Saturday, July 31, 2010

On My Wishlist (2)

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

The Thieves of Heaven by Richard Doetsch
This is the first book in a series I first read about over at The Crowded Leaf. It sounds like it's right up my alley.

Goodreads description: The most closely Guarded treasure on Earth.
An explosive ancient secret.
A breakneck journey into the heart of the Vatican.

In a small, heavily fortified room just north of the Sistine Chapel, a master thief is about to strike. All he needs is an instant–to steal the most important treasure in the Vatican museum: two antique keys–one gold, one silver–that protect the secret of salvation….
But a surprise awaits Michael St. Pierre deep inside the Vatican, an ancient secret so explosive, it sends him running for his life—from the streets of Rome to a small stone church in Israel—with two stolen keys and a terrible realization: the consequences of his desperate, brazen act are far greater than he could ever have imagined.
For the treasure he has uncovered—the gleaming prize buried within the most clandestine structure on earth—is about to bring him face-to-face with an enemy more shocking, frightening, and insidious than anyone can guess...

Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race by Maud Isabel Ebbutt
I came across this one while browsing through Amazon's Kindle Store. I love the legend of Robin Hood, so I just had to add this to my wishlist. It sounds really interesting.

Goodreads description: The writer retells for modern readers the legends and stories which have given pleasure to story-lovers of all centuries from the eighth onward. Men's conceptions of the heroic change with changing years, and vary with each individual mind; hence it often happens that one person sees in a legend only the central heroism, while another sees only the inartistic details of medieval life which tend to disguise and warp the heroic quality. There is no doubt that to the age and generation which wrote or sang of them they appeared real heroes, worthy of remembrance and celebration. With a glossary and index.

These next ones are all books I found at Aleksandra's Corner.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (Matt Cruse #1)

Goodreads description: Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt's always wanted; convinced he's lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist's granddaughter that he realizes that the man's ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.

In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (Cecelia & Kate #1)

Goodreads description: A great deal is happening in London and the country this season.

For starters, there's the witch who tried to poison Kate at the Royal College of Wizards. There's also the man who seems to be spying on Cecelia. (Though he's not doing a very good job of it--so just what are his intentions?) And then there's Oliver. Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn't bothered to tell anyone where he is.

Clearly, magic is a deadly and dangerous business. And the girls might be in fear for their lives . . . if only they weren't having so much fun!

The Wizard Test by Hilari Bell

Goodreads description: Dayven has passed the test he wanted most desperately to fail – he's been proven to have the powers of a wizard. He always swore he would never become one of the deceitful, disloyal sorcerers who alter people's true destinies, but now it seems he has no choice. The path that was once clear – his friendships, his future, his destiny – is now shadowed with dangerous twists and turns, and the world he knows must change forever.

The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu (Cronus Chronicles #1)

Goodreads description: See that girl, the one with the bright red hair, overstuffed backpack, and aura of grumpiness? That's Charlotte Mielswetzski. And something extra-ordinary is about to happen to her.Oh, it's not the very cute kitten that appears out of nowhere and demands to go home with her. It's not the sudden arrival of her cousin Zee, who believes he's the cause of a mysterious sickness that has struck his friends back in England. It's not her creepy English teacher Mr. Metos, who takes his mythology lessons just a little too seriously. And it's not the white-faced, yellow-eyed men in tuxedoes, who follow Charlotte everywhere.
What's so extraordinary is not any one of these things....It's all of them. And when Charlotte's friends start to get sick one by one, Charlotte and Zee set out to find a cure. Their quest leads them to a not-so-mythical Underworld, where they face rhyme-loving Harpies, gods with personnel problems, and ghosts with a thirst for blood.
Charlotte and Zee learn that in a world overrun by Nightmares, Pain, and Death, the really dangerous character is a guy named Phil. And then they discover that the fate of every person -- living and dead -- is in their young hands.

The Light by D.J. MacHale (Morpheus Road #1)

Goodreads description: Marshall Seaver is being haunted. In the first installment of this chillingly compelling trilogy, sixteen-year-old Marshall discovers that something beyond our world is after him. The eerie clues pile up quickly, and when people start dying, it’s clear whatever this isit’s huge.

