Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Pretties is the second book in Scott Westerfeld's series of four books about Tally Youngblood living in a future where everyone gets to be pretty when they celebrate their 16th b.day. First book was called Uglies, read my post about that one here.

Pretties takes off some time after Uglies ended. Tally has had her operation and is now finally a pretty, who has seemingly forgotten all that happened in Uglies and all the new things she learned about the pretty making operation while she stayed in the rebellious camp with the Smokies. Life is about being pretty, party and have fun. But something keeps tugging Tally's pretty brain, and after Zane, one of the popular pretty boys, and her becomes friends and Tally join the popular clique The Crims, she realizes that something is definitely off with being so pretty and carefree. She knows that there is something more, and she knows that time is running out if she ever wants to make something out more of life than just being pretty and stupid.

Soon Tally and Zane and the rest of The Crims make plans, and Tally may be headed into her biggest adventure yet. Not without costs, as Tally learns along her path to become another and maybe more whole person.

I found this one a bit more interesting than the first one, and I am looking forward to read the next book called Specials. I am still not totally crazy about the series, but it keeps getting better. This review is sort of thin, but I can't reveal too much without spoiling what happens in the first book.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Don't really know where to begin, since Freedom by Jonathan Franzen is a huge book. Huge in many different ways, not only because it has many pages. In fact, I am feeling slightly like I should let more literary people with more knowledge of moderne literature in American deal with reviews of this one, since I am bound not to do this work justice. I shall, however, try.

You do not need to be especially well versed in literature to see why the book is called Freedom though, because basically it is a story about how "we" (moderne people in the Western World/USA) deal with the freedom incorporated into our lives from the day we are born. It is about how we use this freedom, and also about how we misuse this given freedom.

The story begins with a tale of the Berglund-family and their neighborhood, a typical middle to low upper class neighborhood in St. Paul. The Berglunds (Walter, Patty Jessica and Joey) are like families are most, or so we think when we begin our journey into their lives.
This takes us through the marriage of Walter and Patty and parts of their childhoods and youth as well. Some of it is told by Patty (in third person) as a biography, some is told in third person by the author.

I don't think you can state that this is an ordinary family's ordinary story, because it is not. I guess some of the things happening during Patty and Walter's lives are so ordinary that they could happen to anyone. But then again, looking back at especially Patty's past and what she comes from, it is not so ordinary. And what is up with their son, Joey and the neighbor's daughter Connie? And the daughter Jessica and her ice queen attitude towards her mother? And the rock musician Richard, a college friend of Walter, even though they are each other's opposites? You have to read to find out.

The weakest thing in the book, which unfortunately also is pretty central to the whole book, is Walter's work in Washington DC. Well, it may not be a "weak" thing as such, more likely it was because I had trouble understanding the meaning of those political maneuvres, I think. As long as they were not talking politics, it went well, and it is, like I said, rather central for how the lives of those people is shaped.

Freedom is a monumental story centered around a very small cast of characters, and it is written in such a brilliant language that it was more than a pleasure to read it, even though it did take me longer than usual to read. I recommend this to all interested in modern literary fiction. But now I am ready for some lighter reading.

PS. I like Franzen better than another famous American writer by the same first name, Jonathan Safran Foer, because Franzen doesn't feel as pretentious as Safran Foer, but that is just my personal opinion.

PPS. The image is of the European cover of Freedom which makes much more sense than the American one.

Lu from regular rumination reviewed Freedom here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Haven't been able to blog much for a long time. Seems like this is the story of my life this year. And that is ok. The thing that bothers me about this is that neither do I have time to visit other bloggers. A huge shame. I hope I will be able to get back on track within a month or two. Nothing serious has happened, I am simply just too busy at work, and have a couple of extra jobs these months a couple of evenings a week. So when I am finally off, I am off. This also means that I haven't read that much. This is not exactly true, since I've read a couple of Danish books, and since they are not translated into English, I'll just review them on my Danish book blog. But I've read one (huge) book in English since I was last blogging: The Passage by Justin Cronin.

The Passage is a long one, and even though I was caught up in the story almost from the beginning, there were times where it dragged a bit. Well, no, that is not exactly how it was, it didn't drag. It was more that I was sort of confused, and was thinking: How will this story end?! Can it end? Who is who and where are we now? But I have to say, that things come together just fine - although this is just the beginning of a trilogy. But there wasn't that many questions left unanswered. It was a great read. It is a huge dystopic, apocalyptic fantasy. And it is not really about vampires. Not vampires as we know them, that is. Not zombies either. But then again, it is about vampires/zombies. And about a world gone almost completely under. Only inhabited by a few people.

The Passage is about how and why the world came to look like it does in this book. The Passage is also about how those few living people deal with a world, where the lights have to be on a night, every night. It is about Amy, who is being born to Jeanette and a travelling salesman father. How Amy comes to live with nuns and how she travels through America after this. A part of her journey she travels with the FBI agent Wolgast, later she travels on her own.

And the Passage is also about how an experiment and the search for a cure for death goes wrong. More wrong than what mankind could ever imagine. We meet a large cast of characters from our time (or rather from a time a few years forward) and from a time in the future, a time no one would want to live in.

If you want something epic, and if you like the dark, dystopic and apocalyptic tales, then you should read The Passage. I was caught up in this book and it most definitely made me shiver from time to time; however, it may be some pages too long. This and the fact that it is too heavy for it's own good (e-readers would be perfect for this one) are my only complaints about The Passage.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hunger Games III: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

If you haven't read this series yet and plan to, then skip this review. There will be spoilers about the two previous books. For those of you waiting to read Mockingjay, and already read the previous ones, there are no spoilers.

Oh my how I waited for this one, the third book in the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins called Mockingjay. I really loved the two previous books, especially the first one, which, together with The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and the first Tomorrow When The War Began-book by John Marsden, must have been one of the most intense reading experiences of 2009. I immediately ordered everyone I knew to read Hunger Games, and they also became hooked! So I could barely contain myself when my copy arrived here in Denmark (about a week after the book was released in UK) and began reading almost immediately.

First of all it was a mistake that I had not re-read at least Hunger Games II: Catching Fire. I read that one a year ago, and there were characters and things which had happened in the arena during the Quarter Quell that I had forgotten all about. Who was who, who was good and who was bad? That is not the author's fault of course, but it made me a bit confused for the first part of the book.

Secondly, I had to remind myself that this book is labelled "Teen", and is thus not necessarily aimed at a grown up audience, so my minor irritations with this and that (can't tell too much about that here, otherwise I'll spoil) had to be put aside, and I had to accept that a teen-audience would probably be able to relate more to some of those things than I.

All that said, I found the first half of the book mildly disappointing. The element of surprise from especially the first book, was not present at all in Mockingjay, and while I understand the author's aim by describing Katniss as she does, she (Katniss) began to annoy me more and more. YES, we get that war f***s you (humanity) up and YES, we get that your life is hard for a ton of reasons, but come on now, get into GEAR....if you know what I mean (you don't if you haven't read the book).

When the action actually gets going, I was finally absorbed, and read the last third of the book in a rush, which resembled what I felt when I read the first one. I was so-so with the things that led up to the ending, but I have to say that I didn't hate it at all. It was the ending for this reader, especially the last 2-3 pages.

