Thursday, 31 December 2009

Book Review: Glory in Death

Glory in death

Glory in Death by J.D. Robb

Category: Crime fiction

Synopsis: Someone murders high powered prosecutor Cecily Towers and Eve Dallas has to figure out who, while negotiating a new relationship of her own. Life isn’t easy in 2058. And when the investigation turns towards the family of the deceased it gets even more complicated. Book two in the In Death series. 

My Thoughts: I’ve more or less decided to only do mini-reviews for the re-reads of the In Death books because I find it difficult to review the books when I know what will be happening next and when I have read them so many times so here goes…

This book introduces further characters that will become important to the future books but does so in a way that the reader cannot immediately tag them as such. I like this, it adds a deal of realism to the story. We don’t always know who will play an important role in our lives.

As with any cozy murder mystery (oxymoron anyone?) this story follows a predictable pattern but my heart still beats a little faster at the dramatic conclusion even though I know how it ends.  

I also really enjoy the development of the relationship between Eve and Roark. The negotiating between what is my life and what is your life and how do we merge the two feels supremely real. Anyone who has done this will recognize the pitfalls that come with trying to merge two lives, although most people probably don’t have crazed killers after them while doing it, still…

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

2010 Feature

christmas 09 011

I live in a big house. There I said it. In this big house we have a  library. Despite it being a big house and the library a big room we still can’t fit all our books in that room. We have books hidden away in cupboards, on ledges and in bedrooms. Today I went on an archaeological dig in one of the cupboards where we currently keep the children’s books (there being no children in the family right now). I was on a mission to find a certain children’s book. I didn’t find it, but I did find some other books. Some I had forgotten we owned. Some I didn’t know we owned (one I had planned on reading so that was good). And some I wanted to use for a feature I will be running on this blog during 2010.

I was buying books for my friends little girl earlier this year and I realised how many of the absolutely fantastic children’s books I read as a child are now translated to English, at the same time I feel that many don’t know about them. I intend to change that. Single handily if I have to! So during 2010 I will be featuring my favourite Swedish authors. Primarily authors of children’s books but I might also sneak in a couple of adult authors later in the year.

I will be starting out with Astrid Lindgren in January. She is the queen or possibly the empress of Swedish children’s literature. You cannot have grown up in Sweden and not have read or have had something by Astrid Lindgren read to you. Many of the books have also been adapted to film and television. Hope you’ll stop by and get to know and author who, undoubtedly shaped my world view.

Thanksgiving 07 028

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: Glory in Death


Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Glory in death “What the hell were you doing out here, Towers? she wondered. Here, away from the power centre, away from your classy home address?

And dressed for business, she thought.” (pg3)

From Glory in Death by J.D. Robb

Monday, 28 December 2009

The Memorable Memoir Challenge: Intro Post


A few weeks ago Melissa at The Betty and Boo Chronicles wondered if there was a memoir challenge for 2010. Apparently there wasn’t but now there is, she is hosting it. YAY! I was already planning on reading memoirs as my category for the 2010 Challenge because I want to read more non-fiction in general this year and memoirs in particular. This gives me even more of a reason.
Here are the details:
1. The Memorable Memoir Challenge will be hosted here on The Betty and Boo Chronicles.
2. The challenge will run from January 1, 2010 - December 31, 2010.
2. Memoirs, letters, diaries, and autobiographies count as reads for this challenge.
3. Overlaps with other challenges are allowed. Audiobooks and e-books are also allowed.
4. Participants are encouraged to read at least 4 memoirs/diaries/letters/autobiography books in 2010. Of course, more are fine!

I have a list  because that is just me
Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of The Dalai Lama by The Dalai Lama
Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent
True Compass: A Memoir by Edward Kennedy
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
John Adams by David McCullough
Wild Swans : Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
Please come and join in!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Book Review: Naked in Death

naked in death

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

Category: Crime fiction

Synopsis: New York City 2058. The licenced companion granddaughter of a powerful Conservative Senator is found brutally murdered and it is up to NYPD Lieutenant Eve Dallas to solve the murder before the murderers promise comes true and more women die. What Dallas had not suspected when she was given this case was that she was going to fall for one of the suspects, millionaire Roark (no other name).

My Thoughts: This is a re-read for me and as such is it difficult for me to be objective but here goes. I have loved the In Death series since my mum told me to read these books when I was complaining that I had nothing to read. I came to love the prickly Eve and the gorgeous Roark. I love the relationships that start to develop  in this book. I love that the characters have flaws but that they still function as humans. I love the fact that you are not really required to solve the mystery yourself, you just have to hang on for the ride.

I do find the sexual violence in this book to be disturbing and I wonder why there has to be quite so much…I don’t quite know how to put this…maybe violent (but not harmful) sex between the two main characters. This is tempered with some quite gentle scenes but still…Do we have to rip quite so many shirts?

