Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Holiday Reading Challenge - Completed


Nely at All About {n} hosted the 2010 Holiday Reading Challenge which ran from November 15 to December 31. I ended up reading five books, but only had time to review the first four, so those are the ones that count.

1. 'Twas the Night by Sandra Hill, Kate Holmes and Trish Jensen – review
2. The Burglar and the Blizzard: A Christmas Story by Alice Duer Miller – review
3. Christmas in Harmony by Philip Gulley – review
4. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore – review
5. Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler (ed.)

My favourite was Christmas in Harmony (re-read) followed by The Stupidest Angel. My least favourite was The Burglar and the Blizzard.

This was a really fun challenge to participate in, and although I had hoped to be able to read a few more books, there is always next year. :)

Review: The Stupidest Angel

The Stupidest Angel
By Christopher Moore

Read: 5 – 28 December 2010
E-book

2010 Holiday Reading Challenge

'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit. It is the hap-hap-happiest time of the year, after all.

But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he's not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn't run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead.


But hold on! There's an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It's none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say "Kris Kringle," he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen. (Goodreads)

I was not sure what to expect from this book, only that it would not be your usual cosy Christmas story. Well, that was certainly true! Here we find, among other curiosities, a pot-smoking officer of the law, a real Warrior Babe, a dead Santa, brain-sucking zombies, a completely incompetent arch-angel, and a talking fruit bat with really cool sunglasses.

Hilarious, twisted, grotesque and refreshingly different – I loved it! The characters are pretty much whacko, but very likeable (well, all but "Santa"). This is not a book you read to get into the Christmas spirit, but if you would like a break from the jolliness of the season, this is definitely worth reading. I will be on the lookout for Moore's other books.

My rating: 5/6

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books of 2010


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature / weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we make a top ten list from a given topic.

This week's topic is

Top Ten Books of 2010

I have been meaning to do a "best of 2010" list, so the topic this week is perfect. :) I was hoping to make it to 40 books this year, but due to lots of pre-Christmas stress and a nasty cold I have hardly read a word the past couple of weeks. The year started with quite a few "meh" books, but towards the end of the year I read some great ones. Not counting re-reads, these are my top ten reads of 2010, in no particular order:
  1. Past Secrets by Cathy Kelly. The most well-travelled book of the year. I started it in a Lindt Chocolate Café in Sydney and finished it in my flat in Northern Norway.
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. 2011 will be the year I finish this series, I promise!
  3. Under Gemini by Rosamunde Pilcher. I have yet to meet a book of hers I haven't loved.
  4. Inkspell by Cornelia Funke. Not quite as great as the first book in the trilogy, but still very good. Can't wait to see how it all ends.
  5. Ice Station by Matthew Reilly. Australian thriller that reads like an action movie script. Pure escapism.
  6. The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle. Incredible prose. Best book of the year.
  7. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. Izzy Spellman is like an intelligent version of Stephanie Plum. A new favourite.
  8. The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake. Fun and fast-paced about a jewel thief with a bit of bad luck.
  9. Bad Debts by Peter Temple. My first attempt at Australian crime fiction. You little beauty.
  10. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. Clever and interesting YA novel. I ordered the sequel right after finishing this one.
What are your top ten?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which we share what books we have received in the mail, bought, borrowed or otherwise acquired during the week.

Note: There is no sign-up for this meme at The Story Siren this week!

(Sorry for the blurry picture. We have no daylight these days, and my mobile phone camera is not too happy with dark conditions.)


Won
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White from A Tapestry of Words (Thanks again, Danya!). I was so excited when I won this, because I don't think I have read a single negative review of it. I hope to read it during Christmas break.

Bought
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher. I recently read Incarceron and just had to know what happens next. Another one for Christmas break.

I also bought the lovely new box set of The Lord of the Rings, which I forgot to take a picture of. I already own The Two Towers and The Return of the King in Norwegian, but I wanted all of them in English. I plan to read them in English next year.

Now it's back to the kitchen and my fruit cakes. :)

Winner: 50 Followers Giveaway


The winner of my 50 Followers Giveaway is


Congratulations!

Jess has been contacted and will receive a book of her choice worth up to $15 from The Book Depository.

Thanks to everyone who participated in my very first giveaway. It won't be the last!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. Each week she asks a question so that blogger can get to know each other a little bit better. This weekend the question is:

What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?

I would have to say the characters. If I like the characters, if I can relate to them in some way and care enough about them to want to invest a lot of time reading about them, then I can forgive a less interesting plot. Obviously what happens is still important, but in my opinion you can have good characters and a bad plot, but if I don't care about the characers, it doesn't matter how intriguing the plot is.

Only one week until Christmas (Christmas Eve is the big day in Norway)! Eek! I was hoping to go on a shopping trip to buy the last Christmas gifts today, but it was very windy this morning, so I will have to wait it out for a while. I have decided not to work next week (the perks of being a freelancer), so hopefully I will have enough time to finish all the preparations; baking, gift wrapping, cleaning, decorating... I had planned to do everything early this year, but as usual I'm way behind. Why do I never learn?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2011


I usually read quite a few thrillers and mystery books in a year, and I have a lot of books from this genre on my shelves (some which have been there forever). So I have decided to join Book Chick City's Mystery & Suspense Challenge for 2011. The challenge is to read at least 12 mystery and suspense books during 2011, which sounds like a reasonable number.

As an added incentive, Simon & Schuster UK is providing a free ARC of The Survivor by Sean Slater for all participants in the challenge. Be sure to stop by BCC's challenge post to read the rules and sign up. You can also check out her list of sub-genres to help you decide which books to read.

This is a tentative list of books I would like to read, but I do reserve the right to change it at any time (and chances are I will). :)

1. The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
2. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith
3. The Thieves of Heaven by Richard Doetsch
4. Tripwire by Lee Child
5. The Doomsday Key by James Rollins
6. Pulse by Jeremy Robinson
7. The Shadow Project by Scott Mariani
8. The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor
9. Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn
10. 2nd Chance by James Patterson
11. Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs
12. Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle

Monday, December 13, 2010

Favourite Christmas Songs

It started raining last night, and now it's pouring outside. All of the snow we had last week will be washed away, and my Christmas mood is in danger of being washed away too. It can get very dark and gloomy here when it's raining. So in order to cheer me up a bit, I thought I would share my favourite Christmas songs with you. I'm a traditionalist and prefer listening to classic carols like Silent Night and Oh Holy Night, but usually in Norwegian. Most of the songs I have chosen here are in Norwegian, but I'm sure you have heard the English versions many times, so I thought you might enjoy the Norwegian ones.

