Tuesday, 31 May 2011

twenty-three.

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves (2009)

Sandy Wilson, one of the Shetland's policemen, pays a visit to his grandmother, only to find her shot outside her house. The Fiscal rules it as an accident, shot by one of Sandy's relatives who had been hunting rabbits. But Jimmy Perez is not too sure if it was an accident and starts looking into it. And then one of the archaeologists who has been working on a dig by the grandmother's house is found in the pit with her wrists slit. A suicide or a murder?

The murder investigation never seems to get anywhere, but that didn't worry me at all as I really got into the characters and the story. And I like the mix between archaeology and crime. It is a pity that it were my two favourite characters that were murdered.

I like how the books get better, I hope the fourth book, Blue Lightening will be as amazing as this one.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

twenty-two.

White Nights by Ann Cleeves (2008)

Shetland's famous painter, Bella Sinclair, has a new exhibition at her gallery in a small community. But few people attends the opening night, and then there's a stranger who breaks down in front of one of her paintings. When detective Jimmy Perez, who happens to be at the opening, asks the man about the breakdown, he claims that he has lost his memory. And then the man disappears, only to be found the morning after hung in a boat house.

Jimmy Perez (and his girlfriend, Fran) and the chief inspector, Taylor, who flies in from Inverness every time there's a murder on the islands, are the only recurring characters from the first book. In this book one gets to know Taylor, as he wasn't a narrative in the first book. I like that the detectives aren't as complex as they seem to be in many other modern books.

I liked this book, better than the previous one, not sure why though. Maybe because this book had not as many characters and narratives as the first one. And I was really surprised about who the murderer was and the plot behind the murders (yes, there's more than one). Again, the only thing that bothered me with the book is that the title of the book occurs too many times within. I don't need to be reminded a hundred times that the summer nights are too light in Shetland. But the language is definitely better in this one (or maybe I have gotten used to it).

And I really want to visit Shetland now.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

twenty-one.


Raven Black by Ann Cleeves (2006)

A young girl is found killed in Shetland and her face has been hacked by ravens. The islanders quickly points out the weird old man living by himself as the killer. They have always held him responsible for a child gone missing years ago.

I loved the characters in this story, and I also liked that it is a slow going story with a lot of narrators. You really get to know the island and some of its people, including the murderer. Yet I totally guessed wrong, so Ann Cleeves is as clever as Agatha Christie.

The only thing I didn't really enjoy was the language. Sometimes it was too simple and sometimes it was trying too hard. I also did not like all the mentioning of ravens in the book, I wonder how many times the word was used?

I have already started on the sequel, White Nights and so far I like it better.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

twenty.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)

Jane Eyre is an orphan who grows up with her unloving aunt and cousins. When she is ten she is sent away to a school where she spends the next eight years, both as a pupil and a student. Then she gets a job as a governess at Thornfield. There she meets the ugly, yet lovely Mr Rochester.

Against her will she falls in love and Jane is feeling a whole lot of emotions that she has never felt before. Although Thornfield is the happiest place Jane has lived, it also has evil.

Jane Eyre got me hooked! Why haven't I read it before? I think it was the label as a great classic and love story that scared me off. But the story is never dull, and the hints of something supernatural were more than enough to scare me. But what really amazed me was the language. Every sentence is perfect.

This was also the first book I have read on my Kindle. I have been subscribing to the Spectator and Time Magazine since I got it, but haven't bought many books as I prefer the paper. But I discovered that a lot of the classics are free, and I don't say no to free books.

Maybe I will give Jane Austen a chance now?

Friday, 6 May 2011

nineteen.

A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth (2009)


"After the van had been loaded and sent on its way I took off all my clothes and kicked the sofa I was about to abandon. Not just a little kick either. I really belted it.
That bloody sofa! Hairy, brownly, uncomfortable, smelling of damp: the pile on the armrests was clogged flat, shiny with filth Naked, my twenties nearly gone, and all I could think to do with myself was kick the settee."
Annie is starting a new life in a new neighbourhood. She is in her late twenties and morbidly obese, and has just ended her marriage to Will. She is all set to be on the best of terms with her new neighbours, and reads plenty of self-improvement books in order to fulfil her dreams. She also falls for her next-door neighbour, Neil, and is convinced he is the one who saved her when she was in a bit of trouble a while back. The only problem is his much younger and prettier girlfriend, Lucy, who hates Annie.

Annie got all my sympathy in the beginning, then slowly I realised that she was more than just a bit mad. But the madness uncovers in pieces, as it's Annie's narrative written as a file, and it's the remarks from her neighbours that make it plain that Annie is not all right. And then both the nightmares from Annie's past and present unfold.

Great book!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

eighteen.

Få meg på, for faen by Olaug Nilssen (2005)


Maria, the oldest daughter of Sebjørn, is often daydreaming of becoming famous while cleaning the university early in the morning in Bergen. Meanwhile, Alma, a 15 year old virgin back in Maria's home town, spends all her time thinking about sex. Her fantasies include several men in her life, the second-oldest daughter of Sebjørn, various utensils and a sink. She constantly argues with her mother and steals alcohol from her. And then there's the wife of Sebjørn, a housewife with 8 daughters. She is tired of her boring and slave-like life so she decides to go to Oslo and demonstrate for the cause of turnips.

This book is mainly know for its sex-scenes, although that is a small part of the book. It is definitely fun to read about Alma's frustrations, but it wasn't as shocking as I thought it would be. My favourite character and part of the book is the unnamed wife of Sebjørn.

As far as I can see, this book has not been translated into any other languages. But a film based on the book will be out this year. It has already received a prize for best screenplay at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York recently and has been giving great reviews. I can't wait to see it.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

seventeen.

Buddenbrooks: the Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann (1901)

Consul Buddenbrooks and his family of five, plus various servants live the good life in a great house. The book follows the children from early age to death.

I started this book about two months ago, and then with 200 pages to go, I accidentally left it on a plane. I found a cheap copy and started reading it again a week ago.

It took me a long time to get into the story, and I usually could only read a couple of pages before my mind started to wander. Too many petty details. And too many names. It got a lot harder when I picked it up again, I had lost all interest in the family and the only thing that kept me going was the thought that when I finished it, I could cross it off a couple of my lists. It is bad when you are in need of some external motivation to finish a book.

So what is wrong with Buddenbrooks? There is not enough drama. My favourite part of the novel was the failing marriages of Tony, but they never got anywhere. And the other family members never got my full attention. A lot of the events explained in great detail would make great short-stories, like Hanno's school day at the age of 15. Why put something so irrelevant so close to the end?

And now I dread picking up the other classics and discover that they are the same.

(I have read many great reviews of this book, so I guess it's just me.)

ps. This is also one of the ugliest book covers I have seen.

Monday, 2 May 2011

what a week in new york gave me.

Now I'm officially out of space. But for the first time ever, I brought home more clothes than books. The first time I went into the Strand, a store with 18 fucking miles with books, I was completely bookstrucked and came out with none. The second time, I was prepared with a long list of what to get. I really liked the way they mixed old and new books, found the exact copy of Buddenbrooks which I lost on a plane a month ago.


The view from our hotel room was pretty magnificent. If you want somewhere cheap to stay and don't mind sharing a bathroom with the entire floor, I recommend Hotel 31.

I spent more time looking up instead of watching my step.

(and this is just an excuse to show off some of the far to few pictures I took and to brag about my superawesome trip.)

My favourite book about New York.

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