Sunday, 15 November 2015

den norske bokhøsten, del to.

Nok en runde med miniomtale av norske bøker. Lesingen er fortsatt i rute, men skrivinga går det tregt med. Har endelig funnet gull! Det er nå iallefall 3 bøker som er gode nominasjonskandidater til bokbloggerprisen. Planen er å få lest noen til før året er omme. Og hadde jeg bare vært like flink til å bli ferdig med Moby Dick, A Brief History of 7 Killings og Jazz, så hadde leselivet vært en lek...

Djevelens giftering av Vidar Sundstøl (2015)
Tags: crime and mystery


Max Fjellanger har dratt hjem til Norge for å gå i begravelsen til en tidligere politikollega i Telemark. De hadde jobbet sammen med en forsvinningssak som fremdeles er uoppklart, men så rystende at begge to valgte å slutte i jobben. Hvorfor hadde kollegaen vendt tilbake til åstedet så mange år senere? Max Fjellanger tviler på at kollegaens dødsfall er naturlig som politiet hevder og starter sin egen etterforskning.

Jeg var en av dem som leste Minnesotatrilogien med hjertet i halsen, så jeg gledet meg veldig til ny krim fra Sundstøl. Og den engasjerte og fikk med meg, helt til det nærmet seg slutten. Da gikk det altfor fort i svingene og det var for mange løse tråder til at jeg fant det troverdig. Og det ritualet da... sukk. Men jeg kan se for meg Max og Tirill som privatetterforskere i USA.

Ingrid Winters makeløse mismot av Janne S. Drangsholt (2015)
Tags: family and self, war and travel, books that made me laugh


Ingrid Winter har det ikke lett. Hun har budt over evne på et hus, kollegaene skylder på henne når det blir oppvigleri på instituttet og hverdagen er ikke lett. Og på toppen av alt så skal hun til St. Petersburg for å overbevise russerne om at de bør samarbeide med universitetet.

Morsom og lettlest bok som fikk meg til å savne St. Petersburg og universitetslivet. Ingrid blir kanskje litt vel nevrotisk for min del, og særlig det som skjer på instituttet er litt for absurd. Og dessverre så er boka fort glemt. Men les den så absolutt hvis du har behov for noen som takler hverdagen verre enn deg!

Fortellingen om øde av Idag Hegazi Høyer (2015)
Tags: family and self, explorers/adventures, crime and mystery, war and travel

Carlo er lei av mennesker og det siviliserte samfunn. Han stikker til Galapagos hvor han blir eneboer. Men han får ikke være alene lenge for hans beretninger om øya fascinerer i Europa, og et ungt ektepar flytter til øya, etterfulgt av en gal baronesse og hennes harem.  Boka er basert på en sann historie.

Jeg var en av de som frydet seg når Ida Hegazi Høyer fortalte om den nye boka si på bbp14, så forventningene var høye. Og jeg koste meg, helt til jeg nærmet meg slutten. Da virket den uferdig og at hele handlingen gikk på hurtigspoling. Og det er synd, for jeg heier på Ida. Det jeg liker best med romanene hennes er språket. Jeg merket at når jeg leste denne så begynte jeg å tenke på samme måte som romanen er skrevet (ja, jeg er litt merkelig).

Lev vel, alle av Hilde K. Kvalvaag (2015)
Tags: family and self, war and travel, books you should read

Gunhild tar med seg den 16 år gamle sønnen sin til Vancouver Island på sommerferie. Det var hit oldefaren dro for å tjene penger mens kona og seks barn ble igjen i Norge. Han kom aldri tilbake og Gunhild vil gjerne finne ut hvorfor. Hennes sønn, Knut, har slutta på skolen etter en voldsepisode og hun håper turen til Canada får han på rett spor igjen.

Jess! Endelig en bok hvor jeg ble helt revet med. Den traff meg midt i alle følelsene og ga meg mye å tenke på. Det hjalp kanskje at den er lagt til en av favorittstedene mine og at den handler om slektsforskning (akkurat nå leser jeg flere kirkebøker enn vanlige bøker). Og så er det språket da. Nydelig. Håper flere for øynene opp for denne for det fortjener Kvalvaag.

Marlens historie (I morgen er alt mørkt #2) av Sigbjørn Mostue (2015)
Tags: young adult fiction, it's the end of the world as we know it, family and self, books you should read

Oppfølger til Brages historie. Les den først! Jeg skal ikke si noe om innholdet unntatt at denne ikke begynner der Brages historie slutter, men er en parallellhistorie fra Marlens synspunkt. Tror jeg hadde mer hjertet i halsen når jeg leste denne, og det har nok noe med det som dessverre ofte skjer med kvinner når katastrofer inntreffer. Og det er jeg kjempeglad for at Sigbjørn Mostue fokuserer på, for det syns jeg har manglet i mange andre post-apokalyptiske bøker. Når kommer bok 3??



Wednesday, 30 September 2015

baby, now we've got bad blood.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (2015)
 
Mare Barrow (or Bone Marrow as my brain called her) is a common Red girl biding her days until she has to enlist, just like her brothers had to. She lives in a society where the colour of your blood determines what kind of life you will have. Silver means that you have some sort of superpower and you are the ruling class. Red means that you have no power and are worthless.

