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Få inspiration til din næste læseoplevelse og læs mere om alt lige fra kærlighed, krimi, YA og historiske romaner til fantasy, science fiction og gys. Alt er på dansk - på nær de anmeldelser, jeg har lyst til at skrive på engelsk. Occasional posts/reviews in English.
~ Iben
Bibliotekar, bogblogger & boganmelder

30/12/2010

The Year of 2010 and the BoB Awards

2010 is coming to an end and 2011 is right around the corner, lurking.

2011 will be a big year for me, personally, as many plans have been made.
First of all I plan to move out (which at the ripe age of 22 is about time!), but it will also be the year, the summer, where I (hopefully) get a bachelor degree in library science. It's hard to understand that I'm almost done with my education. First though I have to get through the exams waiting for me in January!
Many travel plans have also been made, including Iceland in the early spring, Kenya a bit later on, and Turkey in the late-summer.

Blog-wise, there are also plans. I have started on one of them already with my article on E-readers and replacing the physical with the digital. I hope to write many more articles - I don't have a set amount, but I will try and  aim for at least one a month.

In regards to reading goals, I will once again attempt the 100+ Reading Challenge in 2011. I made it to 95 this year, so I think I have a chance!



And now for the BoB Awards!
(based solely on the books I've read this year (2010), not on the year they were actually published)

Book of the Year - The Painted Man by Peter V Brett

Most Awaited Book - The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Best New Idea - Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

Best Writing - The King Killer Chronicle, book 1: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Best Series - The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

Best Historical Novel - The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Best YA Novel - The Magician's Apprentice by Trudi Canavan 

Best Character - Lisbeth Salander from The Millenium Trilogy Books by Stieg Larsson



*~*~* A Very Happy New Year To You All! *~*~*

28/12/2010

Replacing the Physical with the Digital

In this day and age it baffles me how many resources are spent and wasted on the book industry.
Millions of books are printed and millions never get sold or is only read once before being confined to a dusty shelf for the rest of eternity.

Considering today's technological advances I think it's only a matter of time, till books as we know them, are no more.
As a book lover this pains me to some degree, because yes, holding the physical book in your hand cannot be beaten by any e-reader... or so I used to say - before I had even tried an e-reader. I was very sceptical when they first introduced digital books, but having now played with book various e-readers (kindle and ipad to name a few) I cannot argue that they are very nice to use.
The technology will keep on getting even better and I truly think it's the way to go eventually. You can take notes, you can zoom in, zoom out, highlight and best of all? You can carry thousands of books in your bag rather than just a couple. What I wouldn't have gived to own such a device when I started university! The money I've spent on physical copies of books and texts. The mountains of paper that's been spent on making photocopies of this and that. Imagine how much simpler it would have been had I had everything stored on such a device. I wouldn't sit here staring at a bookcase full of paper that's going to be thrown out the minute I have my bachelor degree as I have absolutely no further use for it. I wouldn't have lost articles and documents due to bad infrastructure in my room. I would have it all on a hard drive and once I was done with it I could press delete and it would disappear into the nothingness of which it came.

People out there will scream and rage and cling on to their books, and while I can feel their pain, I still think that maybe it's time we stop being so selfish and give it a try. Less resources will be wasted, books should theoretically become cheaper as less work (or rather, the entire printing stage) is necessary. Of course you can argue that this will result in less work for people and also though fewer resources are spent on books, more will be spent on the machines. And I suppose it's easier to recycle a book than it is plastic/metal thing. But if we enter that chasm of darkness it's all negative as we can dwell on how much the human race wastes and kills and destroys.

So I won't do that. I will think of the unicorns and the rainbows and the rainforest that people on the internet can't quite agree on whether or not is going to run out of trees. I will remember that we are a species that struggles to cope without internet access. I will remember, even if vaguely, Moore's law on how technology is racing to improve and do better. I will point out that if books aren't printed it should make it easier for new writers to get published (by themselves if they have to) and thus more material will hit the market (and yes that will inevitably mean more crap on the market as well, but try and think positive here). I will focus on all the good things I can think off and then I'll hope Santa brings me an e-reader come next Christmas.

Today's article brought to you by a naive little girl who doesn't have the financial resources yet to buy an e-reader, but is just really tired of all the dust in her room that gathers on her bookshelves.

Post by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010
---
This article was in no way sponsored by anybody

27/12/2010

Dragonfly by Julia Golding

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Princess Taoshira of the Blue Crescent Islands is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil of Gerfal in order to unite their lands. And he's not too pleased, either. They hate each other on sight. So, when Tashi and Ramil are kidnapped, they fear there's no escape - from their kidnappers or from each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing, and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure help them or betray them to the enemy?
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A welcome return to traditional YA fantasy.

The story is well built and executed containing both humour, love and action. The world and surroundings are very believable and I loved the culture clash between the characters and the nations. Tashi is very correct and formal and has high faith in her Goddess, where Ramil is more your typical prince with no particular religious tendencies and far more interested in having fun. They must both rise to the occasion as both their lives and their respective kingdoms depend on it.

Though very much a traditional fantasy story, it was far from predictable and it kept me entertained throughout the entire book. The characters were all very likeable and well written.

One thing though, apparently it's aimed at children age 9-10. I wouldn't expect those below 14 to actually understand the concepts the story handles and it does also hint at more gory situations as well as sexual ones, though never graphically.




344 pages / published in 2008
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

24/12/2010

Merry Christmas

I would just like to take the time to wish all my followers and readers a very merry Christmas / Happy Holidays. I hope you have all had a good year and wish you the best in the new one to come.

It's been quite the year for me with a lot of changes, thankfully most for the better. I am very happy that I took the step and created this book blog, and finally gave myself a hobby that I love doing. With nearly 30 books reviewed just this year since August and already 35 official followers and several more on the side I am very happy and very honoured :)

17/12/2010

The Fledging of Az Gabrielson, The Clouded World Series: Book One by Jay Amory

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Az Gabrielson is one of the Airborn, a people who, with a stretch and a beat of their eight-foot wings, travel effortlessly around and between their cities, perched high above the clouds amidst a life of ease and airy beauty. Az, however, has no wings, making him a pained and isolated oddity in his glorious world of freedom and flight. Then one day he is selected for a job below the clouds. The system of massive automated elevators, which send up everything the Airborn need to survive, are breaking down—and threatening to take the Airborn society with them. Someone must travel to the Ground to find out what has happened, and Az, with his wingless similarity to the prehistoric Groundlings, seems perfect for the task of hunting for answers beneath the clouds. But in the vast shadows of the cities on the Ground, Az finds more questions than answers when he discovers that the Groundlings worship a dim notion of the Airborn and aspire to be like them. Filling the elevators with tributes to their winged deities, the Groundlings are beginning to think that their way of life is part of a very unnatural order of things.
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I had a hard time reading this book. The Fledging of Az Gabrielson is not a bad story. Quite on the contrary it's rather interesting how there are humans turned "angels" (they have wings and their names, confusingly enough, are similar to medieval angelic names. They are however not angels in any religious sense, but merely a result of evolution) living in cities above the clouds, getting their resources from the somewhat post-apocalyptic world below. When the resources stop coming, young man Az, a freak of nature with no wings, is sent to investigate as he will be able to blend in with the ordinary humans. The story has a lot of potential, but I felt the read was very choppy and it took me a long time to connect to the characters.

