Journalist Mikael Blomqvist has just been found guilty of libel and sentenced to 90 days in jail and slapped with a huge fine. He needs to take a breaJournalist Mikael Blomqvist has just been found guilty of libel and sentenced to 90 days in jail and slapped with a huge fine. He needs to take a break from journalism for a while, so when a former industrial tycoon asks him to write a family history while investigating a 40-year-old mystery, Mikael takes him up on the offer.
I'll be honest here. I've been in a bit of a reading slump for a couple of weeks. I'm just tired from work and even reading takes more energy than I have. So that might be why I didn't fall in love with this, like so many of my friends here have. But I don't think that's entirely it.
One of the biggest things that I think knocked this down a few stars for me is the fact that if I think you're about to start talking about Finance, Investment, Economics, or anything like that, my eyes start to glaze over and I start hearing you the way we hear Charlie Brown's mother: "Wa wa wah wa wah...." Yes, it really is that bad. There's not a lot of that here, but since my tolerance hovers around zero for that kind of thing, a little was too much for me. I still don't have a clue what Salander got up to at the end of this. I needed it spelled out in small words.
But speaking of Salander, I am hopelessly intrigued by her. She was really the big draw of the book for me. Asocial, a little goth, super-intelligent, mysterious, and with a preternatural ability to sniff out someone's deepest, darkest secrets, I always wanted to know more about her. There are little clues here and there, but we don't find out too much of her personal story. I'm hoping that we'll learn more as the trilogy goes along.
The mystery was pretty good. I didn't really know who did it until I was supposed to know. Unfortunately, when the obvious mystery wraps up, another one sort of starts up for the last hundred pages and I dislike it when authors do that too. It did all make sense together in this book, but I like to keep it to just one mystery at a time. There was one HUGE coincidence that provided one of the breaks in the case. Coincidences feel like weaknesses in mystery stories. Maybe not, but this one felt like the author had dug himself into an unsolvable hole and this was the only way he could dig himself out. I didn't care for that either.
The translation from the Swedish was very good and very British. We're talking "gaol-bird" instead of "jailbird" and minor phrases like that. There were some things that didn't make sense, but they were just little things. I like to understand everything though, so this bothered me a little. I'm just talking about abbreviations like "an intern straight out of JMK." Not a huge deal, but I would have preferred to get a name there instead of the abbreviation. And there was this too: "one main street, appropriately enough called Storgatan." ??? Why is that "appropriate"? Not a big deal, but I think that could have just been left out since it wasn't going to make sense to probably 95% of his English readers. Maybe other translations have this kind of thing too, but since I can only really remember reading translations from Spanish, and I do have a basic understanding of that language, I may have overlooked them.
Be warned that there is one scene that is pretty brutal. It felt a little gratuitous except that it gave us a little more insight into Salander's character. I really could have done without it though.
Overall, this was just okay. I could have put it down at any point and never picked it up again. I did enjoy reading about Salander, so I'll pick up the next book. I don't have terribly high hopes for it, but I do hope that we learn more about her....more
In 1925, Percy Fawcett, a seasoned Amazonian explorer, his son and son's friend set out to find a fabulous city in the Amazon that Fawcett calls onlyIn 1925, Percy Fawcett, a seasoned Amazonian explorer, his son and son's friend set out to find a fabulous city in the Amazon that Fawcett calls only "Z." The world had become fascinated with the expedition. Fawcett sent back a few reports, but then none of the men were ever heard from again.
Over the years, many other explorers have set out to solve the mystery of the Fawcett party. All were unsuccessful. Many died. Many theories about what had happened to the men were put forward. All were eventually disproved. David Grann stumbles onto the mystery and starts researching Fawcett and the city of Z.
I listened to this book and it just never grabbed me. I enjoy listening to Mark Deakins, so it wasn't his fault. It was just hard for me to keep up with everyone in the audio format. I couldn't keep up with who was in the Amazon looking for whom, which natives were good or bad, and whether I was in the past with Fawcett or in the present with Grann. I have a sneaking suspicion that my iPod skipped over a few sections but I didn't really notice because all the expeditions just blended into one big one for me.
I did like the end. There was some resolution to the "lost city" part of the story, and it was surprising.
