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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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30/07/2014

Library Haul #9


Lined up this time I've got:
  • Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil (started to read this Wednesday evening at work, when there was nothing to do, it's pretty good so far)
  • Stephen King's Cujo (I don't even know why I have the need to try and scare myself)
  • Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (turns out I only read an excerpt for the readathon, not the actual book!)
  • HG Wells' The War of the Worlds (I discovered we have English books in the Archive below the library and had to raid it for some classics!)
  • Dennish Lehane's Shutter Island (I still haven't read this, but still want to)
  • PD James' Death Comes to Pemberley (I have heard nothing but bad things about this. Very curious)
  • Katarina Bivald's Læserne i Broken Wheel anbefaler (I've just finished this one and a review will be up soon! [in Danish])
  • Lene Kaaberbøl's Kadaverdoktoren and Det Levende Kød (read the first book and enjoyed it, though it's quite simple, and felt like reading the second one too)
I'm just about reading everything and anything I come across these days. How about you? What are you spending the summer with?

28/07/2014

The Castle of Whispers by Carole Martinez

In 1187, on the day of her wedding, the beautiful 15-year-old Esclarmonde scandalizes the court when she refuses to accept the knight chosen by her father, the lord of the domain of Whispers. She defies her father’s wishes and vows to give herself to God, for which he imprisons her in a cell adjoining the castle’s chapel. Instead of the peaceful solitude she sought, Esclarmonde finds in her cell the crossroads between the living and the dead. Walled in, with nothing but a single barred window to connect her to the outside world, Esclarmonde nevertheless exerts a mysterious and pervasive power over the kingdom. The virgin sorceress reaches a saint-like status, and men and women journey from far and wide to hear her speak. Esclarmonde even persuades her father to wage war in the Holy Land, resulting in a massacre of staggering proportions.

I read The Castle of Whispers for my Book Club as one of the other members had been recommended it and it sounded vaguely interesting.

And it is vaguely interesting. It's also pretty well written. And that's about it. It's not a book that managed to captivate any of us, but neither did we feel anything negative towards it. It's simply there.

Esclarmonde (a name that still breaks my tongue) is a blank slate of a character whom neither manages to intrigue me with her doings (15 year old and chooses to lock herself up for the rest of her life rather than marry her chosen husband) nor does she annoy me enough to stop reading.

The religious aspect and the supernatural touch though, did bore me. The way she somehow manages to keep track of her father's whereabouts in the Holy War etc threw the book for me as so far it had all been very plausible and realistic - something that could very likely have happened in those days playing on the superstitions of the people. However when there then was "magic" of sorts involved it just kind of ruined it.

All in all, it's not a bad book, but it's not really something I'll be able to remember I read down the line.


The Castle of Whispers
by Carole Martinez
ISBN13: 9788791450945
198 pages / published in 2014
     


Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2014

24/07/2014

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.

22/07/2014

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
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