Friday, January 30, 2009

What Never Happens by Anne Holt

Anne Holt is a well-known Norwegian author, writing mostly crime-fiction. I have read a couple of her books in the Hanne Wilhelmsen-series, but this one, What Never Happens, is number two book in what I think is going to be a series about psychologist Johanne Vik and her husband, detective Adam Stubo. I haven't read book number one, but I guess that the pair met each other in that one, as they are relatively newly-wed in this one. Not like they've JUST met each other, but they've both been married before.

Johanne is on maternity leave, having just given birth to their first child. She has an older daughter and the newborn girl is also Adam's, second child. On the day the daughter is born, Adam is called away from the maternity ward to have a look at a grisly murder comitted in one of Oslo's fancy neighborhoods. A talk-show star has been brutally killed and there are no clues at all. Or rather, there are a lot of clues, but the Olso murder squad cannot connect the dots and nothing seems to have been odd about this woman, who was killed.

As the trail gets colder, Adam persuades Johanne to have a look at the case-files. Long time ago she studied profiling with one of FBI's most famous behavioral experts, and she knows a thing or two. Johanne is both compulsed and attracted to case. But having a newborn, she is also tired and edgy and extremely jumpy.

She does manage to read some of the files, though, and pretty soon she is into the case big time, even seeing things the police had overlooked. When more murders are comitted, it looks like a serial killer is on the loose, but the things still doesn't add up. Something is off, and neither Johanne, nor the Oslo police can put their finger on it.

At the same time, the readers are following an anonymous woman, whom we know is behind the murders one way or the other from the beginning. But we don't know why and how and who she is, even though we are into her head from the beginning of the book.

The ending left me a bit annoyed as I think that it was too weak. It may lead to a number three book though, which will hopefully explain some of the things I didn't think were througly explained in this one.

All in all not a bad read, but not the best crime-fiction ever. The dialogue between Johanne, Adam and his colleague in the force, Sigmund, was not impressing. It kinda annoyed me a bit and felt forced at places. But again, it wasn't a bad read and I will try and find book number one and also see if there is a book number three.

Dorte from DJ's Krimiblog has also reviewed What Never Happens. Check her review here.
This is part of the Read and Review Challenge.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More brainstorming and a Blog Improvement Wrap Up Post

I have now brainstormed about my Blog Improvements for almost two weeks and that has been great. I have decided to participate in a couple of memes and weeklies and am thinking of creating my own. I haven't "developed" anything yet, but hopefully will do that the coming months. Just need to think about it some more.

For improvements I have also cleaned up the blog's look a bit. Thanks to Beth for giving me the link to the side where you can find the code for putting all labels into a drop-down menu. That has definitely freed up some space.

I will make more improvements as I think about and as I can find the time. And I am looking forward to the next Blog Improvement Project Post :o)

The image is from the user Robert Saucier's photostream on flickr. It is called Brain Storm [remue méninges].

These Books Were Made For Walking

Strumpet from Strumpet's Life has a brand new meme, and she is tagging all of us. I am at least a week late with this, as Strumpet's thought is, that this will be a thing for every third Wednesday.

The meme is called These Books Were Made For Walking and the first week's theme is:

what book do you most associate with the beach and why?
Beach reading to me is almost always without exception something light. It can be a good, fast paced thriller, a chick lit, a vampire-fantasy...well, almost anything which is not a classic or meatier contemporary literature. While I like reading both classics and contemporary, when I am on the beach I want it light. Last time I was on the beach was August 2008, where I was in Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. I brought three books with me for a week's stay and finished them all. One of those books was Grievous Angel by Jane Hill, which I have reviewed here.

I think this is a fun meme and I look forward to more!

The image is from my own flickr photostream and it is from Dahab, also on the Sinai Peninsula. You can see my Sinai-set here.

Lets Be Friends Award

I just received this wonderful award from Beth (Beth Fish Reads).

The award says: “These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

I am passing this award on to the following bloggers:

Krissi from SwimMom

Cathy from Kittling: Books

Softdrink from Fizzy Thouhgts

Melissa from Book Nut

Jackie from Farm Lane Books

J-Kaye from J-Kay's Book Blog

You all deserve it and I am thrilled to know you all through your great blogs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

I am going to try something new (but well tested throughout the blogosphere) namely the Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, where you can also check out other blogger's links to their Teaser Tuesdays-posts.
The rules are simple:

Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Please avoid spoilers!

Here are my teasers:
'Back of the skull splintered into the cerebellum', the doctor said.

'Blood's a lot harder to clean up than most people think.