I am probably going to re-read the first two books and then read Mockingjay again, but to conclude this (and I am sorry if it makes no sense at all to you who are not into the Hunger Games (yet)) this was my least favorite of the series.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

I usually do not read non fiction. I have nothing against non fiction at all, it just almost never happens that I feel any urge to read a non fiction book. But this one - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers - I had to read.

I visited New Orleans in the summer of 2004, a year before Hurricane Katrina, after having saved up for the trip (remember, I live in Denmark and there is a long way down to New Orleans from here and it's expensive) for a long time. Also visiting was an old dream that finally came true. The visit was part of a larger US-trip, so I did not get to spend more than four days in New Orleans, but I loved it. The heat, the humidity, the depravity, the ghost stories, the building, the history, the food, everything.

When Katrina struck in 2005 I was on vacation in Berlin, Germany, and remember feeling completely devastated hearing the news from New Orleans. First I thought mainly about all the wonderful buildings submerged by water, but when the other news began pouring in after a few days, I became even more shocked and sad. In hindsight, we now know that all the murders, rapes and looting did not take place in the scale the media presented us for, but we didn't know back then. It took me a long time to get those images out of my mind, and I don't even have friends or families there. I can't even begin to imagine what it was (and is?) like for people who live there and were there during the hurricane.

Anyway, I have been wanting to read Zeitoun for a long time, and when it came out in paperback, I bought it. And when the 5 year anniversary was around the corner, I sat down and read it. Zeitoun is the name of a Syrian American man, a repected citizen of New Orleans, who decides to stay back in the city during the hurricane, even though his wife and children has fled the city to go live with relatives out of harms way. Zeitoun wants to keep an eye out for his properties, and when the levees break and parts of the city become submerged, he ventures out in his canooe, managing to save both humans and animals in the horrible aftermath of the hurricane. And he does so with a "light heart", feeling that there is a deeper meaning behind him staying back.

Wife Kathy begs for him to leave. She sees and hears all the horrible stories of murder and mayhem from the media, and she fears that something will happen to Zeitoun. When she looses contact with him for a longer period of time, this family's real nightmare begins. It is hard to imagine that this is a piece of non fiction and that those events took place only 5 years ago. The story is told in a voice which does not criticize or judge neither "sides", and that made it worth reading. The first third of the book was a tiny bit too "lecturing" for this reader's taste since I felt I already knew about some of the issues, but that is a minor detail. I highly recommend this book. Great and thought provoking non fiction.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Once Upon a Nightmare by Lee Moylan

I first heard about author Lee Moylan's thriller Once Upon a Nightmare here in the book blogging community. Teddyree of The Eclectic Reader featured both a review of the book and an interview with Moylan last year. You can read the interview here.

I also expressed my interest in this book at the Goodreads-site, and earlier this year, Lee Moylan contacted me and was kind enough to offer me a copy of her book, mailed to me all the way from USA. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that Lee Moylan's grandparents were from Copenhagen, where I live myself ;-) Or maybe Lee is just a kind woman!

Her story about poor Sara Bishop is not for the faint of heart though, and it is not a kind story. Now I know from Teddyree's interview with Lee, that the inspiration for this gruesome story came from one of the author's own nightmares. Scary!

Sara, out main character, is content and happy and about to go to bed, when she sees that there is a Hunter's Moon hanging in the night sky. Remembering something her mother used to say about Hunter's Moons, Sara immediately feel something looming, a shift in the atmosphere. Something's not quite right. Combined with Sara's somewhat psychic abilities, things start to go downhill fast, and true enough, she falls asleep only to experience a horrific nightmare.

Her husband doesn't want to hear about those odd feelings Sara has about the nightmare, about her friend Rebecca and the fact, that Rebecca has vanished, not even calling her husband or daughter who are away on business and a weekend with the grandparents. Rebecca was the only one who understood Sara's psychic feelings, having them herself.

Halloween is coming, and soon Sara cannot ignore her feeling of doom and she goes looking for Rebecca herself, only to discover what is yet to be her worst nightmare - only this time it is not a dream, it is for real. Pretty soon we know that a truly sadistic killer is on the loose and that Sara is in grave danger. A scary and grpahic hunt for the killer begins, making the story speed up with each page.

Most of the story consists of dialogue between the characters, which adds to the feeling of urgency through the book. Horrific scene upon horrific scene is described in graphic detail, so watch out, all you crime readers. Rumor also has it that Moylan is cooking up a new book, even more horrific than Once Upon a Nightmare. Read it if you dare. 

Thanks once again to Lee Moylan for sending me your book. It was a great read, and I sped through it.

European readers can buy Lee's book from The Book Depository.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Help by Karin Stockett

So, I finally got around to read The Help by Karin Stockett, and I really liked this book. It has just been released in Denmark in Danish, and I know that there are great expectations that it will become a bestseller in Denmark as it is in USA.

We are in the beginning of the 1960'es in Mississippi. Society is segregated between colored (NB! I use the word colored here because that is the word used in the book) and white people. We follow two colored women, Aibileen and Minny and one white woman, Miss Skeeter. Many colored women back then were, if they were lucky to have a job, maids in white familie's households. Only in their maid-uniforms could they shop in white supermarkets for instance.

Aibileen works for Miss Elizabeth, one of Miss Skeeter's friends. Minny works for Miss Walters who are the mother of the third friend Miss Hilly. The three friends are in their early 20'es, Aibileen is 50+ and Minny around 40.

Elizabeth and Hilly are married with children, while Skeeter is more concerned with getting started on a career in journalism and writing. When Skeeter comes back to her parent's plantation after college, she discovers, that her family's beloved maid of almost 40 years, Constantine, has gone. Her mother, who is more interested in finding a suitable man for Skeeter, refuse to tell her what has happened to Constantine. This troubles Skeeter a great deal.

The three friends meet once a week to play bridge, and it is at one of those bridge-sessions that Skeeter hears Hilly say, that the colored help should have their own toilet and not use the white family's since it is well know that colored people carry diseases dangerous to white people. Something about this doesn't sit well with Skeeter, who has not really thought about the segregation before, and as Hilly's talk over time becomes more and more racist (something Hilly is not aware of herself), Skeeter begins to withdraw from her friends, at least mentally. She begins to develop some kind of friendship with Aibileen, although this is dangerous for both of them. No white woman has any business with a colored help, unless they the one is employed by the other.

Inspired by something Aibileen has said about her son, Skeeter has a dangerous plan. But she can not do it alone, she needs the help of Aibileen and later also Minny. As the story unfolds and the plan is set in motion, we also follow all the women (colored and white) in their daily life with husbands, children or the lack hereof in the segregated society of Southern USA in the early 1960'es. This is as exotic to me as it would've been if the book had taken place in Japan or the African jungle since I am Danish and live in Denmark (and wasn't born back then). But is is worth thinking about the fact that those things happened less than 50 years ago.

I am the last one to deny that the main thematics in this book unfortunately are something that still holds true in one way or the other, also in Denmark, in our day and age. And there is no way I would ever feel indifferent to this particluar period of the American history. I do believe that this is not just America's history, it is also the rest of the world's history. All that said, it IS America's history, and while we all can learn, I am not sure the book will have the same impact and bestseller nature in Denmark, even though it has just been translated. The Danish title is, byt the way, "Niceville" with the under title (translated to): three women, two worlds, one story. And I thought you should se the Danish cover of the book. Personally I think the cover spells "female lit" - somthing which will not make any men thinking of picking this book up. A shame, if you ask me. However, having called the book the Danish equivalent of The Help would not had made any sense in Danish.

