Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 
by Stieg Larsson

Published: 2008
Synopsis (GoodReads): Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues.

--May contain spoilers--

I was swayed in two directions before I started reading this book. On the one hand I had my mum and sister telling me how poorly they thought of it, an opinion I respect because of the 1000s of crime novels my mum has read, and on the other hand there were the shining recommendations by authors I respect and other people (i.e. bloggers) that I've come to respect. I tried to keep this out of mind but when I started I couldn't help thinking that I should really enjoy this book because of the positive reviews it had received, and I felt like maybe I was missing something because I did not like it. Well not until 300+ pages in.

I found those first 300 pages hard to wade through. The writing was clunky, although that may a problem with the translation, there was tonnes that should have been cut out or edited down and I really had no emotional connection to any of the characters until Salander and Blomkvist started working together. Before that there were moments that caught my interest but overall it was a lot of work to force myself to keep going and finish the novel.

I like the premise of the disgraced journalist hired to do an internal family investigation and I like Salander's character as an eccentric and deeply disturbed PI (I refuse to associate her as Autistic, I think that was an error on Blomkvist's part) and as the story continued I grew to really respect and invest in their characters but it took far too long, especially in the first book of a trilogy spouted as being 'The best crime novels of all time'.

In other reviews I've read on GoodReads people have made excuses for the clunky writing saying because this is in the crime genre it doesn't need to be perfect. I'm sorry but I'm going to call bullshit!! That just goes back to the post I wrote the other day, it isn't allowed to be crappy just because it's genre fiction. There are some fantastic crime writers who do not make the same errors that Larsson does in his novel, which ultimately I'd conclude as being a rather amateur mistake of ignoring the golden literary rule Show don't tell. Larsson tells everything, he didn't let me gather anything about Slander's character by myself, instead I had it pushed down my throat exactly what she looked like half a dozen times and her inability to trust and her dislike of this and blah blah blah, her internal narration was not interesting enough to sustain that kind of flow of reveals. It was much better when you simply looked at her actions or through Blomkvist's eyes.

Finally I think the end of the novel petered on to long, after the resolution of the mystery and the action against Wennerstrom it should have finished quicker, instead we had to wander around with Salander again while she thought over her relationship with Blomkvist. I could have been quite happy if I'd stopped reading at page 520 or so. It was too much of a wrap up, 'oh we haven't heard from the original informant in awhile, let's have him send a christmas message', and 'let's have one final meeting with Vander where we'll discuss every percentage owned by the family and what outcome that'll achieve'.

Overall the mystery wasn't bad, in fact I quite enjoyed sifting through the red herrings which is one of the best parts of reading crime fiction, but a terrific middle doesn't excuse a terrible beginning and end. I think this book had the potential to be much better but ultimately I feel the same way I do about Twilight, that someone should have taken Meyer and Larsson's hands and taught them how to show, not tell and how to be a little ruthless and just chop away the unnecessary chunks of text. In both cases I think a much better book is hidden in the rubbish that has been left. I don't know if I'll read the rest in the series, I hate to start a series and not finish it, but I really don't think I can manage to get through another two of these books. Maybe I'll just watch the movies instead.

Rating: 2.5/5

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wishing you an early....

Merry Christmas!!!

 Eat, drink and be merry, sing some carols, open some presents and spend some time with the ones you love. I hope all of you having white christmas's have a magical day and to help ring the day in in style I give you a terrific carol sung by the current Doctor Who team. Enjoy!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Holiday reading list

I'm usually really terrible when it comes to taking books on holiday with me and end up with far too many taking up much needed space in my suitcase. This time I only brought two books up to Cairns with me and have been given a third by my mum to read as well. I think they're pretty varied so hopefully that means I won't be stuck with three books I'm not interested in all at the one time!