Marshall has no idea what’s happening to him, but he’s soon convinced that it has something to do with his best friend Cooper, who’s been missing for over a week. Together with Coop’s sister, Marsh searches for the truth about what happened to his friend, ultimately uncovering something bigger than he could ever have imagined

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday / Top Ten Picks - All-Time Favourite Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish, and Top Ten Picks is hosted by Random Ramblings. This week they share the same topic, so it's only natural I do both at the same time.

I'm a little late in getting this week's top ten out, but I've been working so much lately I've hardly been home at all. This is by no means a complete list, because there will be books I've forgotten to add and there will be new books to add in the future. But for now, here are my all-time favourite books (or, the ones I can remember at the moment).

1) Kabalmysteriet (The Solitaire Mystery) by Jostein Gaarder. You might have heard me mentioning this book before, but it really is the best book I have ever read. Gaarder is mostly known for Sophie's World, and although I like that one too, The Solitaire Mystery is completely different. The story has so many different layers (it's actually a story within a story - or a bun), but they all tie together beautifully. And there's no philosophy lesson.
2) Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. It seems you either like Jane Eyre or you like Wuthering Heights. I've read both, and to me JE doesn't even come close to this haunting, tragic, scary love story. I even persuaded my English teacher in high school to let me read WH instead of Animal Farm, which was the required reading.
3) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I can't remember whether I read this before or after The Lord of the Rings, but while I love LOTR, I love The Hobbit even more. It's much lighter and more humorous, and has all the action and excitement without the information overload.
4) Matilda's Last Waltz by Tamara McKinley. I love all the books by this Australian author, but this one is particularly haunting. I cried my way through most of it.
5) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The ultimate Christmas story. It has been recreated in countless ways (I really like A Muppet Christmas Carol, of all things), but the original story will always be the best.
6) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I don't even remember half of the storyline right now, but I know I was completely emerged in it when I read it. After a few years of losing interest in reading it reminded me of why I love books and reading so much.
7) Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. My feel-good read. It's a warm, sweet story about love and friendship set in Scotland during the Christmas holidays. I try to read it every other year for Christmas, and love it just as much, if not more, every time.
8) Tsarens juveler by Tormod Haugen. I don't know if this book has been translated into any other languages, but if it is, you should check it out. I read it for the first time when I was about 12, and then again two years ago, and I still love it. It's a magical tale of jewels, legends and moonlight, as well as family, dreams, belonging, forgiveness and forsaking.
9) The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke. I know I haven't read the last book in this trilogy yet, but I'm including this anyway, because I aboslutely love the first two.
10) The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene. Nancy Drew has been my heroine since I was a litle girl, and I still love reading about the young sleuth and her friends solving all sorts of mysteries.

That was hard! There are so many other wonderful books I want to include, like Neverwhere, the Harry Potter series, The Lies of Locke Lamora, The Thirteenth Tale, Les Miserables... Hey, as I'm sort of doing two memes, maybe I can make two lists? ;)


I don't believe it. Ten days after I ordered my Kindle, Amazon announces their new, third-generation Kindle. It's "smaller, lighter, faster with 50 % better contrast", looks more elegant and comes in graphite as well as black. Now they tell me! If I had only waited ten more days before ordering... Just my luck.

Oh well, I suppose it doesn't really matter. I'm sure I will love my second-generation Kindle once I start using it (I've been so busy the past few days I haven't really had a chance to try it out yet). It was just ... really lousy timing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which we share what books we have received during the week.

This week I received The Doomsday Key by James Rollins, which I won in a giveaway from the lovely Stacy of A Novel Source. Thank you very much!

I've enjoyed all the Sigma novels so far, so I'm looking forward to this one (even more so because it's partly set in Norway).

Goodreads description: At Princeton University, a famed geneticist dies inside a biohazard lab. In Rome, a Vatican archaeologist is found dead in St. Peter's Basilica. In Africa, a U.S. senator's son is slain outside a Red Cross camp. The three murders on three continents bear a horrifying connection: all the victims are marked by a Druidic pagan cross burned into their flesh.

The bizarre murders thrust Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force into a race against time to solve a riddle going back centuries, to a ghastly crime against humanity hidden within a cryptic medieval codex. The first clue is discovered inside a mummified corpse buried in an English peat bog--a gruesome secret that threatens America and the world.
Aided by two women from his past--one his exlover, the other his new partner--Gray must piece together the horrifying truth. But the revelations come at a high cost, and to save the future, Gray will have to sacrifice one of the women at his side. That alone might not be enough, as the true path to salvation is revealed in a dark prophecy of doom.

