30 Nov 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Who would you be friends with?

Top Ten Tuesday, always a favourite with me and especially this one as the topic is Top Ten Characters I'd Like to Be Best Friends With! Difficult topic in a sense because there are so many to chose from but also a really great topic for the same reason. If you want to play along, go to The Broke and the Bookish to sign up - http://www.brokeandbookish.blogspot.com

So here I go:

10)Princess Mia from the series by Meg Cabot because she is a teenage princess with a zest for life.

9)Athos, Porthos, Aramis and d'Artagnan from "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas. They would have your back in a fight and be fun on a night out, I am sure.

8) Anne from "Anne of Green Gables". She would have been the perfect childhood friend - and when I was a girl I used to pretend that she was my friend.

7)Sparhawk from the Elenium series by David Eddings. Strong, cool fighter with a soft heart and a dry humour. He always makes me feel at ease when I read and re-read these books!

6) Aliena from "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. Strong girl who would be not only a friend but a role model as well.

5)Judith Taverner from "Regency Buck" by Georgette Heyer. Judith is cool, she dares venture beyond the regency perceptions of how a lady should act. I admire her strong will and courage and would love to go for a drive around Hyde Park with her.

4) Peeta from "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. He is such a loyal, clever guy who seems genuinely nice. Somebody you could come to with a problem or when you need a friend.

3)Elizabeth Bennett from "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. She would be the kind of girl that you can go to when you need advice or when you need someone to share an hour-long conversation about all the big things in life with.

2)Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. Clever, fun and loyal, she is definitely a girl I would like to hang out with.

1) Kay and Finn (and Ava) from "The Sopranos" and "The Stars in the Bright Sky". I think I would fit right in with these girls.

Which characters would you like to be friends with?

28 Nov 2010

Review: "Moonlight over Odessa" - Ode to Odessa

It was one of you bloggers out there - I don't remember who, unfortunately - who recommended this book, "Moonlight over Odessa" by Janet Skeslien Charles and I am very grateful that you did. I have to say I really do not like the title, it is slightly naff if you ask me but luckily the title is nothing to go by. This is a really funny, sensitive and enlightening book.

The story is told by Daria, a 23-year-old Ukranian girl living in her native Odessa and making a living as a secretary for an international company. The job is well-paid, very well-paid and lots of benefits - however, it also has a major disadvantage: Daria's boos Mr. Harmon. Having little understanding for the Ukranian way of doing business, he spends most of his timing bossing around Daria and making inappropriate suggestions. So when Daria introduces him to her good friend Olga, she thinks that it will make everything easier but it is only the beginning of her trouble. Suddenly Olga is out to get Daria's job and to get a financial safety net, Daria begins to work for "Soviet Unions", a mail order bride company who makes arranges marriages between American men and Ukranian women who are longing for the American dream. Daria becomes sucked into the world of these women whose lives in Ukraine are so difficult that they are more than happy to leave everything they know and follow a strange man halfway across the globe.

What struck me about this book was first and foremost the language. I fell for Daria straight away as Skeslien Charles has given her an incredibly clear voice. She really jumps out of the pages and comes to life. Daria is an intelligent, mature young woman and I found her refreshing because she takes responsibility not only for herself but also for her grandmother. She is the main breadwinner and she really is different from many of the other chick lit heroines out there, she is a breath of fresh air.
Another fantastic thing about this book is the way it describes Odessa. I mean, I am actually looking for flight tickets right now! Skeslien Charles makes it sounds like the most intriguing city full of warm and welcoming people.

If you want a great story with a lot of room for laughing but also full of thought-provoking topics, then this is a book for you - you can read more about it here http://www.jskesliencharles.com

26 Nov 2010

All I want for Christmas is... "The Master and Margarita"

Firstly, I love the title "The Master and Margarita". Secondly, the reviews that I have read out there in bloggo-land has made me really want this book. You, my fellow bloggers, are praising it, calling this novel by Mikhail Bulgakov a masterpiece. So naturally I need to read it.

