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review 2018-07-20 20:34
Shades of Nordic Noir
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

The books comprising the ‘Millennium Trilogy’ have achieved, albeit posthumously, almost legendary status for Stieg Larsson. Having previously delivered the manuscripts to his Swedish publisher, tragically the author died of a heart attack in 2004, aged just 50 and consequently he never witnessed the international plaudits, which were eventually to greet this exceptional work. I read the series a number of years ago, but I wanted to revisit them before reviewing and I was curious to see if my original impressions remained. Clearly, international sales of the books, reported to be of the order of 80 million copies worldwide, is quite a phenomenon. But what is it that continues to strike such a chord with the readers of popular crime fiction?


Powerful yet shocking, violent yet touching, this novel is at its heart a thriller, which contrasts the most depraved, base examples of humanity with the most outwardly unassuming characters. Yet, in investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and security analyst Lisbeth Salander, Larsson has created main characters who are clearly flawed, but retain a complexity and depth, which is truly absorbing, thrown together as they are, to combat low points in their respective lives and the situational challenges that follow.


At the opening of the book, Blomkvist has just been found guilty of libel against financier, Hans-Erik Wennerstrȍm and is faced with three months in prison as well as a sizeable fine. Salander, a very different kind of investigator, is commissioned by her sometime employer to generate a report on Blomkvist and is intrigued that for such a careful reporter, he appears not to have contested the case. The author cleverly uses the report to inform the reader about Blomkvist and the thoughts of Salander’s boss at Milton Security (CEO, Dragan Armansky) to sketch out an early impression of her. Both are mavericks, with quite contrasting personalities, but as the plot unfolds they are bound inextricably together. Salander has experienced a troubled young life and might be considered a victim, but for her capacity for violent retribution. Brilliant, but emotionally cold, Salander lacks the capacity for empathy, but is drawn towards Blomkvist’s open warmth, humour and laid back attitude. What they share is an insatiable appetite for answers and the need for justice to be served, though Salander is quite bemused by Blomkvist’s attachment to the rule of law.


The ‘Millennium’ of the title is a magazine and Blomkvist’s enforced sabbatical enables him to take up a freelance assignment, for ex-industrialist Henrik Vanger. Ostensibly tasked with writing a biography of the Vanger family, Henrik though is obsessed with identifying the murderer of his great niece and favourite (Harriet Vanger) and persuades Blomkvist to mount an investigation for which he is prepared to pay handsomely and on completion, the prospect of some useful information about Blomkvist’s nemesis - Wennerstrȍm. The investigation centre’s on events which took place forty years earlier on the island of Hedestad, owned by the Vanger family and where generations continue to live in splendid isolation. In that sense there are echoes of an Agatha Christie whodunit, with a limited cast of suspects, but getting to the ‘how’ and ‘why’ is deliciously convoluted. Moreover, the nature of the comeuppance doled out to a series of villains is supremely satisfying.


Curiously this first book in the trilogy introduces the key protagonists and can stand alone as a novel, with a discrete storyline. Books 2 and 3 feels like a further, longer story, dissected into two just to make the volumes manageable, but developing the characters in all their dysfunctional glory. In any event, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ remains a ground-breaking book, which helped herald the contemporary genre of Nordic noir and propel it into the spotlight of popular literary culture. For me, it is understandably vaunted as a ‘modern classic’, not to everyone’s taste, but quite a ride.

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review 2018-07-20 16:08
[Book Review] The Girl in the Green Silk Gown
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown - Seanan McGuire

Previously Reviewed

 
If you're reading The Girl in the Green Silk Dress you should already know all the major players.  Rose Marshall, Bobby Cross, Apple, Emma, Gary, Laura, the Ocean Lady, and even Persephone.  They all had their parts to play in Sparrow Hill Road
 
This is in many ways the first true novel about Rose, Sparrow Hill Road being a collection of short stories.  As a protagonist Rose is a mix, she is a force to be reckoned with, but at the same time spends much of the story being pushed or pulled through obstacles (or by obstacles), while avoiding her primary goal of the story... defeating Bobby Cross.  In her defense, no one knows how to achieve that, and he's put her in a situation she doesn't have the tools to defeat him with until it's fixed.


Rose also has growing pains, at the end of the last novel she was reunited with her teenage love, and they are both learning about each other and what being together as ghosts means... and what their type of existence requires.  Her other relationships grow, change, and develop too, adding depth and filled with twists both expected and surprising.

I'm seeing this book listed in places as 2 of 2 in its series, and I'm hoping that's an error.  There is a lot unanswered, unfinished, in this story, and I want to see where this road takes us.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of DAW (Penguin RandomHouse) in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2018/07/book-review-girl-in-green-silk-gown.html
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review 2018-07-14 11:44
The Salt Fish Girl
Salt Fish Girl: A Novel - Larissa Lai

After a month of trying to read a mere 256 pages, I have finally finished this...but I still really don't know what the book was trying to do or what it really was about. 

 

We have two stories being told in alternate chapters: the story of Nu Wa, a take on the Chinese creation myth, and the story of Miranda, which is set in the future and tells of a girl who was born with an unusual condition - she smells of durian fruit and later develops scales.  

 

I got the connection between Miranda and Nu Wa, but I'm not sure I got anything out of the book. I guess I needed a bit more in the way of connecting the dots or elaborating on why certain things were the way they were. 

 

For example what did Miranda's father do for a living that is called "tax collecting" but seems to happen in virtual reality where he still gets beat up every night?

 

I guess the book just wasn't for me.

 

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review 2018-07-10 03:52
Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace, #3) by Vanessa North 5 Star Review!!
Roller Girl - Vanessa North

Recently divorced Tina Durham is trying to be self-sufficient, but her personal-training career is floundering, her closest friends are swept up in new relationships, and her washing machine has just flooded her kitchen. It’s enough to make a girl cry.
Instead, she calls a plumbing service, and Joanne “Joe Mama” Delario comes to the rescue. Joe is sweet, funny, and good at fixing things. She also sees something special in Tina and invites her to try out for the roller derby team she coaches.

Derby offers Tina an outlet for her frustrations, a chance to excel, and the female friendships she’s never had before. And as Tina starts to thrive at derby, the tension between her and Joe cranks up. Despite their player/coach relationship, they give in to their mutual attraction. Sex in secret is hot, but Tina can’t help but want more.

With work still on the rocks and her relationship in the closet, Tina is forced to reevaluate her life. Can she be content with a secret lover? Or with being dependent on someone else again? It’s time for Tina to tackle her fears, both on and off the track.

 

 

Review

 

I have heard how good this book is and should have picked it up much sooner because this is an excellent romance. 

Tina is a wonderful heroine. North has created layer upon layer and we get to see her fall in love again after being so hurt in her marriage after she transitioned. 

My favorite thing about Vanessa North's writing is that her characters have full complex lives and part of the plot is the merging of those lives and the complication that can bring. 

Joe is very sexy and we get the joy of roller derby plus a great circle of friends. Oh and Elvis the dog. 

I would love a little longer of a happily even after but so many of aspects of this book delight with tenderness, passion, and the glow of both love of another and of self.
 
 

 

 

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review 2018-07-07 22:26
Princess Fisk
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2015-) #32 - Natacha Bustos,Brandon Montclare

And yes, her first name is Princess.  

 

She's taking over Lunella's school as Fisk gets way more involved than anyone wants him to with the school system. 

 

This is not going to end well...

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