 No Hope For Gomez by Graham Parke

This is my light, comedic novel. I think it'll be ideal for the later part of the flights, train rides and downtime in the hostels, simple enough that I don't have to put to much brain power into deciphering meaning yet humorous and interesting enough that it takes my mind off the doldrums of travel and makes the time pass enjoyably.

The Plague by Albert Camus

This will likely require a little more attention to be spent on the reading, but I find Camus an author I can sink into fairly easily. Camus will probably be reserved for reading by the fire at the ski lodge or perhaps somewhere equally comforting like a coffee shop where I can let his words and the accompanied warmth from the fire and the drinks wash over me.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This is the novel my mum passed on to me when I arrived in Cairns as she and my sister both read it on their recent trip to Adelaide. Neither of them enjoyed it but not wanting to waste a perfectly good book she suggested I give it a go, and if I don't like it at least take it with me so I can swap it at one of our hostel's book swaps! This is the book I'm reading in Cairns so I may have finished it before I head to Japan (especially since I'm avoiding leaving the house because the outside world = money spent) but if I have any of it left I'll be trying to read it on the plane. As an action thriller it has the perfect mixture of a fast paced plot combined with a relative easy plot structure so it should help the long plane flight drag a little less.

And if all else fails I have just started Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on my Ipod and I have the rest of the series sitting there waiting for me. Good old HP, he never lets you down!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A blog from the airport

Hello friends! I've made it home to sunny Cairns and I've already got sunburn!! I was not made for living in the tropics, no wonder I'm heading to wintery Japan for the summer!! Here is an entry I wrote last night as I waited and waited at the airport for my late flight to Cairns, it is a little all over the place but that tends to be the way my mind works!!

As I write this I sit in the Brisbane Airport waiting for my flight to Cairns, and a long wait it'll be since my flight doesn't board for another hour. To kill time I headed into the airport bookstore, a favourite airport past-time of mine.

At uni I encountered students and teachers alike who poo-poo'd what they call 'airport fiction,' and while I agree to an extent, the terrible works of one Matthew Reilley which line airport bookstore shelves comes to mind, I tend to take offence to that label. I have bought several great books from the airport and while they may be over-priced (oh god are they over-priced!) they certainly aren't trash.

Perhaps once upon a time it was all romance and action  sold in these bookstores but that certainly isn't the case anymore- at least not in Australian airports. During my trip into this bookstore I came across the works of Franzen, Bronte, Courteney and Palahniuk. Maybe some of these authors are easier to read that others but all are well respected and attributed with being top level word-smiths. 

This is just another case of the snobbery I've come across in the literary world. Just because a book can be read in one sitting or is sold in an airport bookstore doesn't mean it is of a lesser quality than those sold at independent bookstores. I mean, yes of course these airport bookstores are out to make a profit and for the most part Dostoyevsky isn't top of the list on everyone's reading while flying list, but just because genre fiction is what fills the majority of the shelves doesn't make it of a lesser quality.

As was repeated to me over and over in my classes at uni Literary fiction appeals to perhaps 6% (rough estimate) of book sales- while my classmates took that to mean that they were smarter that 94% of book buyers I took it for what it truly meant, that the literary aspirations of Literary authors is not appealing to a great number of people (regardless of what their IQ is). Generally books that fall into the Literary category make great use of form and technique over plot and even character, they are about manipulating and shaping words to create meaning. One teacher explained it best as genre fiction is designed to drag you into the story and take you deep into it, while literary fiction is about displaying the beauty of words and writing techniques, the former is about emotion and the latter about provoking thought.

Because Literary stories are so aware of their creation they can be hard to read fluidly, regardless of how beautifully stitched together the prose is. This isn't to have a go at Literary fiction, I adore many Literary works and I will also admit to feeling a little smug when I finish a Russian novel and understand it, I am simply sick of people having a go at anything that doesn't fall into this category, of relegating it to a lower caste simply because it doesn't make excessive use of experimental narrative structure or writing techniques.