Here are some words from the review on Amazon.com:
"Surely no stranger work exists in the annals of protest literature than The Master and Margarita. Written during the Soviet crackdown of the 1930s, when Mikhail Bulgakov's works were effectively banned, it wraps its anti-Stalinist message in a complex allegory of good and evil. Or would that be the other way around? The book's chief character is Satan, who appears in the guise of a foreigner and self-proclaimed black magician named Woland. Accompanied by a talking black tomcat and a "translator" wearing a jockey's cap and cracked pince-nez, Woland wreaks havoc throughout literary Moscow."

What do you want for Christmas?

25 Nov 2010

Let's read!!

Have you stopped by Quinn's blog "Seeing Dreaming Writing" - http://www.seeingdreamingwriting.blogspot.com/? Otherwise I recommend that you do, it is a really great blog with lots of interesting posts. Quinn has just posted a really thought-provoking list from the BBC - according to BBC you are well-read if you have read more than 6 books from this list.

Always up for a review of my


• Copy this list.

• Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.

• Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The King James Bible
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Complete Works of Shakespeare
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
Emma - Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
Animal Farm – George Orwell
The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Dune – Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Dracula – Bram Stoker
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
Ulysses – James Joyce
The Inferno – Dante
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
Germinal – Emile Zola
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
Possession – AS Byatt
Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Watership Down – Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

So I think I qualify as being well-read :-) But there is still a long way to go if I want to read all of these. And to be honest, I think all of the books on this list deserve to be read! Which ones have you read? And which of them are your favourites?

24 Nov 2010

Teaser Wednesday - suprise!

As a follow-up on Teaser Tuesday yesterday, I felt like doing another teaser as I am reading more than one book at the moment (actually I always am). So here comes a teaser from "All Souls" by Javier Marias:

"The more one knows and tells about other people, the greater one's dispensation not to reveal anutomg about oneself. Consequently the whole of Oxford is fully and continuously engaged in concealing and suppressing itself whilst at the same time trying to winkle out as much information as possible about other people..."

23 Nov 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Bad Girl

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two “teaser” sentences from that page.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!

So here is my teaser - today it is from "The Bad Girl" by Mario Vargas Llosa:

"Are you still in love with me?" Was her opening remark, to break the ice.
"The worst thing is that I think I am," I admitted, feeling my cheeks flush. "And if I weren't I would fall in love with you all over again today. You've turned into a very beautiful woman, and an extremely elegant one. I see you, and don't believe what I see, bad girl."

Which books did you choose teasers from?

22 Nov 2010

Review: "The Blue Flower" - Blossoming Love

I found this book of one of the lists of "100 Best Novels by Female Authors" and decided to give it a try - and I am really glad I did because it is a beautiful and moving little story, written by Penelope Fitzgerald who won the 1979 Booker Prize for the novel "Offshore".

"The Blue Flower" is the fictious story of the historical figure Friedrich von Hardenberg, who found fame as a writer and poet under the name Novalis. Hardenberg was born in 1772 in Germany and the family though nobility were very poor so even though Hardenberg was highly educated, he still faced having to work for a living. In "The Blue Flower" we meet the 22-year old Hardenberg as he is having to make choices about work and his future but the most important storyline in the book is about his meeting with 12-year old Sophie von Kühn. It is love at first sight for him and maybe for her as well?

Sophie is a young girl, not even mature for her age, of little education and little beauty. However, this does not seem to matter to Hardenberg who loves her passionately and when Sophie is 13 years old, they get engaged. It is around this love that the story revolves and the characters evolve.
And actually the characters are a very important part of this story. I soon came to feel that I knew Hardenberg's and Sophie's family. The strong sisters Sidonie and the Mandelshloh who take charge when their mothers give up, the little brother the Bernhardt and Erasmus who looks up to his brother Hardenberg. Their voices are so strong and they provide a great cast for this novel.

Fitzgerald's prose is beatiful, she really manages to conjure up Germany in the time of romanticism where science was still young and the students philosophised and discussed the great matters in life. I could almost smell the dirt and taste the beer, hear the horses. The prose is what stood out for me because it captures these star-crossed lovers - the educated gentleman and his somewhat dimwitted childbride. It is lovingly fun, subtlely pointing out the follies of man while revering the love of Hardenberg for Sophie von Kühn.

19 Nov 2010

Back to the Classics - what to read?