The characters felt flat to me initially and even as far as halfway through the book I still didn't feel like I knew much about their personalities or motivation. However, things did pick up and looking back, all the characters were fairly well faceted. Very few were completely one-sided. Most had several ongoing issues and were not just completely evil/good.

It has to be mentioned here that the Danish translation of this book is fairly poor. The groundlings are supposed to talk in some sort of rough dialect and where that works brilliantly in written English, in Danish it just doesn't work. We don't have the capacity in my native language to get it across and as such the translator seems to have instead gone for a crude version of Danish and I really had to grit my teeth to read the dialogue. Quite possibly the book is a much better read in its original language.

The last few 150 pages or so saved the book for me. Until then it had been an actual struggle to read, but finally the pace picked up properly and things got interesting and I might even be curious enough now to read the next book in the series.




361 pages / published in 2006
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

13/12/2010

Vampire Diaries - The Return: Shadow Souls (book 6) by L.J. Smith

Review of The Vampire Diaries, book 5 - The Return: Nightfall (book 5)

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Elena Gilbert is once again at the centre of magic and danger beyond her imagining. And once more, Stefan isn't there to help! Elena is forced to trust her life to Damon, the handsome but deadly vampire who wants Elena, body and soul. They must journey to the slums of the Dark Dimension, a world where vampires and demons roam free, but humans must live as slaves of their supernatural masters. Damon's brother, the brooding vampire Stefan whom Elena loves, is imprisoned here, and Elena can only free him by finding the two hidden halves of the key to his cell. Meanwhile, the tension between Elena and Damon mounts until Elena is faced with a terrible decision: which brother does she really want to be with? The drama, danger and star-crossed love that fills each Vampire Diaries book is in full effect here, with Elena Gilbert once again filled with supernatural powers.
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You would think an author would improve with time, but Smith has managed to grow worse.

The overall story actually has faint hints of having could have been a good one (heroine, bad boy and friendly sidekicks go to hell to rescue lover boy). However it was written so poorly and feels so fragmented that this has got to be one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

Pages upon pages are spent on how Elena, the main character, feels and thinks and it is just way too much. Bad boy Damon, who previously alternated between flirting heavily and being mean to her, has now fallen properly in love and she loves him back in order to save his soul... or something like that. You see, what Smith seems to find highly amusing is to only vaguely describe what may or may not have happened and why and thus, I literally cannot tell you the exact details of this book as I simply do not know them.

The two accompanying sidekicks, Elena’s best friends, Bonnie and Meredith are purely there to be there and just listen to every word Elena has to say and find her amazing – they are the sisterhood of Velociraptor. (No, I did not just make that up, it really says so in the book, and yes, a velociraptor is a dinosaur).

Hell is a place where demons and vampires hold human slaves (and few humans are rich enough to be free), and of course the lovely all righteous Elena is having none of that! So of course she manages to get whipped to save a female slave, who happens to be extraordinarily rich, if someone could just help her and badabing, badaboom, they're all living in former lady-turned-slave's mansion. The lady also happens to be an extraordinary seamstress so when the three girls and vampire Damon have to go to balls on their search for keys (because of course they do), they get to wear fancy dresses. Smith spends so many pages on explaining these gowns in full detail that I started just skimming till something actually happened again as you can only take so much glitter and velvet till your head explodes.

They do eventually get around to saving lovervamp Stefan and make a run for it home. Like in book 5, this all have to do with the Japanese demon characters, which in the mean time have made a playground of Elena's town and so by the ending of book 6, they have in fact gotten absolutely nowhere and the big inevitable facedown is still to come.

I apologize if the above seems like a massive rant, but at the end of the day, I cannot find a single proper good thing to say about this book, and as a result, I give it zero stars.



496 pages / published in 2010
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

06/12/2010

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

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Meggie loves stories, but her father, Mo, hasn't read aloud to her since her mother mysteriously disappeared.
When a stranger knocks at their door, Mo is forced to reveal an extraordinary secret - when he reads aloud, words come alive, and dangerous characters step out of the pages.
Suddenly, Meggie is living the kind of adventure she has only read about in books, but this one will change her life for ever.
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I had high expectations for Inkheart as I've heard only good about it, but it was nothing more than an average read for me.

The story is very innocent and quite possibly I'm simply too old to read it and properly "get" it. However I do not think the intended audience (12-15 year olds maybe?) would find it any more thrilling than I did.
The story never really caught proper hold of me, and I think in particular the lack of character developement got to me. They are all very one-sided and it was hard to get to know them properly and thereby like them. Meggie's only real trait seems to be her love of books and she is incredibly passive for a main character.

Furthermore the story was very long-winded with hardly any actual action making it a very long book to get through. It could have used some cliff-hangers or any sort of suspense - as it was I could put it down mid-sentence and not think more of it. The plot as such is very generic and from page one you don't doubt the inevitable happy ending.

I liked the general storyline and the idea about some people being capable of making books and the stories they contain come to life. However I couldn't ignore a very big bucket of plot holes and ideas that didn't seem properly thought through.

As they were a gift, I do have the entire trilogy on my bookshelves and I will eventually read Inkspell and Inkdeath. I am in no rush though and Inkheart works fine as a standalone novel.




543 pages / published in 2003


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Also - I can recommend the motion picture Inkheart which is based on the novel. It's a very sweet film starring Brendan Fraser and I must admit I enjoyed it far more than the book, as the film has both action and suspense.