Anyway, if you haven't read this book, do it. It was a fantastic story.

Monday, August 30, 2010

All the Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson

All the Colours of Darkness is Inspector Banks-book # 18. If you've been following this blog, you know that I came into this series rather late, and just read the books in no particular order. I still have a bunch of the earliest ones that I haven't read yet, whereas I am pretty much up-to-date with the later ones.

This one was sort of not so good. It is well written as all Robinson's Inspector Banks books, but the plots were just...I don't know...too unbelievable maybe? It was also 100 pages too long, keeping the somewhat weak plotlines in mind.

A gay man working for the local theatre is found hanging, and obvious suicide, and nothing points the other way. He really did commit suicide. When his partner is found murdered in a very brutal way, the case seem crystal clear: a row between lovers which ended in a violent way with a murder and a suicide.

Banks is in London having a great time with his new girlfriend, and Annie Cabbott of the Eastvale police force, does not see the need to call him in on this case. But her superintendent wants Banks on the case, so he comes up from London, and it turns out it was a good thing he did. Because things are not as crystal clear as they seemed at first, and Banks, Annie and Winsome (another well know character in the series) begin investigating. No sooner have they begun digging into the past of the gay couple before they are abruptly pulled off the case.

Banks are even being ordered to resume his time off in London, so off he goes. But not because he plans on skipping the case. While Annie and Winsome investigates a stabbing in a council estate, Annie also helps out Banks on the side, digging further into the case of the gay couple, and with each little piece of the puzzle in place, a bunch of new pieces ruin the image, making the case more and more muddy.

We come around many subjects in this book, and not all of them felt like they actually had their place in this book. So I was kinda happy when it was over and things were somewhat nicely wrapped up. This book is perhaps mainly for fans of the Inspector Banks-series.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Broken by Karin Slaughter

I am not really sure if Broken by Karin Slaughter is book # 4 in her Atlanta-series or if it is an installment in the Grant County-series. Her book Undone, which came out in 2009 combined the characters from the two series for the first time, and this one does it was well. Anyway, Broken takes place in Grant County, so I guess that it is a Grant County-series book, although we have special agent Will Trent of the Atlanta-series coming down to Grant County to help out Sara Linton.

Sara is home in Grant County for the first time in 4 years. 4 years has passed since she had to move away, and she has not felt the need to come home. And she doesn't feel the need now, but it is Thanksgiving, and her pregnant sister, who is a missionary in Africa is also home for Thanksgiving. So Sara goes. Reluctantly. There are people down there whom she doesn't care about meeting at all, one of them being the detective Lena, with whom Sara share a dark history.

Sara has not been home for many minutes, before she receives a call about a young woman who has comitted suicide. Sara, who used to work a a coroner and pediatrician when she lived in Grant County, does not want to get involved in anything which has to do with the police force of Grant County, but after she receives another call, this time from Frank, one of the police officers of Grant County, she reluctantly goes to see him at the police station where Frank has a problem.

Sara senses that something is completely off, and since she just doesn't trust any of the local police force, she makes a call, and Will Trent is sent her way. Will is not welcomed by Grant County with open arms. The small community does not want to have anything to do with him, a fancy agent from Atlanta, but the case becomes more and more complicated, and it si clear to both Sara and Will that something is going on. Not just with the case, but with the police force as well.

Broken is a great mystery, although not of the cosy kind, which none of Karin Slaughter's books in the Grant County or Atlanta-series are. The characters are bruised, selfish, mean, violent and there are seldom any redeeming parts. Slaughter's books has definitely grown on me (or else I have just become used to them), because I could not stand the first ones, where especially characters such as Lena annoyed me to no end. But the series kept intriguing me, and this one is also a great read. I do suggest reading her other books before reading this one, since there are spoilers in this one about what happens in previous books.

PS. Sorry I said Grant County so many times!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

What is Mine by Anne Holt

What is Mine by Norwegian author Anne Holt is the first book about lawyer Johanne Vik and detective Adam Stubo. I have already read the other one, What Never Happens. I grabbed this in my local supermarket for a quick summer read, and I will say that Anne Holt delivers. I finished it in no time and enjoyed the plot and the dialogue and the character development.

A little girl disappears and despite her father's frantic search, she has apparently vanished without a trace. Adam Stubo is on the case, and when more children disappear it becomes clear that a serial abducter is at loose. At the same time Johanne Vik is being summoned to an old sick lady's house, where she is being told an amazing story: the old woman who is dying and used to work in the Norwegian law system has not been able to forget a case from her past, where a man was convicted of killing a young woman. She feels that the case was never solved in a satisfactory manner, and asks Johanne to investigate.

Later, Adam sees Johanne on tv (this is the book in which they actually meet), and goes to see her personally, asking her to help out with the case of the missing children. Johanne has worked with the FBI when she was young, and Adam feels that her insights into behavioural patterns may be a help in his case.

The story is well written - I read it in Danish and do not know how it translates into English, but if you are a mystery lover and like the Scandinavian style, I highly recommend this one. I recommend it more than the number 2 in the series (actually, don't know if it is a series, but at least there are two books) where I found some of the dialogue rather forced. In this one it flows and the plots are well thought out and tight. Great summer read.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Plague Year by Jeff Carlson

Plague Year by Jeff Carlson is the first in a trilogy. It is a post-apocalyptic tale about nanotechnology gone wrong, wiping out most of the world's population except for those few, scattered survivors plus a crew of scientists aboard a space station, where they've been since before the nano-plague began, and they have been floating up there in space for a year. They are getting restless and want to come back to earth to begin helping out finding a cure for the plague.

It all began when scientists developed a nanotechnology which was meant to cure cancer. Somehow some technical thing went wrong, and the small nano-bots ended up eating people from the inside instead within a few days, and the nano-bots spread all overt he world. Only thing is that they cannot survive in high altitudes (10.000 ft), so atop a Califonian mountain we find a group of survivors, who, after a year of hunger and cold and bouts of cannibalism, are desperate to find a way out.

We also follow the crew on the space station, and how they try to persuade the emergency-government to be let back to earth again, where they can help finding a cure for the nano-plague.

There are several main characters in this story, and while the character descriptions and developments were not the best, and while I felt the plot was all over the place from time to time, the worst for me in this book was simply that I didn't understand half of it. That MAY be because of language barriers, but I am more inclined to think that it also had to do with all the technology- and space goobledygook there is throughout the book. I couldn't grasp it, and felt that a part of the explanations of when, why and how was lost.

That said, the story certainly picked up in the last third of book, and I am now eagerly waiting to read the next one in the trilogy.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

I Can See You by Karen Rose

I Can See You is the first novel by Karen Rose that I've read. It seems like there is a prequel to this story called Don't Tell which also has Eve Wilson as the main protagonist. I did not suspect that there was a previous book about Eve, and thought that all the happenings mentioned in this book about Eve's previous life was just an extra touch to the story. Anyway, it did not disturb the reading of this one, although I am not sure I am going to read the first one now.

