Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Pages: 312
Date: 31/08/2010
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 9 Sookie Stackhouse

Sookie's life is not getting any easier. After the vampires have successfully gone public, the weres and shifters now decide to do the same. And although that initially doesn't appear to be causing too much trouble, Sookie's sister in law, a werepanther, is found crucified a day later. Was she murdered because of her dual nature, or just because she was a very nice creature?
While Sookie is trying to figure out who did the killing, she discovers that somehow she managed to become the focus of a war between various groups of fairies. And fairies turn out to be more dangerous, more unpredictable and more cruel then either the vampires or the weres.
This story, like the previous ones, contains a lot of violence, blood and sex. But, also like the earlier works, all of these are more suggested then vividly described, which for me is a good thing. Some things just don't need to be spelled out in too much detail in order to leave an impression with the reader.
And although I still enjoy Sookie's outlook on her life and the things that happen to her, I have to say that her way of rationalizing away all the weird and horrible things that happen in her life, is starting to get a bit too far fetched.
Still, I do enjoy these books, and they're light and easy reads, so I will continue reading them. If only to find out what Mrs. Harris might come up with next.


Monday, August 30, 2010


Pages: 455
Date: 30/08/2010
Grade: 5+
Details: no. 3 The Hunger Games

O.M.G., O.M.G. This book is good. No, this book is great! It is all I hoped it would be and more. I'm so glad Collins didn't take any easy ways out, didn't try to make the story prettier than it ever could be and didn't try to make the ending nicer than would be believable.
I'm trying to write this review without actually touching on the story too much. A lot of people still have to read this book, and it would be a crime to spoil the story for them. On the other hand, I do want to share my thoughts and feelings on this story. So, my advice is, if you haven't read Mockingjay yet, stop reading this review now and come back to it after you've finished the story, because no matter how little story detail I reveal below, it's still going to be more than you want to know until after you've read the book for yourself.
All I will say about the story is that after having survived the Hunger Games for the second time, Katniss finds herself in district 13 with the rebel forces preparing to overthrow the government that has caused her so much pain. 
The story that follows is not a pretty one. But then again, war is never pretty and should not be described as such. War brings suffering, loss and difficult, if not impossible, decisions. In a war situation there is no such thing as good versus bad, there is no moral high ground. The best you can hope for is that when you have a choice you pick the lesser of all evils available. And that's the situation Katniss finds herself in, trying to figure out what everybody's motives are. Aware that almost everybody around her is trying to use her in one way or another, it's up to her to try and figure out whose purpose is less destructive.
I read a review somewhere in which the reviewer complaint that this book was too violent. I wonder what the person who wrote that review expected. Writing a cozy book about a war would be equivalent to writing a lie. War isn't nice, and doesn't come with easy solutions or distinctions. 
Collins makes that very clear in this book, and I think that is an important message to put out into a world where most people are only too happy to think in terms of them versus us, good versus evil, and black versus white. Life is never that simple, and war even less so. My compliments to Mrs. Collins for writing a realistic, yet beautiful, heartbreaking and completely engrossing book set in the middle of a war situation. This is one book I will be thinking about for a very long time and will be re-reading before to long.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Pages: 437
Grade: 4.5

This is not a new book, it was first published in 1963 at which time it would probably have raised quite a few eyebrows and created some controversy. This edition comes with an introduction by Candace Bushnell which is not surprising since The Group could easily be described as Sex and the City for an earlier generation.
McCarthy's most celebrated novel portrays the experiences of eight young women from Vassar College, Class of '33. As the story opens, they meet in New York City for the wedding of Kay, one of the group. The author then describes the lives, loves, and aspirations of these women until they reconvene seven years later in the same city for Kay's funeral. 
In the intervening years we encounter the women dealing with issues that at first glance seem to belong firmly in the setting of the 1930's. It's only when the reader stops to think about it that she realizes that things haven't really changed all that much. Women still struggle with the choice between family and career, are still filled with doubts when it comes to raising their babies and children. A lot of women still feel they need a man in their lives to make it complete and will go to ridiculous lengths to get and keep their men. Our insecurities are still the same as are our dreams and illusions.
This was a fascinating and very honest story. None of these women are "perfect" or saintly. They all have their weak points, their evil sides as well as positive characteristics. 
This book was interesting both as a portrait of a time gone past and as a timeless picture of friendship between women.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Pages: 305
Date: 26/08/2010
Grade: 5-
Details: Young Adult