Mare is helping out her family as she can, mainly by being a pickpocket. Then one day she steals from the wrong person, but instead of being punished, she is offered a job as a servant for the Silvers as they will find the new queen. Then she suddenly stumbles and falls over the banister, but instead of dying, she survives and it's discovered that she beholds a superpower.

How will the society react to the fact that a common Red girl has superpowers? And who is she?

The kids are currently reading the Hunger Games and I decided not to read it for the third time, but instead to read some of the ya novels in my pile. I told them that I expected Red Queen to be quite similar to the Hunger Games, and in some ways I was correct and in others very wrong. I really liked the idea of the superpowers despite it being one of those things that I usually find boring. It was a good read even if some things were totally predictable. I'm eagerly waiting for the sequel! 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

den norske bokhøsten, del en.

Endelig har jeg knekt hvordan-lese-masse-koden! Les på norsk. Det tar jo bare et par timer å komme igjennom ei norsk bok i motsetning til de på engelsk. (Og det er nettopp grunnen til at jeg leser mest på engelsk - jeg liker å dvele med bøker. )Det bør jo gå som en lek å lese mange norske 2015 bøker sånn at jeg har noen å nominere til bokbloggprisen i januar. Så langt har jeg ikke kommet over noen bøker som har skapt ellevill begeistring, men høsten er enda ung. Her er de fem første norske bøkene jeg har lest i høst.

I morgen er alt mørkt av Sigbjørn Mostue (2014)
Tags: young adult fiction, it's the end of the world as we know it, family and self,



En mystisk pandemi sprer om seg. De som er smittet blir nærmest ustoppelige drapsmaskiner som får det moderne samfunnet til å kollapse. Brage og vennene hans følger utviklingen på nettet mens pandemien nærmer seg Norge. Foreldrene legger en plan om hva de skal gjøre hvis den kommer hit. Og hit kommer den så absolutt. Kommer familien seg unna?

Et utdrag fra boka er den første i årets txt-samling for ungdomsskolen. Etter å ha lest utdraget så visste jeg at jeg bare måtte lese boka, og det var gjort på to timer en fredagskveld. Kjempespennende! Selvsagt er det noen ting man kan plukke på, men det legger man ikke så mye merke til når man har hjertet i halsen og håper på det beste. Og selvsagt slutter den på det mest spennende, så da er det bare å vente på oppfølgeren.

Bienes historie av Maja Lunde (2015)
 Tags: it's the end of the world as we know it, family and self, historical novels, state of the nation,

Vi følger tre historier parallelt; William i England 1852, George i USA 2007 og Tao i framtidsKina. William er en mislykket og miserabel biolog som plutselig interesser seg for bikuber. George er en småskalabirøkter som drømmer stort. Tao lever i en framtid hvor biene er forsvunnet og hvor menneskene må pollinere for å skaffe mat.

Jeg hadde hørt mye bra om boka før jeg leste den og jeg kjente at jeg ble skuffet. Det som var best var utvilsomt historien om Tao, og det hadde kanskje vært nok å fokusert på hennes historie og en framtid uten bier. Historiene om William og George blir platte i sammenligning. Særlig manglet det nok beskrivelser til at man følte at man var i England i 1852 og USA i 2007. Også var det de språklige virkemidlene som slo helt feil til i min hjerne; hvorfor skulle historien om George skrives i a-endelser? For å få fram at han var en enkel bonde? Det ble etterhvert et irritasjonsmoment. Helt til slutt: litt for mange løse tråder som blir nøstet sammen litt for enkelt mot slutten.

Mannen som gikk gjennom lydmuren av Arne Svingen (2015)
Tags: sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, family and self,

 Birger er en mann som elsker musikk og lever på ferdigpizza og øl. Hans største problem er hans nabo, Løding, som stadig banker på for å klage på at han spiller musikk altfor høyt. Det er inntil hans ukjente tenåringssønn banker på døra.

Underholdende bok men det er litt vel mye fokus på musikk. Jeg var fullstendig med, og kjente meg igjen i nabokonflikten (men jeg er Løding, og naboen har ikke noe som ligner bra musikksmak). Men dessverre så blir det på et punkt for urealistisk (roadtrippen), og da ramler jeg av lasset. Kanskje det hadde vært nok med bare en ukjent tenåringssønn?

Det er mitt hav av Caroline Kaspara Palonen (2015)
Tags: family and self 

Beatrice er nordfra, men studerer i en by sørpå hvor hun skriver en oppgave om et maleri. En dag blir hun med ei venninne som støttekontakt da hun skal møte en hun har møtt på det skumle internettet. Venninnen er ikke interessert, men det er Beatrice. Flere år senere så har hun og gutten hun møtte, Viggo, flyttet tilbake til hjemstedet hennes.

Jeg likte den delen om studentlivet, men så begynte jeg å miste interessen i takt med at Beatrice mister fatningen. Boka er utvilsomt vakkert skrevet, så jeg vet ikke helt hva det var som gjorde at jeg mistet interessen. Er det fordi at jeg har lest for mange lignende bøker? Eller er det mangelen på et tydelig plott som driver romanen framover? Det er uansett veldig synd siden Palonen er en jeg har hørt mange lovord om og som jeg trodde jeg virkelig ville like.