Enjoying a quite night in trying to put together a shortlist of books for the "Back to the Classics Challenge 2011".
Here is what I have so far:

- A Banned Book
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

- A Book with a Wartime Setting (can be any war)
Atonment by Ian McEwan

- A Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) Winner or Runner Up:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
American Pastoral by Philip Roth

- A Children's/Young Adult Classic
The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett
Peter Pan by J. Barrie
Little Women by Louisa Alcott

- 19th Century Classic
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
La Dame aux Camelias by Alexander Dumas

- 20th Century Classic
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

- A Book you think should be considered a 21st Century Classic
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

- Re-Read a book from your High School/College Classes
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

18 Nov 2010

All I want for Christmas is... "Wait for Me"

I have a thing for the Mitford clan - you may even called me a Mitford maniac. As you can see on your left hand side, "The Mitford Sisters" is one of my favourite book and earlier I posted a review of Anne de Courcy's biography of Diana Mitford.

So of course I have to add Deborah Devonshire's new book "Wait for Me" to my Christmas wishlist. Debo, as she is often called, is the youngest Miford sister and she is now in her 90's. She is the kind of lady that I can't help but admire and her books should be full of delicious tales spiced with historic celebrities.

What will be on your wishlist?

17 Nov 2010

Back to the Classics Challenge 2011

Sarah over at Sarah Reads Too Much - http://www-sarahreadstoomuch.blogspot.com - has started the perfect challenge to take on in 2011! It is called "Back to the Classics Challenge 2011" and it is .... surprise... about reading and re-reading classics!

This is something that I have been wanting to do forever - not only read classics but read them in a structured manner. So of course I have signed up already and I really think that you should join :-)

Thechallenge is open to anyone who would like to participate and you join at Sarah's blog. There is a 6 month time frame for completion and the goals to complete are:

- A Banned Book
- A Book with a Wartime Setting (can be any war)
- A Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) Winner or Runner Up
- A Children's/Young Adult Classic
- 19th Century Classic
- 20th Century Classic
- A Book you think should be considered a 21st Century Classic
- Re-Read a book from your High School/College Classes

Not sure which books I will be going for. I am thinking maybe "Peter Pan" for Children's Classic - do you have any ideas?
For 20th Century Classic I will probably go for "Brideshead Revisited" by Evelyn Waugh... For the rest I will need to do some research before deciding.

16 Nov 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Criminals, Villains and other Degenerates!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish - http://www.brokeandbookish.blogspot.com/

Everyone is welcome to join - just you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post and sign the mister linky on the B&B blog.

This Tuesday are dedicated to Top Ten Villains! We all know that sometimes it is the villain that makes a story so here is a post celebrating those baddies and nastiest in literature!

10. Mr. Wickham from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". Because he is a nasty golddigger with no shame what-so-ever. He really deserves getting married to Lydia, talk about a match made in hell...

9. Zenia from Margaret Atwood's "The Robber Bride". In Denmark there is a saying that goes "Women are woman's worst enemy" and that is exactly Zenia. She enters the lives of three women and wreaks havoc. What a b-tch!

8. Humbert Humbert from "Lolita" by Nabokov. Because he is outright creepy and disgusting!

7.Captain Hook from "Peter Pan" by J. M. Barrie. The man wants to kill children. Honestly. He may not seem bad in the Disney movie but he is a nasty piece of work.

6. Marquise de Merteuil from "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. Again a woman who will stop at nothing to get her will, you definitely do not want to cross her...

5. The three witches from Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" who are plotting to kill an innocent, young fallen star and cut out her heart to recapture youth and beauty.

4.William Hamleigh from "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. This guy will do anything to destroy his personal enemies and he sure knows how to hold a grudge. The characteristics of his personality seem to be brutish, violent and evil.

3. The totalitarian regime in "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margeret Atwood. I can't describe the horror of this regime that has turned women into caste-divided creatures that only live to serve men. The scariest book ever.

2. Voldemort fra the Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling, don't think I have to mention that...). Need I say more? Voldemort is evil, really evil.

1. Milady de Winther from "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas. I have always been really scared by Milady de Winther - she is a chilling character. Evil to the bone but able to conceal it behind a mask that alernates between worldly beauty, damsel in distress and pious scapegoat. She is a villain if there ever was one!

