget Jones meets The French Chef." As I know nothing about either of those, I cannot testify to that. However, I will tell you that Julie and Julia is incredibly funny. I read it in one day, unable to put it down (despite looming chemistry and AP English homework). Today, I'm pretty sure I've convinced several that I'm absolutely loony by bursting into laughter in the middle of class. Julie not only makes me laugh, but inspires me--to be a more adventurous cook, to bone a duck without fear, to become a lobster murderer. (Okay, maybe I'm not quite up to that last one...yet.) At any rate, I definitely recommend Julie and Julia to anyone, whether you cook or not. Bon appetit!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Box 21 - Roslund and Hellstrom

Box 21 is about two Lithuanian girls who have been tricked into becoming prostitutes in Stockholm. Eventually, Lydia and Alena draw up a plan to strike back at their captors, and this is the basis for the plot of the book.

I checked this book out because it was recommended for fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While I see the connection between the two, I didn't enjoy Box 21 nearly as much as the other. According to the inside flap, "Box 21 is a Scandinavian thriller of the highest order: a mind-blowing psychological drama written with powerful intensity." While it was indeed an intense book, it was so intense that I got tired--by the time I was halfway through the book, I was ready to quit. I couldn't relate to the characters at all, and I simply did not care about what happend to anyone. I would not recommend Box 21, but maybe it's just me--professional reviewers seem to love it. At any rate, I definitely won't be reading any other books by Roslund and Hellstrom.  

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

I don't remember where I first heard of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Several people have recommended it to me, but I only recently realized that my local library has it. Of course, I promptly checked it out.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a mystery book about Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has just been convicted of libel; an old man, Henrik Vanger, who wants Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his young niece many years ago; and Lisbeth Salander, a young, asocial hacker who helps Mikael solve the mystery. I thought this book dragged on a bit at the beginning--the exposition lasted quite a while, and I wasn't entirely sure where the book was going sometimes (this is not necessarily good or bad in my opinion, but it was something I observed). I also found that since none of the characters were connected at first and because I knew they were going to be connected later, I kept wondering who the heck all these people were and how they had anything to do with each other rather than being completely absorbed in the book.

However, once the characters started coming together and it became clear what the main plot was going to be, the rest of the 480 pages zipped right by. The story was captivating, breathtaking, suspenseful, and horrifying, and Blomkvist's discovery (which I will NOT reveal, thank you) was quite unexpected. The ending was quite cathartic, and I will most definitely go on to read the rest of the millenium trilogy. Unfortunately, I am still waiting for the second book to come in (I have it on hold), and my library does not have the third--I feel another interlibrary loan coming on!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ten Second Staircase - Christopher Fowler

You know, if someone asked me, "Hey, would you like to read a book about two cranky old men who run a crime unit in London?" I would probably answer, "Uh, not really...but I'll try it?" Fortunately, I didn't read the inside flap of this book before I checked it out from the library. Aside from being a mystery novel set in London, the bare details of the book didn't appeal to me that much. Again, glad I didn't read the flap--I will definitely be going back for more.

So, the first thing you need to know about this book is that the two main characters run the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Yes, really. I love it. And I can't speak for the other cases they've solved, but this book was indeed peculiar. The crime begins when a highwayman on a horse wearing a tricorn hat (the man, not the horse (unfortunately); sorry for the poor sentence structure) dumps a woman into her own art exhibit featuring fetuses in a large aquarium tank. She then drowns in her own art...literally. Peculiar, no? The highwayman reappears, each time attacking a different fairly-well-known celebrity. Of course, none of them seem to be connected, and the job falls to the PCU, run by two cranky (and hilarious) old men named Bryant and May.

Look, people, the book is hilarious. Also somewhat strange, but in a completely good way. So go read it, and I'll go to bed. Good night!

P.S. Also, thankyouthankyouthankyou to my first commenter, Jessica, and to my two new followers, the aforementioned Jessica and chrisw170200. My sad little ego is being stroked right now.