A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time Series #14)

A Memory of Light - Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson The wheel has come and gone and come again and finally the story is told. It isn't the story but it is a story; a story of how a collection of people from a small rural village were fated to face the dark one and his minions in a battle for the world.Fourteen books and tens of thousands of pages later the story has reached a conclusion and, quite frankly, I'm glad to be done with it. Sanderson had a yeomans task to try and save this series and he did a remarkably good job of it. Sadly, however, there were so many odd story lines floating around that he couldn't possibly have resolved them all in a satisfactory manner. Instead, some come to an abrupt end and others are left dangling and waiting on a conclusion in the readers imagination.The primary story arch reaches a conclusion that is both satisfactory and lacking at the same time. Though, honestly, it would have been near impossible to conclude the story between Rand and the Dark One in a satisfying way. At least it is done.The most consistent part of the transition between the two authors has been that a variety of the characters annoying quirks have remained incredibly annoying. Elayne and Egwene still seem to think they know how to do everything better than anyone and Rand is still moping around and whining about how every death in the world is his fault. I've never really understood how these maybe 20 year old people feel like they know the answer to everything. Granted, I was once twenty and probably thought I knew everything as well - but I was also never tasked with saving the world and thrust into situations that were exceedingly beyond anyone's knowledge - but it still seems like the main protagonists could look to some other people, on occasion, for some advice and guidance.My favorite character in the series has been Mat. And, in general, he is still a fun character to follow but his dialog hasn't been nearly as entertaining or laugh inducing as it was under Jordan's care. Perrin, another popular character, is also in this book quite a bit and, finally, he isn't as whiny or mopey as he has been in the prior books. Both Rand and Perrin seem to be burdened with Catholic like guilt all the time and it was refreshing to see Perrin shake free of it in this book.Finally, there is a little twist surprise to the ending. I won't talk about it anymore than that other than to say I am not a fan of it.

A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything - This book really does cover a lot but I'd say it is more of a History of Scientific Discovery than anything else.Overall, the book left me with more questions than answers because he did cover so much different information. However, Bryson does do a fantastic job of helping make a variety of complicated topics more approachable and understandable. I certainly don't envy the job he had in writing this book and I love to learn.If you are at all curious about how our world works and our limited understanding of it then you should certainly give this book a read.

Special Ops (Brotherhood of War Series #9)

Special Ops - W.E.B. Griffin "Special Ops" could easily have been the eighth book of the series and "The Aviators" could have been skipped altogether. In fact, Special Ops picks up almost immediately where "The New Breed" left off. Jack Portet had just finished helping the Belgian paratroopers liberate his family from Stanleyville in the Congo and was being reunited with Marjorie Bellmon. However, just because one crisis in the Congo was averted it doesn't mean everything had settled down. In fact new international intrigue is just about to start with the arrival of Che Guevara from Cuba in a hope to drive the fascist, imperialist, pigs out and bring communism to the people.Honestly this book isn't really about Guevara much either - except as a way to document his overall ineptitude at being a guerrilla leader. Instead, I think, it is more of an opportunity to introduce Argentina, of all places, to W.E.B. Griffin's fans - a locale he revisits in some of the books in his other series dealing with the O.S.S. and the German's in WW2. About 1/5 of this story takes place in Argentina presumably to show the US intelligence gathering techniques which are used to track Guevara. Overall this book didn't really have much of a purpose in relation to the initial "Brotherhood of War Series" and I found it a general letdown as a sequel to "The New Breed."The worst part of this book was the end of it. A huge portion of the story is told via memo's between the Special Forces detachment (17) in the Congo and Stanford Felter in Washington DC. It was as if even Griffin realized he didn't have a story to tell so he just gave up on it, went to the bank, and cashed his royalty check. Some people may appreciate the memorandum style but, for me, it was off-putting. Typically, in the series, when I saw the memo format I would just gloss over it. However, in this story you can't or you'll actually miss a large part of the story.In other words this couldn't have been a much worse book to finish the series with (though, "The Aviators" would have been an even worse final book - I'll discuss that in it's own review). I realize he left a few things hanging at the end of "The New Breed" but the series would have been better off had he just stopped there.