Sigma Force confronts humankind's greatest threat in an adventure that races from the Roman Coliseum to the icy peaks of Norway, from the ruins of medieval abbeys to the lost tombs of Celtic kings. The ultimate nightmare is locked within a talisman buried by a dead saint--an ancient artifact known as the Doomsday Key.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On My Wishlist (1)

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

It's my birthday today (no, I'm not just looking for birthday wishes - well, maybe just a little bit *grin*), so I find it appropriate that my first Wishlist post should be today.

Most of all I wish I had gotten my Kindle today, but unfortunately packages don't get sent or delivered on Saturdays. But I've tracked it, and it's almost here, so I'll have it on Monday. Can't wait to play with it!

These books made it to my wishlist this week:

City of Thieves by David Benioff
Goodreads description: From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival and a remarkable friendship that ripples across a lifetime.

During the Nazis' brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter's wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.

By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles #2)
Goodreads description: It is a boiling hot Boston summer. Adding to the city’s woes is a series of shocking crimes, in which wealthy men are made to watch while their wives are brutalized. A sadistic demand that ends in abduction and death.

The pattern suggests one man: serial killer Warren Hoyt, recently removed from the city’s streets. Police can only assume an acolyte is at large, a maniac basing his attacks on the twisted medical techniques of the madman he so admires. At least that’s what Detective Jane Rizzoli thinks. Forced again to confront the killer who scarred her—literally and figuratively—she is determined to finally end Hoyt’s awful influence . . . even if it means receiving more resistance from her all-male homicide squad.

But Rizzoli isn’t counting on the U.S. government’s sudden interest. Or on meeting Special Agent Gabriel Dean, who knows more than he will tell. Most of all, she isn’t counting on becoming a target herself, once Hoyt is suddenly free, joining his mysterious blood brother in a vicious vendetta. . . .

The Hound of Rowan by Henry H. Neff (Book 1 of The Tapestry)
Amazon description: From Booklist: In a hidden alcove within Chicago's Art Institute, Max McDaniels discovers a faded tapestry. As he watches, the tapestry begins to glow; soon after, he receives an invitation to attend a private boarding school in New England. When he arrives at Rowan Academy, where young people with Potential are trained to fight an unnamed enemy, he and the other apprentices are housed in magically morphing rooms and assigned animal charges. Max is paired with the last lymrill in the world, a nocturnal creature with metallic quills. They train on the Course, where they experience different scenarios as they try to achieve a goal and move up levels as they progress. Meanwhile, apprentices and even some full-fledged agents are disappearing all over the world. This novel's sprawling, quirky boarding school has obvious parallels to Hogwarts, but Neff's storytelling boasts charms of its own, and U.S. readers may appreciate that this magical adventure, the first installment in the planned Tapestry series, takes place here rather than abroad. Tixier Herald, Diana

The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom (Mobile Library Mystery #1)
Goodreads description: Israel Armstrong is a passionate soul, lured to Ireland by the promise of an exciting new career. Alas, the job that awaits him is not quite what he had in mind. Still, Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town. After all, the scenery is lovely, the people are charming—but where are the books? The rolling library's 15,000 volumes have mysteriously gone missing, and it's up to Israel to discover who would steal them . . . and why. And perhaps, after that, he will tackle other bizarre and perplexing local mysteries—like, where does one go to find a proper cappuccino and a decent newspaper?

Ice Hunt by James Rollins
Goodreads description: Buried deep in the earth's polar ice cap - carved into a moving island of ice twice the size of the United States - is a secret place, the site of a remarkable abandoned experiment that could have frightening ramifications for the planet. The brain trust of the former Soviet Union who created the seventy-year-old Ice Station Grendel would like it simply to melt from human memory. But that becomes impossible when an American undersea research vessel, the Polar Sentinel, inadvertently pulls too close to the hollowed-out iceberg... and one of the crew sees something alive inside. Something that never should have survived." "It is a discovery that sends shock waves through the intelligence communities of two powerful nations, as American and Russian scientists, soldiers, and unsuspecting civilians are pulled into Grendel's lethal vortex of secrets, violence, and betrayal. To preserve the silence - to prevent others from uncovering the terrible mysteries locked behind submerged walls of ice and steel - no measures will be too extreme. For within the station, experiments have blurred the line between life and death. It was a place never meant to be found." One man already knows too much: Matthew Pike, a former American Special Forces operative, living in seclusion in Alaska on the edge of the Arctic Circle. On the run after rescuing the survivor of a plane crash no one was meant to observe, Pike is relentlessly drawn into the eye of the gathering storm - even as a Russian nuclear attack submarine draws silently nearer to the men and women on the Polar Sentinel. The covert battle over Grendel is spinning out of control, and the future of all human life on Earth will be altered - or destroyed - once its nightmarish truths are revealed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Would You Like a Voucher From The Book Depository?

