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

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.)

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.

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


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.

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.

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


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

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.

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.

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). 

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)

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)
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