The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

January 21, 2011

Dude.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is most likely the best thing to come out of Sweden. I loved it.

The book had an excellent hook which sucked me in right away, and the rest of the plot had more twists than a mountain range road. The characters were unique, in particular, the heroine, Lisbeth Salander.

I expected Salander to be the main protagonist, but she was more of a side kick. She was a really different character to any other I’ve read about: an outcast in society, anorexic, doesn’t give a damn about rules. She’s a total badass.

After the hook/prologue, I thought the beginning was a bit slow, and I initially had doubts as to the quality of the books. But I read through the beginning and it quickly began to pick up the pace. It was such a good read, I probably read the last half of the book in two or three days, reading for hours on end. I simply couldn’t put it down.

It was a really gritty book, with murder, rape, and torture, and at times, it probably wasn’t the best thing to read at night. It had a strong theme of sexual violence, and interestingly, the original title in Swedish was Men Who Hate Women.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good murder book. It’s a disappointment that author Stieg Larsson isn’t alive today to enjoy his international success and continue to write. Great work, Stieg!

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Guantanamo: My Journey, by David Hicks

December 22, 2010

In Australia, David Hicks and Guantanamo Bay are controversial topics lately, as David Hicks, and Australian man found guilty of providing material support to terrorism (as stated by Wikipedia) by the US Government. Hicks was released from Guantanamo in 2007 and finished his sentence in an Australian prison before being released in December that year. He has since released an auto-biography titled Guantanamo: My Journey.

I’m not writing this post to start a debate on terrorism, or Guantanamo, or whether Hicks really is guilty or not, but I want to share with you just how awesome his book is.

I copped a lot of criticism for wanting to read his book, most of it along the lines of “you’ll be supporting terrorism!” so I borrowed it out from the library.

I loved it.

The first part of the autobiography reads like a travel diary. Hicks details his journeys around the world, from central Australia and Eastern Europe, to Japan and Afghanistan. I thought part one would be boring, but I got really sucked into it, to the extent like I felt like I was really there.

Part one ends with Hicks being captured by Afghan militants and sold to the US military. The second part describes Hicks’ time in Guantanamo, from his trial to his alleged torture.

The writing style of the book was great, and I think Hicks missed his calling as an author. The descriptions made me feel as if I was actually there and the voice was friendly and inviting.

I loved this book and found it really interesting. I’m not sure if/where it’s available in the US, but it should be available in Australia in all department stores in libraries. It was a fascinating read and definitely recommend it, even if you only read part one.


Why do you put a Book Down?

August 9, 2010

Following on from Wednesday’s post on Putting the Book Down, I thought I’d ask the primary reason for putting the book down.

As far as I can remember, I’ve only lost interest in two books. The first was a few years back, and although I can’t recall the title, it was a spy-thriller. I also can’t remember the exact reason for putting it down. One day, I simply finished a chapter, put the book down, and never opened it again. The next day, I began reading something else. I guess it was the plot I didn’t like. I must have gotten bored. I’m also guessing the prose was a factor, because I recall that the writing wasn’t all that sophisticated.

You heard about the second book I put down. I couldn’t stand the writing in this one either. So again, prose was the reason I put the book down.

What about you? In the comments, tell me why you put books down.


Putting the Book Down

August 4, 2010

I’m reading a book at the moment (Golden Serpent, by Mark Abernethy), and I’m not enjoying it. I don’t feel as though I know/care about the characters, and the plot is so-so. But what is really irking me is the writing itself. There’s just something about the prose that I don’t like. My inner editor says that the book is badly written.

I’ve been reading the book for over a week now, yet I’m barely 100 pages in. Reading the book has become a chore.

So, my question to you: When do you put the book down? If you’re really not enjoying it, what do you do? Put it down as soon as you begin to dislike it? Read the first 100 pages before putting it down? Or do you toughen up and get through the book?