The New Breed (Brotherhood of War Series #7)

The New Breed - W.E.B. Griffin It is difficult to write reviews for the books in this series because I am reading them so quickly. I bought all of them at one time and have been going non-stop so that as soon as I finish one I just start the next leaving me no time to pause and write a review.However, I felt this book deserved a little bit of individual attention simply because, so far, it was the best of the bunch in not only this series but also of "The Corps" series which I read immediately before "The Brotherhood of War."This book doesn't stand out because Griffin suddenly changed his formula either; it still features extraordinary soldiers and the women they love or lust after. This is the first book in the series that doesn't focus on Craig Lowell - instead it is really about the young private Portet drafted into the US Army from his expat home in the Congo where he fly's for his fathers fledgling airline. Portet, much like the rest of Griffin's characters, has an unusual ability to absorb languages - plus he is fairly well off financially though he isn't, as Lowell would say, "Comfortable." Portet, much like Lowell, however, isn't very pleased to find himself in the military and is just counting down the days until his obligation is fulfilled and he can return home. Home is the crux of his problem.Griffin has changed the playing field, and the normal flow of time in the series, by focusing on the chaos that took place in the Congo during the mid 1960's. "The Generals", the book that precedes "The New Breed" in the series actually takes place later in the 60's, after the events of "The New Breed." Furthermore, the other books in the series focus on the Asian Pacific theater so being thrust into the Congo rebellion is a little bit jarring; but in a good way.To tell the truth I was a little tired of Craig Lowell and his playboy lifestyle. I had tired of him a couple books prior; he never seemed to learn his lesson about screwing around. Craig's nephew, Geoff who is also featured in this book, is a more likable guy because he is both married and faithful to his wife Ursula. Furthermore, Private Portet, who was a bit of a ladies man before entering the Army, isn't simply a rich kid with an unusually successful love life. Instead he seems to have a little more depth than Lowell.I have also really enjoyed learning more about the circumstances of the strife in the Congo. It is one of those engagements I haven't read much about even though I'm somewhat familiar with Joseph Mobutu and Moise Tshombe. One of my favorite aspects of Historic Fiction is that it provides me with a launching pad to learn more about the actual history behind the story. I am anxious to learn more about the people and the events that took place around the Congo in the 1960s' thanks to this book.You can pick up any of Griffin's book and read them out of order because he does a pretty good job of providing the back story filler for each main character in each book. This is a little bit annoying when you read the books back to back - but it provides a casual reader with the perfect excuse to skip straight to "The New Breed" for an interesting and compelling story about the Cold War and our efforts to stop the spread of Communism through the world.