Overall however I do love this book. I’m heading into the next one, Glory in Death, straight away.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas (God Jul)

petterochlotta Picture from one of my favourite children’s books Petter and Lottas Christmas by Elsa Beskow

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor)

mansomhatar
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor) by Stieg Larsson

Category: Crime fiction

Synopsis: Mikael Blomkvist is a financial reporter who has been sentenced to prison for slander. He decides to take some time off from his job as editor of the magazine Millennium. He is offered a job by the wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger who wants him to write the history of the Vanger family. This however turns out to simply be a cover story for the real digging Vagner wants him to do. Vagner wants him to find out what happened to his niece Harriet, who disappeared any years previously. Blomkvist is later joined by Lisbeth Salander, a young girl with problems, but a knack for finding out information.



My Thoughts: I read this book quite quickly. It was okay. I didn’t like the view of Sweden it presented. No single character acted in a way in which I thought was moral. I am so sick and tired of Sweden being portrayed as a country where pretty much everyone has loose sexual morals (I believe that what goes on between two consenting adults is their business but all this sleeping around that goes on is such a sterotype and it drives me insane). In addition, although I am well aware of the abuses that happen in society I found the portrayals in this book to be deeply deeply disturbing and somewhat unnecessary.

That aside, my actual objection to this book is the fact that to me there was nothing new. I won’t portray myself as an expert on Swedish Crime fiction but there was nothing new here. Several other Swedish authors use the format of plucky newspaper reporter uncovers horrible corruption in the financial world. Throw in some corrupt government officials (or officials in general) and you have a fairly standard Swedish Crime novel. There was nothing really new in this book. I fail to see why this has become the international best seller.
I do wonder about the translation, Kalle Blomkvist is a literary figure most Swedes would know and know the symbolism that he carries. To those who have read translated versions, does the translation explain this cultural reference? To me, and to most Swede's Kalle Blomkvist conjures up certain images, images that I think contribute to my feeling of this not being anything new. I wonder if others get the same feeling?
The reason I ended up being up late finishing this book was because I wanted to finish the book so that I could get on with purging some rather disturbing scenes from my mind.

Apparently I am not the only one who is confused as to why this book is so great. Jackie from Farm Lane Books posted her thoughts as well while I was reading it.

I have yet to decide if I will read the other two books in the series. Since I can get them from the library I just might. I don't mean to sound all negative, I did finish the book after all but it just did not leave me wanting to re-read it.

One positive note was the characterisation of Lisbeth. I did find her to be a character I wanted to know more about, which is why I am considering reading the other books in the series.

 

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Naked in Death


Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

naked-in-death“Code Five meant she would report directly to her commander, and there would be no unsealed interdepartmental reports and no cooperation with the press.

In essence, it meant she was on her own” (pg3)

Naked in Death by J. D. Robb

Monday, 21 December 2009

Book Review: Epic of Gilgamesh

really-old-classics-bg_3-sm1
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh 

Translated by Andrew George

Category: Ancient Literature

Challenge: Really Old Classics Challenge

Synopsis: The ancient story of the King Gilgamesh tells of friendship and heroics and a fear of death.

My Thoughts: I liked the story. I liked what it had to say about the human condition. I would like to in the future read another translation to see what is different. I liked that the language was accessible, I felt like I could fly through it.

However, I am not sure about this translation. Since I have not read The Epic of Gilgamesh before I have no idea if this is how the translations are often done but I found the fact that the volume contained the translations of several tablets annoying. I just wanted to read the story. I didn’t really care to compare the Yale tablet with the Pennsylvania tablet. I did appreciate that in the first part they told you when they, due to missing parts switched tablets but I didn’t really need the tablet translations again in the following parts.

What I also didn’t like was the fact that at the start of each tablet they told you what happened. The language in the translations was so accessible that I had no problems following it. I didn’t need the short synopsis at the start of each tablet. It really just ruined the story for me. I feel that this edition is paradoxically an edition for high school students to lazy to read the whole thing and an edition for the scholar who wants an introduction to the different tablets. Personally, as someone who just wanted to read the story, I was not well served by this edition.

So in conclusion: good story, bad book.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Sunday Salon: Terry Pratchett

The Sunday Salon.com
What Caught My Fancy This Week
Today I bring you a goodie. A interview/town hall kinda thing with Terry Pratchett from the Guardian. He talks about Unseen Academicals which I haven’t read yet but I will be getting after Christmas, if I don’t get it from Santa. I particularly liked his comments about the fans of the books and fans of fantasy in particular. We are not all fourteen year old boys named Kevin.
MargReads_2010_Pratchett_v1smIf you have not read Pratchett I urge you to try some it is fantastic. His website is here and has loads of goodies and then come join us at Marg’s Reading Adventures for the 2010 Terry Pratchett Challenge which is in full swing!
 
I’ve recently reviewed Hogfather and Reaper Man and will be reviewing The Last Hero and Unseen Academicals during 2010.

Reading
The Epic of Gilgamesh I am having some mixed feelings about this particular translation. I am beginning to think that I need to read another translation and see how that looks.
 
The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer. Hoping to make some real headway with this now that school is almost over (I have some editing to do on my essay. I will do it today. Yes I will). I also have a galley copy of The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade that I am reading to review.


Reviewed
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
 
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Challenges
I posted the last of my challenge sign-ups this week. I have one post left for organisational purposes and that will go up the last week in December.