En stjerne skinner i natt (The Christmas Way)
Performed by Oslo Gospel Choir

I love Oslo Gospel Choir. They are an amazing choir with very talented singers. They are the ultimate performers of Christmas music, because you can always trust them to do it right. Every other year or so they come to Lofoten to hold a Christmas concert, and I wouldn't miss it for the world. I went last Saturday and it was wonderful as always. This song is written by the conductor for the choir, and has become their signature song. I have included the Norwegian version here, but there is another version with English lyrics called The Christmas Way, which you can find here.



In the Bleak Midwinter
Performed by Gloucester Cathedral Choir

I only "discovered" this carol earlier this year when I heard a Norwegian translation, but it has already become one of my favourites. It's so beautiful, and I would love to hear a choir singing it in a big cathedral sometime.



O helga natt (Oh Holy Night)
Performed by Tommy Körberg & Oslo Gospel Choir

There are so many verions of this song, but this one in Swedish gives me goosebumps. Swedish singer Tommy Körberg has a fantastic voice, and with OGC as backing vocals, this song is as close to perfect as you can get.



Deilig er jorden (Fairest Lord Jesus)
Performed by Sissel Kyrkjebø

This is THE Christmas song for me. It's the one that makes me sit down, close my eyes and feel Christmas all around me. 



Nordnorsk julesalme (Christmas Carol from Northern Norway)
Performed by Bodø-oktetten

This song is very special to me, because it is written by a man from Northern Norway named Trygve Hoff. He wrote a lot of songs that we northerners love, because they are about everyday life and things that are familiar to us, like how the weather affects us. Hearing this song on Christmas Eve brings tears to my eyes.



Home For Christmas
Performed by Maria Mena

This beautiful song was written this year for the soundtrack of a Norwegian film with the same title. I love it because I know that feeling of wanting to go home for Christmas. I spent last Christmas in Sydney, far from all my friends and family, and although it was quite the experience, I doubt I will ever celebrate Christmas that far from home again. Unfortunately the video has been blocked on YouTube because of copyright issues, but you might be able to listen to part of it here (press the small play icon in the middle of the page).

Do you like listening to Christmas music? What is your favourite Christmas song?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (22)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

CURRENTLY READING
For the first time in my life I have four books on the go, which means I didn't finish anything last week. I haven't had much reading time lately, as there is so much else to do now that Christmas is almost upon us. I'm still reading:
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. Every time I close this book I want to hug it.
Julemysteriet (The Christmas Mystery) by Jostein Gaarder. At least I know I when I will finish this, as there is one chapter for each day of December until Christmas Eve.
Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop edited by Otto Penzler. I usually have time for one of these short stories while stirring pots for dinner.
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore. I'm halfway through this, and so far it's been interesting and hilarious.

WHAT'S NEXT
I want to read The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens for the Holiday Reading Challenge, but I think that will be it for Christmas books this year. I received Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (thanks, Danya!) and Sapphique by Catherine Fisher in the mail today, and I'm dying to read both of them. I'm not working the week between Christmas and New Year, so I'm hoping to get a lot of reading done then.

Be sure to enter my 50 Followers Giveaway! It's international, and you can win a book of your choice from The Book Depository. No following or tweeting necessary! :)

What are you up to this week?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

I can't believe Christmas is only two weeks away! I have most of the presents under control now, but I still need to make some Christmas cards, decorate and bake four sorts of cookies, not to mention clean and tidy up my flat... Tomorrow I'm going to a Christmas concert with Oslo Gospel Choir, something I'm very much looking forward to. Christmas songs performed by an amazing choir, Christmas trees, lit candles and a lot of snow outside – sounds like the Christmas spirit isn't far away.

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. Each week she asks a question so that blogger can get to know each other a little bit better. This week she asks:

What is the thing you like most about reading book blogs? Is it the reviews, author guest posts, articles, giveaways, or something else entirely?

I of course enjoy reading reviews, because it's a great help in deciding whether I should try a particular book or not. It's also a good way to discover new (to me) books. In addition I really like reading more personal posts that reveal a little about the blogger's personality, be it discussion posts, memes like Top Ten Tuesday etc. I also love the enthusiasm for books and reading that is reflected on people's blogs; it's very catching.

PS. Be sure to enter my 50 Followers Giveaway – it's international and you could win a book of your choice from The Book Depository!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snow!

We have had a massive snowfall here Monday and yesterday morning, and I thought I would share some pictures with you of the view from my kitchen window this afternoon (apologies for the bad quality, I have taken them with my mobile).


Yes, that is snow hanging from the roof outside my window. It must be half a metre thick in some places (almost 20 inches) and the lower layer is frozen, so it doesn't easily slide off the roof. There was even more outside my living room window, but it broke off just as I was going to take a picture.

Close-up: of the snow:


I am actually a bit worried about the roof, because the snow is wet and very heavy. If it is still there tomorrow I will take a picture from the outside so you can see. The forecast says wet snow all week and well into next week, but I hope they are wrong. Yesterday I spent an hour and a half digging my poor car out. I know I wished for snow for Christmas, but I think the weather gods are mocking me now...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

50 Followers Giveaway


Today The Turn of the Page reached its first big milestone: 50 followers with Google Friend Connect!

This is very exciting for me; in fact, I am so happy that I have decided to do my very first giveaway.

One lucky winner will receive a book of their choice from The Book Depository worth up to $15.

Since this is my first time, I think we should keep it simple. The giveaway is open to everyone with a postal address in a country TBD ships to (see list here). You do not have to be a follower or promote this giveaway anywhere (though I would love it if you do!). All you have to do is fill out the form below and you are entered.

Giveaway closes midnight (CET) 15 December 2010. Winner will be chosen by Random.org.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (21)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

I feel like I have been on a roll lately, largely thanks to the Holiday Reading Challenge. Holiday books are usually rather short, so they do wonders for my count. And they are (usually) sweet and cosy, so it's easy to pick them up and read.