My daughter has been raving about John Green and the books she's read by him for a long time now, so better late than never, I decided to pick one up and see what all the fuss is about. And, I'm happy to say I was not disappointed. It turns out my daughter has good taste in books.
Q(uentin) Jacobsen has loved Margo Roth Spiegelman for as long as he can remember, but as far as he is concerned she's completely out of his league.
Where he is what teenagers would call a nerd, she is beautiful, interesting and very adventurous.
Q has more or less resigned himself to only admiring Margo from afar when she climbs through his bedroom window one night and brings him on a night of revenge and adventure in Orlando, Florida. Sure that this night has changed his life, Q is very disappointed when Margo has disappeared the next day and doesn't reappear, even though they're both only weeks away from graduation.
But Margo has left clues as to where she's gone off to, clues Q and his friends manage to decipher and which will take them on an exhilarating road trip.
All of this, in and of itself, makes for a very interesting story. But this book is about a lot more. It's about teenagers and the way they live their lives, the way they see themselves and others and how the dynamics in a group can completely change when one person is added or taken away.
It is also about how well we actually know each other and ourselves, and about love and the things we can and can't do for it.
I loved the way Q grew into himself through this story and how he turned out to be so much more than he and the reader first expected.
My only and minor objections to this book are that I thought it started a bit slow and that although I certainly thought Margo was a very interesting character, I also found her somewhat self centered and not altogether likable. 
However, this book has gripped me enough to want to go and read John Green's other books. 
Two quotes:
"But before he was a minor figure in the drama of my life, he was - you know, the central figure in the drama of his own life."
"..or maybe we're grass - our roots so interdependent that no one is dead as long as someone is still alive."

Monday, August 23, 2010


Pages: 422
Date: 23/08/2010
Grade: 5
Details: no. 2 Josephine Tey Mystery

Josephine Tey joins her friend, Inspector Archie Penrose, for a holiday on his family's estate in Cornwall. She is happy to get away from London for a while and hopes to start work on her next mystery novel in the beautiful surroundings.
What should have been a quiet and happy time though seems doomed from the beginning. On the day of her arrival a young local man is buried with questions being asked whether his death was a suicide or an accident.
When shortly afterwards a second young local man dies, Penrose is asked to lead the inquiry and soon he and Josephine find themselves linking the two deaths and stumbling upon lots of secrets, both among Penrose's friends and his family.
This is a hard time for Archie who finds himself questioning everything he thought he knew for sure and facing hurtful revelations. Josephine, as an outsider, has a clearer and more objective view of the people they are dealing with, but even she can't foresee the outcome or prevent more deaths.
This is a great series of books. The mysteries are very well plotted and presented. Descriptions of people and their surroundings are beautiful and life like and the characters in the story have, like real people, good and less good sides. At no point does Upson try to paint Josephine Tey as anything other than human, which makes her a very likable and real person for me.
As far as I know the third book in this series has recently been published, and I hope I'll be able to get my hands on it soon.


Saturday, August 21, 2010


Pages: 472
Date: 21/08/2010
Grade: 5
Details: no. 2 The Hunger Games / Y.A.

Oh boy, these books are taking my breath away. I'm so engrossed in this story that I find myself thinking about it hours after I've closed the book. And although the third and final book in this series will be released next week, I feel that is still too much of a delay. I need to know how it ends, and who will be alive by then right now!
This book starts shortly after the ending of the first book. Katniss and Peeta are back in district 12 after both of them have survived and won the Hunger Games. But that win was controversial. Only one of them was supposed to come out of the Games alive and Katniss' action that caused both of them to be pronounced winner is seen as an act of defiance against the Capitol, a regime that does not tolerate opposition.
When the president visits Katniss personally it becomes clear how just much trouble she's actually in, especially once he starts threatening those she loves. She does try to follow his orders, but it soon becomes clear that she's been set an impossible task. The oppressed districts are heading in the direction of an uprising, and nothing Katniss can do could stop that tide.
Then the unthinkable happens, Katniss and Peeta find themselves entering the Arena for another episode of The Hunger Games. The President wants to send out the message that resistance is futile, and his aim seems to be to show the whole country the demise of Katniss.
These Hunger Games are different from the earlier ones though and Katniss and Peeta find help and alliances from unexpected corners. But with those in power determined to show their power, are any of the contestants going to survive?
This book ends on the biggest cliff hanger ever. If you don't like being left in suspense, make sure you don't read CATCHING FIRE until you have MOCKINGJAY in your hands as well. The week I have to wait before I can get my hands on the rest of the story seems like an awful long time right now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Pages: 325
Date: 18/08/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 3 Bride Quartet