I really don't have anything to add. I have a feeling that I would have liked this much more if I had actually read it. If you're interested, be sure to pick up a print copy....more
I would say that Bound South is a group of connected short stories. There's not really one plot that connects the chapters. Instead, I would say thatI would say that Bound South is a group of connected short stories. There's not really one plot that connects the chapters. Instead, I would say that the author uses these stories, told from the points of view of three different Southern ladies, to explore issues they each face and how hard it can be to move past them, even when they try.
I thought the author did a fantastic job giving each character her own voice. With each story being written in first person, it was very important that she get this right and she did. Louise, the upper-class society matron who holds some surprising views; Caroline, her teenage daughter who is constantly seeking; and Missy, their housekeeper's daughter who tries to hold tight to religion in an increasingly sinful world. Each told her own story in her own way and had something to contribute to the story.
At times funny, sometimes sad, and always thought-provoking, some of the issues the women face are the obvious, such as race, sexual orientation/identity, poverty, religion, and a middle-aged woman's constantly shifting role in her children's lives. Some of the others are not so obvious, such as the surprising directions exploitation can come from, stupid choices that can affect your whole life, how sometimes you're not the only one who carries the weight of your sins, and how hard it is to watch your children make mistakes. But these women face each challenge as it comes, do the best they can, and try to learn from it.
I loved this passage, as Louise is thinking about her daughter:
"How do I tell her that what I want is to know her, to know the woman who made these birds, to see what she might become if she is allowed to spread out, to expand. How do I say, Darling, please. Don't shrink yourself so soon." (Emphasis is the author's)
But I like to feel a connection to the characters I'm reading about and that never happened for me in this book. I loved that I was forced to think about my own beliefs and values, but I did miss that connection. That's why I only gave it three stars. But readers who don't mind that and who want to see what a Southern woman has to say about some current issues, should pick this up....more
Paul Copeland's sister disappeared into the woods of their summer camp one night twenty years ago. The bodies of two of her friends were found. She waPaul Copeland's sister disappeared into the woods of their summer camp one night twenty years ago. The bodies of two of her friends were found. She wasn't. Now, the past is surfacing and the mystery is begging to be solved.
Eh. Had this been my first Coben book, I would've loved it. As it is, this is my third or fourth and the whole thing felt like familiar territory. I'm not saying that it was just another book regurgitated with a different title, or even that it was unsurprising. But enough things had happened in other books that it just felt familiar. There were lots of twists and turns, some of them surprising, and I really didn't see the very, very end coming. I feel like I should have, but I didn't.
I liked Paul overall. But whenever he threw his prosecutor's badge around to intimidate people, he lost big points from me. I'm not a fan of bullies.
That might be part of my problem with the book right there. I dislike bullies and they're in here. I dislike rich people throwing their money at problems and that's in here. I mostly dislike courtroom dramas and that's in here. All that was missing, or at least not as evident, in the books of his that I did really like.
He mentions lots of songs in here that I want to check out. I have a feeling that this book actually has an awesome soundtrack!
This would be a good Coben to start with. If you love Coben, you'll love this one. If you're like me, and you mostly just kinda like the guy, you might be a little disappointed with how familiar this feels....more
Imagine, if you will, that Jane Austen can somehow receive letters from her modern-day readers, asking for her sage advice in love and marriage. That'Imagine, if you will, that Jane Austen can somehow receive letters from her modern-day readers, asking for her sage advice in love and marriage. That's the premise for this charming little book.
Part "autobiography", part self-help book, and part critical analysis, Dear Jane Austen is full of practical advice for all women, no matter what era they're living in. Told in a tone that is mostly pitch-perfect, Austen weighs in on topics ranging from beauty to friends and family, to sex. The only thing that jarred was when she used modern phrases in her answers. There's something of an explanation included, but it still bothered me a little.
There are some spoilers included if you haven't read Austen's entire body of work. I haven't yet, but this didn't really bother me. I think I'll have forgotten the little bits and pieces I learned by the time I actually get around to reading all of her other books.
Fans of Austen will love this little book, especially the single women still looking for their Mr. Darcy....more
Dean Lynch is a Methodist preacher's wife, a role she finds nearly impossible to fill. She comes from a "white trash" background, to use her descriptiDean Lynch is a Methodist preacher's wife, a role she finds nearly impossible to fill. She comes from a "white trash" background, to use her description, so saying the right thing at the right time and being peaches and cream in all situations just doesn't come naturally to her.