READ LAST WEEK
I finished Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, and liked it so much that I have already ordered the sequel, Sapphique. I thought it was entertaining; perhaps a bit predictable in places, but overall very enjoyable.
I also read Christmas in Harmony by Philip Gulley for the challenge (read my review). I love the Harmony series, and this was a re-read for me. It is short, only 81 pages, so it is perfect for a wintry afternoon.

CURRENTLY READING
I actually have four books going right now. I don't think I have ever read that many at one time before.
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. I love this book. I really, really do.
Julemysteriet (The Christmas Mystery) by Jostein Gaarder. This is my advent book where I read one chapter a day until Christmas Eve.
Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop edited by Otto Penzler. This is an anthology of short stories by famous mystery writers such as Mary Higgins Clark, Ed McBain and Lawrence Block. I read one or two stories a day.
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore. I started this yesterday, and it seems like a refreshing change from the usual sweet and cheery Christmas books (not that I don't love them – I do, that is why I read them – but I have realised that I need something different in between). 

WHAT'S NEXT
I have no idea. I will probably be reading Winter Solstice for a while, so I don't know if I will be starting anything new this week. I think I should concentrate on finishing the four I'm working on (it stresses me out a little just thinking about it – that is why I usually only read one book at a time).

In other news we have had a huge snowfall here the past couple of days, and it is still snowing. I spent half an hour trying to dig my poor car out of a pile of snow this morning so I could go to work. I know I wished for snow for Christmas, but this is bordering on ridiculous.

On a side note, I have decided I am going to hold my first giveaway as soon as I reach 50 followers (only 1 more to go – could it happen today?), so stay tuned!

What are you up to this week?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In My Mailbox (11)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which we share what books we have received in the mail, bought, borrowed or otherwise acquired during the week.


Last week I promised myself I wouldn't buy any more books this year, but I came across a deal on a Kindle Christmas book that sounded interesting, so I downloaded it. It was only $2 and doesn't take up any room in my flat, so I decided it was okay. The rest of the books in my mailbox does take up space (currently in a pile on my floor), but at least they were free. ;)

From BookMooch
Once a Thief by Kay Hooper
Always a Thief by Kay Hooper
Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler & Dirk Cussler

From BookCrossing
Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum (Norwegian edition)

Kindle
The Judge Who Stole Christmas by Randy Singer

What was in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

November Summary

Photo taken by my father

I can't believe we are already well into December. I have waited for this Christmas a long time, as I was in Australia this time last year. Even though it was a great experience, I have to say I do prefer celebrating Christmas in Norway. ;) I have nothing under control yet; still have lots of presents to buy, floors to scrub, cookies to bake, cards to make... Only twenty days to go!

November was a great reading month for me, I think the best this year. I finished three novels and two novellas, which is rare for me. I hope I will get to read at least that many during the holidays when I don't have to work. My favourite November read has to be Incarceron and my least favourite The Burglar and the Blizzard.

Also, All About {n}'s Holiday Reading Challenge started in November, and I jumped at the chance to read some holiday-themed books. I would have done that anyway, but this year I think I will read more than usual because I feel like I am on a mission.

Read in November (links go to reviews):
Bad Debts by Peter Temple
The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt
'Twas the Night by Sandra Hill, Kate Holmes & Trish Jensen
The Burglar and the Blizzard: A Christmas Story by Alice Duer Miller
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Other posts of interest:
Booking Through Thursday - Borrowing
Top Ten Tuesday - Holiday Books
Top Ten Tuesday - Fictional BFFs
Book Beginnings On Friday (8)

How was your November? Are you stressed out about Christmas yet?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review: Christmas in Harmony

Christmas in Harmony
By Philip Gulley

Read: 1 December 2010
Hardcover, 84 pages
Published 2002 by HarperCollins

2010 Holiday Reading Challenge

After the fiasco that was The Burglar and the Blizzard, I needed something I knew would bring out the Christmas spirit in me. This is the second time I read Christmas in Harmony and it certainly will not be the last.

This short story is part of the Harmony series, which consists of six novels and two Christmas specials. The series is set in Harmony, a small Indiana town with its fair share of eccentric characters. The main character and narrator of the books is Quaker Pastor Sam Gardner, who has moved back to his hometown after twenty years. In this Christmas novella he has to deal with Dale Hinshaw's progressive Nativity scene which is spread out all over town (including the livestock in Sam's yard). As usual when Dale is involved chaos and hilarity ensue, but through it all we are reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.

Containing just the right blend of humour, seriousness and heart, and a large dose of Christmas spirit, Christmas in Harmony is the perfect holiday read. I highly recommend it, along with the rest of the Harmony series.

My rating: 6/6 

The Harmony series
Home to Harmony (2000)
Just Shy of Harmony (2002)
Signs and Wonders (2003)
Life Goes On (2004)
A Change of Heart (2005)
Almost Friends (2006)

Christmas novellas
Christmas in Harmony (2002)
The Christmas Scrapbook (2005)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - Fictional BFFs


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature / weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we make a top ten list from a given topic.

This week's topic is

Top Ten Characters I'd Like to be Best Friends With

Whew, this one was hard! There are so many great literary characters that I admire, but that doesn't necessarily mean I would want to spend time with them in real life. I could only think of 6 this time (but if you add them all up, I guess I have at least 14 individual characters). Come back and ask me about television characters, and I will be able to give you a much longer list! But for now, these are the literary characters I would like to have as best friends.

1. Nancy Drew,  George Fayne & Bess Marvin (Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene). Who wouldn't want to be friends with these girls? I would love to tag along with them to exotic places and solve mysteries.

2. Merry & Pippin (Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien). I think this entire list could have been compiled of characters from LOTR (Gandalf, Aragorn, Éowyn, Gimli, Sam...), but I think these two would be great BFFs. They have a positive outlook on life, they like having fun and they appreciate good food and drink.

3. Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich). I would never have a dull moment hanging with Stephanie Plum. I'm sure that whether we were ducking bullets, trying to apprehend an FTA or drooling over Ranger and/or Morelli, we would have lots of fun. And if she could just make up her mind about who of the two hunks she wanted, I could have the other one.

4. Dirk Pitt & Al Giordino (Dirk Pitt Adventures by Clive Cussler). This dynamic duo saves the world on a regular basis and have fun doing it. I wish I could join them on their adventures.

5. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling). Sure, Hermoine would make a great friend, but there's something about Luna. She is true to herself no matter what other people think about her. She may be a little weird, but then so am I.

6. The cast of Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. I can't pick just one or two people from this book – I want to be friends with them all! Elfrida, Oscar, Sam, Carrie, Lucy; they are all such sweet and caring characters and I wish they were real so I could be with them all the time.

ETA: I just thought of another one!

7. Izzy Spellman (The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz). Izzy is clever, sarcastic and slightly wacko and not afraid to stand up for herself or anyone she thinks deserves it. She is definitely someone I would want on my side.

Which characters would you like to have as best friends?

Reading list - Received BC books

These are all the books I've received from kind BookCrossers over the past few years. I hope to read and release all of them sooner or later (probably later, but Ill do my best). I'll keep track in this post.

Status 30/11-10: 27/115 read - 6/115 released

16 Lighthouse Road by Debbie Macomber
1st to Die by James Patterson
5 Freunde auf der Felseninsel by Enid Blyton
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
A Pawn For a Queen by Fiona Buckley
A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Another View by Rosamunde Pilcher
At Home: Scrapbooking with Faye Morrow Bell
Atlantis Found by Clive Cussler
Beloved Exile by Parke Godwin
Bienes hemmelige liv by Sue Monk Kidd
Bombay Ice by Leslie Forbes
Brev till en bokhandel by Helene Hanff
Bristede Håb by Rosamunde Pilcher
Codex by Lev Grossman
Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher
Cyclops by Clive Cussler
Das Dschungel Buch by Rudyard Kipling
De kom til Bagdad by Agatha Christie
Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs
Den sista föreläsningen by Randy Pausch
Die Mädchen von der Parkschule III. Silvy will die Erste sein by Marie Louise Fischer
Die Prophezeiung by Heike og Wolfgang Hohlbein
Du kan aldri vite by Else Breen
E=mc2 mon amour by Patrick Cauvin
Enemy of God (Arthur 2) by Bernard Cornwell
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Excalibur (Arthur 3) by Bernard Cornwell
First Claim by Luke Short
Frankie Says Relapse by Siobhan Curham
Før stormen by Rosamunde Pilcher
Første sommer by Rosamunde Pilcher
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
High Crimes by Joseph Finder
Histoires a lire – huit novelles by misc.
Irish Girls About Town by misc.
J’ai vendu ma soeur by Danielle Simard
Joe Jones by Anne Lamott
Kapten Blod by Rafael Sabatini
Kim by Rudyard Kipling (audio book)
Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson
Le Chocolat, 80 recettes pour fondre de gourmandise by Christian Boistelle
Le petit Nicolas by Sempé
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
L’oeil de loup by Daniel Pennac
Magic Kingdom fra Sale – Sold! by Terry Brooks
Mein Freund Rex by Arthur Holman
Mein Paulek by Dagmar Chidolue
No Comebacks by Frederick Forsyth
Nothing Lasts Forever by Sidney Sheldon
Now We are Six by A.A. Milne
Others by James Herbert
Outsider by John Francome
Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
Playing With Cobras by Craig Thomas
Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft by Boyer and Nissenbaum
Sans Atout et le cheval fantôme by Boileau-Narcejac
September by Rosamunde Pilcher
Shall We Tell the President? by Jeffrey Archer
Sharpe’s Eagle by Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe’s Revenge by Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe’s Tiger (1) by Bernard Cornwell
Sherwood by Parke Godwin
Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead
Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss
Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich
Tennyson’s Gift by Lynne Truss
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
The Bourne Identity (1) by Robert Ludlum
The Bourne Legacy (4) by Eric Van Lustbader
The Bourne Supremacy (2) by Robert Ludlum
The Bourne Ultimatum (3) by Robert Ludlum
The Christmas Box Miracle by Richard Paul Evans
The Clue in the Old Stagecoach by Carolyn Keene
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
The Day of the Storm by Rosamunde Pilcher
The Empty House by Rosamunde Pilcher
The End of Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher
The Godwulf Manuscript by Robert Parker
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton
The Greek Symbol Mystery by Carolyn Keene
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
The Little House & Zelda’s Cut by Philippa Gregory
The Magician’s Son: A Search for Identity by Sandy McCutcheon
The Memory Palace by Christie Dickason
The Mystery of the 99 Steps by Carolyn Keene
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
The Ringmaster’s Secret (Nancy Drew mysteries 31) by Carolyn Keene
The Russia House by John le Carré
The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
The Secret of Mirror Bay (Nancy Drew mysteries 49) by Carolyn Keene
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
The Shakespeare Secret by J.L. Carrell
The Silent and the Damned by Robert Wilson
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
The Spider Sapphire Mystery by Carolyn Keene
The Stone Angels by Stuart Archer Cohen
The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce
The Winter King (Arthur 1) by Bernard Cornwell
The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory
The Witch Tree Symbol (Nancy Drew Mysteries 33) by Carolyn Keene
Treasure of Khan by Clive Cussler
True North by Jill Ker Conway
Under Gemini by Rosamunde Pilcher
Windflowers by Tamara McKinley

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (20)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

READ LAST WEEK
Last week I finished The Burglar and the Blizzard: A Christmas Story by Alice Duer Miller for the Holiday Reading Challenge. For a book subtitled A Christmas Story, I found it contained not even a gram of Christmas spirit (read my review).

CURRENTLY READING
My latest Book Depository order arrived last week (see what I got!) and I dropped everything else to start Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. I have been wanting to read it for ages, and since I am a notorious leaving-new-books-on-the-shelf-and-never-reading-them-after-buying-them type of person, I decided to read it while I still had the urge to. I am enjoying it so far.

WHAT'S NEXT
More Christmas books for the challenge. I will be starting The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder on 1 December and reading one chapter a day until Christmas Eve. I also got a couple of Christmas books in my TBD batch, so I will not run out of reading material for the challenge just yet.

What are you up to this week?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In My Mailbox (10)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which we share what books we have received in the mail, bought, borrowed or otherwise acquired during the week.