The Book Depository are celebrating their sixth birthday, and I can give away vouchers for 10% off to ten of my friends. If you'd like one, drop me a line at hildesr at gmail dot com, and a voucher will be on its way to you. The Book Depository offer free worldwide delivery!

Note: For you to receive the voucher, I will have to submit your email address to The Book Depository. They assure us that they will delete your email address after they have sent the voucher, and they won't contact you again (unless you want them to, of course).

Book Beginnings on Friday (3)

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

I'm currently reading Ice Station by Matthew Reilly, a thriller set in Antarctica. This is the opening sentence of the prologue:

It had been three hours now since they'd lost radio contact with the two divers.

I like this opening; we're taken right into the story and we realise immediately that something bad has happened. The question is what and to whom, and we have to keep reading to figure that out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Inkspell

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
Read: 29 June - 19 July 2010
Pages: 682

This is the second book in the Inkheart trilogy, which consists of Inkheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath. The main characters are 12-year-old Meggie and her father Mo. Meggie loves books, but her father, who is a bookbinder, has never read aloud to her. When a strange man named Dustfinger suddenly appears on their doorstep one night, Meggie learns that there is a very good reason for this: Mo's voice has the ability to make characters jump out of the pages and become living, breathing beings. Unfortunately someone from the real world disappears into the book to replace the fictional characters at the same time.

The first book in the trilogy, Inkheart, was set in our modern world. In Inkspell Meggie and her friends find themselves in the fictional Inkworld, a medieval land ruled by the Laughing Prince in the north and the Adderhead in the south - and between them, in the Wayless Wood, lives the Black Prince, the leader of the Motley Folk, a band of robbers and strolling players. It's hard to say more without giving too much away, so I won't. Suffice it to say that this is a magical tale of friendship, love, fairies, fire, good princes, evil princes and the power of words.

The prose is wonderful, even in translation (kudos to Anthea Bell). Funke is a master of taking perfectly ordinary words and turning them into something special. You will laugh, you will cry, you will feel a tingle down your spine and you will be in awe, all because the right words appear in exactly the right place. This is only fitting for a book in which mere words can make anything happen, but it is easier said than done in real life. Cornelia Funke has done it. I sometimes became so absorbed in the story that it was hard to remember that even the "real" characters - Meggie and her family - are fictional and don't actually exist somewhere.

Naturally the ending is open, after all, there is another book that will end the story, but it wasn't disappointing. And I certainly didn't see that particular thing coming.

I've yet to read the last book in the trilogy, Inkdeath, but nevertheless I think I can safely recommend these books to everyone who believes (or wants to believe) that the pen really is mightier than the sword.

My rating: 5

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays (4)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- Be careful not to include spoilers (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)!
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser is from Ice Station by Matthew Reilly, a thriller I just started:
Wilkes Ice Station received no response to their distress signal.
Despite the fact that it was picked up by at least three different radio installations.

Monday, July 19, 2010

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which we share what books we have received during the week.

Last week I bought three new books:

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
I wanted to collect the special editions of all three books because I love the covers, but I have had trouble locating this edition for Inkheart and Inkdeath. When I finally came across this one online I had to get it ASAP before it became unavailable. I'm still missing Inkheart though.

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
I've read rave reviews of some of the books in the Rizzoli and Isles series, and now that they have made a TV series of it I wanted to check out the books. This is the first in the series.

From the cover: He slips into homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, about to awaken to a living nightmare. The precision of his methods suggests that he is a deranged man of medicine, prompting the Boston newspapers to dub him "The Surgeon". Led by Detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli, the cops must consult the victim of a nearly identical crime: Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and killed an attacker before he could complete his assault. Now this new killer is re-creating, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell's ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. And neither Moore nor Rizzoli can protect Cordell from a ruthless hunter who somehow understands - and savors - the secret freas of every woman he kills.

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
What can I say - I love pirates!

