Saturday, April 28, 2012

REVIEW: The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium Trilogy, Book 2) by Stieg Larsson

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

In this second book of the Millennium series, after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Millennium magazine is getting ready to publish a very revealing exposé on the sex trade and trafficking in Sweden. But just as the article and book are preparing to come to press, Dag Svensson, author of the book and article and friend to Mikael Blomkvist, is murdered in his home along with his wife Mia. Mikael is fairly certain that the murders have something to do with the material in Dag's book, but due to an unusual set of circumstances, Lisbeth Salander is being sought in connection with the crime instead. But now Lisbeth has gone into hiding, and while Mikael desperately searches for pieces of a really bizarre puzzle in an to attempt to prove her innocence, some of what's uncovered reaches deep into the highest levels of international security. It seems someone will do whatever it takes to keep a secret!

When I finished this book my first thought was, "Whoa, what a ride!" I'm not sure why several people told me they couldn't get past the first few chapters. I agree that like the first book in the trilogy, things may have started off a little slow, but before I was even halfway through, I was having a hard time putting this one down. Though this book could actually stand alone, it certainly adds a lot to have read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo first. For that reason, some initial character development and past story line summaries were scattered throughout the beginning of the book. Perhaps that turned some people off, I don't know.

One thing I have to mention again though, and I believe I said this in my review for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo too, I don't particularly care for the convention of calling characters by their last name. Especially with these non-American names which (to me) so many of them look or sound alike. What's nice about reading on the Kindle though is it makes it super easy to just highlight and search on the name to get a refresher, otherwise I'd probably find this a lot more burdensome than just a minor distraction. Overall, a great read and two thumbs up! I've already started on the final book in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Monday, April 16, 2012

REVIEW: Cirque du Freak #11: Lord of the Shadows by Darren Shan

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Eighteen years after he was pronounced dead and buried, Darren Shan is heading home. The Cirque du Freak is performing in Darren's home town, and though there's the chance he might run into people he used to know and have to explain why he hasn't aged, the greater threat is that this is where destiny has led him, and the fate of both the Vampire and Vampaneze races will be determined by a single battle that is to take place here with the Vampaneze Lord.

This is the 11th book and second to last in the Cirque du Freak series. As usual, it was a super quick read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really like the author's way with words as he describes everything so vividly. And also, he throws in reminders of past characters and events as needed in the story line so even if you've gone awhile in between books, you can easily pick up and recall relevant events from previous books.

I noticed at one point they tried to make a movie out of these books, but it didn't do well at all. I don't recall the details but I remember that it didn't follow the book at all, way too many differences, and the screenplay didn't appear to be written very well at all. It's too bad really because if done right, this 12 book series could easily fit into a couple of 2 hour movies. And they'd be great!

BookCrossing journal page for this book

Friday, April 13, 2012

REVIEW: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Mikael Blomkvist is a 42-year old financial journalist recently accused of libel and facing three months in prison and some pretty hefty fines. After his trial, Mikael is approached by retired industrialist Henrik Vanger with an offer to write the Vanger family history and do a little extra research into the 1966 disappearance of his great niece Harriet. Henrik has been obsessed with Harriet's disappearance for the last 36 years and is convinced that someone in the family is behind her murder, despite the fact that the previous investigation has turned up no evidence to support that supposition. In exchange, Henrik offers to hand over some dirt on Hans-Erik Wennerström, the financier which Mikael is attempting to expose.

With help from some unlikely sources, including 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander, a genius hacker with Asperger's and a large assortment of tattoos and body piercings, they uncover some seriously sick shit that someone will go out of their way to keep hidden. And which puts Mikael right in the line of fire.

Though it starts off a bit slow, this book picked up speed about halfway through and got so that I couldn't put it down. I have to say this was definitely a multi-layered story with a lot going on and some serious undertones. For example, Lisbeth Salander looks and acts like some kind of anti-social street punk but she's actually extremely intelligent, has a near photographic memory, and is simply a product of all the shit she's been through. She's pretty much had to raise herself and up until recently, nobody has really taken the time or interest to help her acclimate. There's also the whole issue about violence against women which comes up several times in the course of the story, and again, the way Lisbeth deals with it, I'd say she's anything but a victim.

Because this was translated from the original Swedish text, there were a couple things here and there that bugged me a little. The author's habit of referring to characters by their last name instead of their first was one. Perhaps it's a European thing but I just couldn't wrap my head around a woman called Berger, or a young girl called Salander. (Which I kept wanting to read as Salamander. LOL) Also, some of the descriptions, especially pertaining to computer stuff, could be a bit tedious:
"He used the NotePad programme (, one of those full-value products that two men at the Royal Technical College had created and distributed as shareware for a pittance on the Internet."
"The rucksack contained her white Apple iBook 600 with 25-gig hard drive and 420 megs of RAM, manufactured in January 2002 and equipped with a 14-inch screen."
The above are just a couple of examples where the added details had absolutely no bearing on the rest of the story and seemed a bit out of place. I assume this was the way it came through in the translation, but I'm surprised all that superfluous detail wasn't edited out.

Those minor points aside, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the next book in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire, very soon.