Of course what I've written has been a bit of a generalisation, there are many Literary novels which dwell on character and plot and several genre works which are highly experimental in their writing methods. It doesn't really matter though, writing is supposed to incite thought and emotion, to drag you into other worlds and teach you meaningful lessons. Books are not here to make you feel superior or to wear as a badge of success as you read on public transport. It doesn't matter if you're reading Austen, Dickens or Homer it does not make you better than the people who choose to read science fiction or romance (well....JK). By all means bond with someone on public transport because of what they are reading but don't use it as a measure of a person's character.

This is one of my biggest literary pet peeves so I'm glad I had some time at the airport to vent out my frustrations to you all!! Bottom line I guess is don't judge a book by it's genre!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday... Santa please bring me...

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Bloodclot that is Andrew Bolt

In regards to the rant post I wrote earlier today I urge you to read this artice by acclaimed author John Birmingham. It addresses some of the issues I raised earlier and condemns the 'journalist' Andrew Bolt who spreads his venomous hate across the country weekly in his pathetic excuse for a column.JB's article is far more articulate than what I could ever hope to write on here and a damn good example of the pen being mightier than the sword.

Character vs Plot

Book Blogger Hop

"What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?"

This is a bit of a toughie because I am neither for or against either option. Really I think there needs to be a balance of the two. Without an interesting cast of characters a sublime plot can fall short, but at the same time I rarely enjoy a book that is devoid of plot yet filled with prose devoted to the characters. As Jennifer from Crazy-for-Books says in her own answer it is usually the plot synopsis on the back of a book that encourages you to buy/hire that book,  but I think it is the characters which make the novel linger in your head. With some of the books that have had the greatest impact on me I can barely remember more than the basic plot but I remember the character(s) who truly made an impression on me crystal clear. Yet with others the characters are necessary and important yet it is the plot or the themes of the novel that make the greatest impression on me, like Harry Potter for instance. I love the characters in that series, but it is the progression of the plot through the seven books that are the most important factor of that series, at least in my eyes.

So basically I'm going to sit on the fence with this one, what do you think?


I'd been feeling rather morose after the tragedy that took place off Christmas Island two days ago, but after reading the comments on some columns  that quickly changed to anger. I love being Australian and living in this beautiful country but more and more I am growing frustrated at the backwards thinking of so many people here. I'm aware that the most hate-filled and ignorant people tend to be the most vocal, but thanks to the internet their vile vitriol is appearing to be indicative of the nation at large. The fact that so many people have no moral concern over bitching about the asylum seeker 'issue' when dozens of people lost their lives and many more had to watch their loved onces succumb to the violent seas so recently makes me want to catch the first plane overseas and fake an accent so no-one knows that I have any connection to my 'countrymen'. If you choose to concentrate on the unbelievable sadness of this event over the political implications you are declared a 'lefty' who is trying to cover for the Government they voted in. The ignorance and hate is SUFFOCATING ME.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review: Lunar Park


Lunar Park has somehow dodged the notoriety and controversy that follows Bret Easton Ellis, so unlike American Psycho and Glamarama I knew very little about this book other than what the  book cover blurb told me. The blurb describes the novel as an autobiographical work, taking place after the rise of Ellis's literary career where he has moved to the "suburban hinterlands" with his new family.

The first chapter (the beginnings) recaps his rise from university student to literary star, and while it is littered with actual details (a cameo by friend and fellow author Jay McInerney) of Ellis's life, the obvious jump from biography to fiction after that chapter causes a sense of doubt over every word read previously. Is anything you read true, or is everything (bar his name and previous novel details) invented purely for this novel? Perhaps he is simply creating this confusion so as to finally tell the truth about his notorious and highly publicised past. 

Lunar Park is Ellis's homage to Stephen King, an author he read and loved as a child, and while this form of horror is new to Ellis (and it shows) I really have to commend his effort here. Horror, like many other genres, is often passed off as being 'easy' to write but you only have to read the hundreds of bad horror novels out there to know that succeeding in this genre is harder than it looks. Ellis isn't completely successful but I will admit that I was on the edge of my seat for much of the novel. Because of the ambiguity of the novel's content the direction was always unclear and left me unable to predict what would happen next. My inability to grasp hold of this left me wide open for the horror twists and turns in the story which otherwise may have fallen short.

