This is my second time to read this, the first book in Alexander McCall Smith's most popular series. While I enjoyed it the first time around, I gaveThis is my second time to read this, the first book in Alexander McCall Smith's most popular series. While I enjoyed it the first time around, I gave it another star on my second go around. I'm not sure if I liked it better this time (3 years later) because I'm in a different place in life now or because I've grown accustomed to McCall Smith's style (having read many of his other books over the last couple years) or because the audiobook was so well done. The audiobook certainly helped me with the African names and places. Regardless, I am very much looking forward to continuing in this series....more
I'm quickly learning why this is Alexander McCall Smith's post popular series and a best-seller. I'm glad there are a lot more books as I know I willI'm quickly learning why this is Alexander McCall Smith's post popular series and a best-seller. I'm glad there are a lot more books as I know I will be sad when I come to the end of them....more
This is the second book in Stieg Larsson's Millenium Series, and I'm so glad I didn't stop after number one. For some background and to keep from repeThis is the second book in Stieg Larsson's Millenium Series, and I'm so glad I didn't stop after number one. For some background and to keep from repeating myself, read my review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from last August.
I really enjoyed this book. While the first book suffered from a too long introduction of the main characters, The Girl Who Played with Fire jumps right back into Lisbeth Salander's life. It still takes a little while before we get into the meat of the story, but this time I didn't mind because I was enjoying my view into Lisbeth's mind and actions. We also get more of Lisbeth and less of Mikeal Blomkvist, which is a much better balance in my opinion.
Again, while the first one didn't become a real page-turner until over half-way in, this book made me catch my breath after only about a third of the way. And that wasn't the only now-I-can't-put-this-down development.
The Girl Who Played with Fire has all the great elements of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but with slightly tighter writing and an even better story. This time, instead of dealing so personally with aggravated sexual assault, the focus changes slightly to the illegal sex trade. There are still some graphic, violent scenes, but they are not as sexual in nature and involve more telling rather than detailed showing.
Also, I have to warn you, the end is a cliffhanger. I wasn't expecting that since the first book wrapped up all the story lines. I've also heard that #2 is easily the best in the series; however, I need my closure, and I still want more of Lisbeth and even Blomkvist....more
Stephen's pick for book club. I had seen the Jeremy Brett TV movie version, but had never actually read the book. Most excellent and enjoyable! I loveStephen's pick for book club. I had seen the Jeremy Brett TV movie version, but had never actually read the book. Most excellent and enjoyable! I love Watson's superb narration....more
I would really like to give this book 3.5 stars. Three just doesn't seem like enough to express how interesting I found the title's namesake or how thI would really like to give this book 3.5 stars. Three just doesn't seem like enough to express how interesting I found the title's namesake or how the story kept me on the edge of my seat. Yet four seems like too many for a book not particularly well-written. Let me explain.
The title character, Lisbeth Salander, immediately piqued my interest. She is one of society's fringe-dwellers, and one about whom most would immediately categorize upon sight and file away in a neat little box. But like most people, there is more to Lisbeth Salander than meets the eye. The other main character, Mikael Blomkvist, had to grow on me. I found him rather ordinary at first, but he picks up steam not quite half-way through the book.
Unfortunately, the first half of the book is mostly about Blomkvist and his career as an investigate financial journalist. While not completely uninteresting, I kept waiting for things to get good, to see more of Salander, and to get on with the intriguing story dangled in front of me in the prologue.
Once the murder mystery part of the book picked up, I had trouble putting it down. Even after the mystery gets interesting, it still takes awhile before our two protagonists meet and form their unlikely partnership. The book is subdivided into four parts, and each part starts with a statistic about the abuse of women in Sweden. Even this theme was slow to develop as we spent time with Blomkvist and his journalistic pursuits. It's no secret that the author based Blomkvist's character on himself, and I think the book suffers from its strong initial focus in this area.
The mystery itself is gripping, on-the-edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Actually, entertainment is probably not be the best word to use, as Blomkvist and Salander unearth many gruesome, heinous facts and behaviors along the way. However, this is the point of the novel: not to entertain with plot twists and unexpected discoveries, but to expose the horrific, silent abuse and crimes suffered by women. In that sense, it was both hard and good to read.
A warning for anyone who is squeamish: this books deals heavily with aggravated sexual assault. There is much discussion of past crimes as well as scenes of assault happening "live." I am curious to see how the Swedish film handles this (and the upcoming Hollywood film). I don't mind reading about such things, but I would hate to see it played out in front of me. There's also a decent amount of promiscuity and foul language (more of the former than the later).
As to the main reason I docked this book a star (or half a star): Stieg Larsson is not a great composer of words. Great literature this book is not. I wonder how much, if any, it suffered in translation. His dialog was very believable, but his descriptive passages could have used some work. At almost 600 pages, I'd say there was room to trim things down a little.
Another point in favor of the book: it made me think. I'm dying to find someone else who has read it to discuss the views Larsson posits and the questions he raises.
I also found it fascinating to read a book set in Sweden and written by a Swede. My paternal grandmother was Swedish, and I’ve always wanted to visit the country of my ancestors.
I'm planning to read the next book in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, if only to see where Lisbeth Salander goes from here. I have heard that it's a bit better than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
One side note: ads for the book and movie version where everywhere in London, especially in tube stations. It was fun to be reading it while there! Also, I love the name Lisbeth....more
Alexander McCall Smith has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I've already written about 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansions. However, hiAlexander McCall Smith has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I've already written about 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansions. However, his most well-known and popular series is the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. It has even been turned into an HBO TV series (which I have not seen).
This book introduces Precious Ramotswe, who at the beginning of the story has just gained an inheritance from her father and plans to set up the first ladies private detective agency in her native Botswana. Precious is a smart, independent, enterprising, and kind woman. She finds success mostly due to a combination of keen observation of detail, acute knowledge of and care for people, and sheer determination and will. She inevitably has a calming cup of red bush tea on hand to share with clients and friends alike.
I found the book to start out a little slow and it took me awhile to form an attachment to Mma. Ramotswe. Smith's writing is as good as ever, but I just didn't jive with the characters as quickly as his other books. However, by the end of the book, I found myself growing found of this plump motswana woman with the little white van. It's also interesting to learn about the country and culture of Botswana.
Like his other books, No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a light read and a refreshing breath of air. When you've had a hard day, it's nice to pick up something as pleasant as an Alexander McCall Smith novel for some well-written escapism. Really, I'd give this 3.5 stars, and I plan to continue reading the series....more