Do you want more villains? Then check out this link http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3560987/50-greatest-villains-in-literature.html

Who are your fave villains?

15 Nov 2010

Review: "Crescendo" - No more hushing up the truth

A couple of days ago "Crescendo" by Becca Fitzpatrick landed in my mailbox to my utter delight! I read "Hush, Hush" a couple of weeks ago and though I had not been craving the sequel, I was still really looking forward to reading it. I didn't really have time to read during the weekend but I found time - in my bed, under my duvet with a flashlight trying not to disturb my boyfriend.

The story of "Crescendo" starts where "Hush, Hush" left off. Nora has put the dramatic events behind her and is enjoying her twosomeness with gorgeous Patch, her guardian angel (who btw. is definitely not the angelic type!). However, not long into the book Patch starts getting weird. He hides stuff from Nora and when she says the three big words....he drives off!!
So Nora - being a cool chick with a good deal of sense - decides not to let herself be used as a doormat and breaks up with Patch! I so did not see that coming but I was delighted that Nora turned out to be such a strong girl.
Then a new guy Scott - aka Scotty the Potty aka Scotty the Hottie - moves to town and very early on it becomes clear that he has a past. A scary, bad sort of past.
However, as Patch is now spending time with Nora's sworn enemy Marcie, Nora needs Scott to show Patch that she is over him. Let the action begin.

I have to say that my expectations weren't that high for this sequel but I was so surprised. I actually liked "Crescendo" better than "Hush, Hush". Mostly because Nora steps up to the plate and tells Patch where to go because he really lets her down and acts like a total jerk. So good on Nora for standing up for herself.
Also I have to say that I enjoyed the little catfights between Nora and Marcie - that girl really has a fighting spirit - but at times (will not say anymore to avoid spoilers) my heart was aching for Nora.

This book was great as paranormal romance goes. A really good book that left me feeling 16 years old again. Also it was full of twists and mysteries, especially surrounding the death of Nora's father.
If you like Bella&Edward, Luce&Daniel or any of the other romances out there, this one will not let you down!

Do you want to read what other bloggers though of this book?
BrittLit: http://thelifeofateenlibrarian.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-crescendo-becca-fitzpatrick.html

The Compulsive Reader: http://www.thecompulsivereader.com/2010/11/crescendo-by-becca-fitzpatrick.html

Ink And Paper: http://jo-scrawls.blogspot.com/2010/09/review-crescendo-by-becca-fitzpatrick.html

Bye bye bullying!

How I wish that I could wave a magic wand and say those words! Bullying affect so many children and also many adults all around the world every day. Luckily there are people out there who are working to fight this - and there are a lot of great books out there about bullying.

Asamum Booktopia is hosting an Anti-bullying Week starting today so head straight to http://www.asamum.blogspot.com/ to read more.
On the schedule for today Asamum has

Introduction to Advice on Bullying by Bullying UK - at Asamum Booktopia Monday 15th November

Review: The Silence Seeker by Ben Morley - at Susan K Mann Monday 15th November

Review and Giveaway: Dancing in the Dark by Peter Prendergast - at Chicklish Monday 15th November

Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers - at Fluttering Butterflies Monday 15th November

Guest Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli - at Asamum Booktopia Monday 15th November

If you want to read more about bullying, here are some of my reading recommendations on great books that deal with this topic:

- "The Exception" by Christian Jungersen
- "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson
- "Let the Right One In" by John Ajvide Lindqvist
- "The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things" by Carolyn Mackler

14 Nov 2010

Review: "Inexcusable" - When good guys do bad things

Another day, another YA read. I don't know what it is about me but these days I am really in a YA mood, reading all young adult books to come my way :-) In my mailbox this week, yesterday actually, I got "Inexcusable" by Chris Lynch which I ordered after reading "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson as this book tackles the same difficult topic. Date rape. This is a topic that I think is really important and I commend these writers for dealing with it and making it approachable for teens.
In "Speak" we heard the story of Melinda who was date raped and suffered from a depression as she failed to cope with the emotional turmoil that the assault left her in.