Fantasy Book Team

July 26, 2010

The inspiration for today’s post comes from Beth Revis over at Writing It Out. Beth created her fantasy book team, based on a fantasy baseball  team, and asked readers for theirs. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but here’s mine:

Hero: Jack West Jr., from Matthew Reilly’s The Seven Ancient Wonders
Heroine: Lara Croft (yes, I know she’s a video game character, but this is my blog, so shush)
Sidekick: Eddie Chase, from Andy McDermott’s novels.
Villain: Lord Voldemort, from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter
Setting: Alegaesia, from Christopher Paolini’s world of Eragon
Plot: Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien

Why These Selections?
The purpose of a fantasy baseball team is to win, right? With that in mind, I tried to  choose tough characters, characters who could hold their own in a fight. I chose Jack West Jr because he’s intelligent, and always able to get himself out of tricky situations. I chose Lara Craft because… well, she’s Lara. Not only is she quick, witty, and sexy, she also kicks ass. And she’s handy with a gun or two.

So far, I have pretty tough characters, so I wanted to choose a guy who was funny as well as tough. Eddie Chase sprung to mind. He’s portrayed as a bit of a joker, while still being a fighter. He’ll contrast the other two serious characters.

Next, the villain. I chose Voldemort because of the magic aspect. You can’t expect me to put my hero’s up against anything less, can you? I can’t make it easy for them.

Setting: I wanted to have a beautiful setting, and I always thought of Paolini’s world as just that. Alegaesia is filled with many wonderful creatures, including Elves, Dwarves, and the beastly Urgals.

Finally, I chose Tolkien’s plot of Lord of the Rings, because, seriously: Powerful ring. Epic Journey. Enough said.

Outline:
Lara Croft’s dead father has left her a powerful ring in his will, one that Voldemort wants to  use to increase his power. The will warns Lara to destroy the Ring to avoid this happening. To destroy it, Lara must drop it into Mount Doom, on the far side of Alegaesia.

Lara sets off with her two friends, Jack West Jr and Eddie Chase. They pass through the Beor Mountains, where they are attacked by Urgals and Death Eaters. Jack West Jr falls from a cliff, and appears to die. Lara and Eddie continue on alone, using Dobby the House Elf to guide them to Voldemort’s lair at Mount Doom.

However, they trio learn that Jack Wes Jr is in fact alive, having used his Maghook. He slowly climbs out, and uses a Dragon to catch up to the others. From there, Dobby leads them all to Mount Doom, where, after a massive show down with Urgals, Death Eaters, and Voldemort himself, Lara destroys the ring. A giant dragon returns the trio home to Croft Manor.


It is Done

June 19, 2010

OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!

I finished it! I finished the rough draft of my novel!!!!!

*Runs off doing happy dance*

*Then comes back, publishes post to the blog, then runs off again*


The Outsider

August 16, 2009

In my opinion, most novels (and films) needs an Outsider. When I say Outsider, I mean a character who is an outsider to the world the adventure takes place in. For example, Harry Potter is an Outsider to the Wizarding world, and Elizabeth Swann (Pirates  of the Caribbean) is a Outsider in the pirate world.

Why are Outsiders important? Because the reader is an Outsider as well. The reader doesn’t know all the things in the world they’re visiting. The reader doesn’t know what certain things, what certain terms are. Except, the reader can’t ask. They can’t ask the other character in the book what  things means, what things are. That’s where the Outsider comes in. The Outsider is the representative for the reader inside the story. The Outsider character has the ability to ask the other characters what things are, what the terms mean.

Take Harry Potter for example. Harry doesn’t know much about the Wizarding world, other than what he’s been told. As readers, we don’t know a lot about the world either. Harry has the power to ask the other character all the things he doesn’t know about magic, which is what we don’t know either.
Another example is Bella Swan from Twilight. She doesn’t know about Vampires. The nomads. We, the readers don’t either.

You might be thinking that Outsiders are only needed in books that don’t take place here, on Earth. I disagree. There can be many different world here, on Earth. The world of law, the world of hospitals. There must be many more. These worlds are all on Earth, but they’re different. And if you’re not a lawyer, or a doctor, you don’t belong to the world, and you don’t know all the rules and terminology, then you’re an Outsider.

The book I’m reading at the moment is called ‘Plea of Insanity’, by Jilliane Hoffman. It takes place in the world of law. All the characters are lawyers. The problem I have with this book, is that there isn’t any Outsiders. No one to ask about terms, or procedures. Which means that the only way for the author to bring readers into her world, is by putting in long paragraphs, which explains what the terms/procedures mean, and are for. I don’t like that, because it takes me from the story.

So, Outsiders are very important to the stories we write. And if we don’t include those characters into our work, then the character feels left out, unincluded, and may eventually stop reading. Do you have an Outsider?

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