Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Reading Round Up

The girl who played with fire/ Steig Larsson
"This time it is Lisbeth Salander, the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker, who is the focus ... of the story. Mikael Blomkvist—crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium—has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government. On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered. But perhaps more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander. Now, as Blomkvist—alone in his belief in her innocence—plunges into his own investigation of the slayings, Salander is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all."--Publisher's information.
Having read the first in the Millennium series last year for the Blogosphere Book Circle I actually went and bought this copy because the waiting list was too long at the library.  Plus I needed something to read on the plane.   Larsson's style is highly engaging.  He reveals things gradually and keeps the reader gripped.  This is not a series for readers of genteel crime fiction - there is brutality, guts and murky, mixed up relationships.  I really want to read the next one.  Think I'll have to buy it too!

The king's mistress / Emma Campion.
"From childhood Alice Salisbury has learnt obedience in all things and at fourteen dutifully marries the man her father has chosen for her... But merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and Alice soon learns to enjoy her marriage. Until a messenger brings news of his disappearance and she discovers that her husband had many secrets – secrets which have now put a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Brought under the protection of King Edward III and Queen Philippa she must obediently embrace her fate once more – as a virtual prisoner at Court. And when the king singles her out for more than just royal patronage she knows she has little choice but to accept his advances. But obeying the king brings with it many burdens as well as pleasures, as she forfeits her good name to keep her daughter free from hurt... But as one of the king’s favourites she brings jealousy and hatred in her wake and some will stop at nothing to see her fall from grace…" --Publisher
It took me ages to finish this one which is unusual for me since it's the genre I read the most.  It is a long story and rambles along fairly sedately.  I enjoyed it but I can't say it gripped me especially.

The girl on the landing / Paul Torday.
Michael, a middle-aged man of means, is dressing for dinner at a friend's country house in Ireland. As he descends the grand staircase, he spots a small painting of a landing with an old linen press and the white marble statue of an angel. In the background is a woman clad in a dark green dress. During dinner, Michael comments on the painting to his hosts but they say there is no woman in the picture. When Michael goes up to bed later, he sees that they are correct. This is only the first in a series of incidents that lead Michael to question his grip on reality. His wife Elizabeth is unsettled by the changes she sees in a man she originally married because he was dependable and steady, not because she loved him. Suddenly she is aware that she has never really known Michael and as he changes, she sees glimpses of someone she could fall in love with. Michael, in the meantime, is disturbed by events up at his family's ancestral home in the wilds of Scotland and by a past that he is threatening to destroy everything, and everyone, he has ever loved.~ from the blurb
I picked up this book expecting one thing and was surprised (in the end) about what emerged!  It is a story about a relationship with questions about normality and society's evaluation of what normal is.  As the story progresses, the friction between "otherness" and "normality" creates an engaging story in a wierd way.

March Book for the Book Circle 


Access road / Maurice Gee.
Auckland, N.Z. : Penguin, 2009.
ISBN: 9780143202448 (pbk.)

" As she watches her brother losing the battle with his memories, Rowan wonders how long she can keep her own past at bay. The old family home in Access Road, where Lionel, Roly and Rowan grew up, is crumbling away - but after more than fifty years Lionel and Roly are back. Rowan too, otherwise safe in her 'upper crusty' suburb, is drawn more and more strongly 'out west'. The past is dangerously alive. Clyde Buckley - violent as a boy; enigmatic, subterranean as an old man - returns to his childhood territory. What does he want? What crimes does he hide? And how is Lionel involved? Rowan must abandon safety if she is to find out . . . " --Back cover.

I must confess I haven't read a lot of Gee's work.  However, since the book circle started I've now read 2 by him and I'm interested enough to consider choosing some more by him.  Gee is probably one of New Zealand's best writers and his lyrical prose is highly evocative.  I really enjoyed his descriptive writing.

Like the previous book I read (Live Bodies), Access Road is set in New Zealand and to my amusement it appears to be set in the very suburb that I currently live in!  In fact I went looking on the map for Access Road.  (There is one up in Kumeu, but not around here).  I like reading books set in places that I've been to or know about as it gives me strong cues for my visualisation of the story.

The story revolves around the complex relationships between Rowan, her brothers, her husband and a childhood contact Clyde.  I thought it was unusual that the story was set from the viewpoint of an elderly person, though I should clarify it is unusual for me perhaps because it's not a viewpoint I read often.  There is a sinister undercurrent in the book that becomes louder and louder as the story wends it's way along.  The gradual revelation of each part of the jigsaw making up the mystery kept me turning the page.  Recommended.

Total: 4*
Historical fiction=1
Crime/mystery = 3

*Actually I read more than 4, but a lot of them were for the Book Circle books later in the year.  Just like buses they all came into the library at once!  However, last month's book The Bolter has only just arrived so I can read it over Easter.


  1. Laughed at your comment that you've read some Book Circle books from later n the year- me too - because they all came at once! Still waiting for The Bolter, though.

    Like you I am loving the Girl with the Dragon tattoo series. And have yet to read the third book.

    Pleased the Book Circle has led me to Maurice Gee!

  2. I just finished The Bolter (took me a while because of all my school reading). Access Road is next and I am looking forward to it, having read quite a few Gee books last year. I really loved Blindsight and The Scornful Moon was also good (and very loosely based on an actual event).

  3. ooh, i didn't know the larsson book was the first in a series!

    i'm feeling discouraged...still waiting on february's book, and our whole library system doesn't carry mar, apr, or may's! i looked up one title to buy online and it was $35 used. i want to play along, but i think i need to do more detective work...

  4. Anonymous5:56 pm

    I still need to write my review on the bolter ( the little that I erad of it). That book is so popular at the library. I am back on the list for it I can read some more.

    My mum loved the Girl with the Dragon tattoo and has raved at me about it and told me to keep on reading it. I started and put it down.

    Access Road, while I liked it I love some of Gee's other work a lot more.

  5. duh the above comment was me (rolls eyes)duh at me