Eve is a young woman, mid-twenties, living in Minneapolis, tending a bar to earn money and studying psychology during the day. She is a scarred woman, literally speaking, and has not had the easiest life. She is still coming to terms with a dramatic and traumatic past, but things are beginning to look brighter, not just because time heals all wounds, but also because Eve is working on it, reinventing herself with a determination to succeed.

She is in the middle of writing her thesis which is about online gaming and how you can train to get more selfesteem online and also make it work irl. She is a bit worried because some of her test-persons are showing addictive behaviour, being online in a virtual world (called Shadowland here, which must be an equivalent to places like Second Life etc) almost 24/7.

When one of her test subjects, Martha, is killed, the Minneapolis Hat Squad is called in (the detectives are called the Hat Squad because they wear fedoras), one of the detectives being the very handsome and sexy Noah Webster, also a troubled soul with a tragic past. Eve soon finds herself in the middle of the investigation, having access to Martha's online life. But it seems like the killer is always one step ahead of the Hat Squad and Eve.

To be honest, I have to say that I DID enjoy this book and found it well written. But I am so sorry! There were things and details which annoyed me a lot. First of all, I found both Noah and especially Eve to be too good. Eve felt one dimensional in all her goody-goody glory, even though the author has been kind enough to let Eve be able to use naughty language from time to time. The other thing that annoyed me was the badly developed and throughly boring romance developing. For Pete's sake!!! If I want hot romance, I choose a romance novel, not a mystery with a badly described love story. That said, I could easily pick up another Karen Rose thriller (although I suspect the rest of her works are developed from the same murder mystery/sexy romance formula), but would rather read something else for the time being.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver

Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver is book # 2 in a series featuring special agent and body language expert Kathryn Dance. I didn't know that there was a # 1 when I got this book, and it did not really matter.

Roadside crosses are found appearing along the roads and highways but before any accidents/deaths happen and thus signalling that something bad will happen. Kathryn Dance and her colleagues are baffled at first, trying to find a link between the victims, and when only a controversial blogger's blog appear to be the only link, a computer expert is being brought in to help the agents.

The blogger is not too helpful at first, but after a suspect goes missing, Kathryn Dance puts the pressure on the blogger, and things begin to move forward. Roadside crosses keep turning up, and soon we have the race against time, a lot of suspects and a story that moves forward with a good speed.

At the same time Kathryn has her own battles to fight, trying to get over her husband's death some years before, dealing with her parents, especially her mother, and another case that her mother seemingly is getting involved in.

Don't really know what to say about this story. It sounded very promising mixing murder and bloggers and blogging. And it is not badly written. The plot is surprising. Fast and entertaining read. But somehow the whole thing wasn't really engaging me, and I felt slightly irked by Agent Dance and her bodylanguage-reading and her family. Not sure I'll read more Kathryn Dance-books.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bad Friends by Claire Seeber

I bought Bad Friends by Claire Seeber somehow thinking it was YA. I had even placed it on my YA-shelf, and when I picked it up last week to read, I was also sure it was YA. Until a few pages in when the drinks began to flow and the cigarettes were smoked. Then I checked the back, and no, it's not YA. Don't know where I got that idea, but I blame Amazon, putting it in one of their: If you liked [insert YA-title here] you may also like Bad Friends.

Anyway, its a psychological thriller and it is not half bad. It also has a good deal of chick lit in it, and all in all I found it to be a nice, light read. Once I got used to the fact that it was not YA.

Maggie leaves her boyfriend, the hard drinking Alex with a troublesome father, in a parkinglot, and goes back to London in a huff and with a broken heart. The bus she is on is involved in a horrible accident, and after Maggie's recovery, she goes back to work to find out that there are certain things she is deliberately blocking from her memory. She does not really suffer from amnesia, because early on the reader detect that Maggie is aware of all the "secrets" being referred to, but we are not told. This annoyed me, but on the other hand it also made me read more, because I wanted to find out what it was Maggie had done that was so terrible, giving her boss the right to demand that she stays in her job, which she hates.

Maggie also meets a new "friend", another girl involved in the accident. This girl, Fay, keeps turning up at the most weird times, and she gives Maggie the creeps. Pretty soon it becomes clear that someone is stalking Maggie, sending her funeral flowers and creepy texts, and Maggie's life spirals out of control. Furthermore she has to deal with Alex, her ex, and with a new love interest. And her father, and the death of her mother many years ago and much more.

Bad Friends is an easy read, and fine for a quick summer read.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

While I Live - The Ellie Chronicles I by John Marsden

While I Live is the first book in the Ellie Chronicles which is sort of a sequel to John Marsden's Tomorrow-series (the link is for my review of the first book in the Tomorrow-series). I really loved that series, and wanted to read more about what happened to Ellie, Homer, Lee and the other friends and enemies after the war ended. So far, so good.

While I Live did not completely live up to my (yes, they were hígh) expectations, but it wasn't a complete waste of time either. Ellie is back on the farm with her parents and trying to live as normal a life as possible with school, farm work, friends and speculations about love and boyfriends. Not easy, considering what she went through during the war, but she's trying and things go okay.

Rumours at school and in the town of Wirrawee are rife. It seems like certain cladestine groups have taken it upon themselves to find people still missing from the war and, if and when they find them, liberate them. Ellie is too busy and caught up in personal problems to pay much attention at first, but after a while certains things do that she knows that she has to investigate what it is that goes on.

Even though the book begins with a very dramatic scene, I didn't feel that anything apart from page after page about farming and cows was really happening. I had to read more than halfway until there was some action. And while the character descriptions are good as ever, there were also things which didn't really make sense to me. I know its fiction, so I am prepared to accept many things, but still some things didn't feel right. I am going to read the other two in this series, not because I was blown away by this one, but because I want to know what happens to Ellie and her friends and because even though I have to admit that I found While I Live rather boring, I am not completely turned off.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Stand by Stephen King: American Nightmares by Roberto Aguirre Sacasa

American Nightmares is Volume 2 in the graphic edition of Stephen King's The Stand. I have previously read Volume 1 which you can read about here. The grahic edition still follows the original storyline from the book by Stephen King, and we are now in the very last stages of the superflu that killed more than 99% of the people in the world. Those last ones are dying, but most have died already and are now lying around in houses, jails, buildings, cars and other places, just lying there rotting away or drying out like mummies. But there are still some survivors, who are immune to the superflu virus, and they find themselves in a scary, new world. We get to know more about Harold Lauder, Fran Goldsmith, Stuart Redman, Larry Underwood, Nick Andros and other survivors that we can label "the good guys". But it is not just good guys who have survived the superflu. Bad powers are lurking and gathering strenght. And I can't wait to get my hands on Volume 3, which is due out this summer. A great read that can be enjoyed without knowing the story from the book, but knowing the storyline and the characters in advance does help.

Wicked Prey by John Sandford

Wicked Prey by John Sandford is book # 19 in the Lucas Davenport series, which I can truthfully say is a very well established series. The books in the series, of which I have read all, is generally of a high quality, but in my opinion some of the books have a much stronger storyline than others. This one is a fast paced and great read for those of you who like a good thriller. It is not necessary to have read all the previous 18 books to enjoy this one, although it will help a bit with the characters.