03/12/2010

Vampire Diaries - The Return: Nightfall (book 5) by L.J. Smith

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Elena Gilbert is alive - again. When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back. Now Elena is not just human. She has powers. What's more, her blood pulses with a unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire. Both brothers still want Elena to be theirs, but something bigger and more powerful than all of them may want her more...
----------

First to sum up the 4 previous books.
Back in 1991 wrote 4 books – the original Vampire Diaries; The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury and The Reunion, which are basically about vampires, eternal love and devoted friendship. I read the first two in my early tweens, but never got hold of the others and I didn’t find the entire quadrilogy till January 2010 where I reread them. Book 1 and 2 had me wondering why I had liked them so much, book 3 I thought was a decent end to it all, and then came book 4 and destroyed the whole thing. An utterly mind-baffling resurrection of something that would have worked just fine as a YA trilogy, book 4 kept a book series alive that had served its duty and deserved peace.
Now, to be clear, the trilogy I think is good. The writing was a bit weaker than I remembered but still enjoyable. The 4th book seemed a bit redundant, but I went along with it though I had the nagging feeling that it was written only because the author couldn’t bear to say goodbye.

So onwards to 2009 where book 5 suddenly appeared. Called The Return: Nightfall the story picks up a few days or weeks after book 4 ended and to be perfectly honest with you, the book is an utter mess. It was impossible to make sense of what was going on and jumps from one thing to another, and changes point of view quicker than a cheetah can run. It is often difficult to discern who says what and just to add to the general confusion, there are new villains at play. These are some obscure Japanese characters/demons who mostly just gave me the feeling that Smith has recently become a fan of animes and just *had* to include something from that genre as several of the characters have also suddenly taken to using Japanese expressions whenever they can to support the thinner and thinner plot.

The main character, Elena, has Mary-Sue branded to her forehead (whereas in the first 3 books, it was more just the label of her clothes). Everybody loves her, she can master anything and everything, having been dead twice over, vampyrical and back, and is now apparently bursting to the seams with [and I quote] >>magic of the kind all humans possess, but don’t know how to use.<<

The character development in the book is horrendous and only Elena actually has something beneath the surface, little as it may be – the rest aren’t any deeper than the paper they’re written on. The love both brothers have for Elena and their different ways of handling just seems like a joke by now and the thought, that some youngsters will grow up with these books believing this is how love works, makes me cringe.

Overall I was disappointed by this book, but at the same time I never set my expectations very high for it. The writing feels weak and it’s just too much.
To drive home my reason for only giving this book 1 star, have another quote from it.

>>I’m the hell Shinichi, the other boy replied. His hair was the strangest Damon had seen in a while. It was smooth and shiny and black everywhere except for an edging of uneven dark red at the tips. The fringe he tossed carelessly out of his eyes ended in crimson and so did the little wisps all round his collar – for he wore it slightly long. It looked as if tongues of dancing, flaring flame were licking at the ends of it, and gave singular emphasis to his answer: I’m the hell Shinichi. If anyone could pass as a devil come up straight from Hell, this boy could.<< (L.J. Smith - Nightfall, p. 142)




471 pages / published in 2009
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

30/11/2010

Interview with Mark Whiteway


Mark Whiteway, author of the Lodestone Series including the previously reviewed book The Sea of Storms, has very kindly agreed to an interview about his books and how he got there.


1. Tell us a little about yourself. What did you do before you started writing?
Writing SciFi has been a long held ambition of mine. As a kid, I read everything–Wells, Verne, Heinlein, etc., etc. At twelve years old, I wrote a novella. (I still have it, hand-written in a huge ledger). It was about our sun going nova, and the resulting breakdown of society, as told through the eyes of three boys. It’s pretty moving stuff and has something of a surreal ending. Following that, life intervened, and it was only in April ’09 that I determined that I wanted to get back to writing. I had had several ideas running around in my head for some time, of which the Lodestone concept was probably the strongest. As I began to develop the story, it rapidly became clear that there was no way I was going to be able to cover it all in a single book, and so the Lodestone Series was born.

2. How would you describe your début novel, The Sea of Storms?
The Sea of Storms is a fast-paced book, which really reflects the way it was written. The whole thing was completed and edited in just four months. The idea of two opposing female leads appealed to me–to have the audience root for one and then the other. It is their conflict that really drives the story forward in Book One. Each has their strengths and flaws, but both must somehow find a way to work together if they are going to save their world.

Most people tell me that their favorite character is Boxx, so it may surprise you to know that I did not come up with the idea for the creature until I was well into writing the story. Boxx is like a small child and a wise old man all rolled into one. It has its own alien way of speaking which the other characters don't understand most of the time. There's a lot of humor in those passages. There are also moments when Boxx is virtually screaming some vital piece of information at them and they just don't get it.

As a character, Boxx has really grown with the story. Its role is both tragic and funny by turns, with a major surprise in the third book. Look out for it!

3. The lodestones are a really interesting concept, what gave you the idea/inspiration to write about them?
The Lodestone Series sprang from an idea that I had had for a little while. Einstein's relativity theory predicts the existence of negative matter, (not to be confused with antimatter or dark matter, which are completely different phenomena). Although we have never found any, we know it would have some pretty weird properties, like negative inertia and negative gravity. I started to think, what would happen to a society where this stuff existed?

I wrote the books in such a way that you do not need to know anything at all about science in order to enjoy the story. However, the theory behind it is interesting and quite elegant. For example, if lodestone repels all other matter, you may wonder why it doesn’t fall upwards in the planet’s gravity rather than downwards? It’s all to do with the way gravity works. For the physicists among us, here is the answer!

mia = -G.mp.Ma
           _______
                r2

4. You've received a lot of very positive response to your first book, how does that make you feel?
You know Iben, you can never be sure how a book is going to be received until you “put it out there”. One thing that has surprised me with Lodestone Book One is that the strongest reaction so far has been from young people. I didn’t originally write the books with young people in mind, but every youngster who has read it seems to have become really caught up in it. It’s been an unexpected but very welcome result!

5. Now I know that after The Sea of Storms comes book 2: The World of Ice and Stars, but I hear there's a third book in the making too?
(Laughs) Actually, I’m already thinking about Book Five, if you can believe that! Book Three, which is about two-thirds done, will complete the current story arc and tie up all of the existing plot lines. However, it will end with a new mystery, which will be the hook into Book Four. The fourth book takes place primarily in the distant past, with different characters, but you will recognize a number of the elements that went to make up the first three Lodestone books. We also learn a lot more about the Kelanni and the Chandara, with a number of surprises along the way! Book Five will bring us back to the present, where one of our original heroes, spurred on by the revelations of Book Four, sets off on an entirely new quest.

I also have a growing file of other ideas and concepts outside of the Lodestone universe, which could well be the basis for a book of short stories, although some of them might develop as novels in their own right. I always find that ideas come faster than my ability to get them down on paper!

