Sea of Monsters (Rick Riordan), Man from Beijing (Henning Mankell), The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (Stieg Larssen)
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (Roald Dahl)
Spring-Summer 2010 Salmagundi for The Island, a novella by Andrea Barrett novella
By mid-May, I finished spring semester of school and threw myself back into reading for pleasure. The first change up in my reading came when I shifted from almost exclusively listening to audiobooks (thank goodness for audiobooks!!) to holding a book in my hands, which feels so good.
I finished the second book in the Percy Jackson and the Last Olympians series, The Sea of Monsters, which I read aloud to Winston. It was neither as satisfying nor as memorable as the first book in the series, but Winston found it exciting. His ability to hang onto details is amazing, even when a week has gone by without hearing the story, so often I ask him for a recap before beginning a session.
I also finished reading the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (GWKtHN). Lizbeth Salander might be one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. She’s feisty and a little gritty, socially awkward, and a survivor. The trilogy encompasses a couple thousand pages of novel, carved into three books. Book three begins right where book two left off. In fact, book two (Girl Who Played with Fire) ended with such a colossal cliffhanger that Mr. Bibliotonic decided he needed to read the next book immediately. Since we live in a global economy, we could indulge in instant gratification with an order placed to amazon.uk. So I started reading GWKtHN during spring break in March but didn’t finish before school started up again. The book and I were reunited just after portfolio review. But this is the conclusion to Lisbeth’s story and her quest to prove her innocence in three murders.
If I were editor, I would have lopped at least 150 pages, including those with Ericka Berger’s harassment story, which did absolutely nothing to advance the plot. It was horrible filler. But ultimately I found GWKtHN to be very satisfying. I loved the trial scene, particularly Lisbeth’s defense lawyer, who is journalist and main character Michael Blomqvist’s sister. The trial was the saving grace of the last 300 pages and Giannini really socks it to the system that has screwed over Lisbeth since she was a child.
The books are far from perfect. For one, they suffer from translation problems, an opinion which I’m going to put out there without benefit of examples. Also, the plot could have been more taut. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all three books. At best, they were well paced, which is more than can be said for many books being passed off as thrillers these days. Dan Brown, I’m looking at you. If you were wondering, Girl Who Played with Fire was my favorite book of the trilogy. This is the book that fleshes out Lisbeth, especially as she creates a new life for herself. Also, it was the first book I read on my e-reader and will, thus, always have a special place in my reader’s heart.
This month, I officially abandoned Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. I remember reading John Hanken's copy as a kid, but what I don't remember was how utterly odd this follow-up to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was. Perhaps I found it entertaining because, without doubt, at 10, I had a greater tolerance for silliness. But reading aloud now, ack! Knowing what I do about publishing, I'm guessing that Dahl had a contract to fulfill. Winston and I have loved other Dahl novels, such as BFG and The Twits and James and the Giant Peach.