28 juni 2011

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Plot: If you had the power to kill with your bare hands, what would you do with it?

Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa's Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.

Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.

Graceling is the first book in a series, and Kristin Cashore’s first work of fiction. It sets up a vivid world with engaging characters that readers will certainly look forward to following beyond the last chapter of this book. (Summary from goodreads.com)

Cover: The Swedish cover (as seen here above) corresponds rather well with the UK version. I like the way it portrays Katsa - strong, proud and lethal.

My opinion: I must admit that I was positively surprised by this novel and I really enjoyed it. Though it is a rather thick book I got through it in just a matter of days. Or perhaps devoured it, is a better way to put it.As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. It slowed down somewhat during the second half of the novel, but not enough to make me lose interest.

The protagonist Katsa was one of the things I liked best about this novel. She was strong-willed, powerful and absolutely lethal and not even close to being the lady her title suggests. I found her journey of self-discovery very interesting and the romance aspect was just romantic enough for this novel. There was real tension between the main characters and of course, the romance was inevitable, but it didn't take over the story. Don't get me wrong - you know I do love a good romance as much as the next person - but I also find it refreshing sometimes with young female characters whose greatest wishes and goals in life don't circle around boys.

Graceling is truly an engrossing read and I highly recommend it.

27 juni 2011

Mouth-Watering Monday (2)

Mouth-Watering Monday is a new weekly meme started by Brittany at Nice Girls Read Books. As book bloggers, we love to admire pretty covers, old and new. This meme takes the guilt out of judging a book by its cover, instead embracing it and showing off our favourite finds of the week!

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

This cover is to me immensely beautiful and yet somewhat haunting. Also, the first line in the Good reads description really says it all: "The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Need I say more?

26 juni 2011

Pretty Little Liars

The first episode of season 1 of "Pretty Little Liars" just aired in Sweden. Yes, I know we're behind in certain areas. Anyways, I've heard a lot about the novels so I decided to check out the TV show. I haven't read the books so I can't make any comparison there but I kind of did like what I saw. It all felt very "Desperate Housewives" only YA. This feels like it can be a guilty summer pleasure...

In my mailbox (14)

 In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren. All links go to The Book Depository.


 (Yet another color-coordinated IMM.)

 Immortal by P.C. Cast
Although I always say that I don't much appreciate short stories I keep on buying them for some reason. I've read two so far and haven't been positively surprised, but I guess it can be good to have a shorter text to read in-between other books every once in a while.

I've never really read Meg Cabot, at least not her YA (enjoyed Queen of Babble though) but heard a lot of great things about her and her Mediator Series. This one is a double pack, with the first two novels in the series in one. I might as well try them.

What did you get?

23 juni 2011

Happy Midsummer!

I know it's been a while since anything was posted and I'm sorry, but I've just been swamped lately. Hopefully, next week will be slower so that I actually might get some reading done.

Tomorrow though, is Midsummer's Eve and a chance to go back to our pagan roots. You know, dancing around a gigantic phallus, eating new potatoes and pickled herring (or in the case of children and me- meatballs) with sour cream, chives and allspice. And of course, picking seven different kinds of flowers to put under your pillow in order to dream of your future spouse!

Glad midsommar!

Last year's Midsummer celebration dancing around the (admittedly very small) maypole singing about little frogs. No, we're not crazy. Really, we're not!

19 juni 2011

Review: If I Stay / Where she went by Gayle Forman

 Om jag stannar (If I Stay)

Plot: In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands. (Summary from goodreads.com)

Covers: I have the Swedish covers on display for various reasons. Partly because I did read the Swedish translation and not the English original. Also I like covers from different countries and I wanted to show what our Swedish covers look like.

My opinion: Given its premise If I Stay is indeed and emotional read, and it is effective at evoking all sorts of emotions, though sometimes trying a bit too hard. I always did like the take of telling a story in reverse, starting at the end and working its way backwards. Thus I appreciate the way this novel was written, chapters from the hospital with intermittent trips down memory lane with Mia. All in a matter of 24 hours. Those memories from Mia's life was what yield most in the story, I feel. I preferred them over the scenes from the hospital, because it was those sections that really showed what she's lost. 

If I Stay was rather short and an incredibly fast read. I didn't take me more than a couple of hours to finish it. This was one of those novels that makes your ponder your own mortality. If you were left with a choice like Mia's, what would you choose?