Wicked Prey have two plots; one about a ruthless group of robbers doing heists and not caring if the kill people to reach their goal and another concerning a wheelchair bound psychopath and Lucas Davenport's 14 year old soon-to-be-adopted daughter All takes place during som hectic days while a political convention is going on in the city. The two plots does not really have anything to do with each other, except that they cross each others lines from time to time, something the characters are not even aware of. Its well written and perfect for a great beach read. I liked it, I was entertained and I read it fast, but it is not earth shattering great.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer is the third book in the series or trilogy with the "official name" The Last Survivors. Before the series was called Moon Crash Series or Moon Crash Trilogy or other similar names. But since it says The Last Survivors in bright letters on the front cover, I guess this is the official name!

The first book - Life As We Knew It - is reviewed here, and for the second one - the dead & the gone - you can find my review here. I absolutely loved Life As We Knew It and it took a while to get the story out of my head again, and I still think about it from time to time. Book two was also a fantastic read, and I really liked it, although I was more fond of Miranda's voice of Book one than with Alex's voice of Book two.

Book three combines those voices, and while I read the book in one sitting and while I was engrossed and entertained, I have to admit that the world they live in has now lost it's "novelty" to this reader. Of course, this book is about what is going to happen when we meet the families almost a year after the moon crash. And the descriptions of how the characters interact, grow up and make life just barely bearable, is very well done. I will not reveal too much, but I don't think it has escaped any reader of this series, that Miranda and Alex actually meet in this final book. What happens besides that, you will have to read for yourself. All in all this was a good read, and a fitting finale, although there was a slight lack of steam in the writing, which I have found to be present in the two previous books. A fourth book in the series maybe looking at life after some more years have gone, is not a bad idea though, and I know I will read it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Blogging Around The World

 Central Copenhagen, Denmark.

Check out Charlotte's blog The Book On The Hill. Charlotte is French and presents every week a special post, where a blogger from anywhere around the world is interviewed. A great way to get to know other bloggers...around the world. You can also sign up to do the interview yourself. This week Charlotte has interviewed me. So if you want to read a bit about my blogging ways, click here. Thanks to Charlotte for doing this, it was great!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Stitches by David Small

Stitches by David Small is a graphic novel and a memoir and probably one of the most moving novels I've read in a long time. Since the story is about a young boy, David, who loses his voice, a lot of the book is actually just drawings, but what drawings! David's other family members are not huge speakers either, so even though the book has more than 300 pages, it is not difficult to read in one sitting. If you can bear it, that is.

The story is basically extremely tragic. David grows up in the 1960's Detroit-area with his parents and older brother. Both parents are distant and barely talk to each other or to their kids. You sense from the beginning that they are difficult persons. David's childhood is gray, he rarely sees his parents smile or be happy and when visiting his grandmother, he also figures out that something is wrong in that household. David suffers from nightmares and is a somewhat anxious child.

On one of the few occasions where he has actually drawn his mother as a smiling woman, she is hosting a party. One of the other women at the party notices a lump on David's neck, which she insists that his parents have checked immediately. Since his father is a radiologist and a doctor, this turns out to be no problem. The lump is then removed, but some years after that first operation, David has to go back for a second one, and after that operation, he wakes up having lost his voice.

Slowly he discovers dark secrets and embarks on a life on the edge, feeling invisible without a voice. I will not reveal more about the story, but if you like memoirs and also graphic novels, this is a must.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Dedicated Man by Peter Robinson

Banks is still relatively new on the Eastvale Policeforce after having left a stressful job in London. He originally moved to Yorkshite to find some peace and quiet, but already in book one, Gallow's View, he realises that that is not always so. I this book two, A Dedicated Man, Banks once again finds out that life in the country side is not necessarily as peaceful as he had hoped for. Te friendly universityman Steadman is found killed and hidden under a pile of rocks on the moor. Banks cannot crack the case, since everyone maintains that Steadman was friendly and had absolutely no enemies.No skeletons are coming tumbling out of the closet and Banks must god back to Steadman's past to find small clues.

A good mystery, but the later Banks-books are better,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

With Reverent Hands - check my post at Booklust

 I have to toot my own horn here for a minute. Not just because I am proud, but also because I want all of you to notice that fabulous book that I am highlighting in Aarti's guest-post series With Reverent Hands. I have been a fan of Aarti's blog Booklust for a long time. I first "met" Aarti here on my own blog. I think she came to visit me because I had been agonizing somewhere else about my inability to come out of the closet and ask if I could guest post somewhere. Aarti had an opening in her Rosie's Riveters guest post-series, and I was much honored to do my first guest post there. Also, I can always find an indepth review there, and more often than not, I discover authors I've never read, let alone heard of, before. Not just in the With Reverent Hands-series, but generally.

I am pretty sure most of you know Aarti - I see many of my own favorite bloggers commentning on her blog - but if you don't then check out her blog. And also check out my With Reverent Hands guest post highlighting of a book I am curious to know if you have ever heard about.

Please note that With Reverent Hands is not a meme, so while I have shamelessly borrowed Aarti's badge for this post, I do think you should ask for permission before stealing it yourself ;-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Stand by Stephen King: Captain Trips by Roberto Aguirre Sacasa

I've already read The Stand by Stephen King. Numerous times. The "short" original version, the long "uncut" version, the English version and the translated version in Danish. Yes, The Stand is one of my absolute favorite reads, and has been that since I read it for the first time many years ago. And I like it even more every time I re-read it. But I've never re-read it as graphic novel:

So even though I know the plot and the characters very well, I didn't doubt for a second, that I should get that one, when I saw that Marvel Comics had released The Stand as a graphic novel. I have never seen any of the tv-series made over the book, so I was curious to see how the characters looked in the mind of the makers of this graphic novel.

Since The Stand is a very long book - and probably also for economical reasons - Marvel has chosen to cut the novel into several volumes. First part is called Captain Trips. The title is the same name that the super flu, which wipes out almost all of mankind, has in California. The drawings made by Roberto Aguirre Sacasa are very good. I don't really know anything about Marvel's universe, cartoonists, texters, colorists or series, and I actually like the more oldfashioned style, like Tintin, better. But I really liked Sacasas drawings in this first part of The Stand. Very scary and gross and also much like the images I had in my head before.

The plot in the graphic novel follows the written book (the long "uncut" version) very well although some scenes are left out because of space. So if you don't know the story but want to, you still need to read the "real" book.

A bit about The Stand that I wrote in an earlier post:

The book was first published in 1978 and is thus one of the earliest of King's works.

Imagine the 99% of the world's population wiped out by a flu virus and only inhabited by a few, scattered survivors. The book's location is "just" USA, but that is definitely large enough to make you really feel the chilling atmosphere of an almost empty world. Inhabited by scared
and shell shocked people, trying to come to terms with this new "situation". SK manages to paint a large picture with a lot of great character development both pre- and post apocalypse.

It is not just interesting - it is fascinating, chilling and thrilling to follow the characters as they come to terms with their new world and not to forget their new world order. Because it pretty soon becomes clear that the real horror was not the flu wiping out the world's population. The real horror is still looming in the horizon after survivors begin to gather in Boulder, Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Tell Me No Secrets by Julie Corbin

Tell Me No Secrets is a mystery and Julie Corbin's debut. As such it is a great little book with a relatively tight plot, and the persons seem believable. Almost. On the other hand I can't say that I was overly impressed, because this one didn't catch me at all. That is not the author's fault, of course, I just don't think I really ogt my money's worth with this one.