They are from p. 243 in "The Summer That Never Was" by Peter Robinson. It is number 13 in the Alan Banks series of which I have read a couple in random order.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Interesting article about Scandinavian crime fiction

I found this link at Bird Brain(ed) Book Blog and wanted to post it here as well. I know that there are some of you English-speaking bloggers out there who actually read more Scandinavian crime fiction than myself (among the authors who seem very popular but whom I never read is Jo Nesbo), but I am rather thrilled that Scandinavian thrillers are beginning to seem like flavour of the year ;o)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Still brainstorming

I am actually still brainstorming about new ideas and features for this blog. Snooping around other's blogs has also been fruitful. There are so many good ideas already out there. As I am an Egyptologist, I did toy with the idea of an "Egyptology Thursday" or something along that line. But I already have two Egyptology-blogs (both are in Danish). One in which I haven't made any posts yet and one I have with a colleague. So I don't know. I do like the idea though and it would be easy to tie it to books (fiction and non-fiction).

I also would like to post more of my own photos, but there is already Wordless Wednesday, which I could easily join. To keep it book-related I could take my own photos of bookish places, libraries, author's homes, literary places etc. I did see something like that in one of the other blogs in the Blog Improvement Project, so this it not really my own idea.

I was also toying with a "Pet Peeve Monday" related to books and literature and not pet peeves of the "I can't stand people who......" kind.

The image above is from the flickr-user Susan & her 5 D. The image is called Brainstorming.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blog Improvement Project Week 2

This second week of The Blog Improvement Project has Kim asking us to do a little brainstorming:

People start blogs with lots of content ideas, but as the weeks go by sometimes we start to lose steam (at least, I know I do). That’s why this week’s BIP project is about brainstorming.

Kim then adds some good links where we can find ideas for brainstorming, topics to blog about etc. I have read through most of the articles by now and feel rather inspired. Read some of it here.

One of the things which are mentioned as a way of brainstorming is mind-mapping. I have done a lot of mind-mapping at university and feel quite comfortable with it. However, it so reminds me of a "chore" one needed to do when writing an essay, that I am not sure I will use it as a way of blog-brainstorming. Other things are freewriting and listing. Listing is a bit like mind-mapping, I think, but to me it doesn't feel quite as "academic". I already did some listing (without knowing it though) when I made clear to myself, that this blog was going to be about books and bookrelated topics. Yes I have stepped out of that box from time to time, but it is still my goal to keep posts book-related - in one way or the other. And for that, listing is a great idea.

I discovered that there are many more things I can blog about and still keep it book-related. So I am doing some listing right now ;o)

Freewriting is probably one of the best tools if you are lost for words or topics. I use freewriting a lot in my professional work, but have never used it as a blogger. Freewritten pages or papers are not supposed to be seen by any other person than yourself, but in 9 out of 10 times it really makes the creative blood run and more often than not, you can actually use some of the stuff you freewrote. I am not sure I will use free writing as a tool for blogging, but for brainstorming it is an excellent idea.

I will be back later with some of my brainstorming ideas.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A little trip to the library

Today I went for a little trip to the library. I had two books on hold, and needed to pick them up today. One is The Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime by Mark Haddon (and no, I am one of those who still didn't read that one), which I am reading as part of the Dewey's Books Reading Challenge and the other one was Norwegian author Anne Holt's What Never Happens, which was recommended by Dorte from DJs Krimiblog. I am currently reading Paul Auster's Oracle Night, which is good, but I think I will read the Anne Holt book inbetween, because it looks like a fast and easy read.

Did any of you read any Anne Holt books or other books by Scandinavian authors?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What a nice award

Anastasia from Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog has awarded me with The Butterfly Award. That is very, very nice of her and now I will have to look around and award this to some of the bloggers out there. Like Anastasia, I am going to look for bloggers who did not recieve this award yet, and award them. But I'll have to return with an edit, because right now I am about to pop in a dvd and watch a movie. Thanks again for the award, Anastasia!

EDIT Sunday January 18: I know most of you already got this, but I am still awarding you with this cool award, because I think you deserve it:

Mim from Mim's Muddle
Beth from Beth Fish Reads
Dorte from DJs Krimiblog
Florinda from The 3 R's
Alessandra from Out of the Blue

Meme rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

Weekly Geeks, second week

This week it is Joanne from The Book Zombie who is hosting Weekly Geeks. Once again I have to say that it is great there are people out there, taking time out of their probably busy lives to write the Weekly Geeks-posts. I already enjoy it a great deal.
Anyway, Joanne asks:

For those who have been with the group, either from the start or joined within recent months, what does being a member mean to you? What do you enjoy about the group? What are some of your more memorable Weekly Geeks that we might could do again? What could be improved as we continue the legacy that Dewey gave us? For those just joining us, why did you sign up for Weekly Geeks? What would you like to see here?