Lauren McBane is one of four women who have been friends since their childhoods and are now running a bridal company together, where she takes care of the baking. For as long as she can remember, Lauren has been in love with Delaney Brown, the brother of her friend and business partner, Parker. But, as far as she knows, he only sees her as an adopted sister.
When she and Delaney do get closer, Lauren doesn't let herself belief that he might feel for her as she feels for him. And because Lauren comes from a very different background then Delaney, she can't really belief that they could ever have a future together.
Delaney is oblivious to her insecurities and the depth of her feelings right up to the moment where it may well cost both of them the chance of future happiness.
As always Nora Roberts managed to draw me in to what in many ways is a very predictable love story. And while I usually detest predictability like this, I don't mind it when it comes from Mrs. Roberts. She manages to bring me characters I care about and want the best for. I always get drawn into the story, and find myself racing along to get to the happy ending I know is waiting for me.
As always her women are independent, strong and confident while having enough insecurities to make them human and recognizable. The same can be said for Robert's men; strong, handsome with their hearts in the right place, but again with enough human faults to make them real. I don't think there will ever be a moment when I'll have had enough of Nora Roberts' books. She has to be my favourite whenever I need brain candy or a comfort read.


Pages: 454
Date: 18/08/2010
Grade: 5
Details: no. 1 Hunger Games/Young Adult

What a book! What a story! What an author!
I loved this book, and can't believe it took me this long to pick it up. On the other hand, maybe it's just as well I waited this long. We own the second one in the series, and the third and last one is to be released next month, so I've spared myself a long and agonized wait for the last instalment.
This is such a gruesome story, yet at the same time so filled with very recognizable human emotions and love that it grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the very last word on the very last page. And even then, all the reader wants is to know is how it continues.
The story takes us to America in the near future where the country is a mere shadow of what it is now and a place where oppression and poverty starkly contrast with opulence and cruelty.
Every year two teenagers from all of the twelve districts are picked for a live television show called The Hunger Games. They're released into an arena out of which only one winner will emerge. Losing means dying but the winner will have a life filled with fame and riches.
Katniss Everdeen is 16 years old when her younger sister's name is drawn to enter the game. Not willing to lose the only person she really loves, Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place and is taken to The Capitol to enter the Games. With her is Peeta Mellark, the baker's son who's also been picked.
After a short period of preparation and good living the teenagers from all the districts are released into a large arena where they'll have to fend for themselves and kill or be killed. 
In this horrifying setting Katniss finds herself not only fighting her opponents and the elements but also her own feelings, fears and insecurities.


Monday, August 16, 2010


Pages: 363
Date: 16/08/2010
Grade: 5-
Details: no. 9 Jack Reacher

I really shouldn't have to review this book. The fact that it is a Jack Reacher story really says it all. If the reader has been reading these book in order than (s)he knows what to expect, and as always the book delivers. The lone Jack Reacher on a quest, against formidable opposition with the odds firmly stacked against him saves the day. And put like that it would be fair to wonder what the attraction is. But, the attraction of course is exactly that it is a Jack Reacher story, with a solitary but very attractive hero who manages to remain fully human despite all his exceptional achievements. A story that is full of thrills and twists but with enough quieter moments to keep the story from turning completely over the top.
This book starts with a gunman shooting five people coming out of an office building. The man, James Barr, however leaves behind so many traces that he's identified, found and arrested within hours. Once arrested and charged Barr refuses to speak except to say that they've got the wrong man and "get Jack Reacher for me."
Reacher is hundreds of miles away when all of this takes place, but starts travelling towards Barr as soon as he hears about what has happened. When he arrives it turns out though that he didn't come to help Barr. He's there to make sure Barr will be convicted. 
But of course, things aren't always what they seem and when things look too good to be true, they usually are. And soon Reacher finds himself not only dodging criminals but also the police.
A fast and furious thriller that was hard to put down. And I'm glad I've still got a few books left before I catch up with this series and find myself waiting for Child to finish the next instalment.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Pages: 661
Date: 14/08/2010
Grade: 4
Details: Long listed for the Man Booker Prize 2010

