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


Interview with Soren Paul Petrek

Soren Paul Petrek, author of Cold Lonely Courage has very kindly agreed to an interview about his books and how he got there.

My review of the book can be found here.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
I am a practicing trial attorney specializing in the areas of family and criminal law. I am married with 2 teenage sons and live in a rural area of central Minnesota.
I am an avid reader and writer. I've completed the sequel to Cold Lonely Courage, The Patience County War. I am writing, Je vois tous, The Angel of Death where Madeleine Toche revisits her skills during the time of the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East. Terrorists have kidnapped her godson. You can imagine her reaction!

2. Your book, Cold Lonely Courage, was inspired by a true story and I understand you also traveled around listening to people's stories of the time. How did that go?
A family friend, Madeleine Behren, was a member of the Belgian Resistance during World War Two. She helped countless Jewish children to escape from the Nazis. The penalty for discovery was death. She shared glimpses into that life with me and sparked my fascination with the role seemingly ordinary men and women had behind the scenes in their struggle against occupation and the horrors of the Nazi regime.

I lived and worked with many British World War Two vets, have known American paratroopers and rangers from the D-Day invasion and traveled to many of the battle grounds of World War One and World War Two. Listening to people who've lived history is much more compelling than reading about it in a book. Many of the people from the World War Two generation are gone now and it's important to remember their sacrifices for their countries, their families and future generations.

3. Having visited many of the KZ camps around Europe I know of the pain and horrors of the Second World War. What in your research for this book made the biggest impression on you?
I read several books about women in the French Resistance. Their true stories and their vital leadership roles where captivating. The courage that it takes to 'do the right thing' is often borne by the people that might seem the least suited. They find the strongest kind of courage in themselves. They are the real heroes, many of whom returned to their 'ordinary' lives once the Nazis were defeated. It is the moral courage of people that is the most impressive to me. It is so often forgotten with time and pushed aside by the focus given major battles and personalities of the war.

4. Is Madeleine, the Angel of Death, and her work fiction or fact?
Madeleine's story is fiction. However, she represents the character of many women who fought with the British Special Operations Executive in Europe. The SOE was known for its unconventional, controversial style of clandestine warfare, and their 'dirty tricks department'. The files, training manuals of the SOE and their activities were only recently declassified. I'm certain that we will never know the true extent and nature of their activities as time obscures them. Many of the female SOE agents assassinated and killed the enemy.

One of the more famous agents, Nancy Wake was known by the Gestapo as the White Mouse. Here is a quote:

One of her comrades in the Resistance, Henri Tardivat, later describes Wake as "the most feminine woman I know, until the fighting starts. Then, she is like five men."

Although petite, she killed at least one SS soldier with her bare hands. The Prince of Wales regards her as such a hero, that he personally provides her with a pension in her old age. She is still alive. Google her, you won't believe how incredible she is.

These are real people, as fierce, violent and deadly as the circumstances require.

5. Do you have more books in plan - about WW2 or will you move on to different genres?
Madeleine will be revisited in several novels at various stages of her life. One of the more important stories that I need to tell regards the characters Stenger and Willi during World War One. Many people think they 'steal the show' in Cold Lonely Courage. Their story, The other side of the Tunnel, will be completed as my 4th book. While I write in the action/adventure and historical novel genres, I will not limit myself. My hope is to write books with universal appeal. The kind of book that any reader, regardless of their tastes and preferences will enjoy. Cold Lonely Courage is exactly that and I am very pleased to have achieved such a difficult goal.

Thank you very much for your time! - personally I can't wait to read more about the whole cast, but especially Stenger and Willis' story will be great to read, I'm sure.

Interview by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011


The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton

Cameron Winters is a freak. Fortunately, no one but her family knows that Cameron can read minds. When Lewis Douglas arrives, he tempts her with possibilities of freedom. Determined to embrace her hidden talents, Cameron heads to a place where she meets other Mind Readers. But when the Mind Readers realize the extent of Cameron’s abilities, they want to use her powers for their own needs.

The first half of the book had me a bit dubious. Cameron was a bit too accepting of anything these perfect strangers told her and, having never been a big fan of romance or teenage obsession and girls falling for guys solely because they're beautiful, that also put me off it a bit. However it's all explained and it was quite a revelation to both me and Cameron what comes next.

The main characters are quite well fleshed out, and I loved the struggle of emotions between Cameron and Lewis in particular. However it got a bit trivial trying to discern who's truly the bad guy and who you can safely trust, and I feel that the mind reading capabilities were also over-used. Maybe I just expected differently, but it suddenly almost felt like I was reading an X-Men comics, where people can do all sorts with their minds, rather than just being "limited" to reading the thoughts of others.