From the cover: Jamaica 1665. A lone British outpost in Spanish-controlled Caribbean Waters. Its capital, Port Royal, a cutthroat town of taverns and bawdy houses - the last place anyone would expect an attack to be launched on a Spanish stronghold. Yet that is the plan of renowned privateer Captain Charles Hunter and Charles II's ruling governor, Sir James Almont.
The target is the sheer-cliffed and impregnable Matanceros, guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla. Hunter's ragtag crew of buccaneers must brave raging hurricanes, cannibals, sea monsters and the Spanish fleet, but if they succeed they will make history ... and a fortune in gold.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (5)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
I just finished this second book in the Inkheart trilogy today, and I loved it.

Ice Station by Matthew Reilly
This is for the Aussie Author Challenge. I haven't actually started it yet, but I will tonight!

Hard to say as I'll probably spend at least two weeks on Ice Station, but I just bought Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton and The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen, and they both look very shiny. And my brand new Kindle will be here soon, and with it heaps of wishlist books at my fingertips - oh, the possibilities!

Kindle It Is

After a lot of thought and consideration (and deciding and deciding against my decisions) I have finally placed an order for a Kindle. I'm very excited and a little nervous. Thanks to those of you who commented on my post earlier, I appreciate it. The Kindle won out because I mainly read books in English, and Amazon seemed the easiest and cheapest way of acquiring them. Also, the latest Kindle software supports PDF, so I can read books in that format too. And by the time the powers that be has figured out how they want e-books to work in Norway, it might be time for a new reader anyway. ;)

According to Amazon, my Kindle should be here between Wednesday and Friday, just in time for my birthday. I can't wait. Will keep you posted on how I like it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Top Ten Picks: Literary Crushes

I recently came across the fun weekly meme Top Ten Picks over at Random Ramblings, and even though this week's topic is your favourite books to movies, I just had to do this one instead.

My literary crushes (in no particular order):

1. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Aragorn is the ultimate hero for me. He's strong, corageous, mysterious, loyal and ruggedly handsome. Big plus for the ability to use a sword.

2. Dirk Pitt from the Dirk Pitt series by Clive Cussler
He's sexy, he's witty, he's clever and he saves the world on a regular basis. I rest my case.

3. Locke Lamora from the Gentleman Bastard sequence by Scott Lynch
Locke is a very interesting character who gets by on his wits and skills rather than strength. He's a charming con artist who is fiercely loyal to his friends and can talk his way out of any situation. Well, almost any.

4. Joe Morelli from the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
Although I can see why Ranger is such a popular guy, it's always been Morelli for me. He's hot, he's got a steady job and he cares about his family. Did I mention he's hot?

5. Sam Howard from Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
I'll admit that this might have something to do with me watching the movie first, in which the lovely Jason Durr plays Sam, but Sam is cute, intelligent and a genuinely nice guy.

6. Ned Nickerson from the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
I wanted to be Nancy Drew when I was young, so naturally I had a crush on her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson. He is totally devoted to Nancy, always lets her shine but comes to her rescue whenever she needs it. Yes, he might be just a little bit boring, but he is the best-looking guy in River Heights.

7. Dustfinger from the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke
Dustfinger is a wonderfully complex and well-developed character. He possesses the magical ability of talking to fire, and he is constantly torn between looking out for himself and doing the right thing.

8. Robin Hood from the series by John O. Ericsson
I love the legend of Robin Hood, and of all the variations I've come across, Ericsson's depiction of a bold, funny, kind and sometimes childish Robin Hood is my favourite (except, perhaps, for Disney's animated fox, but let's not go there...)

Okay, so I was only able to come up with eight at the moment. That doesn't mean I don't have two more crushes, it only means I have a terrible memory. Just give me some time...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Help! Which E-Reader Should I Buy?

Lately I've found myself wanting an e-reader more and more, and as my birthday is coming up next week, I would like to treat myself to one. The problem is, I just can't decide which one I prefer. I've narrowed it down to two: Sony PRS-600 and Kindle 2. I've been reading lots of reviews trying to figure out which one suits me best, but every time I read about the 600, I think "That's the one I want", and every time I read about the Kindle, I think "No, that's the one I want." It's driving me nuts! So I was wondering if any of you, my dear readers, would be able to provide me with a few insightful comments as to which one is the better reader.