Norsk sokkel av Heidi Linde (2015)
Tags: family and self, state of the nation

HverdagsNorge med sine store og små utfordringer portrettert gjennom en utvidet familie med utdrag fra norsk lov som introduksjon til hvert kapittel.

Denne er den norske boka som har imponert mest så langt i høst. Den er engasjerende og jeg lurer fryktelig på hvordan det går med familien. Det eneste jeg savner er en familiefest hvor alle deltar, tror det hadde blitt den perfekte slutten. Det er en skam å si at jeg kjøpte Nu jävlar! og Agnes i senga til meg selv i 30årsgave og har fortsatt ikke fått lest dem. Kanskje snart?  

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

books of summer 2015.

I have had an unusual good reading summer. I read nine books in July, and two on my four day long Glaswegian holiday. I had planned to write a post for each book, but I have been struggling with one post for weeks; so I'm going to sum up my summer reading quickly, which is somewhat a shame as some of these books has deserved a post of its own. Oh well.

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin (2012)
Tags: young adult fiction, usa, queer, love, state of the nation, historical novels,

What is it about: A young girl spends the summer at a lake resort in Minnesota to escape a possible polio outbreak and her father's ptsd. Away from her mother's watchful eyes she is able to do birdwatching the way she wants, and then she finds love - forbidden love.

What's the verdict:  As a book for teenagers, it's probably good. For me, it was either too many things put into one book or not detailed enough. And all the birdlike observation became too much.

Alamut by Vladimir Bartol (1936)
 Tags: slovenia, historical novels, 1001 books, war and travel, not impressed, state of the nation,

What is it about: Sayyiduna is the religious leader for the Ismailis in the fortress of Alamut. In order to make his soldiers obey him, he decides to give them a taste of paradise with the help of drugs and a garden filled with beautiful girls, food and drinks.

What's the verdict: I was really into the book for the first few chapter, then it downhill from there. Too much religious philosophy for my liking. Maybe I would have paid more attention if I had known that Alamut and Sayyiduna were real.  I think I'll blame the reader and not the book.

the Crossing (1994) and Cities of the Plain (1996) by Cormac McCarthy
 Tags: usa, war and travel, state of the nation, books you should read

What is it about: The second and third books in the Border trilogy. Cowboys and horses crossing the Mexican border in the early 1940s.

What's the verdict: As in all previous McCarthy books I've read, violence is ever present and I always feel covered in at least one layer of dirt while I read his novels. The Border trilogy is a great read.


Morvern Callar by Alan Warner (1995)
 Tags: uk, sex drugs and rock'nroll, books you should read, war and travel, family and self, crime and mystery, books into films, 1001 books

What is it about: When Morvern comes home from work and finds her boyfriend dead on the floor, what does she do? Call the police? Nope, she goes out, gets drunk and have a threesome (possible a foursome).

What's the verdict: I loved it! Morvern is a real quirky character and although her actions aren't really explained, it is interesting to follow her around in the small Scottish village and on crazy package holidays. The only thing I really didn't really like was the ending, so I was happy to discover that there's a sequel, which has of course entered my wish list.

the Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota (2015)
Tags: man booker prize, uk, war and travel, family and self, books you should read, state of the nation

What is it about: Illegal and legal Sikh immigrants to United Kingdom. The reasons why they decided to leave India and how they make a living in the UK.

What's the verdict: Another great novel set in India. If you like Indian writers, this is right up your ally. And the topic is really important right now. Another author I'm glad to have discovered.

Summer's over and I'm glad I got to read as much as I did, but I'm still 3 books behind schedule on my 50 books a year challenge at Goodreads.  Right now I'm reading 3 heavy books at the same time (Moby Dick, A Brief History of Seven Killings and Jazz) and it feels like I'll never finish any of them. Still I don't want to give up on them as they are all good, they are just heavy and slow. I guess I have to be patient and take the time.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

the saddest book I ever read.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (2015)

  “They all—Malcolm with his houses, Willem with his girlfriends, JB with his paints, he with his razors—sought comfort, something that was theirs alone, something to hold off the terrifying largeness, the impossibility, of the world, of the relentlessness of its minutes, its hours, its days.” 

Four young men became friends at college and then move to New York to pursuit different careers, but staying friends. While JB, Malcolm and Willem are sharing everything about their past and present lives, dreams and failures, Jude is a closed book. They know very little of Jude's childhood and inner life, the only things they know are the things they are able to witness themselves.

Jude was left in the trash as a baby, picked up by a monastery where he was punished for every little thing. And then sexually abused. Things go from bad to much worse as one of the brothers runs off with him. A couple of years later he barely survives something which he himself describes as a car accident to his friends, and his body is severely damaged after it. Once he starts college, things really improve, but yet he feels the need to punish himself almost every night.

 This book is incredibly sad. I cried, cried and cried. And despite the descriptions of all the terrible things Jude went through I couldn't put it down. Luckily, it's not all bad, it's really about the strength of friendship and love. And that's what makes it so beautiful. It is definitely the best book I have read in years, and it's a long time since I have been so involved in a book. I had to keep reminding myself that it's just fiction, and not real. I'm hoping that it will win this year's Man Booker Prize.

(So much unsaid about this book, so many emotions running wild.)