But his real success, at least in my opinion, is his way of blending the horror component of the story with his unique writing style. I don't like to search out subtext and metaphor (unless the book is for an assignment) but you don't have to in this book. The story raises all sorts of questions about family obligation and relationships, but more interestingly it questions the responsibility of the author and the delicate line the teeters between fact and fiction. So I suppose you could say it is horror for the literary types, the 'monster' certainly isn't the zombie, vampire or possessed industrial machine that surface so often between the pages of a horror novel.

I'm sorry if this has appeared vague but I truly don't want to spoil the story by giving anything away because I seriously think I enjoyed this book so much more because I had absolutely no idea what the story was about! As it is I've probably given it away by telling you it isn't an autobiography, hopefully you can still enjoy it though.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Tonight I graduate!! To commemorate this event my sister baked me these sweet little cupcakes, they have little graduation caps made out of lindt chocolate squares!! Isn't she the best!?!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Merry Christmas to me

What a lovely package to receive in the mail so close to christmas, if only I hadn't paid for it myself!!

The Word Made Flesh; Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide (see the blog here)
30 Days of Night, collector's edition book 1-3
The Walking Dead, book 1
The Stand, book 1

So much graphic novel goodness!! I'm especially excited about The Stand, I'm a big fan of the Stephen King novel and always thought it'd transfer over to visual exceptionally well, and my first few glances seem to prove me right!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Hell is empty and all the devils are here
-William Shakespeare The Tempest


2011 Book Challenge - I'm on Fire!

Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Apart from the books set for university I really didn't get much reading done this year. So next year I'm going to push myself to read, read, read by joining the reading challenge set out by the Book Vixen. Because I'm going to be engaging in honours and part-time work next year I'm not going to kid myself by setting 100 books to read, I'll just feel pathetic when I don't reach it. Instead I'm going to aim for 50, if I read more then excellent, if I only make it to 50, well 50 ain't so bad is it? Well that puts me on the I'm On Fire level, so I feel pretty good about it!!

I'm not going to list every book I intend to read next year but here are a few on my TBR pile that I simply must dive into.

Thomas De Quincey - Confessions of an English Opium Eater
Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
F.Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald- Bits of Paradise
Christopher Isherwood - Lions and Shadows
Philip K. Dick - The Man in the High Castle
Hans Falada - Alone in Berlin
Roald Dahl - Skin
Raymond Chandler- The Lady in the Lake
Alan More- From Hell 
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games Trilogy (I've heard it is a must read series- any thoughts before I buy it?)

Plus there are a few re-reads that I'll definitely be spending time on, namely the LOTR trilogy and perhaps Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, as it has been awhile since I've read through those.

I'll be updating my progress on here as I go (labelling it Book Challenge for easier blog update searching) and I'll be adding the books as I go to my GoodReads account. Some books will get reviews, some probably won't but I'll let you know every teeny detail of my 2011 book journey.

If you want to take part head over to The Book Vixen's blog for the complete list of rules and how to enter.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

3 Weeks!

Three weeks until I'm in Japan!! As excited as I am I'm beginning to realise how much I still need to get done before we go, insurance, rail passes, work out what trains we're meant to be catching (My biggest fear is getting lost on a Japanese train and ending up in the middle of nowhere), book accomodation for Osaka and Kyoto and organise what I'm bringing clothes-wise. I know once I get there I'll be fine and I'll enjoy myself and everything will fall into place, but until I've officially been let into the country (and probably when I put my bag down in the hostel) these worries will not be going anywhere! If anyone has been to Japan and wants to offer some tips I'm all ears! Seriously guys, I'm freaking out over here!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sign me up!