In "Inexcusable" we meet Keir Sarafian, a senior at the local high school, a prominent football player and allround good guy. At least this is how he sees himself - but just like Eva in "We Need to Talk About Kevin", Keir insight into his own personality and he reflections on his own actions are lacking... To say the least. As Keir sees it, he is a the American Good Guy. He has come to fame in the local community after a game in which he - accidentally, maybe - hurt a player from the opposite badly. He lives in perfect bachelorhood with his dad, as his sisters Fran and Mary have left for college and he has a teenage crush on Gigi Boudakian.
However, the book alternates between scenes from a room, a situation where Gigi is accusing Keir of having raped her, and the past few months leading up to this where Keir argues his case. He is a good guy. And good guys do not rape the girls they have a crush on.

This book was a really quick read. It is written for teens and the language and the style is perfect for this segment. If I had read this when I was 13, I would have been so crazy about it and I have to say that I am impressed by the way that Lynch handles this subject. The story line is a difficult one - it is not a main character that you easily find yourself liking but somehow, despite all his flaws, Keir is quite likeable. He is a spoiled kid with a bad grip on reality and no understanding of himself or his actions but he is not mean.

I will save this books and give it to a teen someday. It is a really good YA read in the sense that it does not condescend, it understands and explains. If you are an English teacher teaching 13-15 year olds, this is a great read to introduce them to, just as "Speak" is.

13 Nov 2010

Review: "Let the Right One In" - Petra Pan the Vampire Girl

So I picked up "Let the Right One In" in Heathrow Airport because I desperately needed a book to read in the evening. As there was not a lot to choose from, I was very pleased to see that they had "Let the Right One In" by John Ajvide Lindqvist as I really like the film adaption - "Let Me In" - and have been wanting to read the book.
Have you seen the movie? If yes, you will have a really good idea about what this book is about because the film follows the book quite rigidly. In a good sense, that is.

This is a different type of vampire fiction, more reminiscent of the Anne Rice vampire fiction than of Twilight.
Oskar lives in Swedish suburb Blackeberg with his mother. It is a pretty grey and grim world with not a lot of happiness in it. Which is very much to do with the bullying that Oskar is subjected to at school. He is bullied in that nasty, violent way that some boys experience, getting his head "washed" in the toilet and getting beaten up. He is such a poor lonesome kid that the first part of the book almost broke my heart.
But then Oskar meets the girl Eli who has just moved in next door and comes out to play at night. There is something different about Eli. She lives with an elderly man who takes care of feeding her... And this means that Blackeberg suddenly expriences some violent, awful murders.
We also meet some of the other characters in Blackeberg - the bums, check-out ladies and other lonesome existences who all in one way or another come entangled with Eli and Oskar and as the plot unfolds, it becomes a more and more sticky situation.

What I really liked about this book are the small twists here and there. Nothing is what it seems. The poor old man is actually in my opinion more of a bad guy than Eli who is just trying to survive. And Eli is a sort of unlikely, involuntary Peter/Petra Pan who is trapped in a youthful exterior. And Oskar, Oskar is such a sweet boy. He really loves his mother but at the same time the only way he can find to deal with the violence he experiences at school is by inflicting torture and pain in his daydreams.
I kept wanting to take him by the hand and show him some kindness.

This is a strong mystery, vampire fiction tale. However, it is also a tale of bullying, betrayal and survival of the fittest. It is somehow a gruesome yet sophisticated story about the frailness of human beings. I liked it. And if you are looking for an antidote to romantic hot vampires then this should fit the bill.

12 Nov 2010

Story telling - surely that lives on forever?

So I just read a great post on Pretty Witter's blog - http://www.pettywitter.blogspot.com/- about story telling through the times, asking if we think that story telling will die out.

In my opinion story telling is an intrinsic part of being a human being. Telling stories about ourselves helps us contruct our identity, it is a way of understanding ourselves and passing on our experiences and values and so on to others. What do you think?

