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review 2015-03-26 23:40
Where Is the Sarcasm Miss Austen?
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

Title: Sense and Sensibility

Author: Jane Austen

Original Published Date: 1811

Pages: NA

Edition Language: Danish

Format: Ebook

Category: Classic, Romance, Historical Fiction


Summary and review: This will be a very short review....

It is about two sisters who, after there father dies and there half brother inherits the big estate they have lived in, has become poorer and there chances of finding husbands are not much in their favor. The two sisters are inseparable, but also very different - one cannot grieve without everyone knowing it, the other, well... I think you get the picture. 

This book is about the big question: should we let our heart or our brain control our actions? Or putting it as Austen: Sense? or Sensibility?


My thoughts of this book was... Well, it is not Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, but the characters in Sense and Sensibility were nicely described, but not as lovable (and lovingly hateful) as in Pride and Prejudice, but I very much enjoyed reading Austen again. It has been a great while since I last did it. I will, although, say that I missed the author's sarcasm. I did not see it as often as in Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. Therefore, mostly, I cannot give this one five stars, but rather four stars.

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text 2015-01-17 23:58
Reading progress update: I've read 197 out of 618 pages.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China - Jung Chang

This is a very special book to me and it was even a coincidence I bought this.

I was at this cafe where they also sold a few used books. This one was among them. I took the book, had a vague idea that I knew the title from somewhere, I read the blurb and I bourght the book. I sat in the café and read. I remember it was raining outside and I was waiting for everyone to be done at their written exams so I could get my computer back. Exhausted, wet and just finished a terrible exam - this book was a good way to forget your bad mood.

I started reading this in June last year


The thing is with this book that it is very, very, very long and every sentence is important. Jung Chang can explain something important about the government in one sentence and you need to know this information to understand the rest she talks about. Sometimes she talks about something and then she interleave something else - also with one sentence. I don't know how to explain, but I feel uncomfortable with not reading every sentence with extra effort. 

That sounds boring, right? Forget it! Despise what I said this book isn't boring! 

I spent the next two months reading what I've reached, which is about 1/3 of the book. What I liked was, that when I read a heavy book like this, I feel a need of change and read another (and easier) book. Every time I do that I am certain that the book I leave will end at the on-hold pile. I didn't do it with this. I left it for a week, maybe two and then just continued were I left. It kept keeping me interested and want to read it again.

That said I have now for almost a half year not touched the book. And that makes me sad. I just had too much on mind and then it was long ago I read it the last time - and to be fair I was too focused on reaching my reading challenge for 2014 and I knew that if I started reading this I wouldn't make it. Now a new year has started. I have already reached my goal for January and now I have made a decision:


Addition to reading challenge 2015: Finish Wild Swans.


Yes, that is right. I will have it as a goal to finish this one. I will read it alongside with my other books, because I know it will take me a very long time to be done, but it is so worth it!

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text 2014-12-31 00:26
Best Reading of the Year!

Happy NeYear!


... or Happy New Year when we get to that!


The year 2014 has almost past and I would like to celebrate the top 10 reading experiences.

I was going for 5, because it seemed a bit silly to choose 1/3 part of the books I have read this year, but I couldn't do that! It was hard to choose between my little darlings! It was hard enough to put a number on them. 

It might not be in accordance with stars I gave them, but this is not the top 10 best books, this is the top 10 reading experiences - is there a difference? Yes, there is!


And here they are...







5 stars Daughter of Smoke and Bone written by Laini Taylor in 2011.

#1 in the series of the same name.

I am beginning to be a bit tired of YA paranormal romances - they are getting weirder and weirder, trying to make it original. I, however, always wanted to read this one because I love the cover. Very pretty. One day it was for sale for the silly price of about 10 American dollars (very, very cheap in Denmark - not kidding!), so I bought it, had it on my shelf for a while and then gave it a go. 

It is, as I predicted, weird... but I liked it. Strangely enough.

I like the characters Kauro and Akiva (although it took some time to like Akiva, the hero in this book). I remember that I not only cried to this book - I wept - I am not the crying type, so for that at least that should give it a place on the list!







4½ stars A Conspiracy of Faith (original titel: Flaskepost fra P) written by Jussi Adler- Olsen in 2009.

#3 in the series Department Q.

Finished this not long ago and, although, my earlier review I wrote that I missed a big plot twist, I still gave it 4½ star and that is because I found it funny - I laughed out loud several times - exciting so my heart some times skipped a beat and horrifying in the good way. Just as the crying-thing, I do not get goosebumps of excitement when I am reading, so again, this deserve to be on the list.







5 stars Divergent written by Veronica Roth in 2011. 

#1 in the series of the same name.

As much I am tired of YA paranormal romances, as much I love YA dystopia (doesn't make sense - does it?), but I am afraid dystopia books are beginning to follow the same pattern as the others. Getting weirder and weirder just to be original. Therefore it took a lot of time and stubbornness before I began this one, but everyone said it was great. Then came the movie and I liked that, so I tried. And I am glad!

