Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Mini Review

A lot of other bloggers are doing mini-reviews, and I think that is a great idea. Starting from today and at least the rest of the year, I want to do one or more mini-reviews each Sunday. I have been blogging since 2006, and while I have reviewed most books I've read since then either here on or my Danish blog, I have been reading for so many years, that there are a lot of books that I want to make mini-reviews for. I have also read a lot of books for my studies, which I think deserve a line or three. And then there are cookbooks, series, cartoons, books read only partly etc etc. All book deserving some words here.
Why not write complete reviews then, you may ask. First of all because I think that would be a task. Not something I would do for fun. And secondly, even though I remember many of the books that I have read in vivid detail, I am also pretty sure that I will not be able to make a complete review. In many cases it is more a feeling, that I remember than what the actual persons said and did in the book. This way I can mini-review say a whole series, YA I read years ago, all books I've read in a certain genre etc. Only rule is that the book(s) of the mini-review(s) must not have been reviewed here before.

This Sunday I will kick this into works with a mini-review of Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding.

Bridget Jones's Diary was published first time in 1996 (gasp! can't believe it is 13 years ago) and is definitely the mother of all chick lit novels which has been published since then. Bridget sat the norm for how our chick lit heroine should be: clumsy, annoying yet likeable, a bit of an ugly duckling yet pretty, always searching for Mr. Right and having to go through a bunch of Mr. Wrongs before finding Mr. Right. Bridget Jones's Diary is a fun read, and I am curious to know if it is still funny today, 13 years after it was published first time. This book is a must in any chick lit collection.

Banned Books Week

We don't have a thing like Banned Books Week in Denmark - mainly because we do not ban books. Some may argue that we use our right to freedom of speech, freedom to read, say and do whatever we want (within the framework of the law) too much, and sometimes in a wrong way, but that is another debate, albeit an interesting one.

However. I have to say that I sometimes laugh when I see Where's Waldo, Winnie The Pooh and dusty classics which cannot offend ANYONE in 2009 featuring prominently on various Banned Books Lists. COME ON!!!!

Yeah, I know that some of the "dusty classics" were written in a time where for instance racism was considered a-okay. And as Lynn (Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile) also touches upon in her post from yesterday, it may be a good idea to discuss with your child why racial slurs were okay in time where Huck Finn was written and not today. And I agree wholeheartedly.

Trisha, the eclectic/eccentric reader has a fun challenge going, and I think you should check it out by clicking the link. It is a long term challenge involving books you may have read already - banned books that is. You should also take time to read Trisha's thoughtprovoking post about book banning. I am taking the liberty to quote Trisha here:

"I am 100% against any form of overt censorship in public forums. No one has the right to tell me what I can or can not read, watch, or hear. If I, an adult, want to sit down with Madonna's Sex book while watching Debbie Does Dallas and listening to some rapper talk about killing cops...well that's my right. Now I'm not quite so loosey-goosey when it comes to those under 18. I'm pretty sure letting a 12 year old do the above is not necessarily the best idea, BUT when people no longer see the distinction between allowing a 12 year old to read Madonna's Sex and freaking Bridge to Terabithia, we have a serious problem."

I urge you all to travel around the book blogosphere, where there are many interesting posts up now about book banning. From what I can see, we all pretty much agree. It would be interesting to hear from the other side though.

The image is also from Trisha's blog.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

I read a review of The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons at Regular Ruminations, and I just had to get it myself. I know that Anne Rivers Siddons is a famous writer, but I have not previously read anything by her. This book is an older one, published in 1977 or 1978. As far as I can deduct from various pages about Anne Rivers Siddons, this is her only mystery/horror-story.

I think it was a good read. Books set in a contemporary environment, but still 20+ years ago, are sometimes a bit weird to read. They are not yet classics from a historical period, like if they were written in the 1920'es or Second World War, but on the other hand they are not really modern either. They sort of fall between, and sometimes the lack of cell phones, internet and other modern stuff makes an otherwise contemporary story seem slightly off. Afraid I am not really making myself clear here, and this book is definitely not suffering much from being from the 1970'es (mentions of the women's clothes almost felt modern, since the 1970'es are rather retro anyway).

It takes place in a well off neighborhood in Atlanta among a set of neighbors and good friends. The 30-something couple Walter and Colquitt (awful names by the way) are the main protagonists, although the Guthrie and the Swanson-couples also feature prominently. Walter and Colquitt are the next door neighbors to an empty lot, where an up-and-coming architect builds a modern house, which everyone loves initially. Walter and Colquitt were not overly enthusiatic about having a house build next to them, but they also fall in love with this new, fabulous house.

Soon after the first, young couple has moved in, unspeakable horrors begin to take place, involving each couple (Walter and Colquitt, the Guthries and the Swansons) in turn, so that the book is actually made up of three stories within a frame. The frame which those stories are placed in, is Walter and Colquitt's interview with People, in which they, in retrospect, tell how they think the house is haunted. In which ways, I shall not tell, you will have to read yourself.