Grace, happily married mom to two teenage girls, lives in a small Scottish town, where life goes on as it always has. People live their lives in a quiet manner, there is gossip, of course, but for the most part life is quaint and calm, save for the unruly Scottish weather. Grace and her family are about to move to Australia for a period of time, but the pretty picture har its dark spots, because Grace is carrying a secret, which has marred her all her adult life. This secret is about to be revealed, threathening to ruin Grace's life, her marriage and her relationship with some of her closest friends in town. Not to mention her relationship with her ageing parents and it will also ruin the whole plan of moving to Australia.

Grace will do anything to keep the secret a secret, and during the course of a few hectic weeks, the situation goes from bad to worse. Her childhood friend, wild and promiscous Orla with the flamboyant French mother and the quiet Scottish father, is threathening Grace on the sidelines, and Grace feels a hatred burning inside her that she didn't thought herself capable of feeling. her colleague - and highschool sweetheart - is the only other person aside fron Grace and Orla who knows about the secret, and soon Grace doesn't know which side to turn to. Her marriage, build on somewhat unsteady ground, begins to crumble when the skeletons start falling out of the closet.

Like I said, the plot is fine, although seen before. The characters who seem believable in the beginning, loose credibilty as the story progress, and all in all I found the storyline kinda un-exciting. But the premise is good, just too bad there wasn't more in Tell Me No Secrets for me. Julie Corbin seems like she is upcoming, and we can hope that her next one will be better. All that said, for a rainy day or a day at the beach, this little mystery is fine.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld

Don't let the title mislead you. It's not your typical chick lit run of the mill book this. The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld is about Hannah Gavener, whom we follow from she is 14 and until she is in her late twenties. The book begins in 1991 and ends in 2005. Hannah is being placed at her aunt and uncle's house when her mother and father finally decides to call it quits - or rather, when her father throws out Hannah, her sister Alisson and their mother. This very unbalanced relationship with her father makes an impact on all Hannah's future relationships with men, but also with women.

Her friends are all prettier than Hannah. No boys/men are interested in her. Her dreams about relationships are naïve even as an adult. And last but not least, the low selfesteem she will not admit she has, makes it impossible for her to really connect with the boys/men who actually does show an interest in her.

So her life circles around this, and the years fly by. Hannah becomes increasingly frustrated the older she gets, still not kissed and still a virgin. She looks at her big sister and her cousin, her sister getting married before Hannah has ever been on a date and her cousin who has numerous boyfriends all through her teenage years and beyond.

Hannah's lack of self esteem and her not getting that first kiss/sex over and done with was beginning to annoy me halfway through the book. Its not that it felt phony or rang false. Not at all. On the contrary, it did ring true a long way through the book. Hannah's life and her search for a boyfriend/a kiss/an intercourse is not that special - many older teenage girls/young women will definitely be able to identify with Hannah. Its more that I didn't feel it was enough to keep a whole book running. Now The Man of My Dreams is not a long book, but I did feel that it dragged on a bit and I did feel that Hannah went from being a relatively normal teenager/young adult agonizing over boys and sex to become a somewhat neurotic woman. Anyway, its not a bad book, and Curtis Sittenfeld is a good writer. This was not my fave book though.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fractured by Karin Slaughter

Fractured is the second book in Slaughter's Atlanta-series. Main character is the dyslectic agent Will Trent with the troubled childhood, whom we saw introduced in the first book Triptych which I read pre-blogging. The third book which combine Slaughter's two series the Grant County-series and the Atlanta-Series is called Undone, and I already read that one.

Abigail Campano is on the phone with her husband, arguing about his mistress, when she arrives home and finds her house broken into, blood on the floor and a young man with with a knife in his hand. Her daughter is nowhere to be seen, and within seconds the situation is completely out of control. Atlanta Police is called to the house, where they begin investigating. Abigail Campano's husband is an important member of society - or rather, his father in law is - and soon special agents are called in to take over from Atlanta Police.

This does not fare well with the police, and it doesn't get any better when detective Faith Mitchell is forced to work the case with the agent Will Trent. In their frantic search for clues they waste a lot of time, time which could save lives, but they manage to find leads and suspects after all. Question is whether they have found the right suspects or not?

An easily read thriller, well written and with a fine plot. Not Karin Slaughter's best - I liked both Triptych and Undone better, but nevertheless a good read. So for an easy mystery with a good plot, this comes highly recommendable. Perhaps you will want to read Triptych first, where Will Trent is introduced.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gone by Michael Grant

Gone by Michael Grant is the first book in a series that so far is planned to be of three books. The second one, Hunger, is already out, and the last one, Lies, should be out next month in the US.

It is a normal, boring day in the Southern Californian town Perdido Beach when everyone 15 years or older disappear in the blink of an eye. One second they are there, the next they are gone. The town is now at the hands of teenagers and children. After the initial shock wears off, the kids are taking advantage of the new situation. Candy shops are being looted, school bullies take over and threathens anyone who questions their superiority and in the middle stands Sam, a quiet young man with a secret, mostly just interested in surfing, his buddy Quinn, smart and pretty Astrid and her autistic little brother. The FAYZ - Fallout Alley Youth Zone - is as reality.

After Sam tries to rescue a little girl from a fire, he is immediately thought to be the new town leader, which is the last thing he wants to be. Some of the bullies has already taken over, and Sam does not really want to question their superiority. At least not at first. Only a day after everyone 15 years old or above has disappeared, a group of kids from the nearby Coates Academy, a school for difficult children, marches into town, and claim to be leaders with the calm, collected and somewhat scary Caine in front. It seems that some of the kids are developing special powers, and Caine and his allies need to control those powers, mainly for their own gain.

Gone has been compared to a modern Lord of the Flies - I don't know about that. I know that I enjoyed reading Gone, and I know that I am also going to read number two, Hunger, which I have already bought. But Gone was not a super-fantastic read as such. The premise is very good and the plot well thought out, but only in theory. Reading Gone it felt just like that: A well thought out plot, but with the author loosing steam not even halfway through. The book is a YA-novel and the writing is aimed at a young audience. I don't mind that at all, but all in all Gone is very gritty, and the plotline may appeal more to the older YA crowd, not the youngest ones, even though the writing feels aimed at them. I still recommend Gone if you want a dystopic YA story.

Gone has been read as part of the Twenty Ten Reading Challenge hosted by Bart's Bookshelf. It has been read in the category Shiny and New, since it was one of the newest books in my stack when I compiled my list.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Been away

I've been abroad (Egypt) from March 28. until April 11 (got back before the European airspace was closed!) and haven't had time to be much online since I got back. But I am still here and feel like I've missed a ton of things. Hope to see you all soon - have read a lot of books while I was away which I look forward to review soon.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Tomorrow Series # 6: The Night is for Hunting by John Marsden

The Night is for Hunting is the 6th book in John Marsden's Tomorrow Series about the teenager Ellie and her friends who find themselves in the middle of an invasion of their country after a camping trip to the Australian Bush. If you haven't read this series and plan to do it, don't read furter, since the review will contain minor spoilers about the previous 5 books.