I went a little crazy and bought eight books from The Book Depository last week. Seven of them arrived on one day, in seven envelopes like usual, and my mailman had to come inside because there was not enough room in my mailbox. :)


From The Book Depository:

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop edited by Otto Penzler
The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere
Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
The Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block
Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Via BookCrossing.com:

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

I promise I won't buy any more books this year. Unless I come across a good deal, of course. ;)

What did you find in your mailboxes this week?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review: The Burglar and the Blizzard

The Burglar and the Blizzard: A Christmas Story
By Alice Duer Miller

Read: 19 – 23 November 2010
E-book from Project Gutenberg

2010 Holiday Reading Challenge

*This review contains spoilers*

Despite the title this novella from the 1800s does not feel very christmassy. Several holiday homes of rich owner have been broken into, and when Geoffrey Holland's sister becomes the burglar's latest victim, Geoffrey travels up to his house to check on it. When he arrives he catches the thief in his library and discoveres that he went to school with him years ago. Geoffrey is determined not to let the burglar, named McVay, out of his sight, but when McVay explains that his sister is staying in an old cabin in the forest and will most likely not survive the brewing blizzard, Geoff ends up locking McVay in a closet and setting out to find Cecilia. He finds her and takes her back to the house after a quick conversation which contains the best part of the story, starting with Cecilia:

"Oh, there is no reason for the rescued to be humane."

"They ought to be grateful."

"They are."

"Gratefuller then. Is it nothing that I have taken all the trouble to be born and grow up and live just to come here for you?"

"Perhaps I could be gratefuller if there were any prospect of a fire."

(Here I agreed wholeheartedly with Cecilia. Stop talking and take the girl back to the house, you moron!)

They finally make it back to the house where they are forced to stay over Christmas because of the snowstorm. To make a long story short: Geoff falls in love with Cecilia and bribes a detective of the police to be able to send McVay to Mexico to practically work as a slave in one of Geoff's mines so that Cecilia will not have to live with the shame of a trial. They all agree (the thief most of all), McVay is sent off and everyone lives happily ever after.

Nothing in this story sat right with me. I did not buy Geoffrey's love for Cecilia, I did not buy the detective's reason for taking the bribe (I'm not even sure he had a reason) and I certainly did not buy McVay's ready acceptance, egerness even, of his less than stellar future. None of the characters were very likable, Geoffrey least of all. The only one I had any sympathy for was the burglar McVay, but even he turned out to be a fool in the end. I am sorry to say that for a Christmas story, this falls way short. I need to go watch a movie adaption of A Christmas Carol to cheer me up now.

My rating: 2/6

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Beginnings on Friday (8)


Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by A Few More Pages.

I'm currently reading Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, and this is the opening sentence:

Finn had been flung on his face and chained to the stone slabs of the transitway.

How's that for attention grabber? We are thrown into the action right away here, and it sounds like Finn is in real trouble. It certainly made me want to keep reading to find out what was happening and who this poor guy was. I'm having fun reading this book.

What do you think of in medias res beginnings like this one? Do you prefer a different type of opening sentence?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

1st In a Series Challenge 2011


I've decided to join my first challenge for 2011; the 1st In a Series Challenge hosted by A Few More Pages. So many books on my wishlist and TBR list are the first book in a series, and I thought this challenge would be a good excuse to read some of them.

The challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2011, and there are four levels:

1. Series Novice: Read 3 books that are the first in any series
2. Series Lover: Read 6 books that are the first in any series
3. Series Expert: Read 12 books that are the first in any series
4. Series Fanatic: Read 20 books that are the first in any series

I am aiming for Series Lover for now. I'll choose the books as I go.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - Holiday Books


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature / weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we make a top ten list from a given topic.

This week's topic is

Top Ten Holiday Books

Christmas is my favourite holiday, and each year I try to read a few Christmas-themed books during November and December.

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This is my very favourite Christmas story, but I've actually only read the original once, three years ago. I plan to read it again this year, as well as watch all the movie versions I can find (A Muppet Christmas Carol and Mickey's Christmas Carol are my favourites).

2. Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. Reading a book by Rosamunde Pilcher is a little like coming home, and Winter Solstice is a book I would like to live in - especially around Christmas.

3. The Christmas Hope series by Donna VanLiere. I have made a tradition of reading one of these books every Christmas. They are sweet, heart-warming tales perfect for the holiday. Currently there are five books in the series, and the first two have also been made into movies.

4. The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. This book is like an advent calendar. It has 24 chapters so that you can read one chapter every day starting December 1st.

5. Various Christmas mysteries by Mary Higgins Clark. I haven't read any of her regular mysteries, but I love her Christmas mysteries like The Christmas Thief, All Through the Night and Deck the Halls.

6. Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber. Or any other of Macomber's Christmas books (and she has written a few), but I really liked this one.

7. Christmas in Harmony by Philip Gulley. This is a part of the Harmony series, which centers around a young minister and his (slightly crazy) parishioners.

I can't think of any more books at the moment, so the rest of this list consists of my favourite Christmas movies.

8. Love Actually. I never tire of this movie. It is so much more than just a romantic comedy, and the cast is spectacular.

9. It's a Wonderful Life. A Christmas classic. I watched it for the first time sometime this decade, and I've made a point of watching it every Christmas since then.

10. Any Disney short film collection. No Christmas is complete without Mickey, Minnie and Donald.

Oh, now I want to curl up with a mug of gløgg and a Christmas book! We do have a little snow here, and it suddenly got very cold, so that Christmas feeling isn't far away. I think some Christmas music is in order...

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (19)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

READ LAST WEEK
I finished and posted a review of 'Twas the Night by Sandra Hill, Trish Jensen and Kate Holmes (I always have to remind myself not to put an "i" in her first name...). It was a sweet and fun holiday romance (review).

CURRENTLY READING
I'm reading The Burglar and the Blizzard by Alice Duer Miller for the Holiday Reading Challenge. It's very short, more like a novella, so I should finish it tonight provided my club meeting doesn't take forever.

WHAT'S NEXT
I'm hoping my latest order from The Book Depository will arrive this week, because then I might have time to squeeze in Incarceron by Catherine Fisher before December. I've been wanting to read that one for ages, so I can't wait to get my hands on it. Of course I have more holiday reading to do as well, for instance the anthology Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop.

What's on your reading horizon this week?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In My Mailbox (9)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which we share what books we have received in the mail, bought, borrowed or otherwise acquired during the week.