I wasn't very scared, but the books definitely has its horror moments, and the writing is fluid, although I do think that Rivers Siddons sometimes uses too many words in her descriptions. There is a bit too much of not showing but telling. All in all a good, entertaining read. Recommended.

Reviewed by Regular Rumination (click link above). Also reviewed by Eva at A Striped Armchair.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of several well known YA-books, but I had never heard about her until I saw a review for Life as we knew it on Viviennes blog Serendipity and just had to get it. Thanks again Vivienne. It was a great read.

Miranda is just an ordinary 16 year old teenager living in Pennsylvania with ordinary teen-problems: will she ever go on a date, how is it to kiss a boy, why does she feel she doesn't know her friends anymore and so on. Miranda also has a pretty nice family, living with her mother and little brother while big brother is away on college and her dad is living with his new wife in another state. But all is quite well, its spring, school is about to end for summer in a month and Miranda and her little brother are looking forward to spend summer with their dad and in basketball camp. Miranda keeps a diary where she writes big and small from her everyday life, in a believable teenage-voice.

We get into Miranda's life a couple of days before something big is going to happen. An asteroid is about to hit the moon, and the whole world is excited, all tv-stations run endless interviews with astronomers and everybody wants to watch when it happens. Nobody suspects anything but a spectacular natural phenomenon.

So when the asteroid knocks the moon of its axis it is a big surprise. And initally, panic breaks loose with the moon hanging to close to the earth. Very soon the first reports of natural disasters reach Miranda's quiet Pennsylvanian town, and it becomes clear the life as we knew it is a thing of the past.

Miranda and her family does the best they can to survive in a whole new world, and while I did wish for a bit more action from time to time, I have to say that I loved Miranda's sensible diary-voice, following the ups and downs of her and her family's life. It was a rather exciting read, and I was hoping for a number two, because I want to know what happens next.....

I haven't found a sequel to Miranda's story, but Susan Beth Pfeffer has also written the dead and the gone, which apparently takes place at the same time as Miranda's story, but with different protagonists in a different part of USA. I am going to see if I can get that one as well. Life as we knew it is highly recommendable.

I have always liked apocalyptic, postapocalyptic and End-of-the-world books. Can you recommend any?

Amanda of The Zen Leaf reviewed Life as we knew it here.

Catching Fire - The Hunger Games 2 by Suzanne Collins

If you haven't read The Hunger Games Book One yet and plan to, then skip this review. It contain spoilers about what happens in the first book.

By several recommendations from the Blogosphere, I was drawn into the world of The Hunger Games. I have reviewed Book One here. Since I loved it and couldn't stop thinking about it, I went ahead and ordered number two, Catching Fire, as soon as it was available here in Europe. The first Hunger Games book was a 5 out of 5 read, and Catching Fire is right behind it with 4½ stars. Why not 5? Only because the surprise-element of the whole Hunger Games-concept is now known to the reader. But it was still an amazing read, and now I am eagerly awaiting book three. Wonder when that is coming out.

We are still in the country of Panem, which is the US after some end-of-the-world-scenario, of which we don't know anything. Maybe we will know more about that in book three? I hope so.

Katniss and Peeta, the winners of the 74th Hunger Games, are wealthy now, living in clean, warm houses (part of their winning-prizes), they do not go hungry anymore and life should be good. Only they are still stuck in District 12, one of the poorest Districts in Panem. Katniss haven't really spoken to Peeta since they came back from the Games, even though they are supposed to be in love - their supposed love story was what eventually got them through the Games. Katniss is also wondering about Gale, her  best friend whom she used to hunt with, and how things between them never was the same after the Games.

The Hunger Games are broadcast to all of Panem as a reality show, and it is mandatory to watch, so Katniss and Peeta has also become celebrities in all districts, and as we begin book two, they are headed for the mandatory celebration-tour of the Districts. Before the tour, Katniss receives an unexpected visit from the president of Panem, President Snow, who resides in The Capitol. It seems like something is brewing in Panem, something which the government in The Capitol has been trying to keep under the lid for many years. But since Katniss and Peeta won the Games, it has become harder and harder to keep the lid on, and President Snow is NOT amused.

It is with severe threats hanging over their heads that Katniss and Peeta ventures out on the celebration tour through the Districts of Panem. And now I am not going to say anything else but: READ IT (but read Book One first).

Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit reviewed Cacthing Fire here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

BBAW Meme 5: Setting Goals

This days BBAW Meme is about setting goals for your blog, using around 50 words explaining what you like about your blog.

Right now I like the color scheme and three-columned style of my blog. I may change it, the color-scheme, but I like this dark blue. I also like the posts I have written about bookish things but which are not exactly reviews of books read. But my goal for the next year should be to read more books and thus be able to write more reviews. It may sound strange since this is a book blog, but I really want it to be more bookish. I like a column or two about my other interests, but Lou's Pages must be mostly about books, and then Egyptology, photography and travels must take second place without this blog being completely without personality.

