Thursday, July 30, 2009

Girl Who Played With Fire

OK, I'm on a Stieg Larsson kick right now. I just started THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE last night and had to blog right away. It's so good already (and I'm only on page 56). Lisbeth Salander is kicking butt already. And a certain heinous minor character from the last book has reared his ugly head. I hope Salander kicks his butt good this time. But, I'm a little worried. He's digging up information on her.

As in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, Larsson does not shy away from the grittier topics. Something really horrible happened to Salander when she was young. You get a glimpse right away in the prologue. But the full extent is not known yet. And I feel a little sick about it. I don't want to know what it is. Yet, I need to know what it is. And the #@&%@!! who did it (whatever it is) will need to suffer greatly by the end of the book. (Or at least by the end of the series.)

By the way, the last book in the trilogy now has a title. It will be called THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST. Seems appropriate. Pub date still to be announced.

A while back in my neighborhood, there was a creepy guy driving around asking girls for directions and then flashing them. Everyone was in an uproar, rightly so. I remember talking to a group of kids one day and saying, "I hope that guy tries something when I'm around." The kids were astonished. I responded, "That guy's worst nightmare would be a pack of moms!"

I was definitely channeling my "Inner-Salander" that day. It surfaces, whenever kids are put in potential danger. I can completely relate to some of her impulses. Others impulses, not so much. She is an awesome character and I can't wait to see what she does next.

I'd better go - gotta read! Oh, and by the way, the creep in the car did get caught. I heard through the grape vine that when he called his wife from jail, all she said was, "Not again." Sometimes real life is as strange as fiction.

Monday, July 20, 2009


While on vacation last week, I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of FIRE by Kristin Cashore. This Young Adult novel is a companion book to GRACELING, which came out last year. I loved GRACELING so I was very eager to read FIRE. Cashore did not disappoint.

I immensely enjoy the world Cashore has created. It is medieval-like with castles, long bows and horses to ride. Her female characters (in both books) are very unique, yet believable. They both struggle with immense power. They also have weaknesses. In the end, both lead female characters have to come to terms with who they are and how they use their power.

Fire, the main character in FIRE, is called a "Monster" and can control people's minds. Her main struggle is how to use (or not use) her ability. I love the description of Fire and wish I could see her "in real life."

Another hallmark of Cashore's two novels is the romantic tension. The developing relationship between Fire and Prince Brigan is intense and believable. Cashore does not shy away from sex (although it's not explicit), so her books are definitely for the teen (and up) reader.

There is only one character that is in both novels. GRACELING and FIRE are companion books set in the same world, but you don't need to read one before the other. The only thing I will say about the one common character is that I intensely hate him. This, of course, means that Cashore has done an excellent job creating him.

I highly recommend both GRACELING and FIRE for any teen and older reader who enjoys medieval type fantasy with unique characters and strong female leads. Both books are well worth the read!

(FIRE comes out October 5, 2009. GRACELING comes out in paperback September 7, 2009.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I have finally come up for air. I finished THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO this afternoon. It is good. Very good!

Larsson has created an intriguing, smart, gritty mystery that is almost impossible to put down. Once I started, I couldn't stop. I had to know what was going to happen. My family and I are on vacation. I think they were starting to wonder if I would ever join them in activities.

I'm in northern Minnesota, almost to Canada. Today is a bit dreary. We are one of very few people on this lake. We are surrounded by woods and water. Basically, the environment around me is about as Swedish as you can get in the continental United States. The perfect setting to read THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

I wish Larsson was alive today. I wish I could ask him some questions. (I have many.) The best I can do is dive into the second book, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE. Which, luckily for me, comes out very soon.

If you enjoy a well-written, intelligent mystery that does not shy away from tough topics, this is the book you must read. For added affect, you might want to go to a Boreal forest and wait for rain. The experience will be very satisfying.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vacation Reading

I'm headed up north to a cabin for a week. (In Minnesota, this is what you do in summer.) And, of course, I'm bringing a load of books with me to read. Two books are on the top of my pile.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson. The paperback just came out and has been flying off the shelves at Micawber's. Tom read the galley long ago and loved it. He has been talking it up ever since. I started the first few pages to get a feel for it. And I can tell it's going to be good. The only thing that made me stop was the fact that once I really get into it (Tom warns) I won't be able to put it down. So, I'm waiting till I get up north and find a comfy chair.

It's a mystery set in Larsson's native Sweden. But don't let any ideas about stoic northerners worry you. This is a thriller, not a "cozy" as we say. It's definitely on the gritty side and very smart. Larsson died shortly after delivering the trilogy of manuscripts. According to his bio, Larsson was a "leading expert on antidemocratic right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations." It makes me wonder how he really died.

For those of you who have already read Larsson's book and are eager for #2. Your wait will be short-lived. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE comes out July 28.

The second book on my pile is a YA novel, FIRE, by Kristin Cashore. I mentioned it in my Fall Novel blog but it's worth mentioning again. I loved GRACELING, Cashore's first novel and I recommend it to every 14 + girl who walks through our doors. FIRE is a prequel set in the same universe as GRACELING with one common character. I can only guess who it is. But I'm thinking it might be the "bad guy" from GRACELING.

For those of you who want to check out GRACELING, it comes out in paperback this September. But if you just can't wait, we still have a couple hardcover copies at the store. FIRE will be officially released on October 5, 2009. But I'm going to read it now. Ahhh, the pleasures of working at a bookstore and getting to read the books early!

Whatever is on your stack of Vacation Reading, have fun and don't forget your sunscreen.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July Fun

Yesterday was one of the rare days that Micawber's is closed. It was the 4th of July and time for the annual parade and festivities in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood.

Every year, the celebration begins with the parade at 11:00 am. Some of the groups taking part in the parade this year included:

• The Boy and Girl Scouts
• The residents of the local nursing home (being pushed in their wheelchairs)
• The Neighbors for Peace
• The Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association
• Our local dentists
• The school band and orchestra kids
• The State Fair Gophers
• Some slightly frightening clowns
• Chris Coleman, our mayor
• Senator, Ellen Anderson
• The Library Association
• & some guys in kilts bringing up the rear with bagpipes.

Then everyone heads down to Langford park for picnics, music, readings from the patriotic essay winners, games, pony rides, and more.

This year, I sat with family and friends under the big pine trees in the park. We had a picnic and then broke out the cards and poker chips. We played 5 card draw and commented on our close proximity to the fragrant ponies. When the sky opened up and rain poured down, it was time to go. But, what a fun day!

If you have never been to St. Anthony Park on the 4th of July, I highly recommend you come sometime. It's like a small town celebration in the middle of the city. Apparently it's the only parade in St. Paul. And maybe next year Micawber's will have a float in the parade. I mean hey, if the Seed Art people can be in the parade, so can we. (I'll just have to convince Tom, Hans and Karen that it's a good idea.)