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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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Holiday Reads

I brought a whole stack of books to Rhodes and can happily report back that every single one of them was a good read. One even blew me away, in ways that seldom happen.

On top of the pile is the second instalment in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings. I started reading it on the plane and read it sporadically over the week, but am (obviously) not done yet.

Beneath that purple brick is Jojo Moyes' The last letter from your lover which was very very lovely. I didn't quite cry, but it definitely moved me and is a very good romantic novel. Full review to come.

Then we have the wild card - Sylvia Plath's The bell jar. I had very little knowledge prior as to what it was really about I just knew it's a book you're supposed to read. And damn. It blew my mind, a full review is to come, obviously, but it was just amazing. It's incredibly well written and actually paused my reading often to think about the phrasing, the words, the immaculate descriptions of feelings and dilemmas of young women, or any women.

Then we have the Danish book Børnene by Ida Jessen. The title translates to the Children and the book is a classic realism novel which focuses on the drama of human life and interaction, following the narrative stories of several characters, but focusing on their stories one by one. It's the third in a series, but can be read without reading the first two (I haven't). I'd been told it is an amazing book, and while I think it's good, it's not that good. Review to come.

Last but not least I read the second book in the series by Lene Kaaberbøl, Det Levende Kød (The Living Flesh) which is another crime novel about the young coroner assistant Madeleine Karno getting involved in some sticky business. The plot was just as simple as the first book and you can still feel very clearly that Kaaberbøl started her career as a (very successful) children's book author. Full review to come.

All in all, I think these were all very well suited as holiday books. The bell jar is so desperately good it manages to demand the attention it must have and the rest are good easily read books.


Holiday on Rhodes

As I mentioned in my previous post I've just come home from a lovely holiday in Rhodes.

We stayed at a nice hotel on the Western side of the island which turned out to be the very windy side, whereas on the Eastern side it's far more calm weather and where the nice sandy beaches are. Neither me nor my dad are beach people though, so that didn't bother us, we barely even spent time by the pool.

Monday we walked around getting to know the place, Tuesday we took a guided trip first to the town Lindos. Lindos consists solely of white buildings all the way up a mountain/hill where you find the ancient acropolis consisting of among other things the ruins of a temple to Athena.
Afterwards we went to the city of Rhodes and spent the remainder of the day visiting the Old City, which is a massive fort/wall structure surrounding a big part of the city with old beautiful buildings and the Grand Master's Palace.

Wednesday we decided to walk up an actual mountain nearby to have a look at the acropolis of Ialyssos where we found the most gorgeous convent dating back to the Knights! it was so well preserved it looked like a movie set.

Thursday was boattrip day (you fill a big boat with turists and then sail them up and down the Eastern coast and let them jump in the water 4 times and feed them BBQ).

Friday we rented an ATV/quad and drove around the island ourselves, some 90 km in total up and down and around mountains. We visisted the Butterfly Valley, the rather underwhelming 7 Springs and the very ancient city of Kamiros (or as my dad put it, more old rocks - he jokes, we like ruins).

Saturday we once again spent the day wandering around the City of Rhodes and Sunday it was pool day before being picked up and driven to the airport at 10 PM.
We landed in Denmark at 3 AM and arrived home deadtired at 5:30 AM.

All in all it was a brilliant holiday, but now I seriously need to spend a few days relaxing, I've barely had time to relax all week!


Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

I'm back from holiday! I've spent a week on the very lovely Greek island, Rhodes and it was a great week.Now back to the regular book schedule:

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

          - Pictures
          - Words
          - Stories about things that happened to me
          - Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
          - Eight billion dollars*
          - Stories about dogs
          - The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

You may already know Hyperbole and a Half - an extremely successful blog with a style that cannot really be compared to anyone else's (if you don't know it, I urge you to go there and check it out. It's hilarious - also, it'll give you a better idea of what this book contains. Words can't really describe this sort of stuff.).

I've been a fan of Allie Brosh's style for years and have followed her blog forever. The updates are few and far between these days, but the old posts are still gold - and this book is just as brilliant. Containing half new material and half posts from the blog, it's a great book (and incredibly heavy! who knew coloured paper and drawings weigh so much?).

I was a bit reluctant to start reading, worrying it'd be a watered-down version of posts already online, but just 3 pages into the first (and new story) I was laughing out loud. Brosh's wonderful poorly drawn simple cartoons are the best illustrations you could ever want and her stories vary between dark/touching and incredibly funny.

Despite the almost 400 pages it's very quickly read and leaves you with a fond smile on your face - or completely confused as to what you've just read.

»Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened«
by Allie Brosh
ISBN13: 9781451666175
371 pages / Published in 2013

Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2014


Læserne i Broken Wheel anbefaler af Katarina Bivald

Svenske Sara skriver sammen med 75-årige Amy fra Iowa, USA. I to år har de udvekslet tips om bøger og livet, og en dag takker Sara ja til Amys tilbud om at besøge hende. Da hun når frem til den lille flække Broken Wheel, er Amy imidlertid pludselig død. Byens indbyggere tager sig godt af den forvirrede, unge tursit, og Sara beslutter sig for at blive som planlagt. Da hun åbner en lille boghandel med alle Amys bøger, liver den lille søvnige by langsomt op, og Sara oplever for første gang at knytte relationer og venskaber - udover dem i litteraturens verden. Ingen tør tænke på, at Sara snart skal hjem igen, så byens indbyggere går sammen om en aldeles skør, men genial plan.

Læserne i Broken Wheel anbefaler er en sød bog, ingen tvivl om det. Desværre er den også ret så naiv i sin tilgang til virkeligheden.

Svenske Sara på 28 har et trist liv uden indhold - hvis man vel og mærke ikke tæller alle bøgerne i hendes liv med. Hun tager til the middle of nowhere, Iowa, USA for at besøge sin penneveninde Amy på 75. Desværre når Amy at dø inden hun når frem, og så står Sara jo der. Og er totalt håbløs.

Byen Broken Wheel er imidlertig beboet af en håndfuld personer med et eneste anseeligt personlighedstræk - "Sara er vores ven og vi skal blande os i hendes liv". Nok kan folk i små lokalsamfund være nogle spøjse typer, der blander sig i alt, men historien her tager en skarp drejning fra hvordan en fremmed turist egentlig vil have befundet sig ind i lala-land hvor alt er godt og de rare spøjse ting sker som perler på en snor. Selvom jeg syntes det var vældig hyggelig læsning var stereotyperne enerverende og tilgangen for naiv. Saras boghandel/bibliotek var en sød lille ting, men selv derude, hvor kragerne vender ville en eller anden form for myndighed formentlig tage affære, når et turistvisum misbruges.

Alle disse fadæser kan dog ignoreres mens man læser. Det er forholdsvist harmløst og historien er som sagt sød. Men så kommer man til kærlighedsdelen af plottet. Og så mistede jeg tålmodigheden. Vi lærer om Amy og hendes liv via de virkeligt korte papirsbreve - (hallo til den porto, der skriver man længere breve!) som hende og Sara har udvekslet og man lærer om nogle af de andre personer i byen. Inkl. den gnavne Tom - det oplagte match til Sara. Hvordan deres egentlige forhold udvikler sig er mig en gåde. Men jaja jeg kan gå med til det.

Hvad jeg dog ikke kan gå med til er Sara selv. Hun starter historien ud med at være en grå mus, der står på en gade og gemmer sig bag en bog af skræk for at skulle i kontakt med andre mennesker, men lige så hurtigt kan hun efterfølgende vende på en tallerken og være den bedstestebedste bogsælger. Jeg tror måske hovedsageligt mit problem med Sara er hendes tilgang til livet. Jeg elsker bøger, det gør jeg. Men at have en bog med i lommen, så man kan læse frem for at snakke med den person der giver en et kort lift ind til byen, det er sgu for groft. Gang på gang formåede sådanne små detaljer om Saras ligegyldighed eller totale mangel på respekt over for andre at pisse mig af. Hvordan ind i hulen hun formår på en halv dag at få en hel by til at elske hende er mig en gåde. Suk. Herudover er bogen så afsindigt forudseelig, at det gør helt ondt.

Men alt er dog ikke tabt. Bogen er nemlig fuld af gode boghenvisninger; mange, jeg kendte og mange, jeg skrev mig bag øret. Herudover kan man ikke være negativ over den rene bog- og læseglæde bogen som helhed udstråler. Sara får på eventyrlig vis selv den mindst ventede til at læse og det er en fornøjelse, hvordan de forskellige bøger passer til forskellige personer.

Trods mine lettere hårde ord, anbefaler jeg alligevel denne bog med ordene sød men simpel og hurtigt læst. Så en nem sommerbog til stranden, skoven eller poolen, det kan den snildt bruges til.

[Läserne i Broken Wheel rekommenderar]
af Katarina Bivald
ISBN13: 9788711346143
396 sider / Udgivet i 2014

Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2014
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