Rogue Warrior

Rogue Warrior - Richard Marcinko, John Weisman Badass. That's about the only way to describe Richard Marcinko a retired Navy Seal and founder of the most elite team of Seal, 6. Well, badass, reckless, and full of himself. However, I can forgive him his insanely high opinion of himself considering some of the stuff he accomplished during his long, but often troubled, military career.When I was in the Army I really, really, wanted to join the Special Forces which is sort of like the Army's version of Seals. However, I didn't and that alone is a big difference between myself and Marcinko. When he wanted to do something in he went after it full bore and nothing would get in his way; including regulations and/or his chain of command. In fact, his utter disregard for his chain of command turned out to be his downfall.This book was full of hoorah stories that really pumped me up and, quite honestly, inspired me to be a bit more kickass myself. Mr. Marcinko really does have something postive to teach everyone even if his approach to doing it may turn off many readers. He writes much as he talks; like a sailor so if rough language is a problem for you get over it. He worked in a world where death was a constant possibility; a few fucks scattered around really isn't too bad in comparision. No matter your background you should read this book simply to experience the raw power of a personality as strong as Marcinkos.As bad ass as he came across he is also extremely selfish and, at times, deluded into thinking everything that happened to him, or his troops, was someone else's fault. First and foremost he was a horrendous husband. He sort of admits to it but at the same time he also doesn't seem to have any remorse for his overall neglect of his family. In fact, he seems proud of it. He also tended to act with his own sense of glory in mind rather than the welfare of his troops. Now, it may be that this is just a part of the SEAL psyche I can't understand; but, when his decisions as a leader led to his troops being in unnecessary and extreme harms way he just blames others for not supporting him. He never seems to realize it was his decision that put his boys up against 100 north Vietnamese on the night of the Tet Offensive for example. Instead he blames an incompetent and drunk Special Forces commander.Marcinko does give good credit where it is due however and he frequently cites soldiers he served with who helped him or made him a better soldier. However, no matter how much those other guys tried to teach him there were some things, like tact, that Marcinko never learned; and it was this lack of tact; along with his disregard for the chain of command, that ultimately killed his career.A prime example of his lack of tact comes late in the book when he is leading the super secret, bad ass team called Red Cell. These guys have what, to me, seems like the greatest job on earth. They are tasked with testing and breaking the security of naval installations around the world so that those bases can learn and improve. However, in his reports to the base commander's Marcinko doesn't care how he tells the commander that his post is screwed. Instead he just slams the guy regardless of the ego he is dealing with. I would think that in 30 years of naval service he would have learned he wasn't the only proud sailor around. I'm not saying that he should have softened his message but he certainly could have delivered them in a much more convincing manner. Instead he was an ass.The ends may justify the means; but by delivering his message like a jerk he hurt not only himself but he undermined Red Cell's mission. Sure, the base's security flaws were illuminated but they certainly weren't addressed because the post commander had his feathers ruffled and he would turtle up and attack Marcinko instead of accepting the evaluation as a critique of the post and not of the commander. I don't know if I could have handled it any better but, considering the job he had, I certainly would have tried.In the end Marcinko was still an excellent soldier who did his job, taking out the enemy, well and I'm going to try to take away some of his strengths from reading it. From now on, when I'm faced with a difficult obstacle that I think is too great to overcome, I might even ask myself, "What would Marcinko Do" - then I'll run through the damn thing and kick it's ass.Even with all his failings and the books often awkward writing I enjoyed it and give it a 3.5 out of 5 star review.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - Howard Pyle This is the first book I've read on my Kindle. I was able to download it for free from Google Books and I'm glad I did. To tell the truth I didn't even know this was a book until I stumbled across it. I guess I should have known better but it just never showed up on my radar before now.The title of the book is the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood for a reason; it is more of a series of short stories featuring Robin and his band of Merry men than one long story about Robin. If you've seen any of the Robin hood movies you've seen a couple of the short stories merged into one longer whole but, for the most part, there are a lot of Robin's tales you haven't' experienced yet.My favorite Robin Hood movie is the animated Disney classic. It incorporates a couple of the merry adventures, such as the archery tournament; but, interestingly Prince John (the phony king of England) isn't really a problem for Robin most of the time. Instead, the Sheriff of Nottingham is. However, even the Sheriff isn't really all that evil and instead is just incompetent and a bit afraid of Robin.Interestingly I'm glad I had just finished Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" before reading this as I had a better understanding of the roles of various religious figures as well as what it meant to be the Sheriff. The language, while often archaic, is pretty easy to read and understand and the book, as a whole, was fun. I recommend it.