Fun Stuff
Nothing super fun this week, but my mum has started reading The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs. Apparently me reading sections out loud and laughing hysterically at others has meant that she wanted to read it to. SCORE!
 


Saturday, 19 December 2009

2010 Challenge: Introductory Post

twentyten_sml
This challenge is hosted by Bart’s Bookshelf and has participants reading 20 books from 10 categories. The Rules are:
  • Read 2 books from each category, making a requirement of 20 books total.
  • The categories are intended to be loose guidelines only, if you decide it fits, then it fits. (Apart from those marked **)
  • Categories marked with ** have tighter rules, and these must be followed.
  • Each book can only qualify for one category.
  • Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
  • Books read from 01/01/2010 to 31/12/2010 are eligible.
So, on with the categories
  1. Young Adult
    Any book classified as young adult or featuring a teenage protagonist counts for this category.
  2. T.B.R. **
    Intended to help reduce the old T.B.R. pile. Books for this category must be already residents of your bookshelves as of 1/11/09.
  3. Shiny & New
    Bought a book NEW during 2010 from a bookstore, online, or a supermarket? Then it counts for this category. Second-hand books do not count for this one, but, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts or won in a giveaway also count!
  4. Bad Blogger’s ***
    Books in this category, should be ones you’ve picked up purely on the recommendation of another blogger count for this category (any reviews you post should also link to the post that convinced you give the book ago).
    *** Bad Bloggers: Is hosted by Chris of Stuff as Dreams are Made on.
  5. Charity
    Support your local charity shops with this category, by picking up books from one of their shops. Again, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts also count, as long as they were bought from a charity shop.
  6. New in 2010
    This category is for those books newly published in 2010 (whether it be the first time it is has been released, or you had to wait for it to be published in your country, it counts for this one!)
  7. Older Than You
    Read two books that were published before you were born, whether that be the day before or 100 years prior!
  8. Win! Win!
    Have a couple of books you need to read for another challenge? Then this is the category to use, as long that is, you don’t break the rules of the other challenge by doing so! ;)
  9. Who Are You Again?
    This one isn’t just for authors you’ve never read before, this is for those authors you have never even heard of before!
  10. Up to You!
    The requirements for this category are up to you! Want to challenge yourself to read some graphic novels? A genre outside your comfort zone? Something completely wild and wacky? Then this is the category to you. The only requirement is that you state it in your sign-up post.
My choice for Up to You! is Memoirs.

On to my list (you knew it was coming by now didn’t you)
Young Adult
1) My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger
2) The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

T.B.R.
1) John Adams by David McCullough
2) Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill

Shiny & New
1)
2)

Bad Blogger’s
1) Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent. Eva at A Striped Armchair recommended this one and it sounded amazing.
2) The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal. This one was recommended by S.Krishna and it sounds wonderful.

Charity
1)
2)

New in 2010

1) Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb. I am so excited about this book!!
2)

Older Than You
1) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.
2)

Win! Win!

1) The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett. Cross challenge with the 2010 Terry Pratchett Challenge.
2) Haunting Bombay by Shilpa Agarwal. Cross challenge with the South Asian Author Challenge.

Who Are You Again?
1)
2)

Up to You! Memoirs

1) Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
2) True Compass: A Memoir by Edward M. Kennedy

As you can see I have some categories where I haven’t chosen books. I have some ideas but haven’t made up my mind yet. The category that is causing me some problem is the charity one. I live in the sticks and we don’t really have any charity shops around here, but I am sure I will figure it out.

Book Review: Hogfather

hogfather
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Category: Fiction

Challenge: 2010 Terry Pratchett Challenge and 2009 Holiday Reading Challenge

Synopsis: From the back of the book “It’s the night before Hogswatch and it’s too quiet.

Where is the jolly fat man? Why is Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho? The darkest night of the year is getting a lot darker…

Susan the gothic governess has got to sort it out by morning, otherwise there won’t be a morning. Ever again…

The 20th Discworld novel is a festive feast of darkness and Death (but with jolly robins and tinsel too).

As they say: You’d better watch out…”


My Thoughts:
I have a great fondness for the Discworld novels in general and for novels about Death in particular. This novel was a re-read for me but it has been many years. It didn’t disappoint this second time around either.

Pratchett manages to paint a picture of a world that is profoundly different from the one we in habit but at the same time the world is exactly the same. He pokes fun at those traditions that everyone in the western world will recognize even if they themselves do not take part in them. Take for example this quote:
“Death looked at the sacks.
It was a strange but demonstrable fact that the sacks of toys carried by the Hogfather, no matter what they really contained, always appeared to have sticking out of the top a teddy bear, a toy soldier in the kind of colourful uniform that would stand out in a disco, a drum and a red-and-white candy cane. The actual contents always turned out to be something a bit garish and costing $5.99”  (pg84)
I guess that I am not the only person who looks at the pictures of Santa with a certain amount of scepticism.