När jag lät dig gå (Where She Went)

Plot: It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined
If I Stay, Where she went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.  

(Summary from goodreads.com).

My opinion: Initially I was surprised when I started the book and realized that Mia wasn't the narrator anymore, but Adam. This change grew on me however and I liked hearing everything from Adam's POV. However, I had very little interest in Adam's rock star life. Those sections of the novel were really slow for me and I had to force myself not to skim passages. Mia's and Adam's nightly browsing through New York City though, was a totally different story. Those chapters captured my interest.

Where She Went is a well-written novel and gave Mia and Adam, especially the latter, well-deserved closure but I honestly speaking found it rather bland. Perhaps contemporary YA isn't for me. I much prefer my YA paranormal.

In mailbox (13): Library edition

 In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren. All links go to The Book Depository (except for one).

I constantly nag about being jealous of other people having such great libraries with so many new books in them, and complaining about my own local library so I thought I should pay it a visit to see if I was right or not. My local library is rather small, more of a branch of a larger library about 20 or so kilometers (or 12,4 miles) away, so well, my expectations were somewhat low: So here's IMM: Library edition.

From the library: 

Själakistan by Ann Rosman
First up is a Swedish novel by an author called Ann Rosman. The name of her novel roughly translates to "Coffin of souls" and is a crime story. I've read her debut, again freely translated, "The daughter of the lighthouse keeper", which I found exciting enough. In Sweden, summer time is crime story time. The good people of Sweden are crazy about their crime writers, especially their female ones although some men have become rather successful writing crime stories as well, such as Stieg Larsson. So why crime and summer? It's basically because the Swedes read in their holiday when they have time, and they usually have holiday in the summer. Thus summer equals crime.

De utvalda: tankeläsaren (original title: Graceling) by Kristin Cashore
Another book that I came across in the library was this Swedish translation of Kristin Cashore's Graceling. I've been looking at it before, the English version that is, so when I found it I decided to grab it.

Om jag stannar (original title: If I Stay) by Gayle Forman
När jag lät dig gå (original title: Where She Went) by Gale Forman
They had "Where she went", only the Swedish translation of it, on display in the youth section (uHce) of the library and I recognized the name of the author. When I also found "If I stay" on the actual shelf I decided to grab them both. After all, I have read good things about these novels in the blogosphere.

So, what's the verdict? Well, it wasn't a great selection, but not too shabby either. Just sad that I've now got a considerable proportion of my library's all newly published YA books at home right now.

There is one thing that I don't like about library books - the binding. What usually makes me want to read a book is either a darn great review or a wicked cover. And a cover does not only consist of the front cover but also the spine. I get that the library bindings are there to help protect the books, but it destroys so much of their appeal. When I was little and spent a lot of time in the library I almost always chose books with their original spines still intact, because they looked more interesting to me. Just compare the purple spine to the others; isn't it a lot more appealing?

14 juni 2011

Review: I am number four by Pittacus Lore

Plot: In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.
"I Am Number Four" is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.

(Summary from goodreads.com)

Cover: There seem to be quite a few covers out there to choose from. I wasn't planning on gettings this book at all but when I stumbled upon this allegedly "adult version" I bought it anyway.

First sentence:

My opinion: I have had an aversion towards this book, not because of its content and plot but because of its coming into existence and this whole James Frey and his Fiction Factory debacle. So I did put off reading it for the longest time as some kind of silent protest against mentioned publisher. I'm not quite sure what made med change my mind though, perhaps curiosity. Plus I generally do want to read the novel before I watch the movie, which will be available to rent on DVD in the summer.

So, what do I think about it? Well, it's not that bad. The premise is fine and I like the characters. John (or whatever his name is) and Henri have a nice father-son relationship though not being it for real. Alien obsessed Sam turns out to be a real friend to John, probably the best one he could find given the circumstances. 

As for the love interest, Sarah, she almost seems to good to be true, but that might just be because we see her through love struck John's eyes. As we all know, I'm a sucker for a first love story and off course the emerging relationship between John and Sarah got me jumping up and down like a fool - in the beginning. I really liked this whole John starting to grow and recognize feelings for her yet not being sure how to act and what to do and get totally adorably shy and nervous around her. Loved that. But then their relationship just felt very rushed and ultimately lost that tingly feeling. It really is a challenged for authors to be able to keep that even when they characters are together.