I really like this quote by Paul Ricoeur:

"Myth expresses in terms of the world - that is, of the other world or the second world - the understanding that man has of himself in relation to the foundation and the limit of his existence."
Paul Ricoeur

11 Nov 2010

Review: "Room" - Life within four walls

You have probably heard about the Natascha Kampusch case or the Elisabeth Fritzl case. "Room" by Emma Donoghue is the story of the Jack and Ma case. Jack is five years old and he lives in Room with his mother, Ma. Room is his little kingdom - he sleeps in Wardrobe and is friends with Spider, Plant and even Door. Sometimes he watches TV even though he knows - Ma has told him - that the people inside the TV are not real. There are only three persons in Jack's world, himself, his Ma and Old Nick, the evil old man who brings them food and Sunday treats and who visits them only at night.
For Jack this is the entire world but his Ma knows that there is more in Outside and one day she decides that she needs to save herself and save Jack. However, becoming part of the world outside is not easy - neither for Jack, nor for Ma.

This book was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2010 and I can see why. It is an amazing literary book that Emma Donoghue has written. She really takes the reader into Jack's world, letting us experience this from his innocent perspective. His love for Ma, his fear of Old Nick and his dependence on Sunday treat. And through his eyes we understand Ma, a 27-year-old who has been trapped in a garden shed for eight years and who has almost more trouble dealing with the vast real world than with her confinement between the four walls.
Jack loves his Ma unconditionally and so did I. Though we never get to experience her thoughts or feelings directly, I came to respect this character immensely for what she inspires in Jack. He is such a sweet kid with such an childish insight in life.

I read this book more or less in one go, once I started on it, I just could not put it down. It is a fantastic book and all it lacked from my perspective was more pages. I really wanted to read more about Jack, he had become so real for me and he really interested me. Emma Donoghue has written a beautiful book that I think many of you out there will enjoy.

7 Nov 2010

Review: "Decline and Fall" - A Satiric Tour de Force

Evelyn Waugh is one of my favourite authors, his literary fiction is of an exceptional standard, his language is gripping and beautiful and his storylines are unique. Waugh had a way of pointing out the ironies in society, satirising people and situations and shedding light on follies.

"Decline and Fall" had been on my TBR list for a good long while and this week I finally managed to read it. And I have to say that I am so glad I did. This is a work of art, a funny satire about one man's unintentional stumbling road through life. Paul Pennyfeather is studying theology at Oxford but is sent down from university in disgrace though this is by no means his own fault. Penniless Pennyfeather takes on a job as a teacher at Llanabba, a public school in Wales run by a staff of little competence and a great many oddities. Here he forms a friendship with one of the students, Peter Beste-Chetwynde, whose mother Margot Beste-Chetwynde (pronounced beast-cheating) he is hopelessly in love with.
Paul's happiness therefore seems secured when Margot ask her to tutor Peter in the vacation and he ends up engaged to her. However, Margot Beste-Chetwynde is not what she seams, she runs a brothel business and though Paul knows nothing about this he ends up getting arrested on the morning of their wedding. Then follows months in prison, something which becomes him well, however, he is saved by Margot's new fiancee and her lover and Paul ends up back at Oxford whereby the circle comes to a close.

This plot is so dramatic, so full of events but what is captivating is the fact that Paul has no hand in these events. He is simply carried by the waves of life through all these events. He takes no decisions himself, chooses nothing for himself. He is an anti-hero if there ever was one. A sad excuse for a man. But reading about him and all of the hopeless situations he has to go through is very entertaining.
The satire shows of the idiocies of mankind, it is a great comic masterpiece that will have you laughing not with Paul but at him and his many troubles. He is a character to you despair of but at the same time you cheer him on and Waugh's ability to make me feel compassion and understanding for this ridiculous little man is fascinating. If you like P.G. Wodehouse, this is definitely a book for you!

6 Nov 2010

Review: "Fallen" - Luce and the bad boys

Right, so I am in a bit of a YA mood at the moment and this week, one of the books I have read this week in the YA genre is "Fallen" by Lauren Kate - one of the ones that has been feautered rather heavily here in the blogosphere lately as the sequel "Torment" has just been published. So I thought I would give it a try as a lot you out there have been positive about this.

The main character in "Fallen" is Luce, a normal girl who have been haunted by shadows hovering on the edge of her life since she was a small girl. Something terrible happened to a friend of Luce and she is suspected to have caused it so now she has been thrown out of her posh boarding school and is sent to reform school. And when Lauren Kate writes reform school, she means reform school.
Sword and Cross Reform School is a grim place and the students there are a far cry from Luce's former classmates. However, Luce is quick to make friends with the rule-breaking cool kid Arriane and the popular guy Cam seems to have his eyes set on Luce as a love interest. Luce is attracted to Cam but at the same time she also feels a strange unexplainable attraction to Daniel, who alternately rejects her and is nice to her.