The 'old' Main Library in Cincinnati.  Unfortunately I can't actually sign up to this library because it was demolished back in 1955, much to my dismay. How amazing is it! All those shelves, all those books! I'm almost dizzy looking at the pictures, I'd be terrified trying to reach a book up on one of those top shelves!

10 Places I love to read

Top 10 Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.


Monday, December 6, 2010

What are you reading?

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by One Person's Journey Through A World of Books. 

 What am I reading? Not much! In between last minute plans for my trip to Japan, work, applying for honours next year and now searching for a new house as my landlord is selling I haven't really had a chance to sit down and enjoy the pile of books sitting beside my bed.

At least every summer holiday (if not 2 or 3 or 9 times a year) I succumb to the desire to read through the Harry Potter series once more, and while I love this series more than anything else I've ever had the pleasure of reading I always feel kind of guilty spending time re-reading it when I have a bucket load of books in my shelf just waiting to be read. Thanks to a friend I added Harry Potter (audio style) to my Ipod a few months ago but until a week ago I had completely forgotten about its existence on my Ipod. Because of the latest HP movie at the cinema that I'd been plagued by that itching desire to once again read my way through Harry, Ron and Hermione's adventures, but as mentioned above I haven't really got a lot of excessive time.

Enter audio books. Read by the marvelous Stephen Fry I've had this playing in my car on the way to work, on the way home from work, on my lunch break, as I use the inter-webs and before I fall asleep. In other words every-freaking-where. I've never really been one for audio books, mainly because they take so much longer than I would if I was actually reading it and I tend to find the reader's voices either monotonous or a little too over the top when it comes to the voices of the characters. Stephen Fry however is fantastic. Apart from being my favourite Brit, his speech is so controlled and well paced and free from distracting accentuation and he makes a real effort to differentiate each character's voice without going over the top and taking away from the text. It's quite a joy to listen to actually.

There isn't much point in me discussing Harry Potter, it has been analysed from every possible angle so instead I'll waffle on about the wonderfulness of Stephen Fry for a little longer! He may not have made it into the films but as well as the narrator for all seven books on audiotape Fry has voiced the narrator in at least three of the Harry Potter video-games, so one way or another he is well and truly a part of the Harry Potter saga!  Personally it was always a disappointment that Fry was never added to the cast of British actors who make up the wonderful film world of Harry Potter. I always thought he'd be a wonderful addition to the cast. I can't really align him to any of the main character roles but perhaps a ghost (Hufflepuff's Friar maybe) or an eccentric professor or salesman in Diagon Alley, either way it is only too easy to imagine Fry in velvet or brocade wizard's robes, with a strange little wizarding hat jauntily plopped on his head.

Hopefully once my honours application is in and all the Japan details are organised I'll be able to get reading for real, but until then I'm going to keep my headphones in and get through as much HP as I can. So now you know what I'm reading this Monday, what have you been reading or are planning to get stuck into?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What have you read? A compilation of 100 titles

 I came across this post on As The Crowe Flies (And Reads!) and thought it was too interesting to not pass along!!

Apparently the BBC posted a list of 100 books (compiled by viewers and listeners) and believe that most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

So in accordance with the rules set out by Ms Crowe I shall share the books that i've read. Because of the length of this post I've added a break so as not to overwhelm visitors!! So if it interests you to see what I've read (and perhaps how many you have yourself) read on past the break!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


'The Price' made their target and it shall be made!! Here is what Christopher said when the target was met...

"My head is still reeling ... like many of you, I watched the numbers late into the night, as they kept going up and up and up ... so when we crossed the $150,000 mark (just after 7:00 MST), it was really hard for me not to get emotional, vacillating between feeling a little weepy, to laughing hysterically, to just wanting to throw-up! :)"

Christopher the moment the target was met!
Congratulations Christopher and team, I'm looking forward to seeing the finished film, I just know it'll be wonderful!

10 Characters you'd want to be BFF with!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...