I became a member of Weekly Geeks back in October, so unfortunately, I did not have the honor to get to know Dewey that well. But through the Weekly Geeks I soon found so many interesting blogs, that my reader and bloglist went from being very small to almost spilling over. But that was not the greatest thing. The greatest thing was, and is, all the fantastic and fun bloggers I have met through Weekly Geeks. That is what I enjoy most of all. I also remember doing a Weekly Geek-post about a favorite author. I made mine about Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstockings "mother". You can read it here if you want. This was only back in November, so I don't think there is any reason to repeat it here and now, but in the future, this will be a fun repeat I think. Personally I want to improve by trying to read (an ideally also comment) on all participants in the Weekly Geeks where I participate myself. I don't have any other ideas for improvement right now, as I think you all do such an amazing job!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Casual Classics: The Fishermen by Hans Kirk

The Fishermen is the debut of Danish author Hans Kirk (1898 - 1962). It was published in 1928 and was the first Danish collective novel, meaning that it was about a group of people, not just one person. In this case, the reader follows a group of fishermen and their families from the day they move from the harsh Northern Sea to the more quiet land around the large fjord, Limfjorden. We follow these families for at least a couple of years.

The fishermen and their families have bought rights to fish for eel in the fjord, they've rented small houses and they are all looking forward to a somewhat easier life than what they led when they were living by the rough Northern Sea. The families are, with a few exceptions, very religious, belonging to a certain branch of Christianity called The Inner Mission. (Please read more about Inner Mission here if you are interested in more info on this movement, for which I don't care an awful lot).

Two of the major themes of the book are religion and sin.
We follow several familie, among the the most religious one of the group Thomas Jensen and his family, the non-inner mission Povl Vrist and his wife Mariane with the big heart, the bachelor Anton Knopper who has to fight his sinful urges all the time and the gossipy but holier-than-thou Tea and her family.

We also meet the town-people who lived there before the fishermen and their families arrived: the old religious teacher Mr. Aaby, the well-read but somewhat annoying tax-man Kock, the inn-keeper Mr. Mogensen and the mild and friendly priest, whose religious outlook is not strict enough for the fishermen and their families, so they more or less chase him out of the town and employ an inner-missionary priest instead.

The story continues over several years. Winter is followed by spring, summer by fall and specially fall is an important season. This is where the fishermen put out their eel-traps (I'm sorry, I am simply not familiar with the English words for all those words about fishing-gear) and earn most money. God willing, that is. It is a rough life to be a fisherman. No doubt about that. Between working on the fjord fishing, the families read the bible, go to church and fight sin (which among other things include fighting against the hotel, where the town's youth dance each Saturday). Last but not least, everyone tries to fight his or her inner demons, which show themselves often because of the strict laws of the Inner Mission religion.

Its impossible to talk about all persons in this book, but if I should mention one, it will have to be Tea Roen. Tea is a curious woman, she loves to gossip and she is the first to tell others if she feels that they have sinned or done things which Jesus might not have approved of. At the same time she knows that she must deal with her own sins each day, but she also feels that she has found her way and in many scenes in the book, she acts in an annoying holier-than-thou way. As a reader you can sense that at some point, she is going to taste her own medicine

I have read The Fishermen a couple of times now and it is one of the most interesting social-realism novels in Denmark. I understand how it can be hellish to get through when you are young and in highschool. Lots of things and themes in the books seem utterly irrelevant in 2009. And there is not much action going on with a group of poor fishermen from the first half of the last century. Also, it helps if you know more about the world back then, and I personally know lots more about that than I did when I was in highschool. Nevertheless, The Fishermen is a main work, which every Danish pupil in high school (and later levels) are supposed to know. The Fishermen has been translated to English, but I haven't been able to find an image of the English cover or an English bio for the author, Hans Kirk. The Fishermen was made into a tv-series on Danish tv in the late 1970'es. I haven't watched it.

This is my first book in the Casual Classics challenge and it is also the first book for the Read and Review 2009 challenge.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekly Geeks are back

Thanks to a bunch of bloggers (visit them here and find your way to their blogs), Dewey's original Weekly Geeks are back. First of all I want to thank you for that. I loved Weekly Geeks and am happy to see the feature back in the blogosphere. Both as a fun thing to do AND a way to keep honoring the memory of Dewey.Tilføj billede
This first week of the new Weekly Geeks, participants can choose between two different "challenges". I want to do this one:
In the spirit of the amazing community building that Dewey was so good at, tell us about your favorite blogs, the ones you have bookmarked or subscribe to in your Google Reader, that you visit on a regular basis. Tell us what it is about these blogs that you love, that inspire or educate you or make you laugh. Be sure to link to them so we can find them too.

