Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

I finally finished The Girl who Played with Fire, so this week you get to have a teaser from a new book!!  WhooHoo!!

"As the situation developed, the futility of attempting suicide in the middle of a hospital became apparent.  Gullberg was transported at top speed to the hospital's trauma unit, where Dr. Jonasson received him and immediately initiated a battery of measures to maintain his vital functions." - The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, by Stieg Larsson.

What's your teaser?

Friday, September 24, 2010

TV - 2010 Fall Premieres

Thursday Night:

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - The gang is back!  Wolowitz built a robot arm for the space station.  Sheldon has a date!?!  And apparently Penny has had too many...

$#*! my Dad Says (CBS) - A guy visits his dad to ask for money, but doesn't know how to do it.  Ends up wanting to build a relationship with dad.  Dad says crazy and (sorta) funny things.  We'll see how long this lasts.

The Vampire Diaries (CW) - This actually premiered several weeks ago, but I LOVE this show!  Elena & Stephan are great, Stephan is mentoring Caroline in how to not kill people, and convinces Bonnie to make her a Daywalking Ring so she doesn't have to stay inside all day.  Poor thing.  Alaric is back (YAY!), and he and Damon and Elena go to Isobel's old office to search for clues about the Lockwood family.  The little research assistant tries to kill Elena, thinking that she's Katherine, but Damon jumps in front of the arrow/stake to save Elena.  He's trying really hard to play nice and win her friendship back, but she's having none of it.  And Caroline, possibly for the first time ever, does a really selfless thing.  Awwww!

Wednesday Night Leftovers:

Hell's Kitchen (FOX) - Once again aspiring chefs from all over the country come to LA to get yelled at by Chef Ramsey when they screw up.  But maybe they won't screw up, you say?  Oh yes - yes they most certainly will!!  JP is replaced by some not-as-cute guy with a not-as-cute accent, and we decided that Raj (the only character whose name I remember) is not really a person, but a giant, insane Muppet.  Oh, and someone else went to the hospital and someone else went home.  Whatever...

Recorded but not yet watched: Bones, Fringe, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Nikita.

Are you watching too much TV, too?  Leave a comment and tell me about what shows you liked and didn't like!

Review - The Girl who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson

"Fire" starts approximately a little over a year after "Dragon" ended. Salander has broken all contact with Mikael and is travelling the world with her new-found riches - basically avoiding Stockholm and anywhere Mikael might be.  After experiencing a hurricane in the Caribbean and saving a woman from her abusive husband she decides to go home, where she does a lot of shopping - new clothes, new apartment, new furniture, etc.  Somewhere along the way she seems to realize that she has no one in her life, and tries to make amends with a few of her friends and re-connect, in her own awkward way, but still avoiding Mikael.

Meanwhile, Mikael and the Millennium magazine are working on a huge story about human trafficking and the sex trade.  When the story intersects with Salander's life in a major way she becomes the prime suspect in a major murder investigation, and even though Mikael knows that she is innocent, he can't prove it without her help, and she's not the least bit interested in helping, or explaining her side of the story to the police.

Once again the story starts out extremely slow, crawling along, full of events and scenes that to me didn't seem to advance the story in any way, for about the first half of the book.  Then suddenly, everything happens at once...

The ending is remarkable, almost unbelievable, and amazingly awesome all at the same time.  You can't believe what you're reading but you also can't stop, and suddenly you turn the page and  - the end?  WTF?  But the story isn't done yet!  Is everyone OK?!  OMG - what happens next?!  Make sure you have book 3 close by so you can immediately start reading it, as it picks up about 5 minutes after this one ends.

"Fire" is more concise thematically, I think, and more focused.  The main issue here is the sex trade, and how women - girls, really - are treated in the industry.  But the theme also transfers into Salander's life, as her mother was also horribly mistreated and abused by a viciously evil man - an event that sent Salander spiraling into her aggressively anti-social behavior, and triggered a massive government cover-up.  The parallel of the government actively hiding the abuse in Salander's case, and their willful ignorance of the abusive sex trade in general was highlighted well.  Laws are worthless if the authorities don't enforce them, or if they look the other way when their own members break them.