The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett The Pillars of the Earth is roughly 970 pages long and, at times, it felt even longer. That isn't to say that it isn't a good story - it is - just that, occasionally, I wished the story would reach it's conclusion. That may be more a commentary on me and my impatience than it is on the book; I'm not sure.The story is focused around the construction of a fictional cathedral in the small English village of Kingsbridge. It seems rare to me that a building is in fact one of the main characters of a story but Ken Follett not only selected an unusual protagonist he pulled it off quite well. The cathedral isn't the only protagonist, not by a long shot, but it is the focus of the actions all of the other main characters, both good and bad, take throughout the majority of the novel.The story takes place in medieval England and, as such, it can be fairly graphic and violent in places; further, because the story takes place around the construction of the cathedral there is quite a bit of Christian dogma cited by various characters towards myriad ends. Of course, even without the cathedral the presence and power of the catholic church in Medieval England would have guaranteed some strong religious overtones in the weekly lives of the various characters.Essentially there are four characters within the book who server as our protagonists. Prior Phillip, the leader of a conclave of monks who are the lords of Kingsbridge and who contract out the construction of the Cathedral. Tom Builder is the master builder who is tasked with constructing the cathedral. Jack Sharebourg, the step-son of Tom Builder and a fine stone carver, has a smaller role that builds to a more critical one as the story goes on. Last, but not least, is Aliena, the daughter of the local earl. Aliena is an unusual medeival woman in that, while she is treated, at times as less than human, she manages to do some amazing things that I doubt were wholly probably in the factual middle ages.I, almost always, cheer for the good guys and find them to be the more interesting characters in a book. However, at times, a novel comes along with such sufficient insufferable bad guys that they steal the show. That was the case with all three of the antagonists in The Pillars of the Earth. The most powerful of the three, at least politically, is the snake like Bishop Waleran. He is a manipulative backstabbing and power-hungry bastard who, for the majority of the novel, goes out of his way to prevent the construction of the cathedral even though it is within his own Diocese.Just slightly less powerful but significantly less intelligent and scheming is the ruthless William of Hamleigh. While William is a competent knight he is both vicious and full of spite; by mixing those two character flaws with a serious inferiority complex and a paranoid suspicion that everyone mocks his family William really does become the embodiment of evil throughout the story. I'm ashamed to share his name.The final villain is Alfred; Tom Builders eldest child. Alfred is cunning and strong but also intellectually stunted. Further he is consumed by jealousy of Jack who is both more talented and smarter but much smaller and weaker. Their conflict is full of petty injustices spearheaded by Alfred's malicious desire to simply make Jack's life miserable. Alfred is a real ass who I kept hoping would get his due.Overall all of the characters are believable, but, at times, their reactions to different events are not. For instance, Tom Builder's second wife, Ellen, is an anomaly who has a secret that keeps Bishop Waleran in fear. However, considering the power that the church had in the time period it is hard for me to believe she was allowed to remain alive; and, not just living, but thriving within the town of Kingsbridge as Tom's wife. Further, after she performed some sufficiently sacriligious acts I was amazed she wasn't captured and burned at the stake as a witch; especially considering the entire religious population of the region had denounced her as just that - a witch!I suppose Follett had to take some artistic liberties to keep the story flowing and for that I am glad because it is a good tale full of both victories and defeats for "the good guys" which was refreshing considering how often the good guys just seem to easily come out on top in most tales. At times the story does get bogged down but, fortunately, it picks back up again before too long and you once again forget it is a 970 page book.My youngest brother Chris gave me the book and a recontamination to read it and I'm glad I took his advice. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 star rating.

Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time Series #13)