Thank you very much, Mark!

Interview by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

26/11/2010

The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett

Known in America as The Warded Man, this is book one of the Demon Cycle.

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Arlen lives with his parents on their small farmstead, half a day’s ride from the isolated hamlet of Tibbet’s Brook. As dusk falls each evening, a mist rises from the ground promising death to any foolish enough to brave the coming darkness. For hungry demons materialize from the vapours to feed, and as the shadows lengthen, humanity is forced to take shelter behind magical wards and pray that their protection holds until the dawn.
But when Arlen’s world is shattered by the demon plague, he realizes that it is fear, rather than the monsters, which truly cripples humanity. Only by conquering their own terror can they ever hope to defeat the demons. Now Arlen must risk leaving the safety of the wards to discover a different path, and offer humanity a last fleeting chance of survival.
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This is the best book I have read all year – and I don’t say that lightly.

It is extremely well written, and I cannot pinpoint a single flaw. I barely know where to begin on my near-worship of this book. The three main characters are incredibly real and as you follow them up through time, they grow on you and you feel both their misery and pain and their pleasure too. Arlen is a fighter, Rojer is a survivor and Leesha never gives up.

The land, which the story takes place in, is so different and yet so similar to our own and it has such a deep and dark history. The people, the background and the story are all so incredibly believable. You can draw several parallels between our own world and history and this, both concerning religions and nations (though only ever so slightly, I would like to just add a disclaimer here, as this book in no way has anything to do with actual religious subjects).

The story goes as the fantasy genre usually does, but it never became predictable and the brutality, the reality, of the demons and their actions shook me, as my legs continually were swept away from beneath me. It is a genuine pay turner and I will recommend it to anyone who even remotely enjoys the fantasy genre. It is in no way for the younger audience though.

The Painted Man is Brett’s first novel and I am amazed at his level of brilliancy from the very beginning. The story continues in the second book The Desert Spear, which I am very eager to get hold on to say the least.




544 pages / published in 2008
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

17/11/2010

Book Convention and New Books

So I went to the Danish Book Fair/Convention in Copenhagen this weekend. (Bogforum - Danish website). It was really big and exciting, but (unfortunately) it was more or less exclusively Danish authors and Danish books and I don't actually read much of either. Books in Denmark are very expensive, as the market is just not that big, so even though they had a lot of sales at the fair, it was still too pricey for me.

 I did get a few books though and even one comic book!


  • The Fledging of Az Gabrielson by Jay Amory (2006)
  • Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (2009)
  • Dragonfly by Julia Golding (2008)
  • Vildheks (Wild/Rogue Witch) by Lene Kaaberbøl (2010)
They are all Danish translations, except the last one which is actually a Danish book/author (and signed by her too!). I usually prefer reading books in their original language (=English) but can't have it all I guess.
The comic book I got is the second book in the Passengers of the Wind (Les Passagers du vent) series by François Bourgeon, which was the only one in the collection I didn't have.

16/11/2010

Lodestone, book one: The Sea of Storms by Mark Whiteway

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Ail-Kar, a white-hole portal from another universe, rains meteoroids onto the surface of the planet Kelanni. But the so-called "lodestones" behave according to different physical laws, transforming Kelanni's society. With the aid of the fearsome Keltar in their flying cloaks, the Kelanni are being put to forced labor to mine the lodestones. Shann, an orphan with a fiery disposition, witnesses a battle between a Keltar and a stranger bearing a similar flying cloak. She tracks down the stranger, and learns of the technology behind the Keltars' power, joining him on a mission to free the slaves and cut off their supply of lodestones. Meanwhile Keris, a Keltar, is sent on a mission to track down the rebels. She is attacked by a flying creature and saved by the enigmatic Chandara. At their Great Tree, she learns that a mysterious "Prophet" is out to destroy the Kelanni people. Their only hope is a powerful instrument hidden in the distant past. Pursued by Keltar, the party will encounter bizarre creatures, ancient technologies and terrifying dangers. Finally, they must seek to cross a massive storm barrier in order to reach the other side of their world, where a world-shaking revelation awaits.
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I'm not usually a science fiction fan, but this book had me from page 1.

The book is very fast paced, they are constantly on the move and there are few, if any, slow paragraphs. The descriptions of the surrounding world are fantastic and colourful, and bears witness of a land and zoology entirely different from ours - and it works.The Lodestone concept is really clever and well thought through. So is the Kelanni race (human-like), the Keltars (disciples of the Prophet) and their flying cloaks, and the entire world, it's set in. It is so completely different and it's absolutely brilliant. The book plays with the laws of physics, but it never gets boring.

The main characters consist of an unlikely group, and the book tells the story through the perspective of Shann and Keris; Two women, both on a journey to discover who they are and what they're capable off.
The characters are in general very well written and likeable (the good guys at least), but I do think that things went a bit too fast sometimes. They are a bit too accepting and willing to believe and rely on the word of a total stranger, despite it being the total opposite of anything, they ever thought they knew. Gut feelings can only get you so far, after all.

Lodestone, book one: The Sea of Storms is only the first part of the story, and ending in a cliffhanger I'm very much looking forwards to getting my hands on the next book, Lodestone Book Two: The World of Ice and Stars, and find out what happens.




278 pages / published in 2010
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010



Many thanks to author Mark Whiteway for supplying me with a copy to review.

09/11/2010

Life is Good Award

100 Thoughts have awarded me the Life is Good Award - thank you very much :)

Rules:
1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award.
2. Answer the 10 survey questions.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked to let them know about the award.

The Recipients: (here's 5 at least)
- Tiny Library
- Trisha's Book Blog
- TicToc
- All Things Historial Fiction
- Fiction Spark


The Questions and Answers can be found below the cut

Fallen by Lauren Kate

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There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
Except Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce – he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret... even if it kills her
Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page-turning thriller and the ultimate love story.
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I have many bones to pick with this book. It is well enough written, but it is also incredibly confusing. Barely anything is explained and the female lead, Luce (aka Lucinda) is about the most annoying protagonist I have ever had the misfortune to read about. If you thought Bella from Twilight was bad, you haven't seen anything yet. Luce is capable of doing absolutely nothing on her own. She is clueless, whiny and plain stupid - though of course she performs brilliantly in school. She immediately falls for bad boy, Daniel (read=Edward), who makes it clear he wants nothing to do with her. So she becomes obsessed and stalks him. Because that makes sense.

None of the characters have any depth and besides a few first first-impression descriptions you learn nothing about them. They are just there to fill up the space around Luce and be mysterious.