Not to mention the fact that as the daughter and sister of computer nerds I loved all the sections with Hex (the machine the student wizards at the UU are building). I especially liked this exchange:
“I don’t actually think’, he said gloomily, ‘that I want to tell the Archchancellor that this machine stops working if we take its fluffy teddy bear away. I just don’t think I want to live in that kind of world.’
‘Er,’ said Mad Drongo, ‘you could always, you know, sort of say it needs to work with the FTB enabled…?’
‘You think that’s better?’ said Ponder, reluctantly. It wasn’t as if it was even a very realistic interpretation of a bear.
‘You mean, better than “fluffy teddy bear”?’
Ponder nodded. ‘It’s better,’ he said” (pg441)
He makes astute observations on what it means to be human and what we humans expect out of life.

The book contains all the usual suspects, including the senior wizards at the Unseen University, who, as per usual, manage to make the situation worse while thinking that they are making it better.

Apart from Death the main character of this book is his granddaughter Susan. Susan tries very hard to be a perfectly normal human, thankyouverymuch, but this is somewhat hard when your hair’s default position is a prim bun, you see imaginary monsters and you can do the voice. Susan ends up being the heroine of this book after her grandfather expressly tells her to not get involved.

As with most of Pratchett’s books you don’t really have to have read any of them before to understand what is going on, but it certainly helps.

I find it very difficult to review Pratchett’s books because his writing is so fantastic in its wit and irony. I sometimes wonder if you have to be a certain personality type to enjoy them. My best friend and I discovered them in high school and we are both cynical and ironic (as only two 17 year olds can be). Our favourite teacher was our very acerbic history teacher who definitely did not have rose coloured glasses on. In addition to this she taught us to observe humans and human behaviour so Pratchett’s books which are very much about the human condition fit very well into what we were already learning. I am naturally an observer of people and cultures and I find his observations to be spot on.

The Miniseries

There is also an excellent miniseries that I haven’t seen in a while but I highly recommend!




christmas-ornaments-1-1 MargReads_2010_Pratchett_v1sm

Friday, 18 December 2009

Book Review: Cranford






Cranford Cranford by Elizabeth C. Gaskell

Category: Novel

Synopsis: Cranford is a tale of a group of ladies in the small English town of Cranford. The town of Cranford is run by the women, that is to say, “all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women” (25)

My Thoughts:  I wanted to read Cranford because I recently saw the BBC television series based on the story and loved it. So when the Classic Circuit announced that they were doing Gaskell I jumped on it. Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed. The first half of the novel felt very disjointed and jumpy. Characters came and went within just a few pages. I never got a sense as to why they were there. This might have been okay if the novel was plot driven, but it isn’t. There isn’t really a plot to it at all.

The second half of the novel is a bit better. There is an inkling of a plot and there are no really new characters added into the mix. The story starts to flow a bit more.

What I did like about the story was the friendship between the women that was presented. The way they actually cared about each other. On the outside they all seemed to be very much concerned with appearances and what was proper, but on the inside they were much more caring, considerate and loyal.

My final verdict (and this pains me greatly) watch the BBC television series, it is MUCH better!

 

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Social Justice Challenge: Introductory Post

2010 Social Justice Reading Challenge

 

This challenge was put together by Amy @ My Friend Amy, Hannah @ Word Lily and Natasha @ Maw Books and I think it looks fantastic!

 

This is a slightly different challenge in that each month participants are asked to read and take action around one specific topic. Here are the topics:

During the year of this challenge, we will be focusing each month on a different topic.  These themes are (in monthly order from January to December):

  1. Religious Freedom
  2. Water
  3. Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
  4. Hunger
  5. AIDS crisis
  6. Genocide
  7. Poverty
  8. Illiteracy and Education
  9. Modern Day Slavery
  10. Homelessness & Refugees
  11. Women’s Rights
  12. Child Soldiers and Children in War

Participants can choose between different levels of participation each month depending on interest in topic and time available. The levels are:

 

Activist–At this level you are agreeing to participate fully in the activities of the month. You will read at least one full length book as well as choosing something from the other media list. You will also complete an action step. By signing up for the challenge, you agree to do a minimum of 3 months at this level. You do not have to decide which months in advance.

Intern–You agree to either read something from the reading resources (it can be an essay or children’s book) or choose to do something from the other media list. You will complete an action step. You do not have to decide which months in advance.

Volunteer– You agree to read at least one of the recommended blog posts, essays or shorter novels. You will complete an action step. You do not have to decide in advance which months they will be.

Observer — Need a break? Just follow along with the blog for the month. This month has no commitment level. You can only do a maximum of three months at this level.

 

When joining you commit to taking part for the full twelve months but you can decide which level on a month by month basis.

 

There are some topics that I am really really interested in, such as Education & Illiteracy and Women’s Rights. There are also topics I know little about that I am interested in exploring further. This should be really interesting and educational.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Epic of Gilgamesh


Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“My friend, I have had the fourth,

      it surpasses my other three dreams!

I saw a Thunderbird in the sky,

     up it rose like a cloud, soaring above us.” (pg35)

Epic of Gilgamesh which I am reading for The Really Old Classics Challenge

Monday, 14 December 2009

Fall Into Reading Challenge: Wrap Up Post

FIR09small

Introductory Post is here.