I haven't done an IMM post for a while, because I've been good and not bought any books (until this week that is – next Sunday might see a huge IMM post!). But I have received a few e-books in the past few weeks, two of which I've already read. This is quite out of character for me, because I normally buy lots of books and then never get around to reading them. It seems like I read e-books faster than paper books. Not sure why that is, but I'm a slow reader compared to many of you, so if that is the case, then it's a good thing! Anyway, on with the books:

From NetGalley:

The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt (review)
'Twas the Night by Sandra Hill, Kate Holmes & Trish Jensen (review)

The Goddess of Fried Okra by Jean Brashear
Award-winning romance author Brashear (currently sharing an anthology spotlight with NYT bestseller Robyn Carr in MIDNIGHT KISS) turns to women's fiction with this warm, wise, quirky, romantic novel about a young woman on a Texas roadtrip to reconnect with the spirit of her dead sister. Toss in some swordplay, fried okra, a kitten, a pregnant teen and a handsome con man. (NetGalley)

I'm really looking forward to reading this one, it sounds like a great book. And isn't that cover gorgeous? I might have to get the print version just to have that cover.

So what have you gotten in your mailbox lately?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: 'Twas the Night

'Twas the Night
by Sandra Hill, Kate Holmes and Trish Jensen

Published: 15 November 2010 by Bell Bridge Books
Read: 12-18 November 2010

E-book received from the publisher via NetGalley

2010 Holiday Reading Challenge

We’re about to find out who’s been naughty or nice . . .
It’s Christmas season, and a snowstorm has shut down Philadelphia’s airport. Somehow, Navy pilot Sam Merrick has to get to Maine for his best friend’s wedding. Enter the “Santa Brigade,” a group of boisterous oldsters headed to Maine on a bus chartered by their senior center. Only one problem: the group’s director is Sam’s wounded ex-flame, Reba. Their angry yet romantic sparks start melting the snowflakes . . .

Next the troupe adds bounty hunter Kevin Wilder, Sam's best friend, who needs a ride to Maine while hand-cuffed to his latest capture, the fiery (yet innocent) Callie Brandt. Then, as the Santa Brigade rolls through the night it picks up ex-pro quarterback Stan Kijewski and forest ranger Dana Freeman, a woman so hot she ought to be declared a fire hazard.
So now we have a bus full of cheerfully meddling seniors, three couples battling romantic dilemmas, an ex-NASCAR bus driver who refuses to let the snowbound roads beat her, a stocking full of oddball hitchhikers, and the magic of the holidays, where love waits under the mistletoe on this very special night. (From the introduction)

'Twas the Night was everything I expected it to be: light-hearted, fluffy and utterly predictable – in a good way. 

The writers describe it a most unsual anthology – in fact so unusual that they refer to it as a non-anthology. Sandra wrote all the chapters from Sam’s point of view; Trish wrote Kevin’s; and Kate wrote Stan’s. This round-robin style of writing works really well, and the different voices blend in well together. If I did not know better I would have thought one author had written the entire book.

Obviously the premise – three former juvenile delinquents, three gorgeous girls and a bus full of elderly people dressed as Santas – requires some suspension of disbelief, but at this time of year I'm willing to believe anything. This charming holiday tale contains everything you might require of such a book; boys meet girls, a snowstorm, charity work, girls playing hard to get, a mountain lodge, Jingle Bells, boys and girls falling in love and Christmas Eve. But it is more than just fluff. The main characters all have their own background stories, and especially Callie's current situation is interesting (though I feel it could have been explored even more than what was the case).

Callie and Kevin were my favourite couple because their story seemed the most plausible one. Plus, I loved feisty Callie and rugged Kevin (called "JD" – a most clever nickname) and the bickering between them. Sam and Reba were nice too (but seriously, what kind of nickname is "Slick"?), but I thought Stan was a bit arrogant and Dana a bit anonymous.

The Santa Brigade are a hilarious bunch of colourful old people from the guys' hometown who every December travel down the coast visiting homeless shelters, entertaining the kids and handing out presents. They include Emma Smith, the boys' former teacher, hairdresser and cyber-granny Maudeen, old playboy Morey, the anthropologist twins Dr. Meg and Dr. Maggie and Bad-ass Betty, the driver; all of them very, very nosy and very, very endearing.

Like I said this book is as predictable as they come. But that is okay, because the ride is fun and exciting and I enjoyed spending time with this crazy bunch of people. If you're looking for a sweet and fun romantic read for the holidays, 'Twas the Night is the book for you.

My rating: 4/6

Apparently this book was first published in 2001 with the title Here Comes Santa Claus.

Book Blogger Hop

Are you sure it is Friday again? But it was Monday yesterday, wasn't it? Only just over a week until Advent Sunday, and I have the feeling I won't have enough time to everything I wanted to do before Christmas. For instance I wanted to start baking cookies this weekend, but it looks like I will have to work all day tomorrow and possibly Sunday as well. Oh well, at least I will have money to buy Christmas presents for (that would be Christmas presents for other people, not books for myself... At least not that many books for myself). ;)

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. Each week she asks a question so that blogger can get to know each other a little bit better. This week she says:

Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!

Being Norwegian I don't celebrate Thanksgiving, though I wish we did, because it sounds wonderful. Food and family, what more could you want? I also like the idea of taking a moment to reflect on the things you are thankful for. We don't do that often enough.

I am thankful for my parents; that they are healthy and happy despite nearing 65. I am thankful that I am healthy and happy despite feeling lonely sometimes. I am thankful I have a nice flat and a cute car and a good job, even though I sometimes complain about the housework and the gas prices and the boring projects. I am thankful I live in a peaceful country and a small town that feels like home, even though it is cold and wet and includes nosy people. I am thankful I have the means to travel to other places, even though I always get homesick. I am thankful I can go home. I am thankful for the midnight sun and the northern lights; the clean air; the ocean and the sky. I am thankful for books and movies and music. I am thankful for good food and drinks. I am thankful for chocolate (and ice cream). I am thankful I have good friends in many different places. I am thankful for all of this and so much more, but most of all I am thankful I have someone I love and someone who loves me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Booking Through Thursday - Borrowing

 Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about (mostly) books and reading.

This week's question is: 

Who would you rather borrow from? Your library? Or a friend? (Or don't your friends trust you to return their books?) And, do you return books you borrow?

