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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest Kicks Butt, But the Editing Does Not

Posted by Linda | 2:23 AM

"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" concludes Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" series of three sex crime books featuring the hacker/detective Lisbeth Salander and her journalist friend Mikael Blomkvist. (A fourth novel reportedly was left unfinished on Larsson's laptop when he died of a heart attack.) While the first two books ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire") may be read independently of the other, "Hornet's Nest" requires reader familiarity with both of the earlier volumes.

"Hornet's Nest" picks up right where "The Girl Who Played with Fire" left off. At the end of that second book, Salander was awaiting transport to a hospital with a bullet in her head after being shot by her sociopath father, Alexander Zalachenko. "Zala," as it turns out, was a Soviet agent who had defected to Sweden. When Salander was only 13, and after Zala had brutally beaten her mother, Salander tried to kill him with a Molotov cocktail; she succeeded only in severely burning him.

Much of "Hornet's Nest" is concerned with Blomkvist's uncovering the rogue Swedish security police element that had protected Zalachenko and kept Salander locked up and mistreated in a mental institution through her teens. Late in the book, the story takes up the trial of Salander for the attempted murder of her father--or so it was presented, but after the testimony focuses on Lisbeth's mistreatment by the state, the attempted murder gets lost as the conspiracy unravels.

This points to a weakness (or a charm, depending on how you look at it) in Larsson's writing: his expository sections tend to go on ...and on. We don't really need all the background history of the Swedish Security Service, for instance, but we get it, seamlessly blended in with the fictional events of the novel. Also, the account of the trial, after slaking the reader's thirst for justice, drowns the reader in continued court dialogue. When the judge offers to let Salander go if she promises to return to court and Salander admits that she would flee the country if he did so, you're ready to go with her. When she at one point does leave Sweden for Gibraltar, the chronology becomes confusing, and in any case the sequence seems pointless. An editor needed to take scissors to manuscript, methinks.

A rather substantial subplot involves Millennium editor-in-chief Erika Berger's decision to accept a position with the prestigious if stodgy newspaper, Svenska Morgon-Posten. Once ensconced in her new job, Berger is threatened by a mysterious rival and detractor. This entire story line, though, aside from underscoring the overall men-who-hate-women theme of the series, appears to be a plot device to allow Berger's frequent lover, Blomkvist, to take up an unlikely affair with a security service officer.

The denouement is made for the movies: it is suspenseful, dark, and grim. The payoff is big, with a violent but satisfying finish. (One might say Larsson, ahem, nails the ending.) The coda, too, wraps (most) things up nicely.

All in all, it is the characters that make the story work so well. Salander is a compelling character: an anti-social, counter-cultural, almost idiot savant, technogeek, woman warrior. Blomkvist, too, holds great appeal, despite his lack of any apparent personal integrity in his intimate relationships. The three books have well-constructed stories, if overripe exposition, but it's the smart, strong and occasionally vulnerable characters that draw the reader in.

I can't praise the reader, Simon Vance, highly enough. His interpretation of the material really made this story come alive. I know I've elsewhere criticized his Count Chocula version of private security chief Dragan Armansky, but all of his other voices, including Salander's, are superb. He is the rare male reader who can convincingly do women's voices. Vance's reading is definitely worth springing for the audio book.

Would you buy this Keurig B60 Special Edition

Posted by Linda | 3:28 PM

I received the Special Edition Keurig as a Christmas gift, and fell in love with it instantly. I used to hate brewing coffee in my work office every morning, it made such a mess every, single time! Having the Keurig makes coming to work honestly exciting, because I am just so excited to brew my coffee so quick and easy with no messes! I even set the clock on it and the auto on/off feature is great! The Keurig is ready to brew my coffee the moment I walk in my office every morning!

I did start having problems after a month of use. The machine would brew partial cups of coffee, and then started giving me the Prime message. After following the trouble shooting provided in the user's guide, I had to call customer service, as the issue was not going away. Customer service said they would have a technician call me back in 24-48 hours, and they actually called back in about 6 hours.

The technical support person was very helpful, and funny enough my machine worked fine while she was on the phone with me. However, she said that if the problem came back to simply call again, that she had documented all the issues and the trouble shooting we had done, and that they would replace my machine. It stopped working after a couple more days again, so I called them about the replacement.

They had my new machine to me within the week I called that last time, and I don't even have to ship back the old one, which I was super worried about! I just have to send back the K-cup part, to prove ownership, and that's that! Best customer service and replacement policy I've ever encountered.

My new brewer is working like a pro, and I'm so glad to be back to brewing! I love Keurig!

Canon PowerShot S100 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 5x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom (Black)

Posted by Linda | 3:04 PM

I have had my S100 for close to a week now and have probably shot about 1000 frames. Let's make no mistake, this is not a DSLR but it's a great little camera, takes great pictures and fits in my pocket. It will never take the place of my Nikon D90 but with this I always have a camera with me!!!

Canon did a nice job with this unit and they continue to be the king of the point and shoot.

I have used the camera outside for nature and scenery, inside for people and pets. It produces very nice results in auto and messing with the different functions allows me to fine tune the photo.

It does not work well for moving objects but that's why I have the D90.

I captured several images that I would not have simply because I had it with me. That the real value of this unit.