When her husband is sent to minister in a church in Crystal Springs, Florida, Dean finally starts to find where she fits in. Unfortunately, that's not with all the catty church ladies. She befriends Augusta, a woman who left the church years ago, taking her husband, and more importantly, their money, with her. Augusta teaches Dean that life is too short to worry about what the church ladies are going to say.
This is a tiny thing but it has irritated the heck out of me ever since I read it. At one point, Augusta's young son Gus goes to visit family in Chapel Hill, NC over Christmas. He's thrilled because he'll get to see snow. And then I think snow is mentioned again in Chapel Hill. And then Chapel Hill is referred to as being in the mountains. No. It's not. Nor can it be relied upon to get snow. It's pretty rare down there. Maybe it was supposed to be another town at first and everything in the book wasn't changed to mesh with reality. Whatever happened, this bugged me.
I did mostly enjoy the book. I liked Dean quite a bit. I wanted to shake her a few a lot of times and tell her to grow a backbone, but otherwise we got along just fine. She goes on and on about how terrible her marriage is and how her husband's a jerk, which he is, but a lot of times I was left thinking that Dean was playing a huge part in marriage's slow crumble too. I'm supposed to feel bad for Dean because Ben is always gone but the book only says that. What I was actually shown was that Dean was always running off to Augusta's house and leaving Ben in the lurch. Show me, don't tell me. But as Dean grew into herself, she got better and better until I was ultimately proud of her.
I didn't care for Augusta as much. She was definitely a free spirit and she could be very generous and funny and fierce in defense of her friends. But she had a streak that I can only call selfish and cruel as well. I was appalled at her reactions to some scenes. Her moods swung so much that I kept hoping someone would drag her in to some sort of counseling. They were bad.
Things change toward the end and it got better for me. I finally had to sit down this evening and just see what was going to happen in all these messed-up lives.
There were a couple of supporting characters that just sort of disappeared. I liked them a lot and they had a terrible time of things but then they were gone. I wish there had been some sort of report on how they were doing.
The church people were just stereotypes and not fleshed out at all. Two handsome, charismatic preachers; the spiteful piano player; the ditzy, single singer; the politically-incorrect member with the money--I would have preferred that they not be so one-dimensional.
I came down harder on this than I meant to. It is enjoyable, I think I just got frustrated because it could have been even better. Still, it's a good read and definitely worth picking up, especially for a day at the beach....more
A magus trying to capture Death captures her younger brother, Dream, instead. He's trapped like a goldfish in a bowl for 70 years, a time when the "slA magus trying to capture Death captures her younger brother, Dream, instead. He's trapped like a goldfish in a bowl for 70 years, a time when the "sleepy sickness" took over the earth. Some people slept through a lifetime. But the Sandman has patience and he has time to plan his revenge.
I haven't read that many graphic novels. Really, I've only read graphic novel memoirs and Coraline. So this genre is pretty new to me.
I wasn't hugely impressed, but that's just me. Although I have read a lot of reviews that say this first volume is just okay and it gets better from here. I like the basic idea of the story, and I have to say that I am hugely impressed by all the myth and story Gaiman has worked into the storyline. I know I missed some of it, but what I caught was seamlessly integrated and impressive in its scope.
By the end, it had gotten way too dark and disturbing for my taste. That's all I'll say.
I did like the way that The Sandman is depicted. He looks very badass (and somehow like Gaiman himself, but maybe I'm projecting) and I do like the long, flowing cape. I also love the covers that Dave McKean did. I stopped at every one to inspect it carefully, and I honestly rarely do that with artwork in books.
That's really all I have to say. Judging by this one, I probably wouldn't continue with the series. There's just enough potential, and I've heard just enough about the rest of the series for me to give one or two more volumes a try. Those who are well-established fans of graphic novels will probably like it more than I did....more
In the future, after the Something That Happened, people's places in society are determined by the color they can see. Purples are the ruling class anIn the future, after the Something That Happened, people's places in society are determined by the color they can see. Purples are the ruling class and Greys are sort of the untouchables. Eddie Russett is a bit of a rogue. He thought of a new idea for queuing and new ideas are frowned upon. After a prank, he is sent to live on the Outer Fringes, where he meets Jane, a Grey with a bewitchingly retroussé nose and a reputation for violence. His fascination with Jane leads him to start questioning what he sees going on around him.