 “You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.” 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

performing Shakespeare at the end of the world.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

 A pandemic has wiped out most of the world's population and has left the towns and cities desolate. The Traveling Symphony is a troupe of performers travelling through a vast area around the Great Lakes. Kirsten was a child actress in a production of King Lear in Toronto when the pandemic broke out, but doesn't remember much of the years before she found the Traveling Symphony. But what she does remember, is that an actor, Arthur Leander, died on stage that last night, and ever since she has been obsessed with him; and searches empty houses for magazines and other memorabilia. 

The post-apocalyptic world is a dangerous place, and the town St. Deborah by the Water has really changed since the last time they were in town. A Prophet has taken over and banished all non-believers. When they leave the town, they discover that a young girl has sneaked on board, and they find themselves in danger as the villagers are trying to get the girl back as she is to be married to the Prophet.

In addition to follow the Traveling Symphony, the book also has flashbacks to the world before the pandemic, and it especially focuses on Arthur and his wife, Miranda, but also on the man who tried to save Arthur on the night he died. I think the most interesting part is the difference between the now and the then, and how quickly everything we are used to just vanished. I had a burning question all through the book and I'm glad it was answered at the end and that it was the answer I was hoping for (and no, I won't tell you what it is as it sort of spoil things). The only person I would love to get to know better is the Prophet, what happened in between his childhood and becoming the Prophet?  It is a really interesting read, perfect for long sleepless summer nights.

Friday, 10 July 2015

silent spring.

Or 8 7 6 books behind schedule as Goodreads keeps informing me. In other words, I haven't read at all this spring/ early summer. But now I have endless time (or about 7 weeks a month) to do some serious reading. I was smart and planned ahead and used my mom's address when doing some serious book shopping. Not that this house is already full of unread books. Hopefully I'll read most of them before heading south again.

I finally got around to finish Gösta Berling's Saga by Selma Lagerlöf (1891) in the middle of May. It took months to read it, mainly because I kept it by my bed. The book is about a handful inhabitants in a small Swedish town, and mainly about a priest turned a poor drunkard turned a cavalier, Gösta Berling. It can be read as a collection of short stories, as the chapters have little to do with each other, but are all linked to the small town. It was confusing because of all the characters and although I enjoyed the prose, I never got into it. And it's a shame because I had high expectations for this book, mainly because of Haruhi's fangirling and the fact that Lagerlöf is a Nobel Prize winner. Oh well.


 I spent the beginning of the summer holidays rereading the Hobbit (1937) and the Lord of the Rings (1954-55) trilogy as I needed something familiar to get my reading started again after a long break. I used to read these books annually in my teens until the first film came out in 2001. I also reread them in 2009. I have always favoured the Hobbit, but this time I couldn't quite get involved in the story, and that was really annoying. I don't know why, but it could be that I was still stressed after the end of another school year, or that I simply have grown too old for the Hobbit.  

LOTR has definitely grown on me, I always used to find it too detailed, but this time I couldn't get enough. I swear I must have screamed Gondor! and Gandalf! in my sleep. I never wanted it to end, and I had to take a long break before I read the final chapters, although the battle of the Shire is one of my favourite parts. I still haven't decided who's my favourite character.

What's next on my reading list? I started Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel yesterday, and I love it. I'm forever reading the Crossing by Cormac McCarthy and Alamut by Vladimir Bartol, hopefully finishing them before the summer is up. I gave Villette by Charlotte Brontë the boot yesterday as too much of the important stuff is in French and je ne parle pas francois.

Friday, 8 May 2015

the dragon's mist.

the Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (2015)

 “Yet are you so certain, good mistress, you wish to be free of this mist? Is it not better some things remain hidden from our minds?"
"It may be for some, father, but not for us. Axl and I wish to have again the happy moments we shared together. To be robbed of them is as if a thief came in the night and took what's most precious from us."
"Yet the mist covers all memories, the bad as well as the good. Isn't that so, mistress?"
"We'll have the bad ones come back too, even if they make us weep or shake with anger. For isn't it the life we've shared?” 


Beatrice and Axl set out to visit their son in a neighbouring village.  The way to the village is dangerous as it is filled with ogres, bandits and other foul creatures. They spend a night in a Saxon village which is on guard as some villagers have just been attacked by ogres. When they are leaving, they're asked to take a young boy, Edwin, with them as he has been bitten by a strange creature and the villagers banish him. A warrior, Wistan, also follows them to ensure that they will be safe.

Axl has lately been concerned about that they seem to have forgotten most of their lives. Whilst they are travelling he learns that the memory losses are caused by the shedragon's breath which is also the reason for the misty valleys. He also learns that both Wistan and Lord Gawain, who they also meet, have been given the roles as dragonslayers. And after a lot of twists and turns, Beatrice and Axl find themselves at the dragon's lair.

The book is certainly different from what I have been reading lately, and it's refreshing. It has the perfect amount of fantasy for me, which means just a dash, and I love books about travelling. It was certainly an unexpected book from Ishiguro. I'm also curious about whether it will be nominated to any prizes this year. I certainly hope so, but I know that there are many books coming out this year by excellent authors like Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Franzen, Louis de Bernières and more, so it will be a tough competition.   

Sunday, 26 April 2015

søstre på godt og vondt.