Towers of Midnight - Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson I started reading the Wheel of Time series in 1989. Twenty-one years ago and, yet, I stick with it. Some people would think I am a glutton for punishment however, books like "Towers of Midnight" serve as a reward for my patience.Sanderson took over the writing duties for the series in the previous book, "The Gathering Storm" and he took a while to get comfortable with each of the characters which is why I felt the second half of that book was much better than the first. Fortunately he continued to improve as he wrote "Towers of Midnight" and, I think, at this point he has hit a great stride.It took until the 12th book of the series for me to start like Nyneave; I think Sanderson's take on her is sufficiently different as to make her a more believable character. While Jordan was penning the series many of the women just seemed so depressingly disgusted with everything any man did that it became offputting to read. I can remember Jordan saying that the women in his books were written as he has experienced women and, if that is true, then I am sorry for his experiences. The Nyneave that came forward in "The Gathering Storm" is still a strong and confident character she just doesn't feel the need to treat all men like they are shit anymore. It's refreshing. In fact, she even is willing to admit that Rand doesn't constantly have his head firmly up his ass all the time now. Granted, emotionally Rand was pretty crazy for a bit but that should be expected considering all of the turmoil he is going through. However, some of the people he dealt with such as Cadsuane and Nyneave could have shown a touch of empathy considering Rand is probably in his early 20's and is being asked to not only overcome his own inner demons but also to gather the worlds forces and, while he's at it, prepare to face off against the most powerful and evil force the world has ever or will ever know - the dark one himself.In "Towers of Midnight" Rand, thanks in no small part to Nyneave's improved demeanor, Rand completes a metamorphosis that began in "The Gathering Storm." Now, Nyneave has the unenviable task of convincing and converting every other Aes Sedai she meets so that they might trust Rand to not be a completely wool-headed farm boy. It won't be easy especially considering that Egwene still thinks she knows everything (even though she too is only in her early 20's) and Elaine hasn't learned any humility at all yet and still refuses to learn pretty much anything from any of her experiences. Fortunately, we see little of Elayne or Egwene in this book. Instead, the majority of the tale is focused on Perrin and, to a lesser extent, Mat. In fact it felt like nearly 60% of the story revolved around Perrin. While he isn't my favorite character I am very glad his story arc finally moved forward a significant amount. Perrin, much like Rand, goes through a personal metamorphosis that is not only long overdue but much needed. An additional plus is that Faile isn't completely unreasonable in every one of her interactions with Perrin again. In fact, she shows a bit of empathy for his situation which is refreshing to say the least.Mat and Thom finally make their move toward the Tower of Gengji but not before facing a dark nemesis that has been trailing them for quite a while. Overall I didn't really feel like Mat, as a person, changed much however he does finish up a story thread that has been dangling loose since back in the Great Hunt (book 2!) so it was great to reach that milestone. The best news about Mat in this book is that Sanderson is finally starting to get comfortable with his wise cracking personality. Mat's still missing a lot of his "zing" but he is much better in this iteration than he was in "The Gathering Storm" where he had become sort of a petulant child.Towers of Midnight does an admirable job of pulling a wide variety of story lines forward and setting the stage for the last battle while at the same time another new dilemma is revealed that Rand and Aviendha are going to have to resolve. Further, the division within the Black Tower is more fully explored but no apparent progress is made toward resolving it. I imagine that will be something Rand has to face early on in "A Memory of Light." Honestly, at this point, I'm not entirely convince the series can really be finished in the next book but, supposedly, it will be. Sanderson has a herculean task on his hands but if he continues on as he has I think he is up to it. I certainly hope so because I am not sure I can keep reading until year 25!

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future - Daniel H. Pink I was given this book when I joined a group called Create Huntington. It was given as sort of a home-work assignment as we work toward building a more creative community in my small hometown of Huntington, WV.Overall, I think Pink hits the nail on the head though, truth be told, I began reading the book with a bit of animosity considering he attacks my profession, Software Engineering, right off the bat. Fortunately I think he misses the mark in regards to that particular field in his failure to understand the amount of creativity that is needed within it.Pink makes a simple but effective case, in general, for why manufacturing jobs and anything else that just takes people and time won't be the future of the US economy. We can't even begin to compete against nations such as India and China where they have millions of people training in the traditional "powerhouse fields" of medicine or programming as well as nearly endless supplies of lower wage laborers who can assemble things just as well as anyone in the states.Instead our future is in providing creativity and generating value out of the leisure time can afford to apply to the products and services the rest of the world is creating.Granted, I don't think that we will survive just be being creative; we need to become the producers of things as well but the only way we will be able to leverage our production is by making the end product stand out and the only way we can do that is by applying our creativity to the problems the products solve.We don't own the market on creativity but, as a people, we have more time and freedom to pursue it so we need to lead the way before we find ourselves being left behind.

The Double Agents (Men at War)

The Double Agents - W.E.B. Griffin, William E. Butterworth IV A book by Griffin (and son now) means one thing to me - a quick, easy, and fun story about a guy who tends to have everything go his way in life and "The Double Agents" was no different. "The Double Agents" is about Major Dick Candidy who was formerly an ace pilot and is now an operative within the OSS working on a mission in Sicily. There is also a side story involving the actors Peter Ustinov and David Niven who are also working for the OSS out of London on a mission to fool Nazi intelligence into thinking we aren't really up to anything in Sicily.The story about Candidy is interesting but I found the retelling of Operation Mincemeat involving Ustinov and Niven more compelling because it is based on an actually OSS operation I had previously heard about though not all of the characters in "The Double Agents" actually were involved in Operation Mincemeat in reality.This is the only book inthe "Men At War" series I have read but it was enjoyable enough that I will go back and get the rest of the series.