You get nearly no details about Luce's life at school. Only the "important" parts are highlighted - those in which she whines about how miserable it all is and how confusing her love for Daniel is and that other guy who also happens to fall for her the second she walks in. Because yes, it's one of those books.

Now Fallen supposedly turns a leaf in the fantasy genre by replacing vampires with angels. This, I think is brilliant. What isn't brilliant is the near total lack of angel-lore. A few references to Milton's Paradise Lost isn't going to cut it! Give me something to work with here - for all the information given, they might as well be fairies. There is so much more to angels than their wings.

Fallen is a very generic YA book, and the first in the series. Next one is Torment. I am in no hurry to read it.




452 pages / published in 2009
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

07/11/2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

----------
In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of Killing.
Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa's life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid's father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?
The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out - but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...
----------

A very good concept, but very poorly executed.

The story is good, but the plot rushes through it and right from the very beginning it becomes painfully clear that this is a fairytale and only happy endings are available. The story has god some very promising elements, but they are thrown in there and dealt with so quickly, that you never feel any tension, and so easily, that the whole book feels like a joke.

The main character, Katsa, can do everything and anything and she is the best. She's a stereo typical bad example of a generic fantasy book. The female fighter, who has no idea how and no wish to be feminine and can conquer the world with her hands tied behind her back. The cover describes this story as a fantasy romance, and there is indeed romance - but it is so clumsy, predictable and poorly written that it just reminded me of a teenage soap opera - bad fanfiction even. Behold the drama of the virgin lady killer who falls in love for the very first time! Behold Mr. Perfect! Behold the glaringly obvious Mr. BadGuy!

I really liked the concept of the Graces though. It's the magical element, and it's basically just an advanced skill trade that shows up at random in people when they're young. Anyone graced, has 2 differently coloured eyes and is particularly good at something, be it baking, fighting or mind-reading and so on and so forth. Katsa, conveniently enough, seems to be graced with more or less everything.

All in all, I was disappointed by this book. It could have been great, but it just isn't.




371 pages / published in 2008
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

02/11/2010

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

Review of the first book in the Millennium trilogy can be found here
Review of the second book in the Millennium trilogy can be found here
---
Original title (Swedish) :  
Luftslottet som sprängdes.
I read it in Danish (luftkastellet der blev sprængt). The direct translation is The castle in the sky that got blown up.

----------
Lisbeth Salander, a bullet wound to her head, lies in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.
Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Salander is fighting back.
----------


This book is my favourite of the series. Something happens on every single page and it was hard to put down (unfortunately life kept interrupting me, which is the only reason why it took me so long to finish it)

The book's only weakness, if you can call is that, is the fact that it gets very heavy on the name dropping, the (fictional?) explanations on the Swedish Secret Police and the numerous, nay the countless, amount of people who get involved in the case and the reader is suddenly introduced to. It gets a bit hard keeping track of them all.

Lisbeth Salander is utterly brilliant portrayed and Blomkvist and his crew/her supporters and their struggles are all written very well. The book has an unending series of sidelines, who more or less all fit in together at the end of it and I must say I'm sad to not be able to read more about them.




Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

18/10/2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Review of the first book in the Millennium trilogy can be found here
---
Original title (Swedish) :  
Flickan som lekte med elden.
I read it in Danish (Pigen der legede med ilden). The direct translation is The girl who played with fire.

----------
Mikael Blomkvist is working on a groundbreaking case. The journatlist Dag Svensson and his girlfriend, Mia Bergman, have found incriminating information concerning an extensive sex-trade business between Eastern Europe and Sweden, and many of those involved in the trafficking hold important positions in the Swedish society.
Lisbeth Salander's past is rearing its ugly head and when a brutal murder takes place, she's the prime suspect. It's time for her to settle matters once and for all, and Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander's paths cross once again.
----------

The story, the crime, has become a personal matter for both Blomkvist and Salander. They and several other characters try to figure out what really happened and Lisbeth can give up any hope of ever living a quiet unnoticed life. It is a very well written book and the characters are well portrayed. Lisbeth Salander seems more human and natural, possible, in this book than in the first, if that's a improvement in her nature or in Larsson's writing I cannot say.

The book is 639 pages long and the actual story, the crime, the main plot doesn't start till page 250 or so, and I found those first 250 pages a bit of a slow read as they were more just additional information about what goes on in the characters' lifes and what not. It is interesting enough and well written, it just didn't really seem to be going anywhere. HOWEVER - like the first book it redeems itself and it got progressively better and faster paced. From page 500 to the end I found it impossible to put the book down, despite having already seen the film and knowing what would happen!




Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010
---
Review of the third book in the Millennium trilogy can be found here

15/10/2010

New Books


Today 3 new books arrived for me in the mail. Ordered them a week ago from my favourite online bookstore.
They are:
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Fallen by Lauren Kate
  • The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett
Can't wait to get started on them, once I'm done with the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.

10/10/2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Original title (Swedish) :  
Män som hatar kvinnor.
I read it in Danish (Mænd der hader kvinder). The direct translation is Men that hate women.

----------
Mikael Blomkvist has been convicted for damaging allegations against a billionaire industrialist and sentenced to 3 months of prison. The future looks bleak, not least for the magazine Millennium that he's the co-director off. Unexpectedly he gets a job offer from Henrik Vanger, the elderly former CEO of Vanger Enterprise, who wants him to investigate the disappearance and believed murder of his beloved great-niece Harriet which took place over 40 years ago.
 As Blomkvist investigates the case he enlists the help of the anti-social hacker and investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a background she refuses to share with anyone and problems of her own.
----------

I'm very fascinated with the character Lisbeth Salander, who's just not like anything ever before. Her moral code, her mind, her actions - she is one of a kind and she is so well written.
Mikael Blomkvist is the actual main character, he's a dedicated reporter and a very warm person. He's a very likeable character and very easy to relate to.

It takes a while for the book to get started, some 200 pages are spent on mainly building up the characters, the background story and the plot to come - but once that's taken care of the pace quickens and the last 100 pages or so I could barely put the book down (despite having seen the film and knowing what would happen!)

It's a very well written book, the story is fascinating and despite a bit of tangle as Blomkvist tries to get the whole Vanger-family mapped out, it's a very good read and I recommend it to everyone who likes a crime story with a good pinch of brutal realism. The book is not for minors, though not drawn out, there are explicit scenes of various forms of abuse in it.




Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

---
Review of the second book in the Millennium trilogy can be found here
----------
Note: I've seen the films, all 3, and they are absolutely brilliant. Why on earth Hollywood is re-filming them is beyond me. I think it's a true shame that people around the world can't watch the original performance by Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander, just because they don't like listening to a language different from English. Do yourself the favour and watch them. Before or after the books, it doesn't really matter, but seriously - watch the original Swedish films. Nothing Hollywood makes can top them.

05/10/2010

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman


----------
Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city; neverwhere.
----------

Poor Richard grows to fulfil his destiny, and he handles the adventures and people, it brings him, well. The girl, Door, is something special, the villains are wonderful and Neverwhere itself is a place of wonders.

Neverwhere is probably my favourite of Neil Gaiman's books. It's mad and amazing. He handles the bizarre and the abnormal phenomenally, and there is never a slow moment.

If you haven't read any of Gaiman's books before, Neverwhere is great place to start. If you have, but just not this one, I can heartily recommend it.




372 pages / published in 1996
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

03/10/2010

The Versatile Blogger

The lovely Fiction Spark has awarded me with The Versatile Blogger Award (I'm on a roll here!)

I looked up what versatile actually means and Merriam-Webster said this,

--
1 : changing or fluctuating readily - variable <a versatile disposition>
2 : embracing a variety of subjects, fields, or skills; also - turning with ease from one thing to another 
 --

 So a big huzzah! for being versatile and a big thank you to Fiction Spark.

Now according to the rules, besides thanking and linking to the person who gave me the award, I have to write 7 things about myself, and pass the award along to 15 bloggers who I've recently discovered and who I think are fantastic, and then let them know they've received the award.
 
Well, here's 10 versatile blogs at least:
 

 
7 things can be found beneath the cut

27/09/2010

One Lovely Blog Award

Yesterday Sam, from the Tiny Library, awarded me with the One Lovely Blog Award stating that she loves how straightforward and honest my reviews are <3 Thank you so much for that!

So, along with that honour, I get to pass it on to blogs I find lovely :)

The YA Takeover - This brilliant blog is a guide to Young Adult books, in movie form. Basically when a YA book is rumoured to be made into a film these guys will let you know :)

The Daily Brass - This humorous book blog focuses on satire/literary parodies.

The Fiction Spark - This lovely blog reviews books close to my own taste and as such has recommended me a fair deal of new books I want to get my hands on :)

26/09/2010

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I spent the night with Felurian and left with both my insanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.”
----------

The Name of the Wind - The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One is about protagonist Kvothe whom, seemingly withdrawn from his adventurous past, tells his tale to a famous chronicler who’s found him in his seclusion. The story alternates from present day Kvothe to the past. It is very well written and very engaging, and I found it extremely difficult at times to put the book down.

I cannot tell you much about the plot without spoiling it, because of the way the story is put together. Telling you now, even some of the minor things that happen, will, I think, ruin a bit reading about how it came to be and what came before. For example, if I told you that the University goes up in flames (it doesn’t), then it would be easy for you to figure out who did it, if you then read early on, that Kvothe was a pyromaniac (he isn’t).I can say though that we follow young Kvothe from his blissful youth, through his miserable early teens, to his acceptance into the University and his life and adventures there.

Obviously you don’t get the whole tale in just one book, there will be in fact three books, and without knowing it I assume the next will tell the rest of his past and maybe the third will then move on to the present. The second book is planned to be released in spring 2011, called The Wise Man’s Fear, the third doesn’t have a title yet nor a release date. The Name of the Wind, though, is from 2007, so obviously Rothfuss isn’t the fastest writer, so book 3 might not come out for several more years.

The story is very well told; the world, the people, the mythology, the mystery – all are very well thought out and described. There is magic, but it is not magic, as we have known it from other books. Besides the aspect of names (know them and you can control their owners, be it wind or fire or anything else), there is sympathy – I can barely explain it to you, but then again I’m no magician. The basic idea is something on the lines of everything being related and if you have a representation of something, you can affect it through that.

The book nearly lost me though after about 350 pages. The story stagnates a bit for roughly 150 pages, where little happens and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The story does pick up again though, and by the time it ended (after 662 pages) I was fully drawn back into it and am now very much looking forward to getting my hands on the next book.

Overall, I like the story a lot, including the characters, which all seem very well thought out and real.
You do hear a lot about Kvothe’s money woes and despite it being refreshing from all the other books where money never seem to become an issue, it becomes a bit too much.
The story also tends to focus on just one thing at a time and sometimes (especially in the long stagnating part) for so long that you wonder, if he did nothing else at all than just chase the girl or work, for example. My last small complaint is the heavy reliance on foreshadowing, but that’s really just a pet peeve of mine.





Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

20/09/2010

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory


*Unless you are completely unfamiliar with English Tudor history, this review holds no spoilers*

The Other Boleyn Girl tells the tale of the passionate girl that was Mary Boleyn and that of her arrogant and proud sister, Anne.
Mary wins the king and his heart, becoming his beloved mistress, and bears him children. But the court is treacherous place, and her own family thinks of nothing but their own glory and when Mary is no longer his favourite they let her sister Anne take her place, demanding Mary teach her how to ensnare him. Anne has the ambition and will to aim higher than anyone ever thought possible. She wishes to become Queen of England, whatever the cost.

It portrays the change in paradigm, when a queen could for the first time be overthrown, when women were nothing in the eyes of men, when a king became as mighty as God and noone was safe.

While reading the book, you have to put yourself in Mary's situation. Wedded and bedded at age 12 to William Carey, the King's mistress at age 13, she is a woman completely of her time. She cares not for the intrique of the Court and just wants to be with her children, but she is forced to stay and smile, as Anne rises and rises in life - ultimately rising so high, she can only fall.
Mary is a strong woman, who manages to find true love in a time where love is only for peasants, and Gregory tells her story magnificently.

Gregory portrays the Tudor era magnificently, and The Other Boleyn Girl is no exception. I'm a big fan and have read several of her other books (The Constant Princess, The Virgin's Lover, The Other Queen and The White Queen). Gregory writes in a very captivating style, and if you like historical novels, she is a must-read author.

The stories are so well thought through and though of course she takes some liberties with the story, it depicts the 'true' story. Using letters, books and old manuscripts as her sources, adding on thoughts and feelings of the characters, you feel very close to them, especially the main character (usually a first person point of view).

The Other Boleyn Girl
is quite a long story, spanning 15 years from 1521 to 1536. "Limited" to a real life story, the plot is not always action packed and it is even a bit slow at times, but mostly it manages a very fine balance of moving forwards while telling the story of Henry's Court and Anne's ambition from Mary's point of view.
The characters are almost perfectly represented, my only slight complain is that Mary is made to look a bit more innocent and sweet than she probably was, and Anne a bit more cruel. However, it was desperate times and Gregory shows the people and their actions wonderfully.




Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

-----
I recommend you read The Constant Princess, before The Other Boleyn Girl, as to better understand Queen Katherine's situation when the Boleyn girls steals her husband and eventually her crown. The Constant Princess tells the story of Katherine of Aragon, a Spanish Princess, married to Crown Prince Arthur, who tragically diesShe must be strong and take matters in her own hands so she can marry his younger brother, prince Henry, soon to be King Henry the 8th - a spoiled boy never taught how to rule a country. The man we know today as a tyrant and wife-killer.

13/09/2010

Books Awaiting


There are currently 15 unread books on my shelves:
  • Inkheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Darling Jim by Christian Mørk
  • De Ti Herskere by Christian Mørk (The 10 Rulers)
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Priestess of the White, Last of the Wilds and Voice of the Gods by Trudi Canavan
  • The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
  • Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • New Spring by Robert Jordan

    12/09/2010

    Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

    WARNING: Contains minor spoilers for Poison Study (book 1) and Magic Study (book 2)

    I was disappointed with Fire Study, to put it mildly. I had expected much more and in the end I finished it, more because I felt I ought to, than because I was truly engrossed.

    The story is an absolute mess and the red thread that's supposed to keep the whole thing together got lost within the first 50 pages. I didn't find it clearly again till page 400. Maybe I'm just exceptionally thick, but I could not keep track of all the confusion, the repetition, the constant change of minds, the lack of explanations to what was going on or why and abundance of stuff happening. It was confusing and frustrating reading this book, and only the last few chapters returned to the same flow that made me love Poison Study.
    I can't figure out if Snyder never wrote an outline for the story and just wrote it as it came to her, thus resulting in the tangled mess, or if she just expected her readers to understand all the things implied perfectly and thus be able to follow the story she tried to convey.

    The writing, the style, has also taken a turn for the worse. The tone seems off, and it often feels like you're reading the commentary rather than what's actually happening. You don't feel with or for any of the characters. Things happen and you don't care. Obviously I can't tell you the specifics of all my annoyances and disappointments with the book, without spoiling it completely, but I can tell you that I only properly enjoyed the final few chapters of the book - the rest were too jumbled.
    As in book 2, Magic Study, simply too much have been crammed in to this book. After finishing it, I can see the general idea of the plot and how intricate Snyder intended it to be - unfortunately it's just too much. I don't know if maybe she was limited to a certain amount of pages (Fire Study consists of 441 pages), but maybe it would have done the story some good, if it was 200 pages longer and allowed for time to pass, silent moments to exist and gave the reader the opportunity to digest. As it is, the second one thing is done with, another explodes and the characters rush off to deal with that, and it's simply too much.

    Character-wise, I'm disappointed as well; people who were fresh and plausible in the first and second book, have frozen into stereotypes of themselves and seem unable to do anything but what Yelena expects them to and finds them capable off. Their personalities are all over the place.
    The bad guys are still ravenous for blood and basically incapable of anything but being psychopaths. Valek is once again Yelena's stud (only implied, never graphic) who happens to also be handy in a fight. Yelena herself is almost impossible to understand or feel with as she spends most of the book, seemingly unable to even understand her own actions.

    The Soulfinder concept introduced in Magic Study and explored in Fire Study is interesting, and I wish Snyder had used it better throughout the book, instead of sending Yelena through a stumbling path to enlightenment.

    The book gets 2 stars, hovering on the edge of 3, but only because I still like the overall concept of the story and the world it takes place in. Snyder could have done so much better - she proved that with Poison Study.




    Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010


    The following is a very apt description of the story, written by Angie on Goodreads:

    08/09/2010

    Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

    WARNING: Contains minor spoilers for Poison Study, book 1 of the Yelena Zaltana novels by Maria V. Snyder.

    ----------
    Confronting the past - controlling the future

    With an execution order on her head, Yelena has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth.
    With only a year to master her magic - or face death - Yelena must begin her apprenticeship and travels to the Four Towers of the Magician's Keep.

    But nothing in Sitia is familiar. Not the family to whom she is a stranger. Not the unsettling new facets of her magic. Not the brother who resents her return. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her rare powers, a rogue magician emerges - and Yelena catches his eye.

    Suddenly she is embroiled in battle against good and evil. And once again it will be her magicial abilities that will either save her life... or be her downfall.
    ----------

    I was absolutely thrilled when I got my hands on the second book of the Yelena Zaltana novels, Magic Study, and although I enjoyed reading it, it's got some issues.

    The first 300 pages of the book I loved just as much as I did Poison Study. The writing was great and the flow and pace of the story was good. Yelena's reintroduction to her family and clan, the land of Sitia, the journey to the citadel, the other magicians and their lessons, the political drama; it was all great.
    But then something happened. Too much happens actually. Like another reviwer at goodreads.com points out, Yelena has too many scenes involving defying authority/kidnappings/escapes/torture/using magic to save the day. There's too many repetitions and those 100 pages or so feel overcrowded with action and it drags the story. The writing also takes a turn for the poorer, even childish, as if Snyder felt stressed by all the story lines she had crammed into the book.

    Another problem is the ongoing torture/rape-villain. It worked in the first book, but when you meet several more in the next it gets old. Snyder has to move on and let her villains have as many sides as her good guys does. Because her good guys are great - their feelings and actions range the whole spectre. There's love, friendship, jealousy and hatred all at once. So why are the evil guys all chronically insane with a habit of slicing up their victims?

    Finally, there is the use of the characters. New ones are introduced and old ones hover in the background. Though most of the new characters have their moments, Valek, Yelena's love from the first book, only appears about halfway through the book and he's only really there to bed the girl. He's gone from an almost almighty spy master that Yelena could trust to save the day and work with, to some obscure presence in the background.
    Another character problem is the appearance of a villain that should have never have been there. Adding to the flood of action in the final pages, the character could easily have never existed and many pages been spent otherwise without the reader losing out whatsoever.

    The final chapter of the book manages to save the book, pulling all the loose strings together and shipping off the majority of the characters, leaving behind the ones that we need. Yelena must make some choices and we finally get back to focusing on what this is really all about, her figuring who she is and who she wants to be.

    I give this book 4 stars, because I did really like the majority of it and I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Fire Study. It might only have deserved 3 stars, but I'll give it the benefit of doubt and hope for better editorial skills in the third book.




    Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

    07/09/2010

    Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

    Knots and Crosses is a crime novel from 1987 by Ian Rankin, and is the first of many Inspector John Rebus novels.