My biggest concern with e-readers is that it will strain my eyes. I stare at a computer screen at work all day, and I'm afraid the reader's screen will make my eyes dry and tired. A real book doesn't cause me that kind of trouble. I'm also a bit worried that being in Norway might reduce my options somewhat, especially with the Kindle, which is designed for the American market. Have any of you living in Europe or especially Scandinavia experienced any problems because of your location?

The main reason I want an e-reader is to save space. I live in a small flat and my bookshelves are already sagging. An e-reader would solve that problem (and save a few trees in the process). I would still buy paper editions of the books I know I'll want to keep, but there are so many books I will only read once, and these would be great to have on an electronic device instead of collecting dust on my shelves (or on the floor). I know I'd be tied to Amazon if I buy a Kindle, but they have a huge selection of e-books and I'm sure I'd be able to find most of the books I want to read on there. On the other hand, an open format like Sony's ePub, and also PDF (which isn't native to the Kindle), means that I'd have a wider choice of stores to buy from. I'm not sure which stores sell e-books though, and if there are any with as many books as Amazon. I have to look around a bit. I wouldn't be able to buy any Norwegian books with the Kindle, but I mostly read English books anyway and I can always get Norwegian ones from the library.

One thing I really like about the PRS-600 is the design and the fact that it comes in different colours. I like my gadgets to look pretty as well as be functional. The 600 has a touch screen, which is much easier for scrolling and forwarding than buttons. Also, the 600 has a memory card slot, which is a great advantage, but the Kindle doesn't. However, the Kindle has wireless 3G access, which means I'd get the book straight onto the Kindle, but with Sony I'd have to download it to my computer and transfer it to the 600. Features like integrated dictionary would be nice to have, but not essential. Finally, the Kindle is a bit cheaper than the 600, though it only amounts to about $50 with postage and charges.

Whew, this is what's been going through my mind for a few days now. Both readers have their advantages and disadvantages, but I still haven't figured out which one has the biggest advantage that will make me buy it. I know there have been several posts about e-readers on blogs lately, but I would be very grateful for any and all guidance you can give me!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Musing Mondays (1)

Since I'm still reading Inkspell I won't be doing the regular It's Monday, What Are You Reading meme, as it would pretty much be a copy of last week's entry (I do love Inkspell, though - you should really read the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke if you have the chance). So this week I thought I'd try Musing Mondays hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

This week's question is: Can you read amidst distractions? (tv, others talking, sporting events, etc)

The answer is that it depends. On the distraction, on the book I'm reading and on what's on my mind at the time. I usually don't have any problem reading where there are other people, like on a train or in a waiting room. If the book requires me to concentrate more than ususal I might find it harder to focus on reading and start listening to people talking (in the room, or on TV or radio) instead. If it's a book I really like and want to become absorbed in, I prefer it to be quiet around me so I will often wait to start reading until there are fewer distractions or none at all. I find I can listen to music while reading if it's in the same language as what I'm reading, but if the song playing is in a different language (say I'm reading a book in English and the song is Norwegian), I have to put the book down and listen to the song until it's finished. My brain can only think in one language at a time, lol. And finally if I have something on my mind, maybe something I'm struggling with at work or some personal issue, I may read the same page four times over and still not remember a single word, distractions or not. It's easier to shut out any noise and focus on reading if I'm not preoccupied with anything else.

But ultimately I prefer it to be quiet around me when I sit down to read. I'm an only child and spent a big portion of my childhood reading alone in my room, and I live by myself now, so I'm not really used to having distractions around me when I read (except for the Internet, but that's a whole other post).

So, how about you? Can you read amidst distractions?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Friday Finds (1)

Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which we share the books we've discovered during the week.

I read about the first book over at A Crowded Leaf, the second caught my attention on GoodReads.

Black Rain by Graham Brown
Covert government operative Danielle Laidlaw leads an expedition into the deepest reaches of the Amazon in search of a legendary Maya city. Assisted by a renowned university professor and protected by a mercenary named Hawker, her team journeys into the tangled rain forest—unaware that they are replacements for a group that vanished weeks before, and that the treasure they are seeking is no mere artifact but a breakthrough discovery that could transform the world.

