BOOK REVIEW: The Pelican Brief – by John Grisham

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Title: The Pelican Brief
Author: John Grisham
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First pubished: 1992
Finished reading: March 25th 2013
Pages: 432
Rating 3

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I used to read a lot of John Grisham novels when I was younger, and I still find them entertaining in general. The Pelican Brief doesn’t let legal thriller and John Grisham fans down. Although there is not as much law involved as in other novels written by the same author, this one is still an entertaining read. It’s what you call a page-turner with an moderately fast pace and a prose that is easy to read… Although I must admit one of the main characters Darby sometimes ended up irritating me. Some of her behaviour just didn’t fit the whole brilliant-law-student character, and we are not even talking about running right into the arms of Gray after what happened to Thomas. Definitely not convincing and it takes away some of the credibility of the story. Still, this is a nice read for Grisham fans and any lover of comfortable mystery/thriller books.

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One morning America learns two Supreme Court justices have been murdered the previous night. Justice Rosenberg and Justice Jensen are as different as day and night, and the question arises who would have killed both of them. Law professor Thomas Callahan is heartbroken, but his brilliant student and lover Darby Shaw sees the whole situation as a big puzzle. She starts preparing a legal brief (later to be called the pelican brief) trying to find out who was behind the murders. Someone has to get advantage out of the deaths, and she studied an enormous amount of cases before she saw light in the darkness. Darby gives her legal brief to Thomas, who then gives it to his FBI friend. But the letter ends up in the wrong hands, and Thomas pays for it with his life. Suddenly Darby is on the run, hiding from experienced but dumb killers and trying to solve the puzzle at the same time. She gets help from an ambitious reporter of The Post and together they try to show the truth to the world…

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While the legal part of this thriller doesn’t play as big of a role as in other John Grisham novels, The Pelican Brief is still an entertaining read with a healthy dose of action. I have read better and some parts are quite cliche, but I would still recommend reading this one if you are looking for a quick and easy read that will entertain you for a few hours.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – By Stieg Larsson

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Title: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
(Millennium Series #1)
Author: Stieg Larsson
Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Fiction
First published: August 2005
Finished reading: March 15th 2013
Pages: 538
(Originally written in Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor)

Rating 4

“I’ve had many enemies over the years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s never engage in a fight you’re sure to lose. On the other hand, never let anyone who has insulted you get away with it. Bide your time and strike back when you’re in a position of strength—even if you no longer need to strike back.”

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has become increasingly popular over the last few years, especially when they decided to make two movie versions of the book. The first one in Swedish was a lot better than the Hollywood version though; somehow the main characters (like Daniel Craig interpreting Mikael Blomkvist) weren’t as believable. Plus, I really enjoy how the Swedish language sounds and I even learned a few words over the years… The book was actually a re-read, and I enjoyed it as much as the first time. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is full of action. Although it is at some times almost too disturbing, I was sucked into the story and it was hard to stop reading. Lisbeth Salander is definitely a woman with balls and I admire all her quirky and crazy ways, even though I sometimes don’t agree with her actions. This book is a great read and it definitey won’t bore you!

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Mikael Blomkvist is a financial journalist with an important problem. When he makes some serious accusations of lawbreaking by a big name in the Swedish Industry, they sue him and Mikael loses the case. Just as he doesn’t know what to do next, a legend in the Swedish Industry contacts him with the message that he has the information he needs to prove his was right all along. We then get introduced to a mystery involving the disappearance of the daughter of the famous Hendrik Vanger some forty years ago.  Hendrik Vanger hires him to investigate the disappearance and promises Mikael to give the information he needs, but only after a full year of research. The body of Harriet Vanger was never found, but Hendrik strongly believes someone within his family killed the poor girl… And he asks Mikael to investigate under the pretext he is writing Hendrik’s memoir.

Mikael moves to the island where the Vanger clan have lived for ages, and a computer hacker called Lisbeth Salander is also hired to investigate. Lisbeth is not the typical woman and quite an outcast with her piercings, interesting choice of clothing and many tattoos. She is mostly misunderstood and in fact a genius, even though she has some problems expressing herself as she is autistic. Together, Mikael and Lisbeth are able to find a link between Harriet’s disappearance and some murders that took place forty years ago, and they realize they are in danger. When they reveal more and more of the dark family secrets, someone is trying to stop them from uncovering the truth… With dangerous consequences.

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an entertaining read and a fast pace that will make you want to continue reading until you finish it. Stieg Larsson was without doubt a talented writer and it’s a shame he passed away so soon. I have read the whole trilogy previously and rereading it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. The Swedish movie version is recommendable as well!

BOOK REVIEW: A Long Way Gone – by Ishmael Beah

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Title: A Long Way Gone; Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier
Author: Ismael Beah
Genre: Memoir, Non Fiction
First published: February 13th 2007
Finished reading: March 4th 2013
Pages: 218

Rating 4,5

“I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end…”

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Even when I first heard about this book, I knew A Long Way Gone would leave its mark on me. This memoir telling the story of a young boy soldier in Sierra Leone is both impressive, sad and overwhelming. Ismael Beah was lucky enough to survive the terrors of the civil war and tells us without filter exactly how things really were for young boys in Sierra Leone. Make sure to have a tissue box closeby, because you will need it while you read A Long Way Gone!

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Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier tells the story of Ishmael Beah, now twenty-five years old. In this memoir he tells his heartbreaking story of his experiences during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone and the ongoing predicament of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide. When Beah was 12, he was forced to escape from attacking rebels in Sierra Leone. He was separated from his family and as he travelled around his country to escape the war, he was forced to join an army unit in order to stay alive. There they brainwashed him by giving him drugs and by thirteen, he had seen more people die (quite a few by his own hand) and experienced incidents that others may not have to deal with throughout their entire lives. At the age of 16, however, UNICEF removed him from the unit and gave him a chance to be forgiven and to start a new life in Freetown. When he traveled to the USA to participate in a conference, he was given a chance to teach others about the horrific and unimaginable things he was forced to face . Things that millions of children around the world still face today… He had to go back to Sierra Leone after the conference, but when the situation became too dangerous to stay in Freetown, where he lived with his uncle, he fled the country and was able to get back to the USA, where he lives to this day.

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This book is a truly impressive story and I admire Ishmael’s courage to tell his story to the world; admitting that he killed a lot of innocent people in the process. I respect him for that and also for giving us the opportunity to read and try understand how children are forced to do horrible things when facing war. This book is definitely recommended to those who enjoy reading non fiction, memoirs or stories about foreign cultures. Warning: A Long Way Gone is not for the weakhearted.