Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 2010 Book List

17. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson

The story begins with three loose threads: Henrik Vanger, a retired CEO receives his regular birthday gift, one that never fails to remind him of an unsolved murder in his family; Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist, is convicted of libel; and Lisbeth Salander, an aloof, unscrupulous private investigator and professional hacker, presents her findings on Blomkvist to a private lawyer for undisclosed reasons.

These threads are woven together, at first slowly and uninterestingly, to produce a fantastic story. Without giving too much of the story away, these three people form close bonds as they work together to unravel a mystery of dynamic proportions. The end result is shocking.

After the first few chapters, I found myself having a hard time putting the book down. The characters are well-written and the situations in the book, though true-to-life, are immoral: adulterous relationships, homosexual activity, rape, incest, serial killings, etc. Yes, it's all there. Henrik Vanger and Mikael Blomkvist are likable; Lisbeth Salander is a little frightening. All through the book, I was rooting for some good to come to Salander, for her to finally find someone to trust - and for her to reveal her past. What makes her the way she is? That wasn't answered here, but that's what Larsson's sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, is supposed to do. I've put that book on hold and will hopefully get it sometime in the next two weeks.

I didn't get as early a start reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and it came due when I was only halfway through it. Instead of turning it in half read, I decided to keep it out and pay a fine. I dropped it off in the book drop yesterday (Tuesday) before the library opened, so they only charged me for Saturday - just 30 cents. (They're closed on Sundays and Mondays, so they don't charge for overdue books on those days.)

I've seen that Sweden has produced The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as a movie and Hollywood has bought the rights to make a film as well. I can't picture who would play the characters right now, but it'll be interesting to see how they interpret things. Because of the subject matter involved, I don't think that's a movie I'd be willing to watch.

18. Body-for-LIFE for Women by Peeke, Pamela

I've checked out several "diet" books from the library, but this is the first one I've actually completely read. That a female women's physician wrote it is a big plus. She understands the different changes a woman's body goes through and is trained to know how to meet those changing needs. The nutritional advice she gives is helpful. One thing I read that has stayed with me: drinking ice water is better for weight loss. "The energy required to raise the temperature of ice water to the body's core temperature can amount to a removal of several pounds of weight by the end of a year." (p. 105) Wow! Bring it on!

Peeke also addresses the dreaded weight loss plateau, which I have not only experienced several times in the past, but am currently experiencing now. She recommends, like other sources I've found, to change up the diet and the activity level for a bit. As for activity, do something different, change the time of day you exercise, and turn up the intensity level.

In addition to other food and exercise guidelines, Peeke provides plans for both weight loss and weight maintenance. She emphasizes that just diet or just fitness will not do the trick; it's a combined effort.

Nearly 40 pages in the book are devoted to exercises for different muscle groups. She recommends numerous exercises that can be done either in the gym or at home. She also provides a list of equipment for the home gym. Though some of it is expensive and might tend to take up space, I don't think it would be too hard to come up with alternatives.

This book is one I am seriously considering purchasing, just so I'll always have this information at my fingertips - especially as my body moves from one phase to another and has different needs.

19. Still Growing by Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron is probably best known for playing the mischievous-but-lovable character Mike Seaver on TV's Growing Pains. It was during the show's run (from 1985 to 1992) that Cameron went from being a moral atheist to a strong Christian whose values were strengthened. As he chronicles his life as a child star, he's honest about his own short-comings and neuroses. He was definitely not the same person as his TV character.

After giving his life to the Lord, he tried hard to stand up for his beliefs on the set of the show, though some of the causes he stood for led to friction between him and the producers and other cast members.

It was on the set of his sister Candace Cameron's sit-com (Full House), that he first met his future wife, Chelsea Noble. It wasn't until she guest starred on Growing Pains that the two connected and fell in love.

The book goes on to tell of his struggles with being an actor with a heart for God and he overcame the pressures of Hollywood to do what he felt God would have him do.

Having been a fan of Cameron during his years on Growing Pains, it was eye-opening for me to finally see past Hollywood's veil to what he was really like during that time. I have a lot of respect for him and all the different ways he helps minister to people.

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