The novel starts out great but sadly it kind of slows down in the middle after the first almost-encounter with the Mogadorians at the publisher's. Everything just goes back to normal although it's the closest they've been to being exposed ever. And even the action-packed ending just makes me go *yawn*. Somewhere along the middle I just lost interest and only finished it because you should.However, if you like sci-fi and really girlie girlie mushy love stories, then I think this novel is for you.

12 juni 2011

In my mailbox (12)

 In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren. All links go to The Book Depository.


Herz auf Sendung by Anna Goerz 
(Heart on the air)

I was in Germany last weekend, thankfully without contacting EHEC I might add, and since I've been known to read books in German for time to time, I decided to get a book while on vacation. I picked up this novel in the supermarket despite never having heard of it, but it seems like a sweet and hopefully funny summer read about a girl who's had the worst luck in men and then falls in love with the moderator of the island radio on the German island of Sylt. Could this be the man she's been waiting for?

What did you get this week?

6 juni 2011

Mouth-Watering Monday

Mouth-Watering Monday is a new weekly meme started by Brittany at Nice Girls Read Books. As book bloggers, we love to admire pretty covers, old and new. This meme takes the guilt out of judging a book by its cover, instead embracing it and showing off our favourite finds of the week!

 Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon


It just speaks to me. The water, the sun reflecting in it, the red hair. *sigh* So beautiful. And of course, I've loved mermaids ever since Disney's "The Little Mermaid", which of course is the best Disney Classic ever.

Review: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Plot: Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.

As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger. (Summary from goodreads.com)

Cover: I prefer this cover over its predecessor, but still for me it's not a very eye-catching cover although there's nothing wrong with it either.

First sentence: "Violet leaned forward on her hands and knees over the frozen landscape."

My own opinion: While I was immediately hooked by The Body Finder, I liked Desires of the Dead but wasn't obsessed about it the same way. The question that I myself find hard to answer is why?

The crime story aspect of this novel appealed to me more than in the last one. I found it thrilling and really like the take from the last novel where were are presented with the perpetrator's thoughts and actions from their point of view.

Jay and Violet, who in the first installment were best friends since forever but found that their relationship had grown into something else, are still together in this second novel. They were still very much in love and sweet, but you know, happy couples are boring. Not in real life, but it fiction. In books, movies, tv-series, you name it. Happy couples are boring. That's why they have to fight some before they can go back to their happy couple life. I thought that both of them acted rather irrationally in these little fights, and that bored me somewhat with this novel.

Overall though, Desires of the Dead was a good read. It's a thrilling crime story and a innocent and sweet love story intertwined into one unique premise, as with the first novel. I definitely recommend it.

5 juni 2011

Nothing In My Mailbox

You heard me! I've got nothing in my mailbox this week. Why? you might wonder. Are you not buying any books? Are you actually ad-hearing to your book buying ban? No no! It's just that my ordered books didn't reach me on time. I don't want to blame the postal service for this, because there are special circumstances at play here.

We've had (and still do) a really long weekend, so long it almost borders a short holiday. 5 days off of work and school! Thursday was the Ascension of Jesus, a public holiday, or as we call it a "red day" because it's red in the calender. (No post delivered on red days!) Then Saturday and Sunday are the ordinary days of the weekends. So, what about the Friday? Well, a Friday between a red day and a weekend is usually a day off for many people. We call it klämdag ("squeeze day"), because it is squeezed in between the red Thursday and the weekend. Okay, so that's a 4-day-weekend, you argue. And that would be correct. But then you didn't see the Monday coming.

This year the Monday after the Ascension of Jesus happens to fall on June 6th. The National Day of Sweden! Which is a red day celebrated in memory of Gustav Vasa being elected king of Sweden on June 6th in 1523, thus securing Swedish sovereignty ever since. Now that's something worth celebrating (although we're not very good at it, compare to our Norwegian neighbors anyway).

Myself, as this is being published, I can be found quite a few miles farther south than usually. You see, I am taking the opportunity to go abroad when presented with such a long holiday. This blog post has been written earlier in the week and is scheduled to be published now, as I saunter around Lübeck enjoying the summer sun.

I do hope you got some great books for me to be jealous about, though. Tell me!