I have many favorite blogs. Just have a look at either one of my two blogrolls. To which I keep adding! I also have a Google Reader and subscribe to many blogs through Blogger as well. It feels almost impossible to just hightlight a handful, as each blog deserve to be highlighted on it's own.

I am mainly travelling around the Book Blogging Community and find new blogging friends who share my love for books each week. However. This past week I met a blogger, who was new to me and who doesn't only blog about books. The first thing I fell for was the blog name: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord. Can you but love that name?! Elisabeth blogs about crafts and books and stuff in a humorous, well written way. Her blog looks crisp and clean even with all the awards and buttons and I just fell in love with her blog at first sight. There are also some cooler than cool buttons on her blog, which I stole so you can see them (although you probably know them already). Elisabeth and I have met through The Blog Improvement Project.
Two of the buttons I love from Thoughts from an Evil Overlord.

This week I also had the pleasure to get to know Dorte. Dorte is a Danish woman who just moved her main blogging activity over to Blogger in order to be able to comment, join challenges etc. Dorte reads mainly crime and mystery and like myself she also blogs in English. She is an English teacher so now I have one to help me correct the grammar ;o) I have already "seen" Dorte several places around the community and am thrillede to have another Dane among us. I love it that Dorte has just thrown herself into challenges, The Blog Improvement Project and much more. Way to go, Dorte, and keep up the good work!

Becky, who has several blogs (Operation Actually Read the Bible, Becky's Book Reviews and Young Readers) is a blogger I have visited often the past weeks. Becky and I rarely share the same reading-interests judging from her reviews, but her blogs are so well written, so interesting and so appealing in design, that I just have to stop by and say hi at least once a week. Also, I am in awe that Becky is reading The Bible. I am a non-practicing Protestant and feel fairly content that I know about the going-ons in that olde book, but realize that nothing could be more far from the truth. I know nothing! WTG Becky. I am following your progress with interest.

I love dropping by Julia's blog A Piece of My Mind. Always well written. Always a lot of fun stuff to read about. Books. Food for thought. Poems. Art. Cute doggy-pictures of Julia's sweet dog (is she a beagle? I adore beagles!) Xena. I used to work in an art museum myself (in their Dept. of Egyptian Art), so I kinda feel at home when Julia talks about the arts. Not that I know about all sorts of arts. I don't. But I do have an interest and would like to post some works of art myself and talk about them here. It will not be for the first half year though and probably not before next year, anyway, but I still like to read about paintings and stuff like that.

I could easily, very easily continue this list. There are so many fantastic blogs and bloggers out there. And I cannot end this post without thanking the bloggers behind the new Weekly Geeks once again. Thank you!

How do you sleep meme :o)

Julia from A Piece of My Mind tagged me in this little fun meme "how do you sleep".

1. How long do you sleep each night? That depends. Like Julia I am not good at going to bed early, although I try to do just that when I am getting up early the next day. I'd say I sleep between 5 and 8 hours a night.

2. Do you fall asleep easily? Yes, I do that. Because when I am in bed, I am for the most time rather sleepy. Otherwise I wouldn't be in bed.

3. Do you fall asleep at times not in your bed? Rarely. I sometimes snooze a bit on the couch, but that is rare. Once every other month or so. But if I am travelling by train or plane, I try to snooze there as well to pass time.

4. Do you listen to music or white noise to sleep? Nope.

5. Do you sleep through the night or get up a couple of times? I usually sleep through the night every night. Excessive amounts of tea or mineral water before bed makes me wake up all through the night, though, so I try to avoid that before bedtime.

6. Do you have trouble sleeping away from your own bed? Naw. Not really.

7. Do you need an alarmclock to get up? Yes, most definitely.

8. Do you ever take medication to help you sleep? Never

9. Do you/have you slept with pets? Oh yes, grew up with dogs and had them in the bed all the time. We haven't got any pets these days though.