Some weak points throughout the book, but overall I really liked it and the final cliffhanger just hooked me utterly. There'd better be more coming!

200 pages (ePub) / published in 2009
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011


The Lightning Thief - Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 1 by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves

So much better than the film.

I kept off reading this book for a long time, because after seeing the film I refused to believe that the book could be any good. Oh boy, was I wrong.

Percy, despite the young age of 12, is a very enjoyable lead character who works well with his friends Grover and Annabeth and the constant flood of new and utterly weird situations he finds himself in. He was a fair bit slow on the uptake though, you wouldn't normally just shrug it off completely if you suddenly find yourself facing a monster, would you?

I was overall quite happy with Riordan's changes to the Greek Mythology, both in the ways which made it more easily accessible for a younger audience, but also in how it was altered to fit into our modern day world.

The crime/mystery part plot was well thought through and plays well with the Greek Gods and their relations and abilities.

The book is very well written and a relatively quick and very enjoyable read. It contains both good humour and knowledge about the ancient mythologies that I hope children will learn from.

382 pages / published in 2005
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011


Cold Lonely Courage by Soren Paul Petrek

Madeleine Toche races to the front only to find her brother mortally wounded during the German Blitzkrieg attack on France at the outset of World War II.
His death and her rape at the hands of an SS Stormtrooper cast Madeleine down a path of terror and violence as her desire for revenge reaches a crescendo.

A quick but brilliant and compassionate read about the horrors of the Second World War and the strength of the people who fought back.

I couldn't put this book down. It's so very different from what I usually read, but it hooked me right from the start. It paints a very detailed picture of the era, and the entire time whilst reading, I couldn't help but think of the mini-series BBC has made about the war. I would love to see this book on screen.

Madeleine is such a strong character, L'ange de la mort. You don't want to be a bad guy with her in the vicinity. I loved following the two German military policemen Stenger and Willi too, it was very interesting to see the same story from another angle.
I did think the picture painted of the stereotypical French woman was a bit over the top though and there wasn't much middle-ground between über-evil Nazi and patriotic good person/hero.

The story is fairly gruesome and obviously contains a lot of death, but it's not overly graphic. There were parts that had me shuddering and even one where I was close to tears, but I never felt like stop reading.

All in all, it's a really good book that tells a very gripping story. It preserves history and describes a part of it that I hadn't heard before despite a big interest in the subject, and I would recommend anyone to read it and learn.

227 pages / published in 2009
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

Thank you to S.P. Petrek for supplying me a copy of the book to review.


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay is the third in the Hunger Games trilogy.

My review of the first book, Hunger Games, can be found here.
My review of the second book, Catching Fire, can be found here.

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the first and second book!

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena live, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
- and the districts have finally had enough.

The final game begins.

Mockingjay paints a very convincing picture of how ruthless war is. How much it costs to fight for what's right. And how you can't always trust those that promise you differently.

I absolutely love the book for how brutally realistic it is. Nobody is safe. I won't say I'm entirely happy with the ending, because yes, I would have loved a fairy tale happy ending, but I admire Collins for, in that aspect, keeping it real. Even if people survive, they come out the other side scarred for life.

Katniss almost becomes an anti-hero in this final book to the series. The rebels want her as their symbol, their mockingjay, but she's already endured so much and is slightly unstable, mentally. Her struggle throughout the book, not just to stay alive, but to discover the truth about herself and the people around her was once again captivating.

All in all, Mockingjay is not the best book in the series, Hunger Games holds that position, but it's a gripping end to a fantastic series.

455 pages / published in 2010
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011


Lodestone - book two: The World of Ice and Stars by Mark Whiteway

My review of Lodestone - book one: The Sea of Storms can be found here

WARNING: This review contains slight spoilers for the first book

The desperate race to save a world continues. Washed up on a distant shore on the unknown side of her planet, together with the Chandara Boxx, the orphan Kelanni named Shann must uncover the fate of her companions, whilst searching for an artefact hidden there in the distant past. As she journeys farther into this new land, she will encounter strange sights, come up against new enemies and meet new friends, until finally coming face to face with the truth of her own past.

As a whole the book has a few glitches, but the story, I think, is so interesting and new that it makes up for that. I still love the lodestone concept and it's taken so much further in this second book. The world and its inhabitants are also explored and explained further and I love the story behind it all and the richness in detail.

The characters feel more evolved in this book and I really liked how they all reacted to their separation from each other. I think the new addition, Rael, could quickly become a favourite of mine.
You get a deeper insight to who they are and why they do what they do and especially Keris is becoming more human, or I should say, Kelanni for every page. It was also really nice to finally be introduced to the humans in the story and learn their side of the tale - it made a lot of things finally make sense, as both the races and the past and present were linked.