 Jenny og Sol er søstre. Etter morens tragiske død, så overtar Jenny huset, og tar seg av sin blinde bestefar. Storesøster Sol er på kjøret, og kommer bare innom når hun er blakk og trenger et sted å kræsje.

Historien gir også tilbakeblikk på barndommen deres, med særlig fokus på når det begynner å gå galt for Sol. Boka er trist som faen, og det tristeste av alt er vel at Jenny ikke har noe liv; hun forsøker å studere, men må hele tiden passe på Sol og bestefaren. Språket i boka er nydelig og lyrisk. Selv om det tok ei stund å lese den, så ble den dessverre fort glemt. Det er også noe annet som skurrer i historien, men jeg kan ikke helt sette fingeren på hva det er. 

Boka er nominert til Bokbloggerprisen 2014. Nå gjelder det bare å få lest Finny ly av Aina Basso, og så finne ut hvilken jeg skal stemme på.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

the cabin in the woods.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (2015)

“'Dates only make us aware of how numbered our days are, how much closer to death we are for each one we cross off. From now on, Punzel, we're going to live by the sun and the seasons.' He picked me up and spun me around, laughing.'Our days will be endless.'” 

Peggy is 8 when her father takes her from her home in London to a remote cabin in Germany. He tells her that the rest of the world is destroyed and that they are the only ones left. They barely make it through the first hard winter, and Punzel, as she now calls herself, has to survive on roots and insects. She spends 8 years in the cottage before going back to London.

I absolutely loved the idea of this book, but the way the plot was structured ruined it for me. I wish that it would have been chronologically instead of flashbacks, because then it would have been more exciting. When you already know in the beginning of the book that she makes it back after eight years, it's not really exciting.

I do understand that it is meant to be more about the mental aspect of being kidnapped and brainwashed than a thriller, but it didn't really work for me. And the real shocker in the book came way too late to make a real impact on me. But yet, I still think of Peggy and that awful cabin.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Heathcliff, it's me, Cathy. Come home. I'm so cold! Let me in-a-your window.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)


Heathcliff is an orphan who is adopted by the man who owns Wuthering Heights. Here he meets Catherine, who will become the love of his life, but she chose the neighbour, Edgar Linton. And then dies after giving birth to a girl, Cathy. Heathcliff ends up marrying, Edgar's sister, Isabella, as a revenge on both Catherine and Edgar. He is not in love with Isabella, and she suffers so much that she eventually runs off to London and gives birth to a son there, and names him Linton. When Isabella dies, Linton is sent to live with Heathcliff, and he has a scheme for his sickly son.

I first read Wuthering Heights over 10 years ago, and I loved it, but I couldn't really remember what it was about. And then last year, when I read A True Novel by Minae Mizumura (which is based on Wuthering Heights), I wanted to reread it. And I'm sort of let down, and I think I can blame Mizumura for that, as she made the modern Japanese version way better than the original.
That doesn't necessary mean that Wuthering Heights isn't good, because it is. I especially liked the beginning, but as the story continues it just too detailed so I lost interest, and then it got better towards the end again.  

Read them both is my advice.

Friday, 3 April 2015

the year before the storm.

1913 by Florian Illies (2012)
the Year Before the Storm
 
1913; The year before the Great War. Hitler, Stalin and Tito are once at the same time in Austria. Franz Kafka is hopelessly in love and writes countless letters to his object of desire. Freud and Jung argue about psychology while the stunning Alma runs from artist to artist. Do they have any idea of what is coming? Written in monthly instalments, we follow a bunch of famous people through 1913.

The notes are interesting, funny and thought-provoking.  Especially those which involve things that are to come, like a Leonardo DiCaprio reference when talking about Titanic. The book is also interesting because we know what will happen. But I didn't really get to truly enjoy it as I had no idea who most of the characters are. Although I understand the point of just following the characters through the year, I wish there would be some sort of summary or conclusion. Read it if you're interested in cultural history, drop it if you're not.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

february/march.

Another short summary of the latest books I have read. Two very good ones, one so-so, and one that disappointed despite having the prettiest name and cover. An interesting note is that the two débutantes chose to write in English, and not their native tongues. And then I might have a new author amongst my favourites.

7. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford (2004)
Tags: non-fiction, state of the nation, war and travel, biography, usa

 "The Mongols made no technological breakthroughs, founded no new religions, wrote few books or dramas, and gave the world no new crops or methods of agriculture. Their own craftsmen could not weave cloth, cast metal, make pottery, or even bake bread. They manufactured neither porcelain nor pottery, painted no pictures, and built no buildings. Yet, as their army conquered culture after culture, they collected and passed all of these skills from one civilization to the next."

Genghis Khan (1162-1227) was the man who united the Mongols and then created an enormous empire. This book gives a thorough account of his life and what happened to the empire after his death. Definitely entertaining and I learnt a lot (like that the empire crumbled as the black plague spread). Definitely a good pick if you want to learn more about the Mongols. I read this in the beginning of February as a part of Ingalill's biography reading circle where that month's topic was men with moustaches.