Okay, that was more than double of 50 words, but I couldn't make it any shorter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

BBAW Meme 1: Book Blog Love

Its the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and what a ton of work Amy and the rest of the BBAW Team must've put into this. Thanks a lot for doing all that so that we can enjoy the festivities. Of course we also have to "work" a little, and I guess most of us will be posting the great BBAW Memes all week. You can see the them here. Look for the entry made on August 31. a bit down the page.

Today, on the first day of BBAW week we are to highlight some of those awesome book blogs out there which were not nominated this year. That is a tremendously hard task, since I actually would like to highlight all blogs on my blogroll which were not nominated. Really. I mean it. I love all your blogs and I love to visit whenever I have time. I try to leave a comment every time I visit, but sometimes I just surf around and enjoy reading reviews, thoughts and memes.

I am going to spotlight two blogs, but if time permitted, I spotlighted you all.

Jackie's blog Farm Lane Book Blog
Jackies blog has been missing from my blog roll for unknown reasons for some months. I enjoy visiting Jackie's blog, and I think that I felt right at home the first time I "met" Farm Lane Book Blog. I don't really know why, but maybe because the image-header on top of the blog had one book that I myself have on my shelf (I haven't read it yet though): DBC Pierre; Ludmilla's Broken English. That shelf sorta just looked like one of my own shelves. Weird, I know, specially since I don't own any of the other books. And then I love Jackie's blog because of her well written reviews of course.

Vivienne's blog Serendipity
First Vivienne was one of the bloggers who recommended that I read The Hunger Games. Then when I went around to thank those people who had recommended this fabulous book, I sorta fell over yet another book Vivienne read that I just had to get for myself, Life as we knew it by Susan Pfeffer. And a few days after finding that one on eBay, I went around Serendipity again and found a book that I just had to have: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. So, I hold Vivienne responsible for my book buying binges ;-)

But let me say again: I LOVE all your blogs and I ENJOY them every day! Thanks for being fabulous, well written, sweet, funny, serious, loving, friendly and positive.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Life, According to Literature

I found this fun thing at Rebecca's blog Rebecca Reads.
The simple rules are:

Using only books you have read this year (2009), cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

I'd say! Takes a lot of thinking just trying to remember some of the books I read earlier this year. But try yourself. Here are the questions (and the books used for answers links to reviews here where possible):

Describe yourself: Can't Let Go
How do you feel: Remember Me?
Describe where you currently live: The Ponder Heart
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Summer That Never Was
Your favorite form of transportation:
Your best friend is: The Associate
You and your friends are: Playing With Fire
What's the weather like:
Favorite time of the day: Oracle Night
If your life was a: The Hunger Games
What is life to you: Strange Affair
What is the best advice you have to give: We Need To Talk About Kevin
Thought for the day: Uncle Tom's Children
How would I like to die: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
My soul's present condition: Undone

You may have noted that there are two questions left unanswered. That is simply because I have read no books with a title which would be meaningful to put there. Try this yourself. It was fun.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Don't forget to vote

Don't forget to vote on the Book Blogger Appreciation Week. You have until this Saturday, where the voting ends.

Many of my favorite blogs and bloggers are nominated in several categories, and I am heading to the voting-site as we speak. I can't wait to see the results!

Click to vote here.

Bad Blogger me

Well, I haven't really been a good blogger for a long time. I have not been visiting and commenting as much as I want to. I haven't been blogging much. My Twitter account is still disabled because I am apparently a spammer (just mailed them again today). I am not overly busy at work and I am not in a reading slump at all.
I guess I have been in more of a blogging slump. I really want to blog at least twice a week, if not more, about books or book-related stuff, but recently I have just felt so non-inspired. Am I the only one feeling like that from time to time?
Anyway, I have been spending fortunes on books the past months, and have also been posting about that from time to time. Since last time I know that I have at least gotten a handful of new books. I am most excited about Catching Fire/Hunger Games 2, which I got this Friday. It is only because I am keeping myself on a very tight leash, that I haven't devoured it yet. I want to finish Tyskerungen (The German Kid) by Swedish author Camilla Läckberg and Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse # 2) before I read Catching Fire. Any of you read it yet?
I also bought Fractured by Karin Slaughter, which is # 2 in her Atlanta cops-series. I recently read genesis (see below) which mixed her Grant County and Atlanta-series. I also found Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer for a bargain price on eBay, and picked that one up from the posthouse today. It was recommended by a fellow blogger, and I am SO SORRY I cannot recall who. But I look very much forward to read it.
I have two new Inspector Banks mysteries by Peter Robinson waiting (Cold is the Grave and Aftermath), and then I also found Mermaids in the Basement by Michael Lee West sitting on a shelf, and that title sounded promising, so I bought it.
I am going to spend the next couple of days catching up on my favorite blogs, voting for the BBAWs and checking what I have missed out on. Probably a lot, knowing how active bloggers you all are ;-)