13 april 2012

The 60's called...

... they wanted their values back.

So, hubby and I went to see Hunger Games last week. And I must say I am really satisfied with the result! The book is of course - as always - a lot better but I still think that even the film version was of good standard. My husband thought it was a little slow, but I thought it was fantastic. However, I am also not quite as sensitive to slow movie sections as he is. I do wonder as bit though, how the movie was if you have not read the books. Do you understand everything or do you miss a lot of subtle messages?

But what's mainly been bothering me about this movie however, is actually not the movie itself, but rather the twitter debate that has raged in the United States about Rue. Rue is described in the book to have "dark brown skin" but apparently the reading comprehension levels have decreased so rapidly as of lately  that many people missed that detail. But that's not the main problem. Okay, so maybe one can miss that kind of important detail but then when it turns out that Rue is played by a dark-skinned girl, a person in their right mind should be thinking "Oh, she was back? I missed that. What do you know.End of story.
You would think. But no. Instead of accepting the fact and moving on, people log on to the Internet and post awful and rastistic tweets about how they do not want to see the film, that it ruined the whole movie or the most disgusting thing of all - that Rue's death was not as sad as they'd imagined - because of the color of her skin. 

Hence, the 60's called... Seriously, people... Haven't we gotten further than this?

11 april 2012

Review: Mini Shopoholic by Sophie Kinsella

Plot: Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) thought motherhood would be a breeze and that having a daughter was a dream come true - a shopping friend for life! But it's trickier than she thought - two-year-old Minnie has a quite different approach to shopping. She can create havoc everywhere from Harrods to Harvey Nicks to her own christening. She hires taxis at random, her favourite word is 'Mine', and she's even started bidding for designer bags on ebay. On top of everything else, there's a big financial crisis. People are having to Cut Back - including all of Becky's personal shopping clients - and she and Luke are still living with Becky's Mum and Dad. To cheer everyone up, Becky decides to throw a surprise birthday party - on a budget - but then things become really complicated. Who will end up on the naughty step, who will get a gold star and will Becky's secret wishes come true?

My opinion: Sophie Kinsella-s Shopoholic-series is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I have followed Rebecca Bloom Wood ever since the first book Confessions of a Shopaholic eas released in Swedish paperback in 2006 and have gotten to experience great things in her life: marriage, new job, baby. And this latest book is supposed to be about Rebecca's daughter according to the blurb.

I find this book to have a little more serious and darker undertones than normal; not even in the Rebecca Blomwoods universe can one escape the financial crisis. But Rebecca Bloom Wood must be at least partially, cat, because no matter what obstacles she encounters, she always lands on two feet. My favorite part, which recurs in all the books, are the at first very polite but at the end more and more frustrated letter Rebecca get from banks, shops and so on. In this book she receives such a letter from the Treasury, with a polite thanks but no thanks for her tips on the government finances. Epic.

Like the previous books in the series, this one is also easy to get into and hard to put down. A more light read than this is hard to find, and although I sometimes get a little angry with Rebecca for never being able to stop spending money, I still like here. In the future, if there will be another book in the series, I will definitely read it.

9 april 2012

I'm back!

I couldn't keep away any longer! I missed bloging too damn much! I just hope you're still there! 

While I've been away from here, I've still been bloging though. I still have my personal blog about my everyday life (mainly for my family and relatives far away) and I've also tried book blogging in Swedish, which is awesome too. Then I realized that "Hey, I can do both!" I mean, If I write a review on a book in Swedish, it's fast work to translate it into English. And hell, sometimes it is easier to write it in English than in Swedish although Swedish is my mother tongue... Weird. Must be all those book blogs in English that I keep consuming. I kinda pick up on the English book lingo rather than the Swedish dito.

Aaaanyway... after having summarized my 2011 reading back in January, I realized that I've had a very one-track mind when it comes to my reading so for 2012 I have given myself a few challenges book wise.

Book challenges 20120

1. More men During 2011, I managed to read only three books by male authors as opposed to the 40 female authors whose books I've tried out. So more equality gender wise is my first challenge.

2. More Swedish
Perhaps a drag for most of you who don't understand Swedish, but.. Many Swedish authors, especially crime writers are translated into other languages such as English, German and Dutch at the moment, though. So, why more Swedish you ask? Apart from the fact that it might be nice to keep up to date with Swedish literature, it's also easier and cheaper to come by in Sweden, which brings us to my next order of business.

3. More library visits
Materialist - ja visst! Or owning is awesome! I do love owning my books. But I'm just don't have the financial situation right now where I can afford to buy as many books as I previously have. So more visits to the library is another challenge. That's also where "More Swedish" comes in to the picture. Swedish libraries mainly have Swedish books - shocking, I know! At least, my (small) local libraries have a limited selection of foreign books. But they do have a lot of new Swedish books and quite a good selection of books translated into Swedish.

