Amanda Gates
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A Musings

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

Meet our little one, born April 7. And the reason this blog will be going on a short hiatus; not much time or will to read at the moment. :)









 

Posted: Thu, 04/15/2010 - 04:41 | Comments: 2

I have to say, as much as I enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the second book in the trilogy is even better. There were some slow parts in Tattoo, primarily the first 30 pages and the last 45-50 pages or so. This one has kept me hooked from page one. The story is action-packed, the characters are interesting and Lisbeth Salander, our heroine (if you can call her that), kicks butt.

When Lisbeth finds herself in a heap of trouble that has to do with three murders, she's forced to go into hiding and try to solve the murders, and clear her name. Turns out she's the link, and her shadowed past, which we learned so little about in the first book, takes center stage. The journalist Blomkvist believes her innocence and starts his own journalistic investigation, parallel to the police investigation, to find out the truth. The truth isn't pretty - it involves sex trafficking, sexual abuse and considerable brutality - but it definitely grabs you and draws you in anyway.

We get a whole new cast of characters in this book. With series I'm always wary of new characters. Will the author make me care about them as much as I do the main characters? Will these new guys be fully formed and worth my time? Will I hate one so much it'll ruin the story for me? But, I've enjoyed the new characters in this book - both the good guys and the bad guys. And when the bad guys get their comeuppance, I give a little cheer.

When the book trades off between the investigation from both the police's and Blomkvist's perspective to Lisbeth's, there can be a little repetition. The author takes us through some of the same information, just through Lisbeth's eyes as she finds out. Part of me thinks this is unnecessary; and I tended to skim those few parts. But, they were so few, they didn't take away from the story.

I can't wait for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest to come out in May. I'm anxious to learn the rest of Lisbeth's story. (Warning: Do not read the synopsis to the third book if you have yet, and want, to read the first two. There are some spoilers.)

Posted: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 03:13 | Comments: 1

OK, Twilight fans, we're in for another treat. Stephenie Meyer announced that she's releasing a short story called The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Bree was a newborn vampire in Eclipse, so this 200-page story tells about things from her perspective. Meyer says that the short story came in handy for the writers, director and actors in Eclipse, the movie, when they were trying to really get a feel for what newborn life was like.

The physical book will be available for purchase June 5, but Meyer is also offering an electronic copy for free to fans during the month of June. It comes out before Eclipse does, so fans can really learn about Bree before seeing the movie.

Two years ago when I was devouring the Twilight books, I would have about dropped dead from excitement about this news. I'm still excited, but I can tell my fervor over the books has definitely decreased a bit since then. But this book and the movie both coming out in June - makes for a fun month!

Posted: Thu, 04/01/2010 - 02:23 | Comments: 1

If there was ever a reason to have a kid, it's so I can finally get to Disney World (she says, being sarcastic and exaggerating, yet somewhat serious). The idea is even better now that the new Harry Potter Theme Park at Universal Studios will be open. This place looks awesome. Sure, it'll be several years before we get there; the boy has to be old enough to appreciate Disney and Harry. But I'm no less excited. Seriously, look at this place. You can walk by Hogwarts? Have a butter beer in Hogsmeade? Are you kidding? Truly magical.

Posted: Tue, 03/30/2010 - 02:57 | Comments: 1

Seriously can't wait. Sue Sylvester, I love you.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDLk1t47u1E]

Posted: Thu, 03/25/2010 - 03:21 | Comments: 1

The book started out a touch slow. The language was a bit cumbersome at first, and the story didn’t hook me instantly. Instead it had to fill the reader in on some background information, and the author decided to do that first, even though it was a bit boring and confusing as to where it was leading. But, once I got about 20 pages in to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I was hooked. The story weaves together a wronged journalist, a disturbed 20-something private investigator/researcher and a powerful Swedish family. Together they try to solve a 40-year-old mystery of a missing girl. You wouldn’t think a cold case like this would be that interesting to read about, especially when things take place in the frozen tundra of northern Sweden, but it was, in fact, very engaging.

I enjoyed all the characters. The powerful family, the Vanger’s, have a weave of interesting members and the reader, along with the journalist Blomkvist, get to learn all about their dark little secrets. The mystery is a good one, and while I did suspect the true ending right away, there were still plenty of surprises in store. There are also a few other minor mysteries that weave throughout the main story, and though they’re not quite as interesting, they don’t take away from the enjoyment of the story by any means.

The detailed writing and family mystery reminds me of other authors I enjoy, like Tana French and Stephen Carter. And while the book was pretty graphic in violence, especially violence against women, it wasn’t too harsh that it made me want to put the book down. I have the second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and the third comes out in May. Both continue to follow Lisbeth, the researcher, and Blomkvist, so I’m very excited to read those, too.

Posted: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 10:32 | Comments: 2

Coming June 2010!

http://d.yimg.com/m/up/ypp/movies/player.swf
Posted: Thu, 03/11/2010 - 11:25 |

In honor of National Reading Day, which is celebrated on or near March 2, the birthday of the popular Dr. Seuss, I ask the following question (a hard one for many, I'm sure): What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

Mine would have to be And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street. I loved this book when I was little, and I still love the craziness of it. The things he sees! I also love The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, which I remember seeing a play of at the Children's Theatre when I was small. With a baby on the way, I fully expect the classics like Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham to take up permanent residence at bedtime.

Posted: Mon, 03/01/2010 - 21:33 | Comments: 4

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