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

30/12/2010

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
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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...
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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