4. A better mix
This challenge can be summed up in one simple sentence and in a way it kind of includes the others: I'm basically going to try to achieve a greater variation when it comes to genre, language, sex of the author etc. Simply more variation.

That's it for now. I hope to see you around!

28 december 2011

So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good-bye

These last few days I have though a lot about the future of this blog and I have come to a decision. I'm going to pause "Helena's Bookshelf" for a while.

Where it started off as something fun in my life, lately it has felt like another chore. And I've had constant bad conscious about not reading enough and not posting enough and not participating in enough memes and features. It's been a great year, you guys, and I've gotten to know some great people and learned so much. But I just don't have the time and commitment right now. 

I'm not gonna close the blog altogether, I still wanna keep all my kick-ass reviews. When I retrace my steps and read my first reviews that I had almost forgotten, I realize the job I've put into them and I feel quite proud. And maybe I'll get withdrawal symptoms after a while and decide to go back, who knows?

Anyway, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my followers for your time and support. You have made this one h*ll of a journey and a great expericene.


17 december 2011

Review: Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

The plot: From the moment she sets foot at her new school in Ireland, Megan is inexplicably drawn to the darkly handsome Adam DeRis. But Megan soon discovers that her feelings for Adam are tied to a supernatural fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that unites them could be their ultimate destruction.  (Summary from goodreads.com)

My opinion: I’ve been holding back on reading this novel on purpose because I had read ecstatic reviews on it, but I’ve really been struggling with it. It’s taken me over two weeks to finish it, which is a long time for me. With a good book I read at every opportunity, but this one has spent most of its time lying in the bathroom. I even forgot to bring it to work to reads on the train there.

Although I usually frown upon the fact that everything paranormal is to be compared to Twilight (though it’s lessened somewhat as of lately) but when reading this novel I couldn’t help but doing it too. It’s just too evident. First there are the mysterious siblings at school that everyone’s sort of suspicious about. Then there’s the I-should-stay-away-from-you-but-I’m-not-strong-enough á la Edward Cullen and after that the professing of their undying love for one another after having know each other for what, two weeks? However, Twilight for me, though perhaps not Nobel Prize material, made me feel. I felt their love and their pain, but sadly this novel didn’t do anything in that department. There was no chemistry on the page.

That said, reading it was perhaps not a complete waste of time. The world building was sound and Megan was a likable character. I was intrigued by the mythological element of the Marks. Ancient prophecies are always great. Had the book circled more around that than the Megan-Adam love story, it probably would’ve been much better.

If you loved Twilight and want to read the same story again, this might be the book for you. If you loved Twilight but want to read books with other storylines this is not. Personally I will not pick up the next installment in the series.

4 december 2011

In my mailbox (32)

In My Mailbox is a meme created and hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

It is a great way for everyone to share their new books with the world: bought, gifted, won, borrowed or from the library.


I admit that these aren't books but movies. However, I still think they qualify to make it into my IMM this week.

We already had the five (I think) first Harry Potter movies in our movie collection, although in a semi-illegal format (or probably totally illegal), but when I could get my hand on all the HP movies in a totally legal and great looking box for a reasonable price, I seized the opportunity. Merry Christmas to me!

What was in your mailboxes this week?

3 december 2011

Christmas in Sweden, part 1

Warning: This post has nothing to do with books. It's all about my personal (and partly traditional Swedish) Christmas celebration. I think it's my teacher side wanting to educate you all. This is part 1: Advent.

I love Christmas. I always have. But even more than Christmas, I nowadays love Advent. You know the four Sundays before Christmas Eve, and all the weekdays in between of course. Second advent is coming up tomorrow, it's crazy how time flies.

Anyways, me and mom started our Advent preparations last Saturday. Advent for me is very much about traditions and the first tradition is the making of the wreath to hang on your door. So we went out in the forest and picked juniper twigs that we formed into wreaths, which we decorated with red ribbons and hung on our respective doors. This is mine this year (pretty, huh?) and beside it a decoration for the porch made of the juniper twigs that were left over.

After the making of the wreaths, it was time for another important Advent tradition, namely baking gingerbread cookies. My mom always makes her own gingerbread dough and it's the best. We have a few different traditional pastry-cutters such as Christmas pig, gingerbread man and his wife, Christmas tree, heart, Christmas goat (an old Scandinavian pagan tradition dating back to the Viking Age) and my favorite: the angel. Mmm... gingerbread cookies warm out of the oven. You can't beat that.