    ----------
    John Rebus is a cop in Edinburgh with a haunting past involving the SAS. He smokes and drinks too much, his wife left him and his estranged daughter isn't particularly impressed by him either. Edinburgh is his city, but things are going down the drain. A killer is on the loose, two young girls kidnapped and strangled, and now a third has been reported missing. Rebus is assigned to the case which grows bigger and more gruesome as time flies and the journalists flock like vultures. Meanwhile an anonymous loony is sending Rebus letters with knots on strings and matchstick crosses, reporter Stevens thinks he's on to something involving both Rebus and his brother, and Rebus would rather he could just forget it all and make it go away as events take an turn for the personal and the scary.
    ----------

    It's a short read, but a good one. It took a while for the story to get going and I spent a while being rather frustrated with Rebus and his dark problems and haunting memories. About halfway through the story picks up the pace though and I found myself pulled in. Without spoiling the actual plot I can tell that it's not one of those crime novels where you get hints and clues throughout the book and the killer's identity is revealed on the last page. This is more about Rebus, and him coming to terms with himself and his past.

    Should I come across the next book in the series I would read it. The characters are well written, the story is strong and over all it's time well spent.



    226 pages / published in 1987
    Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

    03/09/2010

    The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan

    Warning: Review contains spoilers of the Black Magician Trilogy!
    ----------

    Book one of the Traitor Spy Trilogy, The Ambassador's Mission picks up 20 years after The High Lord ended (The Black Magician Trilogy) and we follow the lives of Black Magician Sonea who's forbidden to leave the city of Imardin, her son Lorkin and Ambassador Dannyl's travels to Sachaka, and Thief Cery's attempts to catch the Thief Hunter.

    Dannyl goes to Sachaka with Lorkin as his assistant, but soon Lorkin disappears by the hands of the mysterious cult, the Traitors. Sonea wants to go find her son, but the restriction set on her by the guild to keep their Black magicians in place (who are believed to be practising a dangerous magic that must be tightly controlled) hinders her from even leaving the city. Cery, meanwhile, is busy trying to catch the rogue magician haunting the city killing off the Thieves, suspecting this is also the person who murdered his family.

    The book has several point of views, following Sonea, Dannyl, Lorkin and Cery, and the 4 story lines are all equally interesting and well paced. I can't recommend reading it just yet if you haven't at least read the Black Magician Trilogy as it will make little sense without it, and I further recommend you also read the Magician's Apprentice, a recent book also by Trudi Canavan, published after the BM trilogy but story-wise set centuries earlier. There are many points and references in the Ambassador's Mission, which you will only understand if you've read the entire previous story and it's really a shame to miss out. Have you read these books though, read this one too!

    It's well written (Canavan has improved over the years), it's fast paced (you don't sit around yawning reading this) and it's a welcome return to familiar characters in both new and old surroundings. The plot is fresh and, unlike other more unfortunate sequels, not just a carry on. There are new settings, new people and new dangers to deal with.

    The next book in the trilogy, The Rogue does not have release date yet, but on the 28th of August Trudi Canavan announced on her blog that she had just sent it to the publisher, so maybe sometime next year? I personally cannot wait to read more. It's not my favourite book of all times, but it, like it's predecessors, holds a well thought out world filled with captivating people and their stories.




    513 pages / published in 2010
    Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

    ----------
    Note: if you haven't before and decide to now pick up the Black Magician Trilogy, brace yourself. The first book is slow paced, but it is worth it to keep on reading. I really enjoyed the series as a whole. Furthermore, the Magician's Apprentice is a brilliant book, I read it just prior to setting up this blog, which is why I haven't reviewed it yet, but it is actually one of the best books Canavan has written. Set in the same world just hundreds of year before the BM trilogy it tells you the story that's been forgotten by the Guild about the origins of Black Magic, Higher Magic.

    30/08/2010

    About Me

    Right, so I've decided to do a little post to tell you about me and this blog.

    I'm going to focus on book reviews. Because I'm nobody special, unknown and a poor university student to boot who lives in Denmark (which has the most expensive postal service in the world), I'm not going to host giveaways (at least I don't currently plan to - maybe I'll do one when I reach 50 followers or so).

    Furthermore I won't do all sorts of memes. I'm here to review books, not tell you random oddities about myself (should you wish to know more about me though, I can recommend you befriend me on livejournal).

    I'm also going to promise you that I will never hurt your eyes with different font sizes and colours plastered all over the page. There will be no sparkly .gifs, nothing flashing and nothing that is generally just not needed. I can't stand reading through mess like that myself and I won't force it on others. There'll be front cover pictures and my rating images, not much else.

    The books I review will be a mixture of the ones I own currently and the ones I buy in the future, so a mixture of both old and new. As I have no affiliation with any publishers, it all depends on what I can afford :)
    I read fantasy, I read historical novels and if they catch my interest I read crime and mystery novels.

    I hope you enjoy and I look forward to introducing you to some excellent books in the future and warn you which ones to stay clear off.

    Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder


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    Choose: A quick death or a slow poison...
    Yelena has a choice - be executed for murder, or become food taster to the Commander of Ixia. She leaps at the chance for survival, but her relief may be short-lived.
    Life in the palace is full of hazards and secrets. Wily and smart, Yelena must learn to identify poisons before they kill her, recognise whom she can trust and how to spy on those she can't. And who is the mysterious Southerner sorceress who can reach into her head?
    When Yelena realizes she has extraordinary magical powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic in Ixia is punishable by death...
    ----------

    I absolutely loved this book, I couldn’t put it down again. I can’t wait to read the next in the series! Poison Study from 2007 is the first of 3 books about Yelena, the following two both published in 2008.


    Overall it’s a typical fantasy genre book with the usual components of love, magic and action, but new spices have been added to the mix in the form of the poisons, intrigue and the job title of a food taster. Also refreshingly new is the world in which the story takes place. Unlike the common kingdom or empire, the land is split up into military districts and controlled by the rather strict Code of Behaviour.

    It is well written and keeps the flow going at all times. You really get to understand Yelena’s emotions, reactions and behavior as you slowly discover her dark background and life story. The only flaws are some minor plot holes and inconsistencies, and that Yelena, being a typical female heroine (though a very far cry from a Mary Sure) is sometimes a bit too efficient at everything she tries. Snyder does try to make the point though that only hard work and determination will help a person succeed and I suppose a book about a character who never got anywhere would be a bit depressing to read.

    It is not a book for the younger audience as it deals with the grim issues of murder, torture and rape, albeit in small scale.




    Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010