For a long time while reading this book I thought it was unlikely I would grade it higher than 3, but as I got on with the story I got to appreciate it more and more and in the end I was grateful that I had decided to read all of it rather than give up half way through.
Still, I'm not as impressed with this book as a lot of other people appear to be.
From the blurb on the back of the book I was under the impression that this story was going to be something like a tragi-comedy. I found very little to laugh about in this book though. I did laugh out loud once, while reading the book, but most of the time I found that the story was depressing me a bit.
This book starts with the death of Daniel "Skippy" Juster during a donut eating contest with his friend and dorm-mate Ruprecht Van Doren. From there the story goes back to the events leading up to Skippy's death. Events including scientific experiments with Ruprecht, training for swimming competitions, and Skippy falling in love with Lori, a beauty from the girl's school next door to the private boy's school where Skippy is a boarder. The big problem with his infatuation is that the girl has also attracted the attention of Carl, a big hulk of a boy without a social conscience.
Skippy has other problems in his life, apart from his love for Lori, problems which he keeps secret and which will, eventually, play a big part in his death.
After Skippy's death life in the school appears to return to normal but underneath the facade everything and everybody has been affected by his demise and more shocking events are to follow.
This book handles a lot of topics; it shows the world of teenagers in a scary and for me not quite recognizable way. We're confronted with bullying, drug use and dealing, sexual fantasies,  and paedophilia among other issues.
What did strike me was the way the adults were described as having no more sense then the teenagers when it came down to it, although the selfishness of everybody in the story was hard to stomach.
I think the school in this story may well have been a metaphor for Irish society, with the old boys network ruling everybody's lives and the needs of the individual always taking the backseat to the requirements of the whole.
Whatever this book is or isn't though, it does leave the reader with a lot to think about and if those thoughts aren't always happy ones, they are definitely worth lingering on.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Pages: 359
Date: 10/08/2010
Grade: 4
Details: This book will be published in the UK on November 25th. I was send an ARC by Eason Bookshop/Book club after I became a Eason Book club reviewer

Shannon Fairchild has always felt a bit like the odd one out in her family and has rebelled against her parents for as long as she can remember. 
When her parents are brutally tortured and murdered, her mother's dying words to her tell her to find and warn "them", to not tell the police and a few other apparently disjointed things Shannon doesn't understand at all.
Going through her parents stuff she discovers that they were part of a militant faction of the anti war movement in the 60's, a discovery that also explains who she should be warning. But before she can set out on that path she's attacked herself by someone who wants to know where "they" are.
Soon afterwards Shannon sets out on a journey into her past, a journey that will bring her into contact with violence, betrayal, and shocking discoveries about herself and her past.
This was a reasonably good thriller and an interesting idea for a story. However the writing failed to draw me in and I never quite connected with the character of Shannon at all. It seemed to me that the story was a bit choppy. Some things just happened for what appeared to me as no reason and without enough explanation. And on one or two occasions I found what happened or didn't happen completely unbelievable. For me a good thriller should tell of something which of course is never going to happen to me or anyone I know, but just might. I never felt like that in this book.  I also figured quite a few things out long before the main character did, although the story did have a few surprises for me by the time the last page came around. 
Having said all that, the story did grab me and kept me turning the pages to see how it was all going to end, and that is what a decent thriller is supposed to do.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Pages: 488
Date: 08/08/2010
Grade: 5-

Sometimes you pick up a book and you find yourself torn between wanting to race through it in order to find out what happens next, how it's going to end, and wanting to take it slow, just to let the pleasure last that little bit longer. This was such a book, and I'm afraid the racing impulse won out.
This is the story of Fiona Bristow who, nine years ago was the only survivor of a man who strangled women with a red scarf, a man who did manage to kill her boyfriend.
Now she has restarted and rebuild her life on Orcas Island where she runs a dog training school and is part of the search and rescue team with her three dogs. However, the past won't leave her alone. Although the man she escaped from is still in prison, someone else is out and about killing young women with red scarfs, copying the earlier murders and probably on his way to finish the job his predecessor left unfinished.
Through her dog training school, Fiona meets Simon Doyle a wood artist with a clear lack of social graces. The two are attracted to each other and soon Simon finds himself reluctantly getting closer to Fiona than he wants and up to his neck in her problems, which are getting ever closer to her island.
This is a typical Nora Roberts story. An independent woman trying to hold her own, an attractive man falling for her despite himself, a menace lurking in the background, a beautiful setting and as a bonus in this book, lots of dogs.
I loved the parts of the book concerned with dog behaviour and training and, as always, thoroughly enjoyed the sexy bits.
I do feel this book could have been a bit shorter without losing anything essential but really liked that the ending I was predicting to myself didn't actually happen.
Mrs. Roberts will always be my safe haven when I need a comfort read, and I hope that she'll go on writing forever.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Pages: 408
Date: 06/08/2010
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 5 Dresden Files