I gave "Dragon" 4 stars, but I'm only giving "Fire" 3 stars, not because it's bad in any way - I quite enjoyed the story myself - but only because it started so slowly.

Have you read this series?  What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

TV - 2010 Fall Premieres

Wednesday Night:
Survivor (CBS) - This time the Survivors are stranded on the beaches of Nicaragua.  The teams are divided by age - 30 and younger on one side, 40 and older on the other.  Tribal council is in the ruins of an old Spanish mission, which is awesome, though not quite as awesome as the tree house they had last time.  But most important, they've moved it to Wednesday!  WTF?  Last week the younger team won, and the older team had to send the crazy lady packing.  This week the older team used their heads and played their advantage medallion thingy, and the younger team lost.  And immediately fell apart!  The bickering and bitching that went on at Tribal Council surprised even Jeff, and he's seen everything!  Now that no one trusts anyone, it should be interesting to see how they get along when they get back to camp!

ANTM (CW) - This season, ANTM has come back to California.  The girls live in a cute little modern house right on the beach, and participate in the usual challenges while participating in the usual bitch-fights!  Bring on the drama!!  This group is so bland and boring that I haven't figured out any one's name - except Ann, who looks like she's from another planet.  But in a good way.  The prize for winning has been upgraded this season - instead of the winner appearing on the cover of Vogue, they will appear on the cover of Italian Vogue - 'cuz this time it's all about the "high fashion."

Hellcats (CW) - This is an entertaining show about Marti, a female gymnast/street dancer law student who joins the Hellcats to maintain her scholarship. But even though she's always made fun of the cheer team, she discovers that they aren't all ditsy blond dummies, but real people with like, feelings and stuff.  Throw in some mom troubles, performance anxiety, and (oh yeah!) homework, and you have a fun little show.  I don't know if it will last, but I'm enjoying it for now. Ashley Tisdale (of Disney fame) does fairly well as one of the team members, an intensely serious yet peppy girl who's been home schooled and transferred to the secular Lancer College(much to the dismay of her family) from a nearby christian college. Last night she had her first date with a real boy - OMG!  Also, her sister is on a rival cheer team - oh! the drama!!

Recorded but not yet watched: Undercovers (with sexpionage!), & The Real World: New Orleans Reunion.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TV - 2010 Fall Premieres

Tuesday Night:
Glee (Fox) - AWESOME!!  The gang is back with new songs, new potential glee club members, and Will & Sue have a new nemesis that may cause them to join forces this season.  Question:  Why does Rachel know where to find a crack house?

Raising Hope (Fox) - Okay, I watched this because I like Cloris Leachman, Martha Plimpton, and Garret Dillahunt.  The show was ok - hysterically funny at times, really stupid at other times.  I'll give it another chance or maybe two before I make up my mind if I like it.

Monday Night Leftovers:
Castle (ABC) - Castle returns from his summer in the Hamptons but doesn't call Beckett because he isn't sure if she'll still want him around.  But then Beckett finds him at the scene of a murder and promptly arrests him as a suspect.  Of course he didn't do it, and then a bet is made about who can solve the multiple crimes first, with Castle's ability to remain part of the team as the stakes.  Funny, fun, and touching, all in all a great return of one of my favorite shows!

Gossip Girl (CW) - Actually this is week two, but oh well.  C isn't dead and doesn't have amnesia, but looks really cute in his French peasant clothes.  B sees him in the street and drives on by.  S can't choose between D & N, but at the last moment her choice is taken away from her.  Oops!  And while it's totally obvious that D isn't the father, the question remains - Who is the Baby Daddy?