I read this book in one day because from the beginning I was really fascinated by the reform school life - this is as far from Hogwarts as it gets. I liked the cool students and the school parties and the love entanglements between Luce, Cam and Daniel was fascinating. It is the classic story of girl being attracted to two guys and trying to figure out which one is the one for her. But I have to say that the ending was really disappointing. I don't want to spill any spoilers but let me just say that I thought it all became overly dramatic and over the top. It seemed like the author had saved all the action for the last thirty pages and it was too much for me.

Will I be reading the sequel? Good question. I think it depends on my mood, at the moment I don't think so. What are your thoughts on "Fallen"? Did you enjoy it?

4 Nov 2010

Review: "Speak" - Let's talk about this

This book has been reviewed extensively in the blogosphere and that is where I first stumbled over it. "Speak" is written by Laurie Halse Anderson and published in 1999 and it has even been made into a movie starring Kristin Stewart as Melinda - the main character.

Melinda is starting her freshman year in highschool in the worst way possible. Something happened at a party during the summer, something which Melinda cannot think about not to mention talk about.
So Melinda has gone from being part of a gang of girls to being a social outcast. Her only friend is new-in-town Heather who have ambitious plans for how they will become part of the social scene at the shool. However, Melinda is slowly spiralling into a depression and she has no interest in social ladder climbing. Instead she locks herself in - both physically and mentally - and the only subject in school that she has any interest in is art. Art class is a free space and the teacher Mr. Freeman supports and encourages her but even this in time becomes unbearable for Melinda who shies away from the world, skips classes and withdraws from the parents and Heather.

"Speak" deals with an incredibly difficult subject - daterape - and it has been one censured in some countries for its outspokenness and honesty. In my opinion this is a book that all girls should read when they become teenagers because it is so absolutely honest, heartbreakingly so. It is a story of all of the difficulties that an emotionally incompetent young man puts an innocent young woman through. It touched me and even gave me tears in my eyes. It is beautiful and Melinda is a sweet, good, clever girl who when she is confronted with evil tries to protect herself as well as she can. I will read this book again and I will recommend it to anyone who likes a good book about being teenager.

2 Nov 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that made me cry

I actually wrote this post yesterday but then my computer crashed and I never got to publish it, so here we go :-)

I just found a new meme that I have to participate in: Top Ten Tuesday! Normally I do teaser tuesday but I think I will save my teaser for tomorrow - or for later tonight - and do the Top Ten instead. The Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish at http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com/2010/11/top-ten-tuesday-top-ten-books-that-made.html

As you have guessed, it is a list of ten books that made you cry. Now I don't cry a lot over books, movie etc. so some of these go years back. But here we go.

1) "Anne of Green Gables" by L.M. Montgomery. When I reread this book, I always dread the part where Matthew dies. It is so incredibly sad.

2)"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling. The way Dumbledore is push out of Hogwarts which is then taken over by the Ministry of Magic and turned into a soviet-like terror regime is so scary. It actually, really made me cry.

3)"Christiane F." by Christiane F. I read this two or three times as a teen and it always made me cry. The story is so sad, the way the addicts will do anything for drugs, relinquishing their lives and their souls for a fix is so sad.

4)"The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank. Anything about the Holocaust will make me cry but especially this book, it is so sad. It should be a mandatory read in all schools.

5)"The Diary of a Slummy Mummy" by Fiona Neill. Whenever I need to read and laugh out lot - til the teas roll - I get out the stories about Lucy "Slummy Mummy" Sweeney and her misadventures. These are many and varied and include breaking and entering, stashing cigarettes in her boots and having a crush on a yummy stay-at-home dad with a healthfreak complex.

6) "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewell. I loved horses and when I was a little girl this one was sure to make me cry.

I am not sure that I can think of any more to put on here - I really don't cry a lot when I read. However, when I do cry it is usually related to children or animals not being treated well. I hate that the and the unfairness of it always makes me emotional.