Fevre Dream

Fevre Dream - George R.R. Martin Imagine a silent paddle-wheel cruising the Mississippi river in the still of the night stopping only to allow it's passengers the opportunity to feast upon the blood of the unwary populace sleeping in range of the shoreline. So long as the captain were to avoid a predictable pattern of stops they would be able to terrorize the entire length of the Mississippi and it's tributaries for generations.This is the horrific possibility that Martin conjures within the dark pages of Fevre Dream; a tale of ruthless vampires, a riverman looking for redemption, and an idealistic young vampire who sees a future where vampires no longer need to succumb to the allure of drinking the blood of man.Fevre Dream is a slightly different take on the traditional vampire story. It is set in the busy river-boating days of the late 19th century America. Martin does a few interesting things with the vampire legend that help set this story apart from others covering the same topic. For example he provides a compelling and believable backstory to the drinking of blood while at the same time he obliterates some of the more cloying bits of folklore about how to defend against a vampire.I normally don't read "horror", however Martin's deft hand produced a tale I still enjoyed quite a bit. It's easy to read and flows along as smoothly as the river the book is set upon. To fans of George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series "A Song of Ice and Fire" Fevre Dream will come as a bit of a surprise; however, it is interesting to note that Fevre Dream was originally published in 1982 and thus gives you a glimpse into the evolution of his writing style. I think that if you like A Song of Ice and Fire you will also enjoy Fevre Dream; just in a different way.

The Scar (New Crobuzon Series #2)

The Scar - China Miéville I bought this book at the same time I bought Perdido Street Station and I can thankfully say this story was much better, to me, than the other. I didn't really like any of the main characters but I was, at least, sympathetic to their plight.I imagine my enjoyment is incremented somewhat by my lessened expectations. I had high hopes going into Perdido Street Station but I was barely willing to open The Scar after that let down.This story doesn't really take place in New Crobuzon but the dark city still has its place in the tale and the the city's looming presence seems to exist on every page due to it's threat to the floating city of Armada.Armada is a city of remade (creatures, including humans, who have been substantially altered) and outcasts from the mainland. For the most part the city thrives on piracy and they maintain genetic diversity via kidnapping and assimilation. It is this pattern of kidnapping and assimilation which brings the reader, via the interpretor, Coldwine, onto Armada.From the point Coldwine arrives on the floating city onward the story is one of intrigue and deception with an ending, much like Perdido Street Station, that I found disappointing. In fact, it is the ending which led me to give this book four, instead of five, stars.Overall I enjoyed the completely different style that Miéville has though I do wish he would use the term "opaque" a little less often.

Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon Series #1)