 

I read all four books I set out to read. I’m thankful for this challenge because as a fairly new book blogger it gave me a chance to try out the challenge circuit and to read some books I had wanted to get read. And boy am I glad I read them. I loved all four books. One was a re-read from high school. The others were all new to me. My favourite was The Year of Living Biblically but both The Giver and My Ántonia touched me deeply and forever changed me just like Brave New World changed me ten years ago.

 

The Reviews

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Giver by Lois Lowry

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Sunday Salon: The Nobel Edition

The Sunday Salon.com
What Caught My Fancy This Week

The 10th of December every year the Nobel Prizes are given out. Growing up this was a time when my mum and I would sit down and watch the dinner. Yep you read that right, we watch people eat. Seeing what food is served was always exciting (my irreverent first years wondered if you didn’t like the food could you order pizza). We also watch to see what everyone is wearing, kind of like the pre-Oscars show. Critiquing and commentating. It is always a lot of fun. And I firmly believe that honouring science and thought this way is an inspiration. I wish that this event was shown more (also then the maker of A Beautiful Mind would know that the Nobel Prize Winners DO NOT give speeches* (well the winner of the Peace Prize does but not at the ceremony in Stockholm). I stop the movie before that. It is a good movie but that bugs the h*ll out of me). By making science and thought cool we could help the world (sorry for the soapbox)
 
*They give speeches at the dinner and if you have a chance listen to the speech by on of the winners of the Prize in Medicine. It was funny and she was so elegant and passionate.
 
In honour of the Nobel Prize I thought I would look at the Literature Prize winners I have read. It is a rather paltry number. I haven’t even read all the Swedish winners (I’ll attempt to blame my high school teachers here but the truth is I have probably read more than most Swedes). Here we go:
 
1907: Rudyard Kipling. I read both The Jungle Book and The Just So Stories growing up, and as an adult “IF” is one of my all time favourite poems.
 Nils_Holgersson
1909: Selma Lagerlöf. I have read Nils Holgerssons Resa. I hope that all Swedish children have read or been read this. I have not read any of her adult books though (the HL Swedish did but I did SL). Gösta Berlings Saga is on my TBR list.
 
1923: William Butler Yeats. I’ve read some of his poems. Not nearly enough to earn my English Major title though.
 
1948: T.S. Elliot. Again I’ve managed a few poems. Still it counts, right?
 
For whom the bell tolls 1954: Ernest Hemingway. I’ve read “Hills Like White Elephants” twice as a student and once as a teacher. I also read For Whom the Bell Tolls in high school and hated it. With a passion. Didn’t actually finish it *shhh* don’t tell my teacher.
 
 
1962: John Steinbeck. I read both Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath in high school. Didn’t like either. Maybe I should try them again.
 
1970: Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, read in high school. Seem to remember I found it depressing.
 
Nässlorna blomma 1974: Harry Martinsson. I read both Vägen till Klockrike (The Road) and Nässlorna blomma (Flowering Nettles) in high school. They were beautiful books.  
 
 
 
 
 
1983: William Golding. I read and saw the movie Lord of the Flies in high school. Scary book but one that lead to good discussions.
 
Okay that is a pitiful list. Some of the ones I haven’t read I am really embarrassed about (Toni Morrison being the first on this list). I need to read at least some more of them this coming year.
 
Full list of winners can be found here
 
Which Nobel Laureates have you read? Should someone who considers themselves well read have read them all (or at least a majority)? Or is it just a pretentious prize that no one cares about?

Reading

Reading has taken a backseat this week as I worked on the essay of doom. But I have been reading Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. Reading this one for two challenges 2009 Holiday Reading Challenge and the 2010 Terry Pratchett Challenge (which started on December 1st).

Finished
I posted reviews for The Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne MacCaffrey

Challenges
I’ve only got a few more challenge posts to go up this week. I am doing one post for each challenge for my own house keeping so that it is easier for me to keep track of where I am in the different ones.



Fun Stuff
bbhs_teaser_smallMy Book Blogger Holiday Swap Pressie arrived this week with lots of goodies!
 
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Hope you join us for the Progressive Dinner Party this past week over at The Book Bloggers Social Club, there were loads of scrumptious looking recipes.


There is a great giveaway right now over at Bibliofreak. Click to Join the Great Kindle II GiveAway! and I get another entry (have I mentioned how much I really really want a Kindle?)


Saturday, 12 December 2009

Thriller & Suspense Challenge: Introductory Post



The Thriller & Suspense Challenge is hosted by Book Chick City and runs all year. Since I love reading murder mysteries I figured this challenge would fit me perfectly. The rules for this challenge are fairly simply.

Timeline: 01 Jan 2010 - 31 Dec 2010
Rules: To read TWELVE (12) thrillers in 2010

She also has an extensive list of sub-genres and which authors have books that are good for the challenge.  And it allows cross reads with other challenges. Head on over and join in the fun!

I do have a list, because that is who I am.

