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

31/05/2011

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy - until he is rescued by a beetle-eyed giant of a man, enrols at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!
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Where it all began.

I actually just picked up this one to leaf through while eating lunch one day, but I found that even at my age I couldn't put it back down. I got my hands on the first few books in 2000 when I was around 11 years old and read the rest over the years as they were published. It's a book series that I basically grew up with and it's no doubt had a big effect on me. There's a reason why these books are beloved around the globe.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (why on earth the American publishers decided to rename it to Sorcerer's Stone is beyond me) is an excellent book, well written, engaging and an easy read. It's perfect for it's target-audience, but it captivates the older readers just as much. The books grow with Harry and become darker and more sinister, but book 1 is innocent and pure as Harry undertakes his first conscious act of heroism. It's not my favourite of the series (I prefer book 4-7 where more things happen and they're older), but it's still a great read.

It's hard to focus on just one book, having read them all numerous times. I've always thought that the character and plot development throughout the entire series was very good and they are a series I'll wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who hasn't read them yet be they old or young.




223 pages / published in 1997
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

27/05/2011

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

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The unforgettable story about the boy who never grew up and his adventures with the 3 Darling children in Neverland.
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The common perception of a classic is an older literary work, which is still being conveyed today, because it gives the readers a relevant and interesting experience.

Written in 1904 as a play, turned into a novel in 1911, it was a time where the concept of literature for children was quite new, and Peter Pan is extraordinary due to the fact that it appeals to both genders. Wendy is sweet, gentle and wants very much to be a mother and house wife. Peter and all the boys are wild, playful and want nothing more but grand adventures. The author and all-knowing point-of-view narrator describes the bunch of them as gay (happy!), innocent and heartless.

And they are quite heartless. Pirates and indians and animals are killed here and there (though we never hear any gruesome details). It's quite a very different story than the innocent Disney film we all know or even the feature film from 2003 with Jeremy Sumpter playing Peter.

Pan is, in the book younger, than I had thought he'd be. He's but a child, who ran away the day he was born and has lived in blissfull ignorance ever since, despising all that's called duty, responsibility and - ugh - growing up. He's far from the little angel, Disney might want to make you think he is. He can be cruel and arrogant and he's incredibly selfish, but he's also sweet and fair - his character has a cornocopia of different sides.

The world of Neverland is the greatest make belief of all time. It's there, no doubt, but what is done there varies quite in realism. They might only pretend to eat dinner for example. There are really no rules or restrictions and I'm tempted to say it exists only because Peter wills it so. It's not only Neverland though, that's a bit beyond the ordinary. The house of the Darlings, certainly, is also somewhat different than your average British household of the early 20th century.

Peter Pan is a timeless tale and I very much enjoyed finally reading it. The writing style confused me at times and the story is quite odd. I think mostly it just doesn't fit into  how stories are told today, and so it comes off confusing to a new reader like me.




116 pages (ePub) / published in 1911
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

24/05/2011

The Advice Girl by L.A. Shaw

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Kira and Sophia have been best friends since they were five years old. They share an apartment together, and tell each other everything.
Everyone loves Sophia, and she is often called the advice girl by people who know her. Kira believes she knows her friend better than anyone. But in a mysterious accident, Sophia loses her life.
Kira is mourning the devastating loss when she finds a note addressed to her from beyond the grave. Kira realizes she doesn't know her friend as well as she thought, as she starts to uncover the truth. She falls into a deep depression, confused and lost, until a visit from a strange man puts her in the middle of a war between two secret societies. Kira soon understands that she is in danger, and doesn't know who to trust. She has to fight for her own life now
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Book 1 of the Dalara series.

It's a promising and interesting plot, but the execution and writing lacks. Shaw would have benefited from a professional editor to tighten up the general writing, fix the often very rough dialogue and catch the occasional typo and grammatical error. While reading, it often felt like the story was trying too hard to be something it's not. Especially the chapters concerning the mysterious brotherhood fell flat as they try very hard to be very grand but aren't.

Despite it being such a short story I got the feeling that too much had been written - too much is explained and elaborated - basic banalities that could easily have been left out, whereas the actual interesting stuff is barely explained. The same can be said about the characters. Disappointingly, they don't come off as very real, particularly Sophia was just a bit too stereotypically perfect-yet-flawed and her constant mood swings between giggly and depressed got tiring real quick. I think the character interaction in general could do with an overhaul, particularly the very generic romance. The narrative often got mixed up and wonky; Kira insists on being a first person perspective, never mind if she's asleep when people enter the room or not even present - she'll tell you things exactly as she sees them or.. wait, what?

