Velkommen

På bloggen her kan du finde anmeldelser af alt fra fantasy, science fiction, kærlighed, chicklit, YA og NA til historiske romaner, krimier, spændingsbøger, og hvad jeg ellers lige falder over, der ser spændende ud. Herudover er der bl.a. Book Hauls og Kommende Udgivelser, samt Månedlige Opsummeringer. Occasional posts/reviews in English.
~ Iben
Bibliotekar, bogblogger & boganmelder

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

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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...
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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
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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.

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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.
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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