Does the Hypnotist Hypnotize Its Readers?

All I can say is that the Swedes sure know how to write thrilling (and somewhat disturbing) murder mystery novels.  After the brilliant success of The Millennium Trilogy by Stiegg Larsson, it seems like we’ve had a steady stream of murder mystery novels in translation being released in the states.  The Hypnotist is written by a duo of Swedish writers and it is, if nothing else, disturbing.  You have a serial killer who hacks apart his victims and is driven by a single handed determination to destroy in a frighteningly methodical way, and a hypnotist who is somewhat likable and sympathetic, but not really.  My real question is what gets lost in the translation.  I think the biggest struggle I had with this novel is the writing style – and I’m not sure how much of that has to do with the original authors and how much of that has to do with the translation of the text.  There were sentences that just didn’t flow properly (at least to my ear).  There were also key plot points that I felt were left unexplained, which I will not go into here (because there’s nothing worst than spoiling a murder mystery).

This book begins with a call to Erik Bark, a former hypnotist who has given up the profession due to something that happened in his past.  A family has been brutally murdered – hacked to pieces in fact, but there is a lone survivor – a teenage boy.  Detective Joona Lina, the officer on the case, begs Erik to hypnotize the boy, who is in critical condition, in order to find out what happened and get vital clues to the vicious homicides and the location of the one remaining family member – a sister who has gone missing.

Throughout the novel, sad to say, I was more interested in Erik’s past, and what drove him to give up hypnosis, than the actual crime itself.  There are, however, the requisite twists and turns – with a surprising twist in the murder investigations that you will have to wait and read about if you decide to pick up this book.   Many compare this murder mystery novel with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series,  siding with one or the other.  If I had to pick,  I would be staunchly on team Millennium Trilogy.

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The Other Side of Tina Fey

If you haven’t read Bossypants, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this blog post and go straight to the bookstore, the library or your ereader and pick up this book.  It’s hilarious, insightful and one of the most interesting biographies I’ve read in a long time (although I can’t honestly say I read a lot of biographies).  It’s a quick read, and it reads like a good stand up comedy routine. keeping you laughing until the very end.

And you get to see another side of Tina Fey – the, rougher side of Tina Fey.  The Tina Fey with an edge which to be honest I never really saw in the movies and TV shows, although I suppose I should have known – she was a writer for SNL after all.

The book is really funny, very tongue in cheek, slightly self-deprecating and just a complete pleasure to read.  I think Tina Fey also does a great job being a feminist views, without pushing her feminist views on you.  Let’s face it – it’s hard being a high powered woman, whether it’s in the entertainment industry or any other industry. And for a woman in the entertainment industry, there’s also the age ceiling – the you’re 40 and no longer hot so your career is over, thing.  Tina Fey does a great job of empowering, in general. women, comedians, etc.  I felt, happy reading the book.  In fact I laughed out loud on several occasions.

So what have we learned? Get this book. Her anecdotes, her stories, her vignettes are hilarious.  It’s well worth a read.

Oh Noes! The Robots are Coming!

I first encountered Daniel H. Wilson years ago at a small bookstore in Mountain View, CA.  At that time I had no idea who he was, but a friend had asked me to go to his book signing of “Where’s My Jetpack?” and get a signed book.  I remember being amused by this young, geeky robotics PhD student turned writer.  But that was the last I thought about him.  Until I saw the book Robopocalypse while I was surfing through Amazon’s “Best Books of the Month” and decided it pick it up.  I have to admit, when I first read the back cover I thought, “oh, this will be entertaining but probably a pretty standard ‘Oh no! The Robots are taking over the world what will we do!’ ” kind of book.  Which in a lot of ways it is.  But the book takes a very common premise and makes it something incredibly interesting.

Mr. Wilson traces several different people as they try to deal with  robot uprising.  By painting “history” in these vignettes, it gives you a better sense of the scope of destruction and the war happening between man and robot.  Some of his scenes between robots and man were so realistic, that for awhile I would gingerly step into elevators, afraid that they were out to kill me, even though I knew that the thought was ridiculous, at least for now.  He also throws in a few twists at the end that I was completely not expecting which definitely led to a better and more fulfilling finish (no spoilers, promise).

I hope to hear more from Mr. Wilson, although he might be busy the next few months / years working with Steven Spielberg to turn his book into a movie.  And I think it’ll be an amazing movie – I can’t wait to see it come out.  It’ll take a bit of careful treading to make sure the movie reflects the best parts of the book.