Velkommen

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

30/08/2010

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...
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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

28/08/2010

The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

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In a hail of fire and flashing sword, as the burning city of Acre falls from the hands of the West in 1291, The Last Templar opens with a young Templar knight, his mentor, and a handful of others escaping to the sea carrying a mysterious chest entrusted to them by the Order's dying Grand Master. The ship vanishes without a trace.

In present day Manhattan, four masked horsemen dressed as Templar Knights emerge from Central Park and ride up the Fifth Avenue steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the blacktie opening of a Treasures of the Vatican exhibit. Storming through the crowds, the horsemen brutally attack anyone standing between them and their prize. Attending the gala, archaeologist Tess Chaykin watches in silent terror as the leader of the horsemen hones in on one piece in particular, a strange geared device. He utters a few cryptic Latin words as he takes hold of it with reverence before leading the horsemen out and disappearing into the night.

In the aftermath, an FBI investigation is led by anti-terrorist specialist Sean Reilly. Soon, he and Tess are drawn into the dark, hidden history of the crusading Knights, plunging them into a deadly game of cat and mouse with ruthless killers as they race across three continents to recover the lost secret of the Templars.
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I was not very impressed with this book. First and foremost the story never got to me. It starts out slightly promising, but then it soon becomes obvious where things are going and how the author is stuck on the Vatican/Jesus-conspiracy theories. As mysteries are revealed, you don’t feel the wow-effect. I actually spent so much time being bored by the whole thing that I eventually didn’t really care what happened to any of them and thought about throwing the book out the window.

The writing is clumsy and cluttered. I had to reread several paragraphs to understand and try to keep track of the often flood of historical information and background. It gets confusing and it slows down the experience.

The story takes place in modern day America following the thoughts and doings of archaeologist Tess and FBI agent Sean. A few selected chapters throughout the book tell the story of 13th century Templar Knight Martin’s return from the lost Holy Land and the mysterious artefact he carries with him. Too many pages are spent in modern day time on long explanations concerning the origin and downfall of the Templars – so many in fact that you start wondering when exactly you signed up this history lesson. Had the explanations been balanced out with any sort of action by the characters it would have been fine, but unfortunately the author chose to throw a wall of text at the reader instead. The same problem occurs when it comes to the many theological discussions. Pages up and down, one person at a time (monologues rather than proper dialogues) ranting and raving about how organized religion is messed up and basically evil now, then another about how it’s all about having faith, then a third person being undecided, but leaning towards cold logic rather than believing in what you cannot see. It reads like a speech prepared by someone who isn’t even very good at it. Very little of the actual dialogue in the book reads like something people would truly say in real life. The different viewpoints are interesting, but the subject gets old so fast and it more just felt like Khoury was having a field day on his soap box in the town square when he wrote it.

The Last Templar was published in 2005 and it reads very much like the poor man’s version of a mixture of Dan Brown’s “Deception Point” from 2001 and his “Da Vinci Code” from 2003. It has all the obvious plot twists and evil character revelations and it uses several points of view, tuning in to the heads of several minor characters just for a few minutes of their lives to “add to the mystery”. Unfortunately you never really get to know the main characters and as such you don’t really care what happens to them or the development of the plot. The ever present predictable love story subplot is tiring and the constant return to their discussions on faith is agonizing. The book does have a few redeeming good ideas and points, but it was very poorly executed. Especially the happenings at the start of the book could have been put to so much more use, where instead something only really happens then and then again right at the end of the book.

I give this book only 1 star. I didn't like it and I won't be rereading it. Neither will I recommend it to anybody.





315 pages / published in 2005
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

22/08/2010

Going to Paris

I'm going to Paris* Monday-Friday, so no reviews from me in that time. I will be reading and preparing for reviewing both The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

In the mean time, take care out there and enjoy the week :)


*Me and my mom planned to go there months ago, but thanks to the Icelandic volcano erupting we were stuck at home. It being our second time in Paris (last time was like 15 years ago) we've got tons planned for the few days we're there; we plan on revisiting Disneyland, see Versailles (again), prowl through Paris, go up the Eiffel Tower, experience the Louvre, see Notre Dame and much much more. I wonder if I'll even have time to read :s

20/08/2010

Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce

 
1. Alanna - The First Adventure
2. In the Hand of the Goddess
3. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
4. Lioness Rampant


The first two books in this quartet deal with how young girl Alanna goes against her father's wishes and, hiding her true gender, becomes a page and later on squire, training to become a knight where she'll face her arch-nemesis. Throughout the books she deals with her secrets, her friends and her fear of commitment.

The books are for young teenagers and older fans and are very easy to read. A lot of things happens, the plot is never at a standstill and Alanna is very easy to like as she struggles to be a boy while female feelings and thoughts slowly start interfering as she mature.

In books 3 and 4 Alanna is a knight of the realm, working on finding her own place in life, figuring out what she wants both when it comes to duty and to love. She undertakes some mighty adventures of both self-discovery and action packed treasure-hunting and like the two previous books they are a very good read, especially for the intended young audience who will be captivated by her strength and perseverance and, if like me, learn about what love and friendship really means.

I believe these books were some of the first Pierce wrote and published and looking back as a long time fan and having read nearly everything else by her, they are a bit raw. When I first read them though, at age 14 or so, I could not put them down and Alanna was an absolute hero of mine. Now however I notice small things like, she starts out at age 10, suddenly she's 11, then 12, boom, now she's 16. It is confusing and it is slightly rushed, but these books are not there to paint the complete picture of how knighthood training commences. (Pierce has written the The Protector of the Small Quartet for that purpose.)