Shadowed by a ruthless billionaire, threatened by a violent indigenous tribe, and stalked by an unseen enemy that leaves battered corpses in its wake, the group desperately seeks the connection between the deadly reality of the Maya legend, the nomadic tribe that haunts them, and the chilling secret buried beneath the ancient ruins. (GoodReads)

The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers
Optimus Yarnspinner, a young Zamonian writer, inherits very little from his beloved godfather apart from an unpublished short story by an unknown author. This manuscript proves to be such a superb piece of writing that he can't resist the temptation to investigate the mystery surrounding the author's identity. The trail takes him to Bookholm, the so-called City of Dreaming Books. On entering its streets, our hero feels as if he has opened the door of a gigantic second-hand bookshop containing millions of musty old volumes. His nostrils are assailed by clouds of book dust, by a hint of acidity reminiscent of lemon trees in flower, the stimulating scent of ancient leather, and the acrid, intelligent tang of printer's ink.

Yarnspinner not only falls under the spell of this book-obsessed city; he falls into the clutches of its evil genius, Pfistomel Smyke, who treacherously maroons him in the labyrinthine catacombs that extend for many miles beneath the surface. He finds himself in a subterranean world where reading books can be genuinely dangerous, where ruthless Bookhunters fight to the death for literary gems and the mysterious Shadow King rules a murky realm populated by Booklings, one-eyed beings whose vast library includes live books equipped with teeth and claws. (GoodReads)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays (3)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- Be careful not to include spoilers (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)!
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

I'm still reading Inkspell by Cornelia Funke, but it's so beautifully written (even in translation) that I'm sure you won't mind another teaser from it.

Meggie said nothing. It was so quiet among the books, so terribly quiet among all those words.

It almost gives me the chills.


I couldn't help myself, I just had to make one more change to my blog. I have long been aware that "Hilde's Books" isn't exactly what you'd call a creative name for a blog, but when I started it, my goal was simply to keep track of what books I read. I did about one post a month and had no readers, so the name didn't really matter. Well, that has certainly changed since I started blogging "for real" a month ago. I now have followers (thank you!) and I want to make this blog interesting to existing as well as potential readers. I felt an essential part of this was to give my blog a proper name. So goodbye generic, boring name - hello slightly more fun, creative name (insert fanfare here):

The Turn of the Page

I chose this name for three reasons:
1) This quote: "The road to knowledge begins with the turn of the page" (anonymous).
2) It fits the blog theme and my banner image.
3) I don't think any other blogs are called the same (if you know of any, please let me know).

This will be the last major change to this blog for a while, I promise. I'll leave you to your reading now.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Read in August 2009

Catching up post.

16) The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by G.W. Dahlquist
Read: 25 June - 3 August 2009
Pages: 753

It took me a while to get through this book. It wasn't bad, but not great either. I have read lots of reviews saying it would have benefited from being 200-300 pages shorter, and I tend to agree. When it takes a whole page to describe how a character has her tea, I do lose interest a bit. But the action sequences were very good, and I liked the three heroes (I'm especially fond of Doctor Svenson - and of course the green ankle boots). I'm glad I got a chance to read this book, though I think it will be a while before I seek out the sequel.

"This is nonsense! First you say I am a murderer - an agent in league against you - and now I am a deluded heartsick girl! Pray make up your mind so I can scoff at you with precision!"
- Miss Temple

My rating: 4

17) Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich
Read: 4 - 16 August 2009
Pages: 319
My rating: 5

18) The Alchemist's Secret by Scott Mariani
Read: 16 - 22 August 2009
Pages: 466

First in the Ben Hope series. Ben Hope lives on the edge. A former élite member of the SAS, Ben is tortured by a tragedy from his past and now devotes his life to finding kidnapped children.But when Ben is recruited to locate an ancient manuscript which could save a dying child, he embarks on the deadliest quest of his life.The document is alleged to contain the formula for the elixir of life, discovered by the brilliant alchemist Fulcanelli decades before. But it soon becomes apparent that others are hunting this most precious of treasures - for far more evil ends.When the secrets of alchemy hidden within the pages remain impenetrable, Ben teams up with beautiful American scientist Dr Roberta Ryder to crack the code.It seems that everyone - from the Nazis during WW2 and powerful Catholic organisation Gladius Domini - wants to unearth the secrets of immortality.The trail leads Ben and Roberta from Paris to the ancient Cathar strongholds of the Languedoc, where an astonishing secret has lain hidden for centuries…

This is a classic thriller that doesn't introduce anything new to the genre, but I like it. Ben Hope is an interesting hero, and the story is suspenseful and action-filled.