When you pick up a book in this series you know what to expect. You'll get Harry Dresden, the only practising professional wizard in Chicago up to his neck in trouble. And that's exactly what you find in this story.
And Henry has a lot on his plate. He's hired to find the Shroud of Turin which has been stolen, has professional hit-men taking shots at him, is challenged to a duel by the champion of the Red Court Vampires and dealing with the return to Chicago of his ex-girlfriend Susan. And that is before you take into account deadly deceases, headless corpses, knights and demons.
This really is a thrill a minute; neither Harry nor the reader is allowed any respite from the action. 
However, underneath all of that there's always Harry struggling with the forces of good and evil, trying to do the right thing but finding that his emotions can take over. The whole story line with Susan is rather sad, which adds an other layer to the story again.
All in all I read these books for the action, but really appreciate the extra depth on offer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Pages: 392
Date: 04/08/2010
Grade: 4.5

This is one heart stopping thriller. And if you're at all squeamish about snakes I'd advice you to stay away from this book. However, if you like your thrillers of the page-turning variety, with lots of twists and turns, a decades old secret and tension rising off the page, this is probably the book for you. And if you appreciate beautiful descriptions and use of language as well, you have just about hit the jackpot with this novel.
The story is set in the Lyme Reggis region of England, where Clara Benning is a vet running a wildlife hospital. Clara has been disfigured since early childhood and lives a life as solitary as she can make it when a neighbour calls her because she's found a snake in the crib with her baby.
Clara manages to get the very poisonous snake safely away from the baby, but soon learns that this has not been the first incident involving snakes and poison in the region in the recent past. Nor will it be the last.
Together with a rather eccentric snake expert and a police officer Clara tries to get to the bottom of where the snakes are coming from, who is using them as a deadly weapon and why. An investigation that will take them back to horrific events that took place 50 years earlier, events that someone is desperate to keep secret. An investigation that may well end up killing our investigators. But also an investigation that will force Clara to at last come to terms with her past and how she looks, and face the world head on.
The fact that I read this book from beginning to end in one day is proof of how good a thriller this is. The only reason the book didn't score a 5 is that I don't like it when my main character becomes the chief suspect in the investigation in which they are involved. And that is a purely personal dislike and has nothing to do with the quality of the book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010



Pages: 507
Date: 03/08/2010
Grade: 5+++

Oh what a wonderful book. I think this may be the best book I've read this year so far. It is beautifully written, thought-provoking, informative and totally absorbing. This book, this story, this period of recent history will stay with me for a very long time.

This is the story of Harrison William Shephard. Born in the United States early in the 20th century to an American father and a Mexican mother, he is taken to Mexico by his mother; a reluctant participant in her hunt for a better life and a richer husband.
From a young age Shepard is a writer and most of the book is told through his diaries and letters which are all beautifully descriptive, painting a picture that comes fully alive for the reader. Through his diaries we learn about his turbulent years in Mexico, two years of schooling in Washington followed by many more years in Mexico.
During those later years in Mexico Shepard is working for the painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and in their employ he meets and ends up working for Lev Trotsky.
Shortly after the start of WW II Shephard moves to the US where he finds himself a successful novelist only years later. However, his past in Mexico will come back to haunt him when McCarthyism hits America.
It is the story of a man who through accident, circumstance and fate ends up in situations he has no real control over and can't estimate the consequences of. A man who doesn't really understand life or people, who is too much on the outside to understand how the world works. 
This is the second time this year that I've read a book that has made a part of recent history that I knew about in theory real for me. The first book was The Help, by Kathryn Stockett which made segregation more than a historical fact for me. The Lacuna has given a (fictional) face to McCarthyism for me.
I bow to Mrs. Kingsolvers talent and can't recommend this book highly enough.