I see potential here, but this first book in the series mostly felt like world-building to me. There's plenty of stuff going on, but I really did feel like it was mostly just to show me how very screwed up this society is. That said, let me tell you a couple of things about me that you should probably know.
I'm not crazy about dystopian literature as a whole. If an author writes an exciting story with characters that I like, (think The Hunger Games), I'm fine with dystopias. But I don't love them just because they're set in a world where things have gone wrong.
Also, I don't know anything about color theory. I love Jasper Fforde's sense of humor in the Thursday Next series and the Nursery Crimes series, but that's probably because I'm on solid footing with books and nursery rhymes. People who know more about color than me might get more out of this book, just like I'm going to understand more of the humor in The Eyre Affair than a non-reader.
I do see potential for me to ultimately like the series. Eddie is a likable chump who is on his way to becoming much more, but Jane is a character that I think I'll really, really like. We just aren't told a whole lot about her in this book. It's really just enough to want to know more.
I'll continue on, and I still love Jasper Fforde, but if you're picking up his work for the first time, I don't think I would recommend this one. So far I prefer his other two series much more....more
Jesse Aarons is the class misfit. Something of a dreamer, and a talented artist, he just doesn't fit in with his practical, competitive classmates. BuJesse Aarons is the class misfit. Something of a dreamer, and a talented artist, he just doesn't fit in with his practical, competitive classmates. But Leslie Burke moves next door at the beginning of their fifth-grade year, and the two eventually become best friends. Leslie shows him that a different life is possible.
I'll just say it--this book irritated me to no end. It was crawling with Southern stereotypes. For a book that's trying to show that there's a place for everyone in the world, I just really found that unacceptable. It seemed like most of the characters went by two names: May Belle, Joyce Ann, Wanda Kay. I'm sure there were more. And then there was the fact that everyone, except for Jesse, Leslie, and her family, couldn't speak without throwing a double negative in there. It happens. It's not as bad as this book makes it sound. And then there was the way that all the poor kids were stupid, narrow-minded, and ignorant, and their parents beat them when they weren't in jail. Give me a break.
Had I read this when I was younger, I would probably have overlooked all of that and just focused on the story of the beautiful friendship between Jesse and Leslie and how she showed him that there is a bigger world out there and how we should always show each other kindness. That's a great message. But I didn't read it when I was younger and right now I just don't care....more
Philip Ashley was raised by his cousin Ambrose. He is the center of Ambrose's world--a man's world, where all the servants on the estate are men, thePhilip Ashley was raised by his cousin Ambrose. He is the center of Ambrose's world--a man's world, where all the servants on the estate are men, the dogs live as much in the house as in the kennel, and days are spent in gardening, farming, and overseeing the tenants. When Ambrose goes abroad for the winter, leaving Philip in charge of the estate, Philip is disturbed when he receives a letter saying that Ambrose has married a long-lost relative, his cousin Rachel. Philip knows that his world will never be the same.
This was a little too slow for what it was. Maybe the basic premise was still new and shocking at the time it was written, but now it just felt stale. That's probably not fair to du Maurier, but sometimes it happens.
I often read in other people's reviews (not necessarily of this book, just in general) "Show me, don't tell me!" I can honestly say that I've always kind of wondered what they really meant. Well, I do know what they mean, but I've never noticed it in a book I was reading before. I noticed it here. We're told how much Philip loves his home and his way of life, but we don't ever see it. He's actually pretty neglectful and irresponsible throughout most of the book.
I didn't like anyone. Philip was irritating to me and Rachel was inscrutable. I could have liked Louise, but she had a very minor role.
I did like the ambiguous ending. If I had enjoyed the book more, I would be chewing it over for a while. As it is, I probably won't think about it again.
This might have just been a bad time for me to read this. I've just finished a month of mostly quick Halloween-related reads and this was a huge shift in style and pacing. But I really don't think that it was as good as Rebecca....more