8. Drop City by T. Coraghessan Boyle (2003)
 Tags: books you should read, sex drugs and rock'n'roll, war and travel, 1001 books, books about the arctic, usa

A community of hippies are forced to leave their property in California after too many encounters with the police. Where can no one bother them? Alaska. So they pack everything they own, including goats, into an old bus and set off. Meanwhile, in Alaska, Sess Harder has lived alone for years running a trap line by a remote river, but now he's getting hitched. How will they get along with hippies as neighbours?

I loved this book from the first page and I never wanted it to end. It's hilarious, sad and violent. I think I have discovered a new dirty old man to add to my favourites, and I'm thrilled that he has written so many books to discover.

9. Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck (2014)
 Tags: crime and mystery, sweden, historical novels, books about the arctic, state of the nation, supernatural

‘Wolf winter,’ she said, her voice small. ‘I wanted to ask about it. You know, what it is.’
He was silent for a long time. ‘It’s the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal,’ he said. ‘Mortal and alone.’ 


 Swedish Lappland, 1717. A family has just moved to Blackåsen from Finland. Then one day when the girls are out looking after the animals, they find a dead man. It looks like an animal has torn him up, and people speaks of the devil, but Maija is convinced that this is done by a human. But who?

I liked the book for the story, the setting and the characters. The writing is also good. But there are too many loose ends towards the end of the book, so I was left with too many questions at the end to really enjoy it. 
 

10. Wildalone by Krassi Zourkava (2015)
Tags: family and self, crime and mystery, supernatural, bulgaria, not impressed, sex drugs and rock'n'roll

Thea is a talented Bulgarian pianist who has just started at Princeton, just like her sister did 15 years earlier. But her sister never graduated, as she died at Princeton, and then her body was stolen from the funeral home and hasn't been found. Thea loves Princeton, and she quickly meet the man of her dreams, but there is an air of mystery surrounding him.

This book was just too much. I got 50 shades of grey vibes from the Thea's love interest and the mix of modern life and ancient Greek myths was exciting until the point when it just got too much. I had to read the end several times, and I still don't get it. It was also too easy to guess what was going to happen. And apparently this is the first book in a saga... No, just no. 

Now, if only I can finish Gösta Berling's Saga before Easter... It's good, but I can only handle it in small doses.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

murderess?

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (1996)

Grace Marks was just 16 in 1843 when she was first sentenced to death, then life for the murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear and a housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. James McDermott, who also worked on the estate, was hanged for the murders. Grace is placed in an asylum, where she does work for the family who runs it. There she is having conversations with a young doctor, Simon Jordan, who wants to examine her psyche.  Did Grace really partake in the murders?

Based on real events, Atwood has given life to Grace and painted a picture of her life before and in the asylum. And it is definitely interesting, I enjoyed the story and all the details. There are so many fascinating minor characters like Jeremiah the Peddler, Jordan's landlady and her servant. I also got really interested in Susanna Moodie, so I need to read her account of migrating to Canada.

Despite being so good, it took two months to read this one. I have no idea why. Maybe it was because the book is so rich in details and prose. Atwood is still my favourite to win the Nobel prize and I'm glad I still have many books yet to read by her.

I'm left with some questions after finishing the book. Was she really guilty or not? If you have read it, what do you think?  And what really happened after she finally was released from the asylum? There's a historic mystery waiting to be solved.

This was December's read in Line's 1001 books reading circle. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

psycho bitch.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

Nick Dunne comes home on the day of his 5th anniversary to find the door wide open, the living room in disarray and no trace of his wife, Amy.  What has happened to her? The police quickly find evidence of foul play, and they also react to Nick's bizarre behaviour. Would you be smiling if your wife was missing?

Nick is desperate to prove that he is innocent, but every time he uncovers a new clue, it all leads back to him. In between Nick's narratives there are diary entries from Amy from the time they first met and until things started to fall apart. And then BOOM! Plot twist.

The plot twist is what I liked best about the book, and the ending is certainly the worst. So... pointless? I had to see the film right away in case they had done something better concerning the ending, but no. I really enjoyed the film, but the book is perhaps slightly better as you get more insight and it's interesting to read the diary. I'm also disappointed that they cut off the part with that crazy stalker chic from the film.  Another thing that really irked me about the book was the overuse of fucking bitch . I did a search on my Kindle, and bitch has been used 82 and fucking 99 times. I mean, I get it, but some variation? Please. But, nevertheless, nothing is better than reading a fast-paced mystery when you're in need of a little escapism, and I have the two previous novels of Flynn saved on my Kindle for a rainy day.

“I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen first hand that I didn't immediately reference to amp is of a TV show. You know the awful singsong the blasé: Seeeen it. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

in the midnight hour she cried more, more, more.

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)

 “Who what am I? My answer: I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each ‘I’, every one of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you’ll have to swallow the world.”

Saleem Sinai is born at the strike of midnight when India gained its independence, and then he is switched at birth. He discovers that he has a superpower, telepathy. He can communicate with the other children with superpowers whom are born in the midnight hour of India's independence. Saleem's life is influenced by the events that shape India's history.

The book is high up on the list of the most difficult books I have read. I spent nearly three months on the 650 pages, and many pages had to be read over and over so I could decipher some meaning from it. But it was definitely worth it! There's a myriad of characters, a large dose of magic realism and you will learn a lot about the history of India.