I am going to read primarily J.D. Robb, but I also want to try Julia Spencer-Fleming’s In the Bleak Midwinter which was recommended to me by a non-book blogger  blogger friend. I will probably be reading the J.D. Robb books in order starting with Naked in Death, plus there is a new book out in the series in January (or possibly February depending on which site you look at) called Fantasy in Death that I am very excited about.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Secret Santa Pressie Arrived!

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I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning working on the essay from h*ll when I saw the mail truck come past the window. Then I heard a honk. I went outside and the mailwoman told me she had a package. It was my Secret Santa pressie! My Secret Santa is Brizmus from Brizmus Blogs Books.

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She sent me lots and lots of pressies!

 

So what was in the packages? Well…

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There was milk and egg free vegan chocolate (which is perfect because I’m allergic!) I may have been munching on these all morning to stem the frustration over the evil essay

A cute little notebook that will fit perfectly in even the smallest handbag!

A CD compilation with Christmas music

TWO BOOKS!

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

Brida by Paulo Coelho

 

I’ve been meaning to read The Ruby in the Smoke so this was great. And I had never even heard of Paulo Coelho (this probably makes me a bad book blogger) so this is great!

 

Thank you so much Brizmus! You really made my day!

Flashback Challenge: Introductory Post

Flashback button

Growing up I had a bit of an issue. I loved re-reading books. To the point where some of our books are read to pieces (thanks to my lovely friend Ana I now have a new copy of These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder which was no longer readable). Because of this this challenge is absolutely perfect for me. I will have no problem reaching the goal of six books. I’ll read more than that. Here are the rules:

 


The Flashback Challenge will run from January 1, 2010 - December 31, 2010.  If you're super-excited and want to reread a book before that, feel free, and let me know.  If many people do so, then I'll do a December challenge linky post and you can all link to it here.  Otherwise, we can hold them over to January.

You can sign up for the following levels:
Bookworm - Up to three books
Scholar - Four to six books
Literati - Over six books

Within these levels, we have mini-challenges!  These are:

1. Re-read a favourite book from your childhood
2. Re-read a book assigned to you in high school
3. Re-read a book you loved as an adult

Thus, if you sign up for the Bookworm level, you could ostensibly choose to read one book from each mini-challenge.  Or you could choose to do none of the above (though, granted, not sure what you could have possibly read that does not fit into either childhood, high school or adulthood).

Also, would just like to make clear that this isn't specifically limited to books you loved reading previously and want to reread.  It could also be a book you don't remember enjoying.  Or just don't remember reading.  It might be interesting to see how your perceptions may have changed.

 

I am aiming for the Literati. I have a list and I am not afraid to use it. Because I can’t find any rule against it I am using cross challenge books.

 

Books from my childhood:

Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery. I was always an Anne fan and Anne of Avonlea was probably the one I read the most in my early teens.

 

Madicken by Astrid Lindgren. Another self-assured spunky young girl. She too was a heroine of mine.

 

Books Assigned in High School:

En Komikers Uppväxt by Jonas Gardell. I am pretty sure it was high school by the time we were assigned this book. It is a funny and sad story about growing up in Sweden in the 70s.

 

Books I Loved as an Adult:

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.) by Francine Prose. I have a fondness for books about reading books and I read this one two summers ago and loved it. I figure it is time to revisit it.

 

Wild Swans : Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang. I had a boyfriend in college who I am still friends with. He had a fascination with China when we were going out and he read this book first and then insisted that I read it. Boy am I glad I did. It is a great book both about China but also about women. This will be a fond revisit.

 

I am also planning a revisit of the In Death series by J.D. Robb and The Mallorean Series by David Eddings.

 

This is of course all subject to change :)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Mark the Spot

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Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme that discusses all things bookish.

Suggested by Tammy:

What items have you ever used as a bookmark? What is the most unusual item you’ve ever used or seen used?

I use all sorts of things as bookmarks. Right now I have an actual bookmark that I got from BookDepository with one of my purchases. It has ducks, fish and frogs on it.

 

In the past I have used store receipts, ticket stubs, letters and envelopes. It is always fun to open a book and find an old bookmark. If it is a ticket stub it makes me think of the concert or trip the stub is related to. If it is a letter or an envelope it makes me think of the person who wrote it. It reminds me of one of my favourite short stories “Ett Halvt Ark Papper” (“A Half Sheet of Paper”) by August Strindberg.  It is a very sad story but it shows how much information can be found in a small piece of paper. When you find a piece of paper in a book you are transported back in time to both re-reading the book and to where you were and who you were then. And if I find a piece of paper in a book that was not previously mine I wonder about the person who read the book before me. Who are they? Did they like the book? Why did they choose the book? Something as simple as a forgotten bookmark makes the experience with the book become something bigger than the book itself.

 

I can’t think of ever using anything strange as a bookmark. I occasionally use a pen as a bookmark if I am going to get right back to reading, if, for example I have just gotten up to answer the phone or make another cup of tea.

owl bookmark

I don’t think I have ever seen anything strange used as bookmarks either, I have seen some really clever bookmarks in bookstores, some that I wish I had bought. I do have a bookmark that I got from a friend for my 8th birthday. It is the one pictured above. I’ve only used it once because it cut into the pages of the book. Because of this I prefer paper or fabric for my bookmarks.

