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Book reviews and blog content by Iben Jakobsen.
I can be contacted at boroughofbooks at gmail dot com

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In My Mailbox #9

A while back I went a bit... nuts, buying books online. After reading Jojo Moyes' Me Before You, Lucy Dillon's Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts, Elizabeth Young's Asking For Trouble and Trisha Ashley's A Winter's Tale I've become quite hooked on the feel-good romance genre and wanted more.

Armed with knowledge from Goodreads I set out adding books to my digital checkout cart and ended up with 8 romance books and a single more serious book - Two Brothers by Ben Elton, recommended to me by a co-worker.

I ended up with 4 books by Trisha Ashley (The Magic of Christmas, Twelve Days of Christmas, A Winter's Tale and Wish Upon a Star). She's quite fond of Christmas it seems!

I also got another by Jojo Moyes, The Last Letter From Your Lover, and one by by Liz Young, A Girl's Best Friend (And I just realised I don't own Asking For Trouble by her, I must rectify this mistake!). Finally I also had to own Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon.

I've listened to all of Camilla Läckberg's books while driving to and from work as mentioned many times before, but because it's quite hard to figure out how far along you are in the book with an MP3 CD I've frequently looked in the physical books at work to figure out the paper number and progress. One day however I discovered my local charity store had 2 of her books for sale for next to no money (the paperbacks) and the I already knew that I could get my hands on a couple of old copies from the library sale. I've got all but 2 of her books (#3 Stenhuggeren og #8 Englemagersken). Depicted are #1 Isprinsessen, #2 Prædikanten, #4 Ulykkesfuglen, #5 Tyskerungen,  #6 Havfruen, #7 Fyrmesteren. Also also - Läckberg has been translated and published in English!

Hidden away in the shadows up in the first two pictures you can also see All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque which I came upon quite remarkably in the charity store as well. I've never read it, but know enough of it to be intrigued.


Looking for Alaska by John Green

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.

So, a while back I read The Fault in Our Stars and thoroughly enjoyed it as I read it, but found it a bit lacking once I got some time to think about it. I then recently saw this vlog wherein a very brave woman (fangirls be mad) explain why she didn't like The Fault in Our Stars. And I realised I agreed on almost all accounts. She also mentions similarities to other John Green books and though she's hardly talking positively about them I decided to give one a try and ordered Looking for Alaska from the library.

Initially I sort of liked it. But the characters annoyed me greatly. He falls in love after just one glance. She's too cool for school. Both speak like no teenager has ever spoken (quotes, philosophers, great literature references etc). It's all very hipster. I'm not a fan.

There's a build-up to *dramatic event* but I never really felt it. Shit happens and all are sad. And I didn't feel it. Then more stuff happened and I kept on not feeling it. I was almost relieved when I turned the last page and could put the book down and claim it read.

I have no doubt "kids" (gods now I sound old) will love this book - after tFiOS becoming a hit, the Danish library users have certainly started noticing Green's other books. But while tFiOS is at least cute, I'm not sure what lessons there are to learn from LfA. Drink excessively? Smoke? Be a fuck up but have fun doing it? Somehow doing all the before mentioned but still do very very well in school because you're a shallowly built up character with bullet point personality traits? I think pretentious is a word I might also use to describe this book.

It's funny how opinions can form. I think it's best if you read this and decide for yourself. It can go either way. I didn't like it much, but maybe you will.

Looking for Alaska
by John Green
ISBN13: 9780007424832
263 pages / published in 2005

Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2014


The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

The Book of Lost Things turned out to be a different kind of book than I'd expected, as it's not really very childish. An older child could read it, certainly, but they wouldn't really understand half of it - it being the whole subject of growing up and leaving your childhood behind.

It is a well written book and in my eyes brilliantly thought out how classic fairy tales are twisted and turned into something new-ish that intertwines in the land David finds himself in. I've previously read the collected works of Grimm's fairy tales (the non-politically correct version too gruesome for children to hear) and I always like seeing how they can be adapted to suit new stories.

After 348 pages the actual actual story of the book ends - the rest contain notes on the fairy tales used. I was initially incredibly confused as the story started wrapping itself up and coming to a close just over halfway through the book(!) and as it turned out the last 31% of the book are just notes by the author (and to be honest I skimmed them through and declared them pointless - to me at least).

At first I was a bit disappointed by this cheat - however, the story is exactly as long as it's supposed to be. It's not drawn out and it's not too short either. It's all wrapped up nicely and still leaves you thinking about this vivid journey of lost innocence and childhood into adulthood and beyond. It's a dark story that reminds us to keep fighting and endure and live our own story.

The Book of Lost Things
by John Connolly
ISBN13: 9780340899489
502 pages / published in 2006

Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2014


Library Haul #8

It's time for another Library Haul!

(I did actually film a vlog initially, but it was quite rubbish so it's been downgraded to a regular blog post)

The pile consists from top to bottom:

Politisk roman by Lone Aburas (Danish author, title translates to Political novel) from 2013. It's about family life (or the lack of it) spiced up with some political debate and how we often don't even bother. I've only read some 40 pages so far, but it seems very well written and interesting.

The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill from 2007 I haven't read yet. It's chick lit and I've heard it described as Bridget Jones' older sister.

Jaja, jeg skal nok redde jer - når jeg lige har drukket min rom & cola
af Lotte Skou Hansen from 2011 (another Danish author, titel roughly translates to Yeah yeah, I'll save you - once I've finished my drink). Journalist Skou Hansen recounts her adventures in Uganda working for Danish Red Cross. It's supposedly like Chick lit, and both funny and thought provoking.

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane from 2003. I've seen the film and found it interesting and thought the book might be interesting too. It's about two US Marshalls in 1954 investigating a disappearance on an island that's home to a hospital for the criminally insane.

A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman from 2013. A Swedish debute novel that's become very popular from the get go. It's about a bitter old man who sick and tired of unruly unintelligent people disturbing him. It sounds ridiculous, but I'm telling you, from what I've read so far it's brilliant - and there's way more to it.

Kadaverdoktoren by Lene Kaaberbøl from 2010. (Danish author yet again, title is approximately The Corpse Doctor). It's a crime novel set in the 1800 about a forensic scientist/coroner and his daughter/assistant fighting against superstition as they try to solve a series of mysterious deaths. Reading this one for my Book Club in August.

Désirée by Annemarie Selinko from 1951, my version is a new one from 2014. Author is Austrian-Danish. It's about the life of Bernhardine Eugenie Désirée Clary, a daughter of a silk merchant and first love of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France.
She is also known as Desideria, Queen of Sweden and Norway, wife of Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, initally a general of France and then the King of Norway and Sweden, (Charles XIV & III John, also Carl John). I've just finished reading the book and can report that it's very long and very heavy to read. It's filled to the brim with political maneuvering and miniscule details and yet it is a very good book. Désirée's story, as told to us through her writings in her journal, is so incredibly interesting. Imagine being her, a commoner who finds herself right in the middle of World History in the making.

Not depicted are:
  • The Game of Thrones by George RR Martin, audiobook
  • Kald mig prinsesse by Sara Blædel, audiobook
  • Dødesporet by Sara Blædel, audiobook
  • Englemagersken by Camilla Läckberg, audiobook
  • Et andet sted by Signe Langtved Pallisgaard, audiobook
because they're all residing in my car, waiting their turn, some more impatiently than others. I've got less than half an hour to go of GoT (and it's 33½ hours long!) and then it's time for Blædel's latest book in her crime series about police woman Louise Rick.

[also also I just discovered there's max amount of characters allowed in the Labels box (200), so couldn't tag the audiobook authors :/ ]
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