Amanda Gates
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A Musings - July 2010

Since Mason was born, I've seen three movies in the theater. The hubby and I went to Iron Man II (not as good as the first, but a good, fun movie nonetheless) for our first date post-baby; the girls and I saw SATC II (also not as good as the first, but I'm sorry, I just love the girlfriend power of those four ladies. The movie could completely suck and I'd still love them all). And then, because grandma is always willing to babysit, I was able to make it to Eclipse as well. It took me about a month, and it was killing me that I couldn't get there sooner (thus is parenthood, though, and we're OK with it. Toy Story III looks like it'll have to be a rental). Wow - summer of sequels I guess!

I was extra excited for Eclipse because this was my most favorite of the four books in the series. There was ACTION in this one. Fighting! Vampires being ripped to shreds! Blood suckers and smelly dogs uniting together to fight! Unlike the other books, there wasn't any 'let's talk this out... OK, we'll let you live...'... there was violence and killing, and I liked it.

The movie didn't disappoint. The werewolves looked better than in New Moon. The actors weren't so teenage-angsty, though Taylor Lautner could still use some help in the acting area. I loved Charlie even more in this movie. The newborns were totally frightening. So like the third book, the third movie was definitely my favorite. I'm unsure how the two-part fourth installment will turn out, though, and the fact that we have to way TWO YEARS until it's over? Stupid.

(Next up, Harry Potter. I get goosebumps in anticipation.)

Posted: Sun, 07/25/2010 - 05:38 | Comments: 1

I so enjoyed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, so I was excited to read the second tale of 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag. In this book, little Flavia once again comes across a murder, which somehow connects to a murder several years prior. Through her own cunning and swift questioning of the townspeople Bishop’s Lacy, Flavia once again trumps the local investigator and solves the case.

From a mystery standpoint, this story didn’t grab me quite as much as the one in Sweetness. Also, the villain wasn’t really a villain at all, unlike the dangerous murder from the previous book. Flavia was in real danger in Sweetness. In Hangman, she seemed more like a curious kid rather than a sleuth. But, the book was still cute (Flavia’s a superb character), fun and a quick and easy read. I would read more about Flavia if more books should come out. I just think author Alan Bradley should move her up to the next level in investigating, rather than pull her back.

Posted: Wed, 07/14/2010 - 10:49 | Comments: 2

My first book read after maternity leave was The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest of the Millennium Trilogy. I very much enjoyed the first two in the series. Hornet’s Nest works as an ending to the trilogy, too. I would have to say that of the three, Played with Fire is probably my favorite because it was the most action packed. Hornet’s Nest takes place more in the hospital and the courtroom, however while there’s not tons of action, Larsson does still make the story interesting. It was a bummer that Lisbeth and Blomkvist had zero scenes together, but you can appreciate the reason why. I liked the wrap up of the mystery, too, though one part (Lisbeth’s twin sister) was left wide open. Was this an error? Was Larsson planning something for this part of the story before he died? I don’t know, but it left a big question mark in my mind.

This review is pretty vague because I would hate to ruin any surprises for people still reading the series. I have the Swedish version of Dragon Tattoo set to stream from Netflix, too, though I’ve heard it’s pretty graphic, like the book but unlike what I would expect an American version to be, so I’m not sure I want to watch it. I will see the American version when it comes out, especially since Daniel Craig will play Blomkvist and not Brad Pitt. It’ll be interesting how Hollywood condenses the book into a movie.

I know there are some detractors out there about these books. I’ve read pretty convincing arguments about Larsson’s use of sexual violence against women, and how even though he made Lisbeth out to be an ass-kicking women, does the violence still paint a masochistic picture of Larsson? I don’t personally know, and I just chose to breeze over the gory details onto more of the mystery and interpersonal relationships between the characters. I’ve also read reviews that claim so much of the action takes place on the Web – hacking, money transfers, texting, chatrooms, etc. – and particularly in the last book and how that’s boring. I actually thought it foreshadows where crime-fighting and crime-prevention are going these days.

All in all, I’d give the trilogy 4 out of 5 stars as a whole. The books are detail enriched, sometimes slow, but overall very entertaining. And I think Lisbeth is a great character.

Posted: Thu, 07/01/2010 - 08:42 | Comments: 1