Leather Honey Leather Conditioner, the Best Leather Conditioner 8oz Bottle

Posted by Linda | 2:23 AM

Normally when I purchase products on Amazon I usually ignore the "suggested products" they try to batch with your primary purchase as a package deal. In my case I was buying the heavy duty occidental leather suspenders to support my gun belt that's weighed down with two 1911's and several mags.

In the suggested product section was Leather Honey, and I figured at best it would do what it claimed and at worse it would at least serve as some protection for the leather. When I got the suspenders they were exactly what I expected, extremely heavy, ultra thick and leather so stiff you could have broken brick with them. So I followed the directions on the Leather Honey hoping it could work some magic on the leather and 2 days later the results were beyond belief.

What had been hard saddle grade leather had been transformed into supple beautiful leather without losing it's ruggedness. As other reviewers have noted the easiest way of working with Leather Honey is to warm it first before applying it to the leather you're working with. In my case I heated it by placing the bottle in a pot of boiling water, which it should be noted this worked well, but I forgot to remove the inner seal so my bottle warped. If you remove the cap and seal it shouldn't do this.

Also as is implied by its name, Leather Honey is exactly the same consistency as thick honey. So while it is suggested that it should be applied with a rag or sponge, just grab a pair of rubber gloves and use your hands to work the honey into the leather. Remember a little goes a LONG way, for rock hard heavy leather, just 1/10th of my bottle turned it into very flexible soft leather. The only draw back I could think of to say about this product is that it will in fact darken your leather.

On my suspenders it turned them from a light natural leather color to a rich dark walnut or even oak color. In my opinion this was a vast improvement in the color of my leather, but if you love the light color of your leather item then this might not be the product for you. Needless to say if you have a black leather couch or anything already dark color, this won't be an issue for you.

Overall if you own anything made of leather that you want to protect, especially if it's brand new and you don't want to wait years for it to be "broken in" from use, then you can't pass Leather Honey up.

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

Posted by Linda | 2:09 AM

We all know the first book of a series is almost impossible to beat. I won't lie to you - that's true for the Hunger Games, too. But, all things considered, this is an unusually strong example of a second installment. (To be honest, I still like it much better than the final installment.)

The beginning is a bit slow as we're thrown into the slightly distanced aftermath of the 74th Hunger Games. Our main characters are living at home. And...well, for a little while, that's it. They are not engaged in their relationships or their lifestyles. Understandably, they're scarred; annoyingly, especially in Katniss's case, they are too lazy and uncaring to try and rebuild.

Nevertheless, it's a realistic start. As the plot progresses, things begin to change and we become increasingly suspicious. Katniss and Peeta should be finished and living easy lives, shouldn't they? But, of course, this is Panem and the Hunger Games, and nothing is quite that simple. Our conspiratorial dystopia can't just let that happen. So things change, deals are struck, threats are made.

I don't want to give anything away here, so I'll try to be vague. To put it simply, this book took exactly the turn I dreaded. I feared repetition; I was afraid this plot would become a dull, replicated version of the first. But honestly, just after that twist turned, I was proven wrong. It was dynamic and it was different, and the consequences were new. The secondary characters were wonderful and I adored Katniss's new acquaintances. The suspense wasn't hard to keep an investment in (although it simply couldn't match that of the first book), and the details were all fresh and original. What a relief that was.

Now, I do think there was a bit too much "middleness" happening here. In writing, you want every scene to have its own story arc and fit into the broader arc of the overall tale. The same should go for installments in a series; each, I believe, should have its own unique storyline with its own progression and climax and conclusion, all of which fit smoothly into the overarching story. I wish that was better done here. There are climaxes, but they are smaller than I'd like; the conclusion is a cliffhanger, which we accept as readers of a trilogy, but not a very satisfying one. Our story arc stays too high; it moves right into the next plotline without fully coming down from the one we just endured.

That's an exhausting way to read, if you ask me. I appreciate the newness of everything - but I wish it wasn't thrown in there just to confuse us and make us desperate for the next instalment. That's great and all, and it needs to happen for a series to be successful, but we can't ignore the needs of each book along the way.

To conclude: a steady increase of risk and twist for the overall series plot and a great new approach to our characters' experiences, but a bit too reliant on building the stakes for the future and not reliant enough on the now.

SEO Made Simple (Second Edition): Strategies For Dominating The World's Largest Search Engine

Posted by Linda | 3:09 AM

It seems that the camps are divided on this book, but I think this is rather unfair considering its main purpose is as a great place to start with SEO. For someone who has only recently begun to learn about the intricacies of SEO, I found this a useful way to extend my link-building repertoire, with some great tips on what to avoid as well (not just black hat techniques but simple things like not exceeding the optimal amount of links to use).

I would have been interested to find out more about why exactly some of these techniques work, perhaps an elaboration of some of the features Google's algorithm is looking for. Obviously the general points are covered concerning authority and relevance, but it would be great to have a little more detail so that I could react to situations with confidence that perhaps would not be described in the book.

Saying that, I do not detract away from the merits of this book; for me, this is a great place to start and combines a lot of useful techniques in one place, reinforcing what I already knew. If you are serious about SEO and concerned that this book does not go over absolutely everything then you will continue to learn more about the coding and web development side of SEO and on-page optimization elsewhere.

No one expects a 100 page book to be exhaustive on any important and intricate topic, so why should this be any different?

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