I really want to give this books 4 stars but I can't. The way it ends after a long long journey without any real conclusions to anything is just too frustrating. The story was very interesting and I enjoyed the plot throughout the whole book. Maybe the third book in the series will round it up better and if you read it one after the other it would feel more complete and thus it'd get 4 stars. However the third book is not yet available and I'll just have to wait to see what happens (and I must say that I really do look forward to reading it).

 306 pages / published in 2010
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

Many thanks goes to author Mark Whiteway for supplying me with a copy of this book for reviewing.


Discussion Time - Getting Recognised

The other day Tween News Today commented on my last article Replacing the Physical with the Digital (apologies for not putting up an article in January - exams got the better of me, I am working on a new one!)

The comment was:
I think this new trend will hurt more authors then help.cause authors are going to have more competition and is going to have to work harder in order to sell books
And this made me think. I understand what the commenter is trying to say, but I think he or she had the reasons mixed up. Yes there will be more competition - but that's not because of the new platform. That's because of the world constantly getting bigger and yet smaller as the internet connects us all into one big dysfunctional family.

It is easier to be published today, because if no publishers will take you in, you can just do it yourself. However, getting read, rich and famous is an entirely different story.

Everybody wants to be an author today. Everybody can. Not everybody should be. The market is flooded in both good and bad literature and sometimes the good is drowned by the bad thanks to PR agents and books tours and bloggers. Today it's almost more important to be good at getting publicity for your book than it is to have written a good book.

We bloggers play a big part in the globalization of the book community and giving publicity to authors who otherwise didn't stand a chance. There is so much to chose between today that it is almost overwhelming to enter a library or book store, so if the author manages to somehow plant their name or the title of their book in the reader's mind it is so much more likely that they'll pick up that book if they come across it.

Thus, the competition is great today - far greater than it was 50 years ago, and yes, authors have to work incredibly hard to sell books. But with or without the new digital platforms like E-readers - it doesn't matter. It's today's culture and global community that makes it difficult to become a recognised author.

Post by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011


The Virgin's Tale by Sherri Smith

Rome, 63 BC.
Offered up by her parents at the age of six to become a Vestal Virgin, one of six hand-picked women who symbolically protected by the Roman Republic, Aemilia has spent her entire adult life in the all-female Temple of Vesta, under the strictest guard.
But temptation has led her to commit a mortal sin, and she is sentenced to death as Virgins must die, buried alive in a pitch-black tomb. As the end draws near, Aemilia looks back over her claustrophobic, restricted life: the intense friendships she formed; the implacable enemies she made; and, finally, the passionate but forbidden romance which caused her downfall - and yet may be her only hope...

As the summary/back cover says the story is told by Aemilia looking back on her life and the events that caused her downfall. It was a very interesting read and I didn't put it down often.

You follow Aemilia's struggles to keep her faith and her struggles to accept her life as it is. The book is written very well and I found it very interesting to learn about the Vestal Virgins. It was very rich in detail, both concerning the rituals and worshipping of the ancient Gods of Rome, but also just everyday life.

The other Virgins, their household of servants and slaves, the people of Rome both high and low, the story captures them all so well, and Aemilia actions and thoughts carries you through a gripping but everyday story.

420 pages / published in 2009
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011


Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

A test of love that will take them to hell and back...
December 1802
My hand is trembling as I write this letter. My nerves are in tatters and I am so altered that I believe you would not recognize me. The past two months have been a nightmarish whirl of strange and disturbing circumstances, and the future...
I am afraid.
If anything happens to me, remember that I love you and that my spirit will always be with you, though we may never see each other again. The world is a cold and frightening place where nothing is what it seems.

This book is in many ways something I want to throw to the ground and stomp on. It starts where Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and takes a twist down a dark alley.

Ever mysterious Mr. Darcy takes his newly wedded wife, Elizabeth, on a honeymoon to travel around Europe, however, nothing is as she would have hoped for. He's distant and cold and she grows more and more confused and scared as the trip goes on.

I did think the ending was rather ridiculous to be perfectly honest, and throughout the book we move further and further away from the feel of a sequel to a classic and on to a feel of something more fragmented.

It is ultimately a love story, but if you're looking for a book about vampires and fangs and blood and lust and sparkles - this is not it. However, if you have an afternoon to spare, this isn't really a bad book to spend it with. Yes, it is a shameless money-pump, but I must admit that I was somewhat entertained while reading it. Grange's writing style is easier to read than Austen's classic, and it was interesting to see where she took the story.

308 pages / published in 2009
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

Note: I have now read Pride and Prejudice, and my disdain for this book has grown tenfold. I'm slightly tempted to make a bonfire out of it really. It's horrific portrayal of two otherwise so deep and passionate characters as Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is an insult to Austen's memory.