 It's one of those books which are impossible to explain what it is about and why it is so mesmerising. I guess you have to read it yourself to discover what's so great about it. I'm actually proud of myself for finally completing a Rushdie. I tried years ago to read the Satanic Verses, but I was way too young. I still don't think I'm ready for that one yet, but I also have more to choose from on my shelves (and a new one to be published this year).

This was the November read(!) in Line's 1001 books reading circle.
 “I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I'm gone which would not have happened if I had not come.”

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Another Austen under my belt.

Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818)

“They had no conversation together, no intercourse but what the commonest civility required. Once so much to each other! Now nothing! There had been a time, when of all the large party now filling the drawing-room at Uppercross, they would have found it most difficult to cease to speak to one another. With the exception, perhaps, of Admiral and Mrs. Croft, who seemed particularly attached and happy, (Anne could allow no other exception even among the married couples) there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.” 

Anne is the oldest of the Elliot sisters, 27 and unmarried. Due to money problems, the Elliots' beloved property has to be let as they can't afford to live there any more, and they will move to a much smaller apartment in Bath. It is an admiral and his wife, the Crofts who are the new tenants at Kellynch Hall, the Elliots' estate. It turns out that Mrs Croft is the sister of captain Wentworth, whom Anne used to be engaged to. And they are bound to meet sooner or later. How will Anne react? And will she be forever alone?

As all the Austen novels I have read, it is too long in the beginning and then something unexpected happens and I just can't get enough. Persuasion turned out to be one of the best I have read by Austen so far and Anne should be all unmarried women's heroine. I like how I always guess who ends up with who when I read Austen.

Why do I like Austen? It is definitely because of the drama and intrigues when it comes to the matters of the heart. She writes so clearly and it is easy to picture the characters and early 19th century English countryside. And the language, of course. There are so many quotable sentences and passages, probably for every aspect of life and emotions. And that is why Austen is still so readable two centuries later. I'm glad I still have Sense and Sensability, Emma and Lady Susan to look forward to.

Persuasion was the first book in Line's 1001 books reading circle in 2015.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

the last book I read in 2014

the Silkworm by J.K. Rowling (2014)
(Cormoran Strike  #2 , as Robert Galbraith)


Owen Quine, the author of one best selling novel and a lot of mediocre ones,  has disappeared. And his wife asks Cormoran to find him. Quine's just finished a new novel which makes fun of a lot of people in the publishing industry. Could that be a motive for his disappearance? And then Cormoran finds Quine's body. The body is arranged the exact way as Quine's described his own death in the unpublished novel.

Rowling, as always, is spot on with her characters and descriptions. And the plot was never boring either. I was racing the clock to finish this on New Year's Eve as I desperately had to read 50 books before the year was up. It was the perfect book for the job, but I'm afraid I don't remember much of the plot afterwards, although the characters are still very vivid nearly three weeks after. I really like Cormoran and his secretary, Robin, and I hope Rowling continues writing about them. But I'd rather have more of Harry Potter's universe and books like the Casual Vacancy, of course. 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

norsk på norsk, del to.

Siste innspurt for norsklesinga i 2014 + at jeg rakk to før nomineringa til Bokbloggerprisen gikk ut på begynnelsen av året.. Er overrasket over hvor mange bøker det ble (til meg å være). Her kommer det et samleinnlegg der to av bøkene ikke levde opp til forventet nivå, og tre gjorde det. 

47. På terrassen i mørket av Hanne Ørstavik (2014)
Tags: sex drugs and rock'n'roll, family and self, war and travel, love, supernatural

Paula har flyktet til Malaga etter å ha gjort det slutt med kjæresten sin. I Malaga skal hun forske på hvordan det er å være eskortepike ved å la menn betale for å ha sex med henne. (Nå har det gått en måned og fortsatt vet jeg ikke mer hvordan jeg skal beskrive boka, unntatt at den også handler om Finnmark og åndedyr). Den hadde masse potensiale og jeg koste meg mens jeg leste, men etterpå tenkte jeg; var dette alt?




48. Krø av Didrik Morits Hallstrøm (2014)
Tags: supernatural, crime and mystery, family and self, sex drugs and rock'n'roll

Bestefaren til Adam ber han innstendig om å komme til den lille øya Krø, og Adam drar siden farfaren er veldig gammel. Adam er for øvrig en eksnarkoman, men har fått jobb som programmerer og er samboer med en som har et barn fra før. Før han drar til Krø lager han et spill hvor man kan bygge verden rundt seg, og mystiske ting begynner å skje, både i spillet og i virkeligheten når han kommer til Krø. Denne ble lovpriset av mange bloggere og den ble et lett valg for å korte ned ventinga på julaften. Men den ble aldri så spennende som jeg hadde forventninger om, og mye ble enten for tydelig eller for utydelig. Men, masse plusspoeng for slutten!


 49. Bare et menneske av Kristine Næss (2014)

Tags: family and self, crime and mystery, books you should read

Bea Britt er en forfatter som bor alene på Vettakollen. En dag forsvinner ei tenåringsjente som bruker å gå tur forbi huset hennes. Når sekken til jenta blir funnet i hagen til Bea Britt, så blir hun mistenkt, særlig siden hun er ganske så skarp mot politiet. Boka gir også innblikk i det nokså ensomme livet til Bea Britt og hennes nærmeste, men også familiehistorien. Jeg likte boka veldig godt, og spesielt det at jeg ble så i tvil om hvem som hadde kidnappet jenta. En flott bok som flere bør få øynene opp for!