In book 5, we left Ellie and her remaining friends in the larger city of Stratton, where they were holed up in Ellie's grandmother's house after one of their biggest guerilla attacks yet. In Stratton they were mugged by a gang of smaller kids, and now Ellie and the group are taking action. They want to find out who the kids are, they want to take care of them, even though the kids themselves are not overly interested.

Stratton soon becomes too dangerous to hide out it, and the group of friends must make a dramatic flight towards their old hideout deep in the Australian Bush, the place called Hell. In Hell they face a new set of problems which will put their friendship to the test. Christmas is also near, and they decide to celebrate the event even though it means dangerous expeditions to find food.

Meanwhile the war is continuing, and Australia is still invaded by enemy forces. Ellie and her friends are feeling the effects of war deeply now, and they dream of it to be over. They are still in regular radio contact with their allies in New Zealand, and just before book 6 ends, they receive a message which they cannot ignore.

Again John Marsden has managed to capture the spirit and the lives of this group of teenagers, caught in the middle of a war. A war that they decided to fight from day one, doing everything they could. In the first books in the series the group also tried to keep a certain level of normality, but in the later books they are so war-torn and shell shocked that it makes the books as believable as possible. There are not really any love stories between the teenagers anymore, instead they have become insufferable to each other in certain ways, and especially the way Ellie has changed during the war is shocking, not the least to herself.

Great read, but read the five previous books first. This is read as a part of the 2010 Global Reading Challenge and is my book in the Australasian section.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

International book bloggers are hot stuff

I know I've been away for a while. And while I was gone, international book bloggers has become the new it-thing. We are suddenly hot stuff with our clumsy English, written in the shadow of our big sisters and brothers from (mainly) North America, UK and Australia.

Jokes aside. I'm only speaking for myself of course! And I've never met more open and open minded bloggers than the book bloggers, no matter what nationality. And I've never felt I lived in the shadow of any bloggers - in fact, I need to immediately stress that I've been invited to many fun features (guest blogging, guest bloggers etc) by book bloggers regardless of me being Danish. My English problem mainly exists in my own head and it is mainly myself setting up those limits I feel the obvious language barriers presents.

And this is just plain, great news. I'm honestly thrilled.

In a matter of minutes, looking for something else entirely, I found two new features actively involving international bloggers. If you are not already aware (again, I have been MIA for a while and this may have been discussed at length before) I think you should check out Charlotte's blog The Book on the Hill and her feature Book Blogging Around The World.

International Book Tours is another new (to me) feature where all bloggers, regardless of country, can join the various tours. IBT deals with YA for the time being, and I hope to both donate and read for IBT. What a great, new feature. IBT is managed by the young ladies Reggie from The Undercover Book Lover and Mavie from The Bookologist.

I doubt that James Patterson can actually write

Promise me you will not think badly of me. This is something I've been wanting to write for a long time, but certain things has kept me from doing it. Everything is in the eye of the beholder, right? And I am also pretty sure that we all agree that one person's trash is another person's gold. Reading Suey's (of It's All About Books) post True or False: 90% of Everything is Crap gave me the final push to do this post.

Suey writes an excellent post about how and why some critics hate and bash very popular books like The Twilight Series. Can it really be true that 90% of Everything [we read] is Crap? There are a lot of great comments to that post, and in my own comment I write that bashing of Twilight (and Dan Brown and Harry Potter etc etc) is the same when I hear people (in Denmark) bash a phenomenon like Facebook, and still almost half the population is on it - there must be something about being on FB when so many people are on it! Its also like how its become a popular sport to bash Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy - not so many years ago everyone I knew loved it. Now they simply hate it.

Anyway. I digress a little here, plus I am basically just copying what has already been said on Suey's site. I just want to stress that:
  • I read many books which without a doubt is considered complete crap by this undefined group called book snobs.
  • I reserve the right to consider whatever books I want crap, even though its popular, and fully accept that my crappy reads are another reader's gold.
  • I'm not into hate. This post is meant as more of a pet-peeve thing.
That said, I can return to my headline: I doubt that James Patterson can actually write. This has been a pet-peeve of mine for ages. Taking a tour on my blog will reveal that I've read some of Patterson's books. Here is what I wrote in 2006 about the book London Bridges:
I usually enjoy James Pattersons' Alex Cross stories. I am not a die-hard fan, but I have always found myself entertained when reading most of the previous novels. But London Bridges hit rock bottom almost from the very beginning. The story is made from the same formula the past 3-4 Cross-stories has been, and you can almost guess what will happen in the super-short chapters.
But I have actually read many more in my pre-blogging days. I used to like the Alex Cross-series, and actually found the first ones to be rather good and entertaining reads. Then something happened. Perhaps it was Mr. Patterson's collaboration with an endless stream of other writers, perhaps it dawned on me that James Patterson is a bad writer. Because he is still (presumably) writing the Alex Cross-series on his own.

Okay, then. Maybe his books are not deeply literary. I usually couldn't care less about that. James Patterson's books are not meant to be that, and the main part of the books I read are not considered literary anyway. But his writing is bad. His style is non-existent. His co-authors equally bad. The plots are bad. Everything about his books is bad, bad, bad.

Come on, I hear some of you saying, we read for our entertainment and enjoyment, and if nothing else, Patterson's books are easy and entertaining. Nope, I say, they are not even that. At least not to me. I have serious doubts that any author is able to write 5-10 books a year, no matter how fabulous a writer they are and no matter how many co-authors they have, and still keep an acceptable quality in their writing. That is mission impossible. I guess James Patterson is laughing all the way to the bank, and that is absolutely fine by me. How I wish I had come up with his ideas and how I wish I could make a living writing (less than mediocre) books. Oh yes. I wouldn't care what critics said about my books if I made gazillions. I don't think James Patterson cares.  So what exactly is my problem with this rant? I even admit that I could easily be found reading another James Patterson any day - and I can definitely be found reading "crap" any day. I don't know. I just don't like his books and I honestly think they are of less quality than most other things I read.

Maybe it is that I feel so alone with this. Okay, glancing over reviews on Amazon, I see a lot of readers complaining about Patterson's books and their lack of quality and his endless co-authors. But every time I see one of his books, I feel annoyed and I feel the need to bash the book, and it seems all others are loving it. I guess that is what pet peeves are all about.

This is a post made for the Blog Improvement Project # 2 which was about pumping up post titles. Now lets see if this post will generate any interest or discussion. I would welcome that.

Also - I am trying to go after the ball instead of the man. James Patterson has done a lot to get people to read with special programs and fundings, and I applaud that. He is also just one out of several "pet peeve authors" of mine, whose work I can't stand whose work I sort of get a kick out of bashing a bit.

Blog Improvement Project # 3

I love The Blog Improvement Project. And I love how Jackie and Kim devote their precious time among their other obligations with studies and family to do this. And both of them manage to blog way more often than myself - usually with much better posts as well.

BUT! With the Blog Improvement Project task # 3: Organising your tags and categories I was way ahead of them ;-)  I did that already!

This should leave me with more time to finalize task # 2: Pumping Up Post Titles, which I am having major problems with. But it will get done. Maybe even today :-)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan takes place during some months in 1946 in the Mississippi Delta. The Second World War has just ended in Europe, and the American troops are returning home one by one. Some more reluctantly than others.