Actually I hardly ever borrow books. I don't have any friends who like to read nearby, so if I borrow from anyone it's usually my mother. I used to go to the library a lot when I was in school, but then I started buying books myself. I also became a member of BookCrossing and suddenly people started sending me books with no strings attached (I have a double-stacked shelf with nothing but BC books). I feel like I should read the books I have at home before borrowing from others. I also don't like reading Norwegian translations of books written in English, so whenever I borrow from my local library it's only books by Norwegian authors (which I don't read much of to begin with). I love my library and the librarian is a god friend of mine (not to mention it's located very close to my house), so I really should go there more often. I always return books I've borrowed, though perhaps not always in a timely manner...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: The Sevenfold Spell

The Sevenfold Spell
by Tia Nevitt

Published 27 September 2010 by Carina Press
Read: 5–12 November 2010

E-book received from Carina Press via NetGalley. 

Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?
Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying “good” fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.

Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.
 

Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia’s prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation, which plays right into the evil fairy’s diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she’s willing to make? (Goodreads)

Unexpected and Inventive

The Sevenfold Spell went straight to my wishlist the first time I read a review of it, so I was very excited to have my NetGalley request for it accepted. The concept of this novella appealed to me, as it's always interesting to go behind the scenes of a well-known story, so to speak. We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty, but the princess was not the only one affected by the curse upon her.

To be frank, this book was nothing like I expected. This is definitely an adult story, and the first few chapters had me almost blushing. I had begun to wonder "is this what it's going to be like?" when the story took a different direction and started to feel like a fairy tale instead of a romance novel. The events unfolding were interesting as well as inventive, and the confrontation between Talia's mother and one particular fairy godmother was hilarious. The end came all too soon, as I would have liked to stay in that world a little longer.

Talia is a spirited woman who doesn't let herself be stopped despite not being blessed with good looks. At first she comes across as somewhat selfish and arrogant, but she grows as a character, even during this short story. She learns along the way, and I ended up quite liking her. I must admit I questioned some of her earlier choices, but in the end she convinced me she had arrived at the right place nevertheless. 

Lastly I wanted to comment on the cover. I included an extra large image because I think it is simply gorgeous. The colours, the different elements blended together and the sparkle give it a magical feeling perfect for a fairy tale. I could sit and stare at it all day if I only had the time. It would definitely have caught my attention in a bookstore. 

All in all The Sevenfold Spell is an interesting take on the familiar Sleeping Beauty tale, with a strong female lead and a satisfying end.

My rating: 4/6

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (18)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

READ LAST WEEK
I finally found my reading mojo again last week, so I finally finished Bad Debts by Peter Temple (review). It turned out to be a very good book. I also finished The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt (review coming soon), which was an interesting retelling of Sleeping Beauty.

CURRENTLY READING
All About {n}'s Holiday Reading Challenge starts today (yay!), so now I'll be reading Christmas-themed books for the next few weeks. First up is 'Twas the Night by Sandra Hill, Kate Holmes and Trish Jensen. It looks like a fun holiday romance – there's nothing like a little romantic fluff to get you in the Christmas spirit.

WHAT'S NEXT
More books for the holiday challenge: The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore and The Burglar and the Blizzard by Alice Duer Miller are two on my list. I might have to dig out a mystery or something as well, to avoid an overdose of jingle bells. ;)

What are you reading this week?

(Oh, it's snowing!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On My Wishlist (11) - The Christmas Edition


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where we list all the books we want to read but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.

Christmas at Harrington's 
by Melody Carlson
Published October 2010

Because I love Christmas books.

Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret? This tender story about fresh starts will charm readers as all of Melody Carlson's Christmas offerings do. Full of redemption and true holiday spirit, Christmas at Harrington's will be readers' newest Christmas tradition. (Goodreads)


The Christmas Secret
by Donna VanLiere
Book 5 in the Christmas series
Published October 2009 

I've made it a tradition to read one of her books each Christmas. This is the only one missing from my collection. And I love Christmas books.

When a struggling young single mother saves the life of an elderly woman, she sets into motion a series of events that will test her strength, loyalty, and determination, all the while setting her on the path to finding true love. Christine Eisley is the mother of seven-year-old Zach and five-year-old Haley. Her ex-husband provides little, if any, child support and makes life difficult for Christine by using the children as pawns. She works long hours as a waitress to make ends meet, but her job is in jeopardy because she’s often late to work due to the unreliable teenaged sitters she’s forced to use. When Christine saves the life of a woman who works in Wilson’s department store, the owner of Wilson’s wants to find her, to thank her, but Christine has disappeared, losing another job once again. He sets his grandson, Jason, to the task of finding the mysterious “Christy.” Jason, an accountant by trade who has lost his job to downsizing, thinks he is “above” working at Wilson’s. Soon, he discovers that this new task gives him more than he bargains for. The Christmas Secret is a novel for anyone who wants to see how love is a gift that keeps giving back; that hope is a treasure that never runs dry, and that faith is a miracle that is reborn with each new day. (Goodreads)


The Christmas Box
by Richard Paul Evans
Published November 1996 

I got The Christmas Box Miracle some years ago, not realising it was the story of the story in The Christmas Box, not actually The Christmas Box. Obviously I can't read The Christmas Box Miracle without first reading The Christmas Box. Plus, I love Christmas books. 

When I wrote The Christmas Box, I never intended to publish the story--it was simply an expression of love for my two young daughters, Jenna and Allyson. Though I often told them that I loved them, I didn't believe that they could ever really understand the depths of those feelings until they had experience the joy of rearing their own children, and by that time our relationship would have already changed. Forever. In writing The Christmas Box, I hoped that at some future time they could read this book and know of their father's love.

As I began to write, I was amazed at the inspiration which flowed into my mind and heart. I completed the book in less than six weeks and, when I had finished, I produced twenty copies of The Christmas Box to give as Christmas presents to my family and a few close friends. In the next four weeks those twenty copies were shared from family to family, and friend to friend. Now I share the message of this book with you in hope that we can all remember what is most precious to us, and that you, too, may experience the magic of The Christmas Box and pass it on.

With love and Christmas,
Richard Paul Evans

(Goodreads)

Are you wishing for Christmas books too?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

This weekend I'm doing my very first Book Blogger Hop!

