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Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson


Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.


So I've had this for quite a while now. It was included, a very long time ago, in an IMM post. A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to revise but bored out of my mind, and I saw it lying there on my book trolley (where I keep most of the books I plan to read but never really get round to- the ones I'm currently reading are stacked on a pillow on my bed) so I thought I'd just try it out, see if it really is as good as it's supposed to be.

And guess what? It is.

The first few pages intrigued me. The next few pages bored me- there was all this financial stuff and I'm not really someone who's that interested in economics or business or whatever. I tried though to keep reading, and slowly I was sucked into the world of one Blomkvist and Milennium Magazine. I think it's a huge testament to Larsson's writing skills that the book was able to capture the interest of someone who has never even touched crime-fiction before.

And the next week I was at a bookstore, there I was, actually taking some crime novels off the shelves and flicking through them. I didn't buy any, but that's just because I'm the sort of person who needs to reads the reviews of a few books, know who the 'masters' of a genre are, before I completely plunge into a genre I have never dared to read in the past.

It was disturbing yes, and perhaps there were a few too many sex scenes. But it was still engrossing, and the characterisation was near-perfect (I say near, because I don't believe anything can ever be perfect). All the characters, especially of course, the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, were so well-rounded and realistic. It was possible to see through the eyes of nearly all the main characters- everyone had their rough edges, their secret desires that didn't make them perfect- and even the 'villain' wasn't really a villain, but just a victim himself. The hero, too, was not a hero: he wasn't the best of fathers, which he had himself acknowledged, and a bit of a playboy as well. The heroine, well, she was one of the most complex characters I've ever encountered in an a novel.

Of course, there was social commentary as well, but this was so deftly woven into the plot that not at one single point in the novel did it feel as if Larsson was preaching. No, he was entertaining, and the exact, to-the-point descriptions and the fast pace made it impossible for my attention to waver.

To everyone who has approached crime fiction with trepidation in the past, pick this up from the library or a bookstore or wherever. Read it. You won't regret it and maybe, like me, you'll be inclined to read more crime fiction.

Warning: not for the faint-hearted.

Rating: 4.5/5

In my Mailbox (diez)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

This is a total side-note, but I never have to do Spanish again! (Writing 'diez' reminded me of that- I think I'll be changing that to figures from now on).

This takes into account what I received last week as well.

For review

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares (thanks to Hodder & Stoughton, and it was so beautifull packaged as well!)


Fortune by Megan Cole (thanks to HarperCollins for this!)

Saturday, 29 May 2010

A Few Book Trailers...

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares (The trailer is beautiful and very well-made, and the book itself looks awesome)

Insatiable by Meg Cabot (Such a hilarious trailer, I love Meg!)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

In my Mailbox (nueve)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

I was finally able to buy some books today, it was a very happy time.


The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (I absolutely LOVED the first book, hugely recommended to those who have never considered reading crime as was my case before I read it)

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

We are All Made of Glue by Marina Lewycka

Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to read the books until exams end, but I'm just glad I have some new books.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell


Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation?

The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted.

Rabid fans of Sex and the City will love seeing Carrie Bradshaw evolve from a regular girl into a sharp, insightful writer. They'll learn about her family background -- how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. We'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where the next Carrie Diaries book will take place.


Having watched just half an episode of the TV progamme and the first five minutes of the movie, I started the Carrie Diaries not knowing at all what to expect, and not expecting to like it as much as I did. A fun, quick, easy read, the Carrie Diaries spans Carrie's entire final year of school and introduces us to her high-school friends, her family, and of course, her love interests. It's absorbing and entertaining, maybe a little cliched, but that can be ignored when the protagonist is so likeable and most characters are realistic.

The difficulties her group of friends were experiencing- the betrayal of her best friend, the secret one friend was hiding, how they were slowly drifting part- were all realistic. Favourite characters of mine were Mouse and Walt, infinitely more likeable than the backstabbing best friend, Lali. If we were supposed to feel sympathetic towards her at the end, then Bushnell failed because I sure as hell didn't.

The romantic interests were less interesting to read about. Sebastian, the rebellious rich boy, was cliched and slightly two-dimensional, although there were some rare moments where he seemed to have a real, fleshed out personality. George, the kind, sensible Brown student, was the love interest I ended up rooting for (of course, I doubt Bushnell would have wanted it any other way) although initially, I did think him a little bland and like Sebastian, he was not as well drawn out as he should have been.

Family dynamics were believable and intriguing. Carrie's runaway younger sister was particularly well-developed. The other sister did not appear enough for a full portrait to be formed. Carrie's father was another realistic character and easy to feel sympathetic towards as he was a single father raising three teenage daughters. Contrary to several other YA novels (cough, Twilight, cough), he was very much present in the novel but not to the extent that the father-daughter interaction became boring to read.

The protagonist herself was a likeable, easy to relate to character. I especially loved her quirky and romantic side which made me more interested in the story. I think Bushnell did a fine job in making her personality shine through the narrative. Her (nearly) ceaseless passion will encourage all readers of the Carrie Diaries to follow her example, and although the 'never give up' moral is worn out, Carrie's immense likeability makes it inspiring.

Overall, the Carrie Diaries is a fun, absorbing, coming of age tale which anyone is sure to enjoy reading.

Rating: 4/5