We begin some years before with the 31 year old spinster Laura, who has just come to terms with her unmarried life, which is pleasant enough. When Henry, who is 10 years her senior, begins courting her, she has no doubts though, and they marry.

After a few blessed years as a relatively carefree housewife in the city, Henry moves Laura, their two daughters and his old father to the countryside. And then things begin to unravel. Henry's brother Jamie returns from the war, broken down and with more than a healthy need for alcohol, and the mean spirit of Laura's father in law becomes so evident, that Laura is not sure she can stand living with him. Only Henry seems to thrive with the hard farm life, while all other around him fall to pieces.

The black sharecropper family helping out on the farm and with housework is also waiting for a son to return from the war, and when he is finally home, he ends up in the middle of a tragedy also involving Jamie and the rest of the small circle of people on and around Henry and Laura's farm.

Mudbound is not a happy story. It does however begin and end with love, so that the reader is not left with a too sour taste. Racism in the Mississippi Delta in the late 1940'es is one of the main themes in the book along with the alienation a husband and wife can feel, even if they are happily married. It is also about how one small thing can set a whole train of events in motion, sometimes leading to immense tragedy.

Mudbound is a quiet and dark story. It is well written, sometimes almost poetic. The rain, the mud, the pain and the hatred is the background for the glimmers of love that we also encounter. Its not a fun read, but I liked it. Recommendable.

Book Blogger Hop & Finally Weekend

I haven't been much around for the past weeks. I've been caught up in work and personal stuff, and am wondering when I will ever find the time to post on a regular basis. I miss it, and I miss visiting all the other great blogs around.

Through Trisha of eclectic / eccentric I found a link to Jennifer's blog Crazy-for-Books, which is a new-to-me book blog. Jennifer has a fun Friday feature which is Book Blogger Hop. I know that most of us have loads of blogs to visit, but its always great fun to discover new bookish blogs, so I think you should take a look at Jennifer's blog and the Book Blogger Hop-feature. I am going to Blog Hop a bit this weekend, and visit as many blogs as possible.

Have a great weekend! Its not that I am going abroad - just wanted to post a warm and sunny pic.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Evermore by Alyson Noël

Evermore by Alyson Noël is the first book in the series about The Immortals. The main character is Ever. She is 17 years old, and her family has died in a tragic accident. An accident that Ever feels is her fault. After this accident, Ever moves from Oregon to live with her aunt Sabine in California. Sabine is her only living relative, and she makes sure that Ever has all she needs and more. This does not help Ever, though, since she is battling with guilt. Ever used to be the popular girl at school, but she is withdrawing from the world, hiding beneath large hoodies, always with her Ipod securely plugged into her ears.

By having an Ipod in her ears at all times, she cannot hear the ugly thoughts everyone seems to be thinking about her. The music helps drown out other people's thoughts (Ever has been able to hear other people's thoughts since she woke up from the accident). Ever has become an outcast. But she is not completely friendless. Goth girl Haven and homosexual Mike, who are both outcasts themselves has befriended her. None of them knows that Ever can read their minds though.

The three friend's lives are turned upside down when mysterious and seriously hunky Damen begins at school. The popular girls in school thinks that Damen should be theirs, and when Haven also declares that Damen is hers, Ever withdraws more into herself, even though she also feels an immense pull towards him. Damen shows an interest in Ever, though, and soon she is caught between her own guilt, her feelings, a lot of secrets and secrecy and her friend's feelings.

Who is Damen, and what exactly is he doing at their school? Who is the redheaded beauty following him everywhere and why is Damen so interested in boring and freakish Ever? And what is it about Ever's dead little sister who keeps visiting Ever even though she is dead?

Evermore is about love, its about finding love even though you are not like the others, its about being an outcast, its about mourning and living with tragic events. Its about coming of age and about those choices you make along the way, like sex, friendships and love.
No doubt in my mind that Alyson Noël is extremely inspired by the Stephenie Meyers Twilight-series (which I haven't read), although there are no vampires in Evermore. The main target group is girls between 10 and 15, and I am sure most girls in the target group will find Ever and the other characters mildly interesting.

But...its like this book really doesn't live up to all that it is promising. There are so many interesting topics to deal with, but they are never really followed through. It would've been nice with some indepth thoughts about for instance Ever's approach to sex, the bullying she has to take from her classmates, the whole issue about not being like the "normal kids" and so on.

The plot is too loose for my liking and Evermore is not the best book in the genre, but should I stumble upon the others in the series, I will probably read it, but there is a long way from Evermore to some of the other YA-book I've read lately.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Written with an eye for even the smallest detail in a fluent and easily read language, I will begin by recommending Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife. Its definitely a good read. It is however also a huge read of more than 600 pages. And while the novel really is easy to read, it is also so densely packed with the main character Alice's thoughts and reflections that it does take a while to chew through it. I am not by any means a super fast reader, but neither am I a particularly slow reader.

Its a serious novel, but there is also humor scattered around those 600+ pages. We follow Alice Lindgren, a naive Wisconsin girl, from her early childhood and until she is about 60 years old. We know from the beginning that she becomes America's First Lady, but we are not told when in her life this happens. We need to read the book to find out about Alice's life and her uneven path to being married to the American president.

The whole book is told through first person, and the result is that you really feel you get to know Alice. She is a likeable woman, and I enjoyed reading about her.
The first two thirds of the book is great! It I have to repeat that it is a joy to read about and follow Alice through her childhood, teens and adulthood. Its not that her path through life is a walk in the park, there are plenty bumps along the road, and some tragedies as well.

The last third of the book is a bit disappointing though. Alice has become First Lady (according to the book itself and several articles and reviews the character Alice is build loosely on Laura Bush), and the plot becomes a bit unlikely. I am not going to reveal why here, but plenty reviews on Amazon will gladly tell you why. I do agree with those reviews, but I will have to reveal too much of the book by telling you here, and I would have been annoyed myself if I had read those reviews beforehand.

If you are interested in a good piece of fiction, taking you all the way from the 1950'es to 2007 you should read American Wife.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Silent Killer by Beverly Barton

Cathy is a witness to the murder of her husband, a town minister, and when another minister is killed in the same fashion only a few months later, Cahty breaks down and admits herself into a mental facility where she spends a lot of time coming to terms. Arriving back in Dunmore, Alabama as a new and improved woman, she meet up with Jack, her highschool sweetheart who has become a deputy in the town. Jack also carries some baggage, and both he and Cahty take small steps towards each other while they rekindle their old love. Pretty soon another clergy man is killed in the same gruesome fashion, and we now know that a serial killer is on the loose, a serial killer preying on clergy men.

The murder-plot is just one of the many plots in this below average thriller by Beverly Barton. An endless array of characters are introduced, making it hard to keep track, even for seasoned readers. Some loose ends, which actually seem very important, are never mentioned again and almost all the main characters are annoying. The writing is mediocre at best, and at first I thought that this was a first novel. At that point I was ready to forgive the bad plot(s) and the mediocre writing. But then I found out that the author has actually penned dozens and dozens of novels, and I must admit that I am not impressed.

There was absolutely nothing new in this story, and I am sure I will never pick up another book by Beverly Barton. It is not the author's fault that I mistakenly thought that this was a mystery when it was more of a romance with a thriller plot added though. Had it only been well written, I wouldn't object that much. As it is now, this one cannot be recommended at all.