Recorded Parenthood - haven't watched it yet but trust me, it'll be good!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TV - 2010 Fall Premieres

(Beware of the Spoiler Monster - I won't warn you again!)

Sunday Night:
Well, "The Gates" (ABC) wrapped up quite nicely, yet still managed to leave a few dangling leads.  Hopefully ABC will choose to bring this show back next summer.  I thoroughly enjoyed it during this past summer season!

Monday Night:
"Chuck" (NBC) - Hooray for the return of Chuck!  This was a great premiere episode, reminding us of why we love Chuck as he runs around the world searching for his mother.  Sarah is off being a spy, the CIA rebuilds the Buy More to use as a new undercover base and to entice Chuck to return to the game.  Suddenly Sarah's mission and Chuck's search cross paths and all hell breaks loose!  And apparently Ellie has a surprise...

The Event (NBC) - Intriguing new show about the event.  Or something.  We don't yet know what that means.  But I loves me some Jason Ritter, even with the scrappy-looking-beard-wannabe-thing!  The mixed-up order was a little confusing at first, but helped build the suspense. But the last few minutes were bang-up spectacular!!  Can't wait to see/learn more about this "Event" thing!

Recorded, but not yet watched - Castle, Gossip Girl (premiered last week).  This are both returning shows which I love, so I'm sure they'll be great.

Teaser Tuesday - The Girl who Played with Fire

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

I've been so busy reading (and a few other things) that I haven't had much time to post updates, but I didn't want to miss out on TT! I've almost finished The Girl who Played with Fire, so my teaser comes from it again:

"During the journey the giant had handled her as if she weighed nothing at all. He ripped the tape off her mouth when the van stopped. He lifted her and carried her inside without the least effort and dumped her on the cement floor, paying no heed to her protests. When he looked at her his eyes were ice cold." -The Girl who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Booking Through Thursday (1)

Today’s question is suggested by Mae.
“I couldn’t sleep a wink, so I just read and read, day and night … it was there I began to divide books into day books and night books,” she went on. “Really, there are books meant for daytime reading and books that can be read only at night.”
- ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera, p. 103.
Do you divide your books into day and night reads? How do you decide?

In truth, I had never thought of doing this before. And in reading through the responses I was fascinated that there were actually people who this!  I will sometimes be in the middle of multiple books at the same time and read whichever one happens to be closest to me at the time, but I had never considered having specific books for nighttime and daytime.

Although I do have very specific opinions about what music and songs are OK to listen to in the winter, and which ones are suitable for summer.  ;o)

What about you?  Do you divide your books into "read by day" and "read by night"?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Girl Who Played With Fire

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine:
"Reluctantly she came to the conclusion that it was no surprise he kept the drawer locked.  She did not like the situation, but she could not think of any immediate pretext for waking him and scaring the shit out of him." -The Girl who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Millennium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson, Translated from Swedish to English by Reg Keeland
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 09.09.10 * * * *

As I've said before, I was not looking forward to reading this series.  I've heard the hype, everybody loves it, yada yada best book ever blah blah. But it just didn't sound like it was up my alley, so to speak, so I never picked it or borrowed it from the Library.  I just didn't care, and I didn't think I would enjoy it.

Boy, was I wrong!

This is a fascinating, complex, and extremely well written novel, filled with interesting and vibrant characters that you want to know more about.  It starts out slow - almost glacially slow - but that doesn't last long, thank goodness!

It starts with financial journalist and co-owner of the Millennium Magazine, Mikael Blomkvist, watching his career crumble to dust after losing a libel lawsuit.  When a stranger approaches with a job offer that may help clear his name and credibility, he reluctantly agrees to research a decades-old mystery - the disappearance of a young teen-age girl - under the guise of writing a biography of a prominent industrial family.  Mikael begins, not expecting to find anything that wasn't caught in the original investigation, but with the help of Lisbeth Salander he realizes that not everything is as it appears. She's a strange girl with tattoos, piercings, and a ton of issues - but she's also a genius, has a photographic memory, and is one of the best computer hackers alive.  Together they stumble on several clues that were never recognized as such at the time of the disappearance, and eventually their probings and questions start hitting too close to home and their own lives become endangered.

