Friday, May 17, 2013

Girl who Played with Fire #BookReview

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2)The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even better than the original. This second book picks up roughly two years after the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, bringing back Blomkvist and Salandar as the central figures, along with a cast of familiar and new faces.
I really enjoyed reading Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, despite having seen the movie first-- a practice I abhor.  I love this follow up in Girl who Played with Fire, because as a reader, I didn't see every plot twist--I didn't anticipate how it was all going to end from some previewed movie ending.  I love the way Larsson methodically reveals clues and plots as the investigation unfolds.  I have great admiration for Larsson's ability to tell the story from multiple vantage points, which guides the reader through glimpses, but leaves room for the reader to actively piece together the greater picture. For those who love crime and murder  investigations, this is a great read.  Even for those who don't typically go for that sort of thing, like me, this is still a great page turner.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Book Review: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere CastleLady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona Carnarvon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As the title implies, this is the story of the real family who lived in Highclere Castle.  One can't help but make comparisons to Downton Abbey.  There are definitely some similarities, as well as strong differences. The rich family history makes for a fascinating tale. The historic and somewhat factual tone allows the reader to envision the "characters" as real people, if only at the cost of loosing that personal and emotional bond to the "story." 
A remarkable quantity of personal family research is included, including private family letters and photos, which make the overall story very real. In reading, one gets the sense that the author spent hours scouring through boxes of family archives.  Unfortunately, from an historians stance, the text is overflowing with subjective bias. The author clearly has strong connections to the subject and only wishes to cast them in the best light; given that the author is the current Countess, this should not surprise the reader. Overall, a great read for anyone enthralled by turn of the century English country house lifestyle, not so great for those wishing to read a more conventional history on the subject.

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