The image of the beds above is one of my own pics from a vacation about two years ago. There is no way I will haunt any of you with an image of the state of my own bedroom ;o) LOL.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Blog Improvement Project: I'm blue

In my search for a new template, I have changed colors. The template is still the regular Blogger Minima-template - the old one was the white Minima Lefty Stretch. I know that I like the simple look. That is for the time at least. I may want some decorations later on, but these days I go with the simple look. I kinda like the dark blue and the sharper looking text-boxes. The stretch they had with the Minima Lefty stretch-template was also fine, but I think it made the blog look a bit messy.

Anyway, I am by no means sure that I will keep this template and am still trying to put in 3 columns. I did set up a test-blog where I can test the 3 columned templates I have found around the net, but something is up with Blogger and I cannot save. So those experiments will have to wait.

I have thought a great deal about the whole "being better at commenting" issue. And I have played around with the templates. Other than that, I haven't done more in this the first week of The Blog Improvement Project :-)
The image is from the photostream of cassmolcic on flickr.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Some more goals for the Blog Improvement Project

After having browsed all other BIP-participant's posts yesterday and today, I have found that I actually have some more goals for my blog in 2009.

I will be better commenting on other people's blogs. I will try and avoid (realizing that I probably cannot avoid it completely) commenting with only a "sounds like a good book" or "I read that one too" and stuff like that. I want to make my comments more personal, which will also be more satisfying for the blog-owner.

However, there will be days where writing the long comments simply aren't an option and as I know I often want to show certain bloggers that I have been by their blog, I may fall back on the shorter comments. So it is not like I am going to write a short story every time I comment. But at least I want to make my comments more interesting.

Another goal is to decide upon a certain amount of posts pr. week. For instance by joining one of the many weeklies which are out there. I am writing a thesis and my days are rather busy and I know it will just get worse for the next months, so until late spring, where I deliver my thesis, I will tentatively say that I will post at least 3 times a week with some project- or book related stuff.

Image is called goal juve and is from user pierodemarchis' photostream on flickr.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Blog Improvement Project Week 1.

Some time ago last year I decided to sign up for The Blog Improvement Project hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. The first and last Monday every month, Kim writes a post which in one way or the other is about how you can improve your blog, whether you want a new look for your blog, want to be more specific in your posts, want to write better etc. I have been waiting for the first "challenge" to come up and now it is here! Click here to read the full post.

The first challenge (if that is the right word) is about setting goals for your blog. Sophisticated Dorkiness links to a set of interesting articles around the net about blogging and setting goals, and I have briefly "leafed through" some of the pages and read a few of them more throughly. It was interesting reading and I recommend all to have a look, if only a brief one. On the Problogger blog I found a list of questions the blogger can ask herself, when trying to set some goals for 2009.

I know it may sound a bit weird to start off the whole goal-setting theme by mentioning what are NOT my goal, but it is important to me to stress that I blog for fun, not for money and/or free books. Not that there is anything wrong with professional blogging, but it is not my goal to become a pro.

However, I do have some goals for my blog(s) for 2009. First of all I want to have a nice looking blog. I know there are many templates out there and I keep trying different ones. Either nothing seems to work or else I cannot figure out all the html involved . I do have an idea about how I want to blog to look: nice and cosy but not too cluttered, more sidebars (three would be nice) and the ability to make organized archives. I am pretty sure most can be done if I took the time looking at the dashboard's possibilities, around the net or changed to another provider. But I did try another provider (with my Danish blog) and I was not happy about it and had to change back. So for now I am sticking to Blogger.

I am very happy about the visitors stopping by here on a regular basis and it has proved much easier to have people visiting here than on the Danish blog. I know that the English-speaking world is larger, but it is actually surprising how few Danish book blogs there are and how reluctant people are to come visiting/commenting there. It may have to do with the posts, of course, so another goal is to make better posts. Written in a better way and being to the point.

Writing better is also a goal for my English blog. I don't mind people being able to read that I am not a native English speaker, but I would like less grammar- and spelling mistakes. Grammar and spelling is not an issue with the Danish blog, but I know it is here and I would love to be able to express the same in English which I am able to do in Danish. But that is probably a more longterm project.

My goal for this blog's theme is still going to be books and book related subjects. I don't feel the need for a personal diary-style blog, although I do not mind slipping in some personal stuff along the way.

A year from now I want my blog to have a fresh, new look and I want to be able to look back and say that I have written some interesting posts that people liked to read.

Julia from A Piece of my Mind also has a post up about her goals for 2009.
A note January 6, 2009: Since I wrote my post above, a lot of other bloggers have put their links up in the Mr. Linky on the Blog Improvement Project page. I have also done a blogroll (see left sidebar) containing the participants so far, and I urge you to check out the various posts. There are many great goals and ideas! I know I have become very inspired so far by reading other posts as they tick in :-)