Larsson writes beautifully, (although I'm not sure how much of the flow is due to the original author and how much is due to the translator), and even the slow parts flow rather nicely.  There were several scenes that I wasn't really sure why they were included - hearing the details of Mikael's endless walks around the island and his shopping trips in the village weren't really strictly necessary, but I suppose they did contribute something to the general pacing of the novel.  Mikael spends months researching but not really learning anything, and wondering if he should just give up, and you do sort of feel his lethargy.  Once the pace of the story picks up though, it grabs you by the back of the neck and compels you to follow at breakneck speed, scrambling to keep up.  I stayed up far too late, too many nights in a row simply because I couldn't put the damn book down!

Larrson's writing skills are also evident in his creation of Lisbeth, a girl with so many contradictions, flaws, and annoying habits that one doesn't expect to like her at all.  She's ruthless and uncaring, and doesn't let anyone close to her.  Her sections of the story tend to be written in tense, short, machine-gun burst  sentences that I think give the reader a feeling of what it's like to be in her head.  Oddly, I came to love her part of the story the most.

Basically this was an amazing story where nothing is what is seems, everything and everyone are suspect, appearances are deceiving, and perspectives are vital to understanding.  What seems like a threat may just be a kindness, or the kind act a threat.  The novel explores themes of sexuality, crime, mental illness, friendship, and the damaging effects of neglect and violence against women.  It's not an easy read, and makes you really think about the story and the themes it represents.  This is not the type of book that I would typically re-read, which is why it only gets 4 stars, but this is definitely a story that should not be missed!

If you've read this book, please leave a comment below and tell me what you thought!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Currently Reading: that "Dragon" book.

If you're keeping track, then you know that I'm currently reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson.  I should finish it tonight and will be able to talk more about it after I'm done.  But, just a couple of side notes:

First, the majority of the story takes place on a fictional island (Hedeby Island), next to a fictional city (Hedestad) in Sweden, several hours north of Stockholm.  Much reference is made to various points on the island, and the small bridge to the mainland plays a pivotal role in the story.  Plus there's lots of discussion about what family member lives in which house on the island, which house has what views, and who lives next door to whom.  It would have been really nice if there had been a map of some sort to help keep it all organized. 
But wait!  In the original version, there WAS a map of both Hedestad, and Hedeby Island, but for some reason they were not included in the English translation of the novel.  However, the person who did the translation was kind enough to provide English versions of the maps online, and you can find out more about that and the maps over at Sallysfriends.net, which is a fun website devoted to the Millennium trilogy in general and Lisbeth Salander specifically.

Second, I am so glad that Sony Pictures cast Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist in the english language version of the movie, due out in late 2011.  I loves me some Daniel Craig!!

And third - I don't know how the hell they made this into a movie!  There's so much going on, that is seems like it would take hours to get it all in!  I think I may need to watch the foreign film before the American film is released, just to see how it turned out, and so I'll be able to compare the two films.

Have you read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" or seen the Swedish film?  What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine:
"Now we come to the real reason I want to hire you.  I want you to find out who in the family murdered Harriet, and who since then has spent almost forty years trying to drive me insane."
--The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Mirror and the Mask: A Jane Lawless Mystery

