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Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Note: I wrote this review last year and for some reason neglected to post it. I recently found it on my hard drive and since I’m currently reading the sequel, figured maybe it’s time.

[January 2015]

I picked up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo during my vacation at the end of January. I hadn’t seen the movie and hardly knew anything about the story except that it was good but intense.

It begins with a quote about violence against women in Sweden:

18% of the women in Sweden have been threatened by a man.

Later, as I continued reading, I realized that was an ominous sign. I hadn’t realized violence against women was such a significant theme.

The book starts more slowly than you might expect, with a character you don’t think will be important in a book titled ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’ It’s the type of book that makes you feel smarter as you’re reading, the kind that uses big words but isn’t presumptuous about it. I had to look up definitions for one or two, although I understood the gist without the dictionary definition. The story unravels in a slow and almost meandering way before suddenly getting into a suspenseful part that makes you want to shut the world out so you can read.

Despite having the luxury of a long book and plenty of time with his readers, Larsson does not make the mistake I feel Martin does with the Game of Thrones series, which is taking 500 pages for the reader to really get to know (and begin empathizing with) and start caring for the characters. Larsson does not shove them in  your face, but you form an opinion about each person soon enough. The characters quickly become familiar, and you get to know their faults as well as virtues. The whole thing is written in third person omniscient which gives an almost-impersonal feel, since you know everything the character is feeling but only from the outside. But that is more of a nitpicking comment than anything else because the story is incredible. It sucks you in before you’ve realized you’re interested and what goes from seemingly-unimportant events and encounters to grab-the-arm-of-your-chair, look-over-your-shoulder suspense and some gruesome finds.

[Mild spoilers]

Having heard a bit about the story, especially when the English version of the movie came out, I was anticipating a rape scene, or at least a scene with sexual violence. However, I never would have expected it to be as graphic and horrible as it was, especially with the style of writing and date of publication (it’s not a new book). I also did not expect the level of horror and depravity in other parts of the book, once I’d made it past that scene. So if you read it, beware. This book isn’t for children or the faint of heart.

I guess I didn’t realize it was a murder mystery. I rarely read a book without knowing what it’s about and this was an interesting experience.

Extremely well-written. Excellent character development, the right mix of description and action, realistic dialogue, and of course a good (though not always enjoyable) plot.

Graphic, disturbing content may upset some readers. I know it upset me.



Lightening review: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Wow! For how much I liked this book, it sure has taken me a long time to tell you about it. I read it probably six months ago, sometime at the start of the year when my resolutions were fresh. (I still like them!)

Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project focuses on what makes people happy. I LOVE her style of writing – it’s a perfect mix of anecdotal bits and hard research. Not every book is meant to make you feel smart, but this one sure does!

Rubin tells her own story of realizing that she was letting life flash by without being deliberate about the things that made her happy. She goes on a mission to discover what exactly those things are using a tool she invents for herself called a Resolutions Chart. She organizes her priorities into categories and tackles one category per month, including work, parenthood, work, money, and attitude.

The book is similarly organized into chapters. It’s a very enjoyable read – from the logical progression as you go through each chapter, to the laugh-out-loud anecdotes she shares from her own family’s experiences. This is one that I’m certain I’ll read again, and I suggest you do as well.

Check out Rubin’s website and blog to find more information and recent posts about happiness and habits (the subject of her new book that I am currently reading).

More soon, beautiful people!


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Self-help step 2: move

It has been 5 weeks and 2 days since we broke up. I feel like a broken record (or for you kids out there, a jammed CD, or a … something that says the same thing over and over. Maybe your mom telling you to clean your room). I feel like I’m recycling emotions, going up and down and around in a circle, only to wind up back where I started.

And I also feel like I’ve run out of the amount of time in which it’s okay for me to cry to other people, or express the same sadness for yet another time. I mean, everyone has heard it already!

Finding distraction is the new greatest thing. The Winnipeg Fringe Festival just ended and it was a fantastic 10-day distraction. I’ve hardly slept, hardly been at home, and didn’t eat a proper meal for probably a week – but it was fun and an adventure and a great chance to spend time with other creative people. Don’t worry, I’m (mostly) back to normal, if a little sleep-deprived.

My efforts to eat regularly have been somewhat undermined by the Fringe, but I have been eating on a regular basis and whenever I’m hungry, so that’s a win.

Step 2 is to get this body of mine moving again, and it’s already underway. I’ve been playing soccer and dodgeball, have gone to the gym a couple of times, have even taken myself out for a run (as you may know), and yesterday I booked myself up for a year-long membership at my old martial arts gym – something I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. (I mentioned this in my goals post at the beginning of the year.)

So what’s this little mini, on-the-road-to-recovery goal? I think I’m going straight back to my new year’s resolution: get my body moving 3x a week. And I don’t think biking to work is going to count. Eventually I’d like to exercise generally every day, and for that biking to work would count as it elevates my heart rate. But for 3x/week it’s gotta be BIGGER: sports or a deliberate workout.

I already feel more inspired and driven, just writing this post. I promise to get back to my usual style of writing soon (you know, with subject matter of anything other than my breakup and ongoing recovery). My interest in money/finance is coming back, as is my need to create things – so get ready for some inspiration sometime in the future. (No promises yet on timeline.)

This is a process. I had several great days in a row, and then I cried last night when I went to bed. And I think that’s okay. you’re allowed to take a step back, as long as you take two steps forward next time. Doesn’t have to be fast, doesn’t have to be pretty, just keep on moving in the right direction.