I will say though that Shaw's definitely got talent and I think with the help of at least a few good Beta-Readers and time, she could produce a good book. This one though needs a lot of work and I must admit that only the last 10-20 pages where stuff finally actually happened saved me from giving it only one star. Overall what takes place in the book just feels like something you've seen before countless of times. All in all, it's an okay read, but could have been so much better.




106 pages / published in 2011
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

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Many thanks to the author for supplying me with a copy of the book.

20/05/2011

The Shunned House by H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft

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A tale of a revolting horror in the cellar of an old house in New England.
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I was quite disappointed with this one.

It's a posthumous horror short story written in 1924, published in 1937, and it is nothing at all what I expected. I've never read anything by Lovecraft before (a big failing of mine) and when I came across this short story I though it'd be as a good as any place to start.  I was so wrong.

It's not half as grand as the impression I've always been given of Lovecraft's work. The first half of the story I wasn't even sure if the story had started yet, it was just such a long droning list of who'd lived in the house and the fact that most of them died. The next half is about the ever elusive protagonist setting out to catch (?) the unknown horror that he's somehow worked out lives in the basement of the house. With him he brings the most useless of objects and his ancient uncle.

Then spoiler stuff happens, resulting in some more spoiler stuff and finally spoilers. I didn't actually understand the ending till I had read the wikipedia's plot summary about it (contains spoilers). And after realising what did happen I'm rather disappointed. What a anticlimactic ending to a story that never even bothered to get properly started.

All in all. Save yourself the disappointment. Read something else.





28 pages / published in 1937
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

17/05/2011

The Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette by Susie Kelly

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The Valley of Heaven and Hell is a quirky, highly entertaining and endearing mix of personal travel adventure and French history. Alongside her energetic and resourceful husband (when he's not zooming on ahead), novice cyclist Susie bikes 500km following the identical route taken by Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI when they tried to escape from the Revolution, and their journey back to their executions.
In this unique blackbirdebooks presentation the reader can follow the author's journey online through links to the websites of hotels, campsites, gardens, restaurants, historical places of interest, and even songs, that Susie encounters along her way.
Travel with Susie as she wobbles through Paris and Versailles, the battlefields of World War 1, the Champagne region and more.
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The best travelogue I've read (the only travelogue I've read) - made me want to bike through France myself!

Excellently written, the book contains a great balance between the past and the present. It tells the daunting task of biking for so long in all sorts of weather and conditions, and it explains the current state of affairs and what visitors could expect today and combines this with stories of the past, like where and how champagne originated, what wars where fought there and why. Last but not least it follows in the footsteps of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XIV and the route they took when they attempted to flee the murderous revolution but were captured and brought back to Paris to face brutal justice.

It's humoristic and interesting to read, and I loved all the little stories and details about the past of the many small towns of France that are otherwise unknown to the world. I've been to France myself, so some of the places described I could easily recall and loved reading about now with more historical description than I ever knew. I'm also a big fan of biking around the countryside and could easily feel the author's pains when it comes to biking in poor weather conditions, heavy traffic and so on. Furthermore the author includes many links (urls) to the various places and people she describes, which in my eyes is a brilliant idea.

All in all The Valley of Heaven and Hell hit all the right buttons for me and I heartily recommend it to anyone who fancy a round trip through historical and modern France as seen from a bike.




226 pages / published as an e-book in 2011
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

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Many thanks to the author for supplying me with a copy of the book.

13/05/2011

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath (Darkness Series #1) by Leonard D Hilley II

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The desolate streets of downtown Pittsburgh in 2073 are a reminder of the missile attack that forever changed the lives of the surviving scientists and students hidden in the fallout shelter of Helmsby's Genetic Research Center. Believing themselves to be the only survivors, they station themselves inside the center until food supplies near depletion. Thinking the fallout has lessened, they emerge three years later to discover strange creatures patrolling the streets in search of human flesh and blood. The creatures possess the ability to shift their genomes and alter their appearances by realigning their genetic sequences. Daniel Hutchinson, their leader, teams with Lucas Ridale and together they set out to scavenge the area for food and supplies with the hope to find other survivors. But Daniel's most recent journey uncovers mysteries more frightening than the shifters. He discovers the tip of Pittsburgh has been fenced off from the rest of the area. Low-flying helicopters observe the streets, making him ponder the question: Were the shifters released as simply part of a military experiment with humans being their prey?
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Very dark, very good.

Predators of Darkness is the first of a trilogy about the horrors of down town Pittsburgh in 2073 after a missile attack 3 years prior. The description of said attack and how ruthless people are to save themselves was, though very realistic I'm sure, a bit too brutal to my taste.