The Jane Lawless Mystery Series, by Ellen Hart
1. Hallowed Murder 02.13.06
2. Vital Lies (TBR)
3. Stage Fright 02.17.06
4. A Killing Cure 02.28.06
5. A Small Sacrifice 02.28.06
6. Faint Praise 08.19.10 * * * *
7. Robber’s Wine 03.02.06
8. Wicked Games (TBR)
9. Hunting the Witch 03.03.06
10. The Merchant of Venus 03.06.06
11. Immaculate Midnight 03.07.06
12. An Intimate Ghost 03.08.06
13. The Iron Girl 03.17.06
14. Night Vision 02.13.07
15. The Mortal Groove 05.20.08
16. Sweet Poison 08.25.10 * * * *
17. The Mirror and the Mask 08.31.10 * * * *
18. The Cruel Ever After (TBR - Release Date 12.07.10)
(TBR = To Be Read)

The Mirror and the Mask begins on a cold February day, with Jane minding her own business.  Literally, she's at work, dealing with a busted water pipe in one of her restaurants, when a young woman comes in asking for a job.  Annie Archer is in town temporarily looking for her father who disappeared immediately after her mother's death years before.  Jane agrees to give her some temp work, and starts poking into Annie's past to see if she can find the missing father.

Cordelia turns out to be the lucky one who finds him, however.  Turns out Annie's father is a very wealthy business owner in the construction industry, married with two children, and a well-known philanthropist named Jack Bowman.  But something about the whole story feels off to Jane, and when Jack's second wife Susan is found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their home, Jane starts poking a little deeper to see if she can get to the truth.  There is the beginnings of an attraction between Jane and Annie, but Jane is still a little fragile in regards to relationships, and she isn't sure if she can trust Annie with her heart when Annie seems to be less than truthful with several points in her story.

In fact, it turns out that everyone is lying about something, whether it's an affair, an alibi, or their own name.  Both Annie and Jane are searching for answers, but to very different questions.  Who killed Susan?  Did Susan's son Curt finally snap and succeed in killing her (he may have tried once before!) Why did Jack abandon his first family and change his name?

As always, Author Ellen Hart provides plenty of questions, intrigue, and mystery for Jane and the gang to sort out.  This story was a little quieter and not quite as fast-paced as some in the series, and tended to focus more on Annie than on Jane, but all-in-all, a good read.  I gave it 4 stars.  Jane and the gang will be back in the 18th installment of the series titled "The Cruel Ever After" which will be released in just a few months in December 2010.

Next up - I've finally started "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."  People keep telling me that I'll like it, but for some reason I'm feeling some resistance to reading it - I've been avoiding picking it up for days.  But, I've started it, and I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

TV - The Primetime Emmys

Apparently, I am the only person in the country who actually liked (LOVED would be the more appropriate word) Anna Paquin's dress. I know.  I'm wrong like that. 

Or maybe it was only the critics that hated her look.  The poll on The Huffington Post shows that (at this point, anyway) the majority liked it.

Discuss amongst yourselves...

Life - Anniversary

This post has nothing to do with reading or books.  Really, it doesn't.

Well, maybe sort of...

You see, today is the 10th Anniversary for my partner Bob & I.  We cannot legally marry in Oregon, but nevertheless we've been together for 10 years. Sometimes it seems like it's been much longer than that, and other times it feels much shorter, as if we just met last week.  But throughout this decade-long relationship, he has always been hugely supportive of my need to read constantly, to never go anywhere without a book, and to surround myself with stacks and towers and piles of books. 

The first time he suggested that we put my bookcase and some of the books in storage, he quickly noted the look of horror and terror on my face as I thought about being separated from all my books, and instantly withdrew the suggestion.  He isn't much of a reader himself, and I'm sure that sometimes he wearies of hearing me talk about what I'm reading, or trying to get him to read the latest novel that I've fallen in love with, but he mostly listens and doesn't mock (too much!).  He encouraged me to start this blog, and then encouraged me to continue when I let it lapse for so long.

So while I find it odd that he doesn't dive headfirst into every book he passes, and that he thinks anything over 300 pages is a waste of time (What?!? That's barely a good start!), and he gets bored in Barnes & Noble (Seriously, how is that even possible?!), all the same, I think I'll keep him.

Happy 10th Anniversary, Bob. I love you as much as my books.