 

Thank you for such a great topic. It really made me think

Book Review: Harper Hall Trilogy [audio books]

This is a bit of a departure from my normal reviews as I am going to review three books in one review. I’ve been listening to these books over the past few weeks while I have been sick. Because of the being sick part it has been a bit disjointed. I’ve fallen asleep and woken up (and occasionally dreamed about them) so I have listened to some sections several times and others just once. They are re-reads so I haven’t missed the story.

The Harper Hall Trilogy were the first books by Hugo and Nebula award winning author Anne McCaffrey I read as a teenager. Since then I have read most of the Pern series (I haven’t read the last few books written by her son Todd McCaffrey) and the Talent Series. She had me reading Sci-fi. I don’t like Sci-fi. But yet I found myself reading it. She snuck it in when I wasn’t looking. I do have to admit that I do tend to glaze over at some points when they talk about space and science in some of the books. I read very fast. But she had me reading it.

Dragonsong
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

This is the first book in the trilogy and it follows teenage girl Menolly. When we first meet Menolly she has lost her teacher and confidant Petiron. No one at her hold understands her love for music and she feels utterly alone.

Although I am not musical in the least (couldn’t sing to save my life) as a teenager I could still identify with Menolly and her feelings of being alone and misunderstood (don’t all teenagers feel misunderstood at some point?). I was also attracted to Menolly’s independence and free spirit. Dragonsong will always have a place in my heart as one of the books that I loved as a teenager.

dragonsinger
Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey

The second book in the Harper Hall Trilogy follows Menolly when she finally starts to find her place in the world. She arrives in the Harper Hall and immediately makes an impression. She also makes several friends and several enemies.

Again as a teenager I could relate to Menolly’s insecurities of fitting into a new environment. Not being sure of her place and being the victim of some rather nasty girls. I loved the fact that although these books are set on another world the problems were the same as the ones I was facing (also I wanted a firelizard).

Dragondrums
Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey

Although Menolly is in this book, the third book in the Harper Hall Trilogy is actually about her best friend at the Hall, the young boy Piemur. Piemur is an apprentice with a glorious soprano voice. He is also a scamp, he has big plans and he often gets into trouble. The start of the book heralds changes for Piemur.

As a teenager I was not as fond of this book as the other two. I think most of my problem lay in the fact that I wanted more Menolly. She was like me. And all I got was this stupid boy. As I have grown older I have come to appreciate this book more (although I still want more Menolly). The book looks at what happens when you do not speak up when something or someone is mistreating you. I also think it shows how completely clueless adults can be sometimes. And how important it is for adults to tell teenagers what is going on. To communicate with them.

Audio: All three books were narrated by Sally Darling. It always takes me a while to get used to her voice. Something about it sets me on edge right at first but then I get used to it. Part of the problem might be that she pronounces some of the names differently from how I do (thinking about it she is more right than me, which is probably what annoys me, I don’t like being wrong). The voice is quite soothing which is probably why I have been dozing off while listening to them. Overall I like these books as audio books.

General Comments: I read these books as a teenager and I think they fit very well for the YA group. I know some people have some problems with the last book and some more adult scenes in it. My thoughts on this is that there is nothing graphic AT ALL. There are hints of an adult relationship but it is beautifully done and no body parts are exposed. If however you have strict rules pre-read.

Ms. Bookish is hosting the 42nd Bookworms Carnival and Jemi at JustJemi and I both have these books as our comfort reads. 

Robin at My Two Blessings is hosting a Science Fiction Fantasy Challenge in 2010 called Mind Voyages where these books would fit very well. I wasn’t going to take part but maybe now I will. I have a hankering for some Pern reading :)

   

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Progressive Dinner Party: Entrees

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Welcome to my little home on the interwebbies. Today we are having the Entrees portion of the Progressive Dinner Party put together by Amy, Nicole and Julie. Thank you!

I hope you enjoyed Nicole's Cornbread Stuffing and Chicken & Dumplings

I am serving a dish from the Swedish Christmas Dinner table: Meatballs. In Sweden we celebrate Christmas on the 24th with a big dinner of the smorgasbord variety (although my first years and I dispute this description, it is simply Christmas dinner). What is served varies from family to family but in a very unscientific pole with aforementioned first years the meatballs were voted the favourite dish.

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Recipe
Ingredients
  • 500 g minced beef (or mixture of minced beef and minced pork) (about 1lb)
  • 1 dl fine breadcrumbs (0.4 US cups)
  • 1 ½ dl milk (0.6 US cups)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ pinch black pepper
  • (1 ½ pinch allspice (we don’t use this in my family but some people do))
  • 1 egg (we don’t use this in my family because of allergies but it does bind the meat together better)
  • 1 small yellow onion finely chopped and sautéed
Directions
Mix breadcrumbs and milk together in a mixing bowl. Let them stand for at least 10 minutes to let the breadcrumbs swell.

Add salt and the minced beef to the bowl.

Add pepper, eggs and onions to the bowl and mix well but not to long.