1. Unnskyld av Ida Hegazi Høyer (2014)
 Tags: love, family and self, books that made me cry, books you should read

Et forhold som begynner så fantastisk, men går så inni helvete galt. Og kjærlighet gjør som kjent folk blinde, pluss at vold avler vold. Denne boka gjorde så vondt å lese og er så nydelig skrevet. Aller mest hadde jeg lyst til å klippe over fiskesnøreringen til hovedpersonen og få henne til å våkne opp. Jeg gråt og gråt mens jeg leste denne på flyet, og den traff absolutt ei nerve. Anbefales!




2. Om igjen av Monica Isakstuen (2014)
Tags: family and self, books you should read, love, sex drugs and rock'n'roll

Joyce Hatto var en gang en av de framste pionistene, så ble hun syk. Før hun døde ga hun ut en haug med cder, og ble hyllet. Problemet var bare at verkene ikke var spilt inn av henne. Isakstuen har brukt en fiktiv elev til å forsøke å skjønne hvordan dette kunne skje. Boka tar også for seg denne elevens, Ida, liv og hvordan hun kunne forlate mann og barn. Jeg tror denne er den mest sitatverdige norske boka jeg har lest så i tide til Bokbloggerprisen2014. En tankevekkende bok som også anbefales.



Kommer jeg til å skrive et halvlangt blogginnlegg om en enkelt bok på norsk noen gang? Jeg tviler. Uansett, jeg gleder meg til å ha et helt år på å lese nye norske bøker.

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014, where did you go?

I read book 50 just hours before midnight while putting on my make-up and getting ready for the last evening of 2014. I remember who the killer was, but not too sure about the reason. And I think that sums up my reading year perfectly. Wtf happened? I have no idea, but I haven't read this little in years. I have a sneaky suspicion that Netflix and the iPad are a big part of the blame, so less tv and games this year! But at least I managed to reach the goal of 50 books.

Time to analyse the what went wrong:

  • Read more than 50 books As I mentioned, I made it just in time.
  • Participate in a few online reading circles; Line's 1001 books, Clementine's Booker prize, Ingalill's biographies and Bjørg's off the shelf challenges. Nope. I ended up skipping books in all the reading circles, despite them being good books. I think this is what went really wrong as I felt that I didn't get to choose what to read as I always had books I needed to read.
  • Finish Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset No, nei, njet. I put it away, possibly for good.
  • Read at least 5 non-fiction books 2 of 5. Better luck next year.
  • Continue working my way around the globe in books (43 countries so far) Up to 47 now, so 4 new countries. Yay!
  • Lifelong goals: cross off as many 1001 books you must read before you die (11%) and Nobel Prize winners Up to 11,9% and one new Nobel (Saul Bellow), so that's something.
  •  Buy bookshelves, not books Hahahaha who am I kidding? Current number of unread books is 1035.
So how am I going to make this year a success? No reading goals at all? Of course not! This year I will:
  • Read more than 50 books
  • Read the alphabet (author's surname of course).
  • Read at least 5 non-fiction books
  • Read A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell. That's 12 books in all. 
  • Continue working my way around the globe in books (47 countries so far)
  • Lifelong goals: cross off as many 1001 books you must read before you die (11, 9%) and Nobel Prize winners (27/111)
  • If I want to buy a book, I'll have to read one off my shelf first 
  • Read in a book every day, even if it's just a page
 I think this is doable. By reading the alphabet I mean that the next time I'm not sure what to read I'll use the alphabet and my endless tbr-pile to decide which book to pick up. In that way I believe that my reading will be more diverse and surprising. The last goal is also going to be really interesting and probably the hardest to keep. But I cannot continue buying the piles of books I do. (And just to be on the safe side I sent an order of about 20 books just before the New Year). Does this mean that I won't be participating in any reading circles? Of course not. I'll do Line's 1001 books challenge and this year it's full of classics, so that's going to be interesting. Bjørg's and Hedda's off the shelf also looks interesting, but I feel that this was the one I least managed to keep up with, so I'm sceptical. Clementine's Booker circle depends on the books and how busy I am next autumn. And Ingalill's biography also depends on the topic and if I have time (and how good she's at swinging the whip).

Books I read in 2014 which you should read in 2015.
  • the Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (2001)
  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (2013)
  • the Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (1860)
  • Harvest by Jim Crace (2013)
  • the Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)
  • A True Novel by Minae Mizumura (2002)
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (2013)
  • Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez (1998)
  • the Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (1984)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1928)
  • the Alberta Trilogy by Cora Sandel (1926-1939)
  • the Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner (2014)
  • the Bees by Laline Paull (2014)
  • the God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1997)
  • A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz (2002)
  • the Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2012)
  • All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (1996)
  • the Blindness of the Heart by Julia Franck (2007)
  • Våke over dem som sover by Sigbjørn Skåden (2014)
  • Til Nuuk by Espen Haavardsholm (2014)
  • Bare et menneske by Kristine Næss (2014)
I hope you all have a fabulous reading year 2015! I still have two more blog posts to make from 2014, so I'm not quite ready to move on yet. Happy New Year!

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