If you've found your way here from the hop, welcome! I'm a Norwegian book lover with pretty eclectic reading tastes, which is reflected by my little blog.

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. Each week she asks a question so that blogger can get to know each other a little bit better. This week she asks:

If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?

Yes, I always start with the first book provided I can get hold of it (and I've been known to keep searching for a long time if it's a series I really want to read). Sometimes I've started with a later book, either because I didn't know it was part of a series or the order didn't matter much (like with Nancy Drew – try reading those in order!). When I was younger I didn't care that much about reading series in order, unless the next book was a direct continuation of the previous. But as I've gotten older, I've also gotten stranger habits, and now I insist on starting with the first book. This is why books like The Right Attitude to Rain by Alexander McCall Smith (Isabel Dalhousie #3) will stay on my shelf until I can find the first two books.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Bad Debts

Bad Debts 
by Peter Temple

Book 1 in the Jack Irish series

Pages: 319
Read: 21 October - 11 November 2010

Meet Jack Irish: some-time lawyer, part-time private eye, spare-time cabinet maker and full-time lover of strong coffee, swift horses and spirited women.

A phone message from ex-client Danny McKillop doesn't ring any bells for Jack Irish. Life is hard enough without having to dredge up old problems: His beloved football team continues to lose, the odds on his latest plunge at the track seem far too long, and he's still cooking for one. When Danny turns up dead, Jack is forced to take a walk back into the dark and dangerous past.

Australian Noir

I found this book a bit slow to start with. The main mystery is quite complex and needed time to build, and it has a political aspect involving conspiracy and corruption and lots of different names which made it a bit hard to follow. But once the story gets going, it gets very interesting and I didn't want to put it down. The ending might be a tad predictable, but it's satisfying nevertheless.

Jack Irish is a likeable fellow. He's been through some tough times, turning to alcohol  when his wife was killed by a deranged client back in the 80s. But he pulled himself together, and although he doesn't practice much law anymore, he isn't one of those bitter, grumpy guys the mystery genre is full of. Nowadays he earns a living locating people for various employers, working part-time at Taub's Cabinetmaking and acting as lawyer for Harry Strang, a former jockey who now makes his fortune doing other things in the horseracing business. Most of his clients are rather shady people, but Jack himself is a genuinely good guy. There is also a great cast of secondary characters, from the old guys drinking and watching the footy at the local pub to Charlie Taub, Jack's woodworking mentor. In the end my favourite character besides Jack turned out to be Cam Delray, a quiet, but surprisingly capable man.

The language is very Australian, making it sound authentic, but also tough to understand sometimes. I'm glad I've spent some time in Australia (and watched a lot of Aussie films and tv shows), because otherwise I would have had no idea what "arvo" meant or what the heck a "Drizabone" is (answer: "arvo" is short for "afternoon" - apparently Aussies love shortening words - and a Drizabone is a full-length waterproof riding coat). The language wasn't the only thing that caused me problems; the sub-plot involving horse racing and betting was tough to grasp for someone who's sat on a horse once in her life and have never understood how the odds system works. I did get the overall gist of it though, and that was enough to keep me interested.

To me the book has the same mood as great Aussie cop shows from the 90s like Stingers and Murder Call; suspenseful and noir-like. In my mind I kept picturing Australian actor Colin Friels as Jack. In fact, I think this probably would have made a good tv series, either a mini-series or as a mystery series with 1,5 hour episodes.

Bad Debts won the Ned Kelly Crime Award for Best First Novel in 1997.

My rating: 4 / 6

The Jack Irish series:
Bad Debts (1996)
Black Tide (1999)
Dead Point (2000)
White Dog (2003)

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (17)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

READ LAST WEEK
Did not finish any books this week either, but I did read a super-long Lord of the Rings fanfic (which I downloaded, converted to mobi format with Calibre and read on my Kindle. I love my Kindle - and Calibre.).

CURRENTLY READING
Still Bad Debts by Peter Temple. Sigh. I don't know why this is taking me so long to get through, because once I actually sit down and read I really enjoy it. It's just a chore to pick it up in the first place. I will try to make an effort to finish it this week, because next week it is time for Christmas books (see below).

I also received a review copy of The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt from Carina Press via NetGalley (my first review book - really excited!) which I'm about 40 % through at the moment. It's not that long, so I'm hoping to finish it today.

WHAT'S NEXT
I wish I was a faster reader, because a Norwegian TV channel will start Rizzoli & Isles on Thursday, and I would like to read at least the first book in the series before watching the show. I might have to record the first couple of episodes and try to read The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen. I have also joined All About {n}'s 2010 Holiday Reading Challenge, so you should be seeing some Christmas-themed books here soon. The Challenge starts Nov 15, so there's still time to join!

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

On My Wishlist (10)


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where we list all the books we want to read but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.

The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson

The linguist in me is dying to read this book. Correcting errors is after all a part of my job, and sometimes I wish I could travel around Norway armed with a red pen and correct all those horrifying writing mistakes out there.

The signs of the times are missing apostrophes.
 
The world needed a hero, but how would an editor with no off-switch answer the call? For Jeff Deck, the writing was literally on the wall: “NO TRESSPASSING.” In that moment, his greater purpose became clear.  Dark hordes of typos had descended upon civilization… and only he could wield the marker to defeat them.

Recruiting his friend Benjamin and other valiant companions, he created the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL). Armed with markers, chalk, and correction fluid, they circumnavigated America, righting the glaring errors displayed in grocery stores, museums, malls, restaurants, mini-golf courses, beaches, and even a national park. Jeff and Benjamin championed the cause of clear communication, blogging about their adventures transforming horor into horror, it’s into its, and coconunut into coconut. (Goodreads)


Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett
Booktown Mystery #1

There seems to be a few cozy mystery series set in or around bookshops out there, and this one sounds good.

The streets of Stoneham, New Hampsire are lined with bookstores...and paved with murder.

When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased-and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries-and hunt down someone who isn't killing by the book. (Goodreads)


Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn #1

I understand Brandon Sanderson is one of the great fantasy writers of today, but I've never read anything by him. This sounds like a good place to start.

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the Sliver of Infinity, reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Rulers most hellish prison. Kelsier snapped and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark. Kel's plan looks like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she's a half-Skaa orphan, but she's lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed. (Goodreads)

What are you wishing for this week?
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