The shifters, the genetically altered animals/monsters, I thought were really interesting and I like how Hilley doesn't actually blame nuclear radiation, but instead gives a more feasible reason... but that's spoilerland, so not going into further detail about it. On the subject of genetics though, I do think Helmsby is a bit too stereotypical mad-but-good scientist with too awing achievements in his name.

One thing I did not like about this book was the pecking order of the human survivors. It sickens me the way the women fight each other over a man (beat the alpha female and you take her place). I couldn't help but shoot a dark thought at the author while reading that section, but thankfully it moves beyond that and I was able to ignore it mostly.

The main characters consist of the leaders Daniel and Lucas and the women Julia, Johanna and Lydia. Overall they were all well written, but I never felt like I properly knew any of them or their real motivations. We do learn about what sort of people they are though through their actions throughout the book. Daniel is the only character whom we really get an in-depth characterization of; the rest are more superficially handled, and besides the four or so main characters we barely learn anything about the other survivors besides a few random names and facts here and there.
I do have a few misgivings about the plot, but overall it pulled me in and I was fully taken by the end of it. The story in itself is quite brutal, but it besides that one scene it never overstepped the line. It's one of those books which I could easily imagine as a Hollywood action film, while reading it. It certainly has all the right elements - intrigue, mystery, action, love and romance, the hunts through the crumbling buildings, scavenging for food and avoiding/fighting the monsters! The story in itself and its setting in a gloomy fog-covered almost post-Armageddon-like Pittsburgh is very engaging and I often had a hard time putting it down. In conclusion I'm very much looking forward to reading the next in the series and find out what happens next - I have a feeling a lot of hardship is inevitable.




233 pages / print published in 2007, e-book in 2011
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

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Many thanks to the author for supplying me with a copy of the book.

*note* Blogger restored the missing posts after their downtime and I decided to combine my original entry with the one I rewrote.

10/05/2011

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 2.
My review of The Lightning Thief - Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 1 can be found here

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After a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson is finding his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson, a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any normal friends. But things don't stay quiet for long.

Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: the magical borders that protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters, the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millennia. Only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name: The Bermuda Triangle.
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A quick and enjoyable read. I really like how Riordan alters the ancient Greek mythology and stories to fit into our modern-day world. Though I'm a big fan of the original tales, I see how he makes them more accessible for the younger generations who are too busy with their ipods to pay attention to ancient history.

Like the first, it's well written and the characters are easy to follow and I like them. The cast of the previous book returns with a few new add-ins. Tyson is quite the sweetie! The villains remain the same, basically, which I prefer. It's a more probable (said about a book which features Gods and monsters) that there's one bad guy and his henchmen, who keeps on returning, because he's not that simple to beat, rather than dozens of super villains out to get the main character.

Rage and fury for it ending in such a cliffhanger though, word of advice, have the third one in hand, when you read this one, you'll want to read it!




285 pages / published in 2006
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011

06/05/2011

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

Third and final book in the Inkheart Trilogy.
My review of Inkheart (#1) can be found here and of Inkspell (#2) here.
WARNING: contains ever so slight spoilers for the previous books.

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Life in the Inkworld has been far from easy since the extraordinary events of Inkspell, when the story of Inkheart magically drew Meggie, Mo and Dustfinger back into its pages.
With Dustfinger dead, and the evil Adderhead now in control, the story in which they are all caught has taken an unhappy turn.
As winter comes on, there is reason to hope -  but only if Meggie and Mo can rewrite the wrongs of the past and make a dangerous deal with Death...
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When the ink dries.

It's by far the darkest of the books, but I must admit I never felt the thrill. It got dark and it was fairly boring. The oh so terrible cruel monstrous villains I never felt any fear of. It's a bit like watching a modern Disney film. No matter how gruesome the villains are, you don't feel a thing, because you know it will all end happy anyhow.

I do still love the concept of a book within a book. Especially the thoughts given to who is actually writing the story now. It's somewhat a show down between Fenoglio (the "author") and Orpheus (the wannabe).

The main characters still annoy me. I never feel like I properly get to know them and understand them. We get a bit closer to Mo in this book, but Resa is still just fluttering all over the place and Meggie is the heroine who's asked to be quiet while the menfolk save the day. Dustfinger is quite brilliant though (also, imagining him as Paul Bettany who plays the part in Inkheart, the film, helps).

I did overall enjoy the book though. I'm happy to be done with the trilogy, but it was worth the read, and I do love the concept.




717 pages / published in 2007
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011