Friday, April 30, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

In the sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist and his magazine, Millenium, get an offer from a freelance journalist to run an article and later publish the book on his story about sex trafficking in Sweden. Before it can be published the freelancer and his g/f, who worked with him and is using the work as her dissertation are shot in cold blood execution style in their apart, where they are discovered by Mikael. The police find the murder weapon and the fingerprints belong to Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist is convinced of her innocence and believes their deaths are related to the work they were doing regarding the sex trafficking and its players and johns. As a full on manhunt looks for Lisbeth, Blomkvist tries to figure out what really happened, what the cryptic name "Zala" that keeps popping up in the research means, and to help Lisbeth before the police get ahold of her.
A lot of back story for Lisbeth in this book. It once again started with a pretty big event that was never mentioned again throughout the rest of the book. There were so many characters in this one I had to keep stopping to remember who was who. I liked this one much better than the first one. Faster paced story and answers some questions, but still leaves a lot unanswered. Like the first one I liked it, but wasn't blown away by it like everyone else. I will read the third one when it comes out though.

4 stars

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Mikael Bloomkvist, a Swedish financial reporter, has just been convicted of libel concerning a story he did on a corporate CEO when is asked to go to Hedestad and meet with Henrik Vanger, former CEO of the Vanger Corporation. With nothing else to do since the conviction he agrees. Henrik explains to him that he wants to hire him for one year, and in that year he wants him to ghost write Henrik's autobiography and try to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Henrik's niece, Harriet, in 1966. The disappearance has obsessed Henrik for the past 40 years and since he is getting older, he would like closer as to what happened. he is convinced Harriet was murdered, and wants Bloomkvist to see what he can find out. Bloomkvist agrees, for an outrageous payout at the end of the year and a little bit of sliver lining. Henrik can give Mikael Hans-Erik Wennestrom on a platter and help him clear his name after the libel conviction. As he starts his research for the autobiography and his attempt at figuring out what happened to Harriet Vanger, he is faced with the pure dysfunction that is the Vanger family for the past generations. Wife beaters, Nazi's and perverts make up most of the family and the closer Mikael gets to the truth, the more he gets sucked in to the family secrets that Henrik is hellbent on exposing. Once Mikael finds some things the police overlooked in the case of Harriet's disappearance, he requests the help of a researcher, who Henrik would approve of, to assist him with all of the sources he needs to check out. Bloomkvist goes to Dirch Frode, Henrik's longtime lawyer, friend and confidante, and in return gets a name of someone that can help him: Lisbeth Salander.

Salander is a 24 year old hacker who works freelance for a private investigation company. She was hired by Frode prior to Henrik hiring Mikael to run his background and provide a report on him. A product of the system, she accepts the job and goes up to Hedestad to help Mikael.

From then on the secrets start to split wide open about the Vanger family. Together they uncover what happened to Harriet in 1966, sexual abuse, incest and murder all in the family tree which brings forward someone who does not want the truth to get out and will stop the 2 of them at any cost.

I finished this yesterday but have had a hard time deciding what to write. The mystery plays out well through the whole book, but the constant financial secondary story was distracting. The first 50 - 100 pages concerning the lawsuit against Mikael went directly over my head. The answer to the mystery was pretty sick and twisted, but not so shocking that I didn't have a feeling where the story was going, even though there were a few surprises in particular that had me setting down the book for a few minutes.. A thing at the very beginning of the book that I thought would play a key roll in the whole story is just explained at the end as an aside. On the other hand, I loved the characters of Bloomkvist and Salander, who reminded me a bit of myself, and I am going to Walgreens this morning in the pouring down rain just so I can get the sequel and start reading it today.

4 stars

Monday, April 19, 2010

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

Evangeline was sent to St. Rose convent at the age of 12 by her father after her mother was kidnapped and murdered. She has led a quiet life inside the cloister, not questioning anything she has ever been told. When she receives a letter asking for access to the convent's archives from an art historian, she at once refuses, writing out the convent's usual response to such requests. But something about this one strikes her as odd; the man is looking for lost correspondence between the former abbess of St. Rose and Abigail Rockefeller in the 1940's, right before the original convent burned to the ground. In their search for the letters, Evangeline realizes that nothing in her life is as it seems and that she is a small piece of a greater puzzle. A group of angelologists, who's sole purpose is to hide the lyre of Orpheus from the Nephilim, a group of men who were born to human and angels and posses both powers. The Nephilim are intent on getting the lyre so they can release their ancestors, The Watchers, from a cave where they have been chained for centuries for disobedience. Also after the lyre is Percival Grigori, a descendant of The Watchers, the man who hired the art historian and someone with a connection to the whole mystery that is almost as deep as Sr. Evangeline's, who is slowly dying from a medical condition only the lyre can help stop.

I didn't like this too much. Some parts I loved, but the story as a whole was long, drawn out, and a bit of a DaVinci Code knock off. If I wouldn't have been house sitting and had been at home with something else to read I wouldn't have even finished it.

3 stars

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

In 1986, Henry Lee is among a group of people standing outside the Panama Hotel when it reopens, revealing an abundance of belongings of the Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. The discovery causes Henry to remember his best friend and first love, a Japanese girl he went to school with during his childhood in the 1940's. They formed a strong bond of friendship and loyalty that they both hoped would last through the war years. Now it's 40 years later and the past is coming back to life, in old photo albums, sketchbooks, and a record recording that many music aficionados don't believe exist. Henry's search through everything found in the basement of the hotel takes him on a journey back in time, to the world he grew up in, his relationship with his parents, and his love for a girl that he let go.

I know everyone loved this book. As usual I am the exception. I thought it was drawn out and overall pretty depressing. The only character I really enjoyed was Sheldon. But I am not one for love stories so maybe that is why. For such a short book it took me almost a week to read it because I just wasn't that interested.

2 stars

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid by Dr. Denis Leary

Leary explains to all who read his book why other countries hate Americans, how people are raising their kids wrong, and how relationships work all from personal experience. From Michael Vick to how men interact with other men and the women in their life to America's fascination with train wrecks like Brittany Spears and Lindsey Lohan to his own version of the 10 Commandments that somehow end up including Michael Jackson and Charlton Heston, Leary is on a major tirade interspersed with hilarious stories from his childhood, his marriage to his wife Ann, and a lot of things I think a lot of people feel but would never say aloud.

Funny enough, laugh out loud funny sometimes, but I wouldn't buy it. Get it from your library instead.

3 stars