Perdido Street Station - China Miéville I had pretty high hopes going into Perdido Street Station so I am a bit disappointed to only be giving it three stars. I had heard from so many different sources about how great this book was that I often found myself wondering if I was reading the right book.To be blunt the story just didn't engage me at all. I managed to work my way to the finish but reading a novel shouldn't be work - it should be an entertaining escape. Yet, somehow, Mieville managed to turn this novel into a chore.The first problem I had was that I never cared about any of the characters. I couldn't feel sympathetic to any of them. In fact, the whole story seemed more about the city itself than any of the characters; as if "Perdido Street Station" where intended to introduce me to New Crobozun; the sentient characters were just there to help guide me through the dark. The city itself is interesting but it just wasn't enough to convince me to like this book.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson I picked this book up because Sweden itself keeps popping up into my everyday conversations. The story painted Sweden with a not-entirely flattering brush - which surprised me; specifically the underlying theme of misogyny that permeate the tale. I don't mean to suggest that the main characters are misogynistic - far from it - but their lives are constantly shaped by the misogyny around them. It makes me wonder how prevalent the attitudes described in the book are in actuality with Sweden.The title character, the girl, is Lisbeth Salander. She is a bit of an enigma who has clearly suffered some horrible tragedies and is thus completely anti-social toward almost everyone. However, she is also a talented hacker who utilizes her skills in her position as a security researcher for a private security company. Because of this position she is eventually drawn into a nightmarish tale that dates back over 40 years. Fortunately for Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist who is equally committed to the tragedies, Salander is also a tenacious fighter who hates one thing above all else - women hating men; which coincidentally is close to the original name of the book "Men Who Hate Women." Had I known that before picking up the novel I wouldn't have been so surprised at the attitude of so many of the secondary male characters.The story starts leading the reader to believe the tale will be about the Wennestrom affair but the majority of the novel basically ignores Wennestrom and, instead, focuses on the Vanger family - a wealthy but disfunctional family with sprawling, but fading, business interests within Sweden.Stieg Larsson does a fine job of telling a compelling tale that kept me sucked in and awake late into the night as I poured through the pages in order to find out the resolution. However, at times, Larsson seemed to get bogged down in excessive details; specifically about particular items aquired by the characters. For instance, at no point did I need to know the amount of RAM within Salander's new Macbook. Fortunately, that is the only real criticism I have of Larsson's writing style and I throughly enjoyed the book.

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials Series #3)

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials Series #3) - The third installment of Pullmans' "His Dark Materials" is, by far, the longest and, at times, it sort of felt like it was a little too long. However, I still enjoyed the story and, in a rare act for a bit of fiction, it left me thinking.Typically, when I read a novel I just go into it for the entertainment and the escape. I don't try to analyze or dig deeply into the hidden layers of meaning however Pullman makes it almost impossible for me not to think about the allegory that his entire series seems to act as.For the time being, however, I'll ignore all of that and just point out one nit in the story that really bothered me. How did Mrs. Coulter get Lyra and herself all the way to a cave in the Himalayas so fast? She didn't have any kind of special equipment or magical devices and yet she was able to get somewhere far away in, what seemed like, a day. Meanwhile, Will, with his magic knife had to travel for weeks to reach the cave. It honestly didn't make any sense and that disconnect bugged me throughout the entire book.One of my favorite parts of the series was the fact that Pullman never really let you know if Mrs Coulter or Lord Asriel was really good or bad. In fact, I detested both of them throughout the series even though they seemed to have completely conflicting purposes. At least Asriel's demaon was likable but perhaps that was because we barely got to know it - meanwhile Mrs. Coulter's monkey was easy to dislike. Throughout the series I kept waiting to learn some secret about that Monkey and Mrs. Coulter so I was a little disappointed when it was all said and done.It is easy for me to overlook my problems with the story though and just say, "I liked it." I hope to get my daughters to read the series at some point even though Lyra became a weaker and weaker character as the story unfolded.

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials Series #2)

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials Series #2) - I flew through this book even though in one critical way it disappointed me greatly; Lyra didn't seem as confident in herself nor as bold in this chapter of the trilogy."The Subtle Knife" takes place on three worlds; the first is the same as that which dominated the first book. The second is the Earth we are familiar with and the third is a planet that is haunted by Specters that drain the spirit from adults they encounter.In neither our world, nor the world of Specters, do the humans have an animal companion as in the first world - yet Lyras' Pan does not disappear even though all the people she meets elsewhere have their spirits within themselves. It's an odd inconsistency considering the one person we end up meeting in Lyra's home world who was from Earth has an animal companion. This volume stars a young boy, just older than Lyra, named Will who serves as her fighting protector and guide when she visits earth. Will is an interesting character who has his own very unique story and he adds an interesting twist to the overall tale being told but the focus on Will, at Lyra's expense, disappointed me after having Lyra presented as such a strong character in "The Golden Compass." To be honest this book did nothing towards helping clear up the alignment of the motives of Lord Asriel. While, I'm intrigued with the concept of destroying "God" I'm just not sure if Asriel's motive is a good one. I'm anxious to read book three, "The Amber Spyglass" to see the resolution.

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