Tamora Pierce is a feminist writer (in the good way) and her books with few rare exceptions have female heroines, all proving to this world and theirs that women are not weak and frail creatures that can't tell one end of a sword from another. For an older reader it can get a tiny bit tiresome and a bit stereotypical, but some books you're supposed to just enjoy.

I will grade these 4 books as one, as you can't really read one without the others. I give them 4 stars for being fantastic books with stories you'll remember, for characters you can't help but like and a plot that is never dull.




Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

19/08/2010

Previous Years 08 and 09

Books of 2008

18/08/2010

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time, #12; A Memory of Light, #1) was partially written by Robert Jordan before his death in 2007. Brandon Sanderson was chosen to take over and he has done a masterful job.

See Goodreads for a description of the story

The book is in short - great. I must admit, I think this is one of the best of the entire series. Why? Probably because of Sanderson. His way of writing is a bit different from Jordan's and to be honest, for me, it's easier to read. Jordan's first 11 books are very heavy. This one had an entirely different feel to it.

Jordan has been accused of in his later books of losing track of characters' personalities - especially the females got very one-sided. Sanderson brings back life and humanity to them all. Without spoiling anything I can tell you this book focuses mainly on Rand's battle with himself, Egwene's battle with the White Tower and then a few chapters from Perrin's, Matt's and even Aviendha's point of view. With the exception of Matt who feels a bit odd, they are all so deep now - and not in a bad way. They just have more layers than one.

Every chapter in the book is an action one. Unlike previous books in this series, you don't find yourself wondering when there'll ever happen something again. Every chapter something happens and I love it. Yes it's very obvious that this is the last books now, time to tie strings up and narrow things down, but damn! I sat there whooping and laughing as some things happened and some people were dealt with. I groaned as somethings majorly widened the plot only to have it narrowed back down in the next chapter as our hero or heroine took control.

Obviously the story doesn't end here. This is the first of a trilogy in some ways. The last book was supposed to be just that - the last. But Sanderson found that Jordan had left so much material behind it would be a massive book of 750 000 words. So they split into three - The Gathering Storm was the first. The next book in the series, Towers of Midnight,  is expected in late 2010, possibly November 2nd - I can't wait!


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

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris


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Sookie Stackhouse is recovering from the grand battle she was forced into between fairies, faires and vamps. She is finally finding herself in a relationship with vampire sheriff Eric and in general all seems to go well - right until all the problems surface.
Eric's maker shows up with Eric's "brother", Bill needs blood from his blood sibling in order to recover from the previous fight, and fairy Claude is feeling lonely. The two-natured are out and about and not all are accepting the shifters.
The werewolves tell Sookie that strange creatures have been close by her house and more corpses turn up in her forest; now she is about to come face-to-face with one of her more distant relatives...
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I wasn't terribly impressed with the 10th book of the Sookie Stackhouse series. It doesn't span a very long time and as such, not all that much really happens.

After reading it I sit with a slightly empty feeling. Mostly it just wraps up loose ends from book 9 - Dead and Gone, and tells us how various people are moving on with life. Sookie as always is a horny danger magnet and after 10 books of her getting into a whole lot of bad situations and coming out of them again, battered but alive, it is starting to get a bit old.

There are some good new additions to the story both character- and plot-wise with the return of Sookie's nephew Hunter, but mostly I can't look away from the glaring big annoyance to me that is Eric's maker. Too much of the book revolves around a character, we've never heard of before and who basically just dominates everybody.

The book is still a good read, but definitely not the best in the series - far from it.




Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010

17/08/2010

Trickster's Choice & Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce

Trickster's Choice



The future is in the hands of the next generation.
Aly: a slave with the talents of a master spy, a fabled lineage she must conceal, and the dubious blessing of a trickster god.
Sarai: a passionate, charming teenage noblewoman, who according to prophecy, will bring an end to a cruel dynasty.
Dove: the younger sister of Sarai; she had a calculating mind and hidden depths that have yet to be plumbed.
Nawat: a magical young man with a strangely innocent outlook and an even stranger past; Aly's one true friend in a world where trust can cost you your life.

Trickster's Choice is about the daughter of Alanna The Lioness and George Cooper of Pirate's Swoop as we know them from the previous numerous books about Tortall by Tamora Pierce. Aly has ambitions to become a spy like her father but her parents have other plans for her, so when she's stolen by pirates, sold as a slave to the Copper Isles and approached by the Trickster god who has a wager for her, she seizes the opportunity. In Trickster's Choice she learns of the madness that rules the Isles whilst protecting the family of which an ancient prophecy speaks.
Trickster's Choice holds plenty of intrigue and action and Aly is your typical Tortall heroine. She faces danger and she does not cower!


Trickster's Queen



The stage is set for revolution...
Aly: no longer just a master spy, but a master of spies. Can she balance her passion for justice and her compassion for others, and at what cost?
Sarai: beautiful, dramatic and rash - will she fulfill the role chosen for her by destiny?
Dove: she has always stood in Sarai's shadow. Can she prove to the world that she herself is a force to be reckoned with?
Nawat: half crow, half man. He wants Aly for his life mate, but will the revolution make that impossible as they step into new roles to change the future?

Rebellion is right around the corner in Trickster's Queen and Aly has a lot of work to do before the whole conspiracy is revealed. The slaves are ready to regain what was theirs, and their masters hide in their marble palace fearfully aware that their doom might be at hand. Aly must keep the potential queen and her younger siblings safe, and at the same time not let ayone know who she truly is.


I give both books 4 stars as they are captivating and a great read (though intended for the younger readers of ages 10-14, an adult can certainly enjoy them too!) They are however quite 'by the book' and if you are familiar with the Tortall Universe, it comes as no surprise that almost all female characters are ready for action and fighting.


Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010