Take out a cutting board and rinse it with water.

Roll the mixture into balls (slightly smaller than a golf ball).

Put butter in a frying pan and let it melt. Put in a bunch of meatballs (leaving enough space that they can be rolled around). To make sure that they are fried evenly you can shake them around (great job for kids if you have them, my brother loved doing this when he was growing up).

Put the cooked meatballs in a bowl or on a plate and then fry the next batch.

Some people don’t like the frying smell and my favourite food blogger Anne (who happens to be Swedish but bloggs in English) has a great recipe for making them in the oven.

rårörda lingon
Rårörda lingon  (Homemade lingonberry jam)
Ingredients:
1kg fresh lingon berries
7dl sugar

How to:
Put the berries in a bowl.

Slowly add the sugar while stirring using a wooden spoon.

Pour the finished jam into well cleaned cold jars. Keep in a cool dark place or freeze (if you freeze I would use plastic containers).

During the rest of the year we eat our meatballs with lingonberry jam cream sauce and boiled potatoes but not at Christmas when they are eaten with the rest of the Christmas food. If you can’t find fresh lingonberries you can use cranberries or IKEA sells lingonberry jam.

Head on over to Jo Lynne Valerie at Living and Writing with Passion for a taste of her Vino Marinara Sauce for pasta *and* a crustless 3-Cheese Spinach Quiche

GLBT Challenge 2010: Introductory Post

woolfbutton GLBT challenge
Amanda from The Zen Leaf and Jen from Multi-Genre Fan are hosting a very important and interesting challenge in 2010, the GLBT Challenge 2010. The challenge seeks to highlight GLBT literature.

The rules are fairly simple:
The basic idea of this challenge is to read books about GLBT topics and/or by GLBT authors.
The challenge runs year-round, and there will be three levels of participation:
  • Lambda Level: Read 4 books.
  • Pink Triangle Level: Read 8 books.
  • Rainbow Level: Read 12 or more books.
You don't need to choose your books right away, and they can change at any time. Overlaps with other challenges are fine.

I’m aiming for the Lambda Level but you never know, I might upgrade. I am one of those people who needs a list or nothing happens so here is my list (I do however reserve the right to change my mind):

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson. I read Nymeth’s review of this earlier this year and it sounded fantastic. It is a YA book about three girls. This will probably be an audio book.

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger. Another blog find. This time from Bart’s Bookshelf.  Another YA book about three friends and one year in their lives.

En Komikers Uppväxt by Jonas Gardell. This book is by Swedish author Jonas Gardell. Gardell is one of Sweden’s most GLBT writers. This book tells of twelve year old Juha Lindström. It has been called on of the funniest and saddest portrayals of childhood ever written. This is one of those books almost all Swedish school children read at some point.

Om Gud by Jonas Gardell. Same author as above. This book is a cross read with the World Religion Challenge.

Brokeback Mountain by Anne Proulx. I bought this book because I thought I was supposed to read it for a class in popular lit. Turns out we were supposed to watch the movie. Since I have it I figure I should read it.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Hogfather

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

“BUT THE HOGFATHER CAN CHANGE THINGS. LITTLE MIRACLES ALL OVER THE PLACE, WITH MANY A MERRY HO, HO, HO. TEACHING PEOPLE THE REAL MEANING OF HOWSWATCH, ALBERT.”*  (pg 232)

 

From Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

 

*For those who have not yet read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series I am not shouting. That is Death speaking.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Progressive Dinner Party: Appetizer and Drinks

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Welcome to my little home on the interwebbies. Today we are having the Appetizer and Drinks portion of the Progressive Dinner Party put together by Amy, Nicole and Julie. Thank you!

 I hope you enjoyed you Santa's Little Helpers over at My Round File

Stop by the Book Blogger Social Club to visit all the different foods and drinks during the week.

I am serving up a Swedish speciality: Glögg
Glögg 
It is a form of mulled wine. Although I am going to serve an alcohol free version for those of us who don’t drink:

Recipes
Base:
5 dl water (2.1 US cups)
2 pieces dried bitter orange peel
2 pieces of dried ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
15 cloves
2 tsp cardamom seeds

Add water and all spices to a pot. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture keeping the liquid.

For alcoholic drink:
Mix base with a bottle of wine (75cl) and 1 dl (0.4 US cups) of sugar in a pot. Warm up until sugar has melted but do not boil.

For non-alcoholic drink:
Mix base with 1/2 l  (2 US cups) Black Current Cordial (juice) and 2 dl (0.8 US cups) concentrated apple juice (or apple cider). Warm up the mixture but don’t let it boil.
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To Serve: Put a couple of blanched almonds and a tsp of raisins in each mug and pour the drink over. Enjoy with a gingersnap or three!


Glögg parties are one of the most common parties in Sweden in December. Most people probably don’t make their own though (well I don’t at least) as there are about two gazillion different pre-mixed versions on the market here. We tried one with chocolate and chili flavour this year. It was awesome!


If you haven't already stop by Dana's Scrap Therapy for some cheese dip (cheese is very good on gingersnaps by the way)