At this time of year, in the northern hemisphere it is quite dark. And in the northern parts of the northern hemisphere it's even darker. And in the countryside in the northern parts of the northerns hemisphere far away for any street lights it is crazy dark! So the perhaps most important Advent tradition is that of spreading light.

Electric candle sticks can be seen in almost every window around Sweden this time of year, as well as electric stars. The one of the left is from my kitchen window. For me, the light of these electric candle sticks almost gives me butterflies in my stomach because it feels so much like Christmas. 


 It is also common to have a Christmas tree outside in your garden and decorate it with electric lights. To the right is our own Christmas tree. We went out into the tiny bit of the forest that now is ours and cut a tree. You can see for yourself that the light of the tree is important in all that compact dark.

However, not only electric lights are a part of Advent. So are of course ordinary candles. Thus is an Advent candle stick, with one candle for each Sunday of Advent. Tomorrow it's time to light the second one.

1 december 2011

Review: Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

The plot: When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for a year, he doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him at a high school in Colorado . Carlos likes living his life on the edge and wants to carve his own path—just like Alex did. Then he meets Kiara Westford. She doesn’t talk much and is completely intimidated by Carlos’ wild ways. As they get to know one another, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, and refuses to admit that she might be getting to him. But he soon realizes that being himself is exactly what Kiara needs right now. (Summary from goodreads.com)

My opinion: Perhaps since I was absolutely breath-taken with the first Simone Elkeles novel I read, Perfect Chemistry, I had a bit too high expectations of this second novel. Don't get my wrong, I though it was great, but it didn't knock me out of my socks like the first one did. 

The plot and the Romeo and Juliet theme is rather similar to Perfect Chemistry as well as the macho attitude of the male MC. It just didn't feel unique, but then again, I hadn't expected that. Elkeles uses the same writing technique of altering POV's letting us enter both their heads, which makes me fly through a novel in no time. After all, I finished this page turner in less than two days only reading on the train to work and before going to bed.

For a YA novel, the sex scenes were pretty graphic. Up until now I've never seen myself as a prude but during the time I've read this novel I've had to reconsider. I was at times almost embarrassed when reading it, especially when I read it on the train on my way for work the other day. But, as much sex as there was in this book, I missed some of the heartbreaking romance from the first novel. The falling in love part just went a bit too... fast this time.

Although not as good as its predecessor, Rules of Attraction is definitely well worth reading and I'll definitely read the third and final (?) novel abut the Fuentes brothers.

27 november 2011

In my mailbox (31)

In My Mailbox is a meme created and hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

It is a great way for everyone to share their new books with the world: bought, gifted, won, borrowed or from the library.

You may or may not have noticed that I did not post an IMM last week. Although it's sad not to receive any new books it also means that I'm doing awesome at my quest to buy less books. My new motto will be: Less is more! 

That means that I will not buy as many books but perhaps pricier ones, for example hardbacks, that I really really want to have. This week though, I have gotten myself some paperbacks that I really really wanted. I am also a bit OCD'd about my books, so if I've started a series in one format I have to get all of them in that format. So there'll be some paperbacks featured too.


Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
I totally loved the first novel about the Fuentes brothers (Perfect Chemistry), and though I've heard that this one isn't supposed to be as good I'm still totally psyched to read it.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
I've read so many good things about this one and feel like I've waited forever for the paperback with this pretty cover to be released. Totally look forward to it.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this for some time. Not because it didn't seem great, but because its plot reminded me so much of The Hunger Games, and I though perhaps that they'd be too similar. But as time went on and I decided to get it anyway, because the reviews have been so raving.

And some work items...
And as I suspect you know, Christmas is just around the corner so I ordered some German Christmas goodies from buch.de for work. You may not know, but I am a German teacher and so of course I need to spread the Christmas spirit German style. (I actually cheated and had some Stollen last week...)

Weihnachten in Deutschland (Christmas in Germany) - CD
This is a compilation of common German Christmas Carols, obviously a must when creating holiday spirit German style. Myself I really like Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann.

Weihnachten mit Astrid Lindgren 2 (Christmas with Astrid Lindgren) - DVD
Believe me, I am fully aware that Astrid Lindgren is not German. She is Swedish! But what can be more Christmasy than Astrid Lindgren, I mean really? The answer to that is probably nothing! So this DVD contains Christmas and winter clips from "The Children of the Noisy Village" - my favorite - and also from "Life on Seacrow Island" synchronized in German.
Warten auf Weihnachten (Waiting for Christmas) - Book
A collection of short stories or excerpts from longer books all centered around Christmas, obviously also written in German. Also for teaching purposes.

How about you, what did you receive this week?