My rating: 4

19) The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani
Read: 22 - 30 August 2009
Pages: 448

This second book in the Ben Hope series was even better than the first.

My rating: 5

Friday, July 2, 2010

Book Beginnings on Friday (2)

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

I'm currently reading Inkspell by Cornelia Funke (second in the Inkheart trilogy). I'm on page 80 or thereabouts, and love it. Each chapter opens with a quote from another book, so I decided to use this quote as well as the first sentence.

Note: I'm obviously reading the English translation by Anthea Bell. I wish my German was good enough to read it in the language it was originally written. Someday, perhaps.

He has been trying to sing
Love into existence again

And he has failed.

- Margaret Atwood, "Orpheus 2", Eating Fire

Twilight was gathering, and Orpheus still wasn't there.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Review: Under Gemini

Under Gemini by Rosamunde Pilcher

Read: 9-27 June 2010
Pages: 297

Whenever I need a pick-me-up or just want to curl up under a blanket and forget about my problems for a while, I turn to Rosamunde Pilcher. Her books are not exactly what you’d call high literature (I suppose they belong to the women’s fiction category), but they always give me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Under Gemini is no exception.

Flora and Rose are twins who were separated at birth – their parents took one each and never told them about it. Twenty-two years later they suddenly find themselves face to face at a restaurant in London. Rose takes off for Greece the next day, but offers Flora her flat for the weekend. Then Antony, Rose’s ex-fiancé, shows up at the door, wanting Rose to come with him home to Scotland. His grandmother Tuppy is ill, and wants so badly to see her grandson and the woman he’s going to marry – Antony hasn’t gotten around to telling her about him and Rose splitting up, and now, thinking Tuppy is going to die, he hasn’t the heart to tell her the truth. So he elicits Flora to come with him and pretend to be her twin sister for the weekend. But once in Scotland, Flora begins to realise Rose may not have been the innocent girl she thought she was…

Once you accept the incredible coincidence of two twin sisters separated at birth accidentally bumping into each other at a London restaurant (which only took me about a second – it’s not impossible, just unlikely), you can look forward to a touching story of old secrets, new lies and of course love. I once attended a lecture on writing screenplays, and the lecturer gave us this rule: ”Give the audience what they want, but do it in a way they don’t expect.” I think this is one of Mrs. Pilcher’s strengths; a happy ending comes as no surprise, but you don’t know how you will reach the end until you’re (nearly) there.

Under Gemini is, like many of Mrs. Pilcher’s books, set mostly in Scotland. She paints a beautiful picture of the country and its lochs, mountains and beaches. Her descriptions are so vivid, I could almost smell the salty air and hear the lapping of the waves. Maybe it’s because I live in a small town by the sea myself, but the little fishing town of Tarbole feels very real to me.

The dialogue feels a little stiff sometimes, especially in the voice of young Flora (I don’t think “ghastly” is a much-used word by twenty-somethings, even in 1976 when the book was written). It fits the older characters perfectly, though, and 7-year-old Jason has a very credible childish way of speaking.

Speaking of characters, they are the reason I love Mrs. Pilcher’s books so much. There’s not a lot of action, so the story is driven forward by the characters and the relationships between them. Flora is a sweet, level-headed young woman who’s at a crossroads in her life – she’s just arrived back in London after staying at home with her father for the past year, and now she has to find a job and a flat and start a new life. She has moral qualms about pretending to be someone else, but is so intrigued by her newfound sister that she can’t resist trying to be her. It’s interesting how Rose only appears on a few pages, yet she’s one of the characters we get to know the most simply through hearing the other characters talking about her. Tuppy is a charming old lady who’s been running the big household of Fernrigg all of her life, but is now faced with old age and not being able to do everything herself anymore. Isobel is the worried daughter fussing over her mother, and Antony is the successful businessman full of good intentions, but who acts before he thinks. Then there’s Hugh Kyle, the village doctor, whom everyone seems to like but who doesn’t seem to like Flora – or Rose.

I found myself wanting to spend time with these characters. I want to be friends with Flora and listen to Tuppy’s stories. I want to live in a big old house like Fernrigg and help Isobel in the garden and walk the dogs at the beach. And most of all I want to attend a real highland dance with reels and food and flower arrangements.

Ultimately Under Gemini is about the search for your true identity. It is a perfect book to read outside in the summer sunshine, to wind down with at the end of a long day or when you just need the literary equivalent of a hug.

My rating: 5

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