Tris is not a crybaby as all the other heroine. She's a kick-ass! I like the war-theme and the action. A nice change. I couldn't lay it down, even though I just had seen the movie and therefore knew what will happen. I liked there where some differences with the movie - it is never fun if it is an exact copy. 

I am definitely going to read the series and it may be one of my new favorites. I don't think it is going to be worse and the first book will be the only good (I have that feeling with a lot of book series)

Again, this on deserve a spot on the list.







5 stars - The Rosie Project written by Graeme Simsion in 2013.

#1 in the series Don Tillman.

I have hardly ever laughed so much, than I did when I read this book! Ever watched the TV series Big Bang Theory? There is a character named Sheldon Cooper, who is a genius and the price for that is his lack of social knowledge. The main protagonist Don Tillman is a little bit like him. I guess the biggest difference about those two is that Don is not asexual. 

It is heartwarming romance without being corny and it is really, really funny! I mean, come on! The man makes a survey to found candidates for "project wife" - sophisticated, healthy and just as OCD as himself. And that is clearly not the result he gets!

I hope they will make it to a movie and I would buy it! I have shelfed it as one of my favorites. It clearly belongs to the list!







4½ stars - Castle in the Air written by Diana Wynne Jones in 1990.

#2 in the series Howl's Moving Castle.

A thing I miss, with all those new fantasy novels, is the good old "Once upon a time"-fantasies. Not meaning the words should be included, but the feeling that what you read is a true fairy-tale story. I watched the anime movie Howl's Moving Castle and loved it like everybody else. I read the first book - I fell even harder. Now after I finished the second - I still just as much in love.

I wrote this in a review on my goodreads-account:

"It may not feel like a sequel, but fear not! Our beloved Howl, Calcifer and Sophie are all in it, and more than we think! The language is beautiful and witty, and the plot twist is great!

As said, it may not feel like a sequel; because the settings and the main characters are not the same as the first book, but don't let it fool you. It is a sequel!

Why is Castle in the Air higher up on the list, than some of the books I gave more stars? Because I judged the book after my opinion of Howl's Moving Castle, which I gave a higher rate. Is the sequel just as good as the first? Of course not! Therefore I could "only" give it 4½ star. But it is better than The Rosie Project. 

If I should compare my ratings with all my other ratings, I would need a scale from at least 1-100.







5 stars - The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925.

I really love the writing style of this book. It is delicate and poetic. I feel with Gatsby and understand the narrator Nick. I haaaate Daisy. Cannot see what so great about her, but thanks to the progress of the book I don't feel misplaced by hating her. 

What I really like is the message in the book. American Dream is dead. Gatsby says once: "Her voice is full of money" and I read this from an analysis of the quote:

"the point is that money isn't something you can separate from the body. If you're born with money, you're actually born with money. That's why everyone knows Gatsby's faking it."

I like to read a book I can analyze until I faint of exhaustion.

That is why this book gets to be my number 5.







5 stars - The Perks of Being a Wallflower written by Stephen Chbosky in 1999.

Just like I can keep on analyze The Great Gatsby, the same I can with The Perks of Being a Wallflower!

I was sceptical about this one. I thought it was another one of these "it is so hard to be a teenager"-books (I don't normally like those), but actually it was without being it also. Charlie is a positive person and says some really sad things, without even know it himself (which sometimes made it funny). And that is one of the elements, that makes it a good book-club book. 

really found it enjoyable to read a sentence and know that what I read, has another meaning. Nothing is a coincidence! It has many depths. I mean, the books Charlie reads has a meaning! He never tell us the meaning, he just mentions the titles here and there, so I have enjoyed to analyse the meaning. 

Charlie is a different character, but I still felt some things I could relate to him - e.g. the feeling of being a part of a group. I knew what he was talking about.

This book was one of my biggest positive surprises I have had in all my time with a book.

It deserves a high rank!







4½ stars - Yahya Hassan written by Yahya Hassan in 2013.

This is a collections of poems from a Palestinian immigrant in Denmark. Poems are not very popular in Denmark, but there was a gigantic hype because of this. The poems a written in CAPITAL LETTERS and are about Yayha Hassan's life as immigrant, criminal and his hard childhood with an abusive father. The biggest hype there was, was his critic about Islam. Either people in Denmark hate him or love him.

I hate his personality - he is provoking just to be provoking, if you ask me - but I really like a lot of his poems. I do not like poems, so that in itself is an achievement. Some of his poems made me cry.

And I respect him for bringing a topic on the debate. Because of some earlier crises with criticizing Islam, we in Denmark have started to be a bit scared to say anything bad about it, because we are afraid of the reactions from the Muslims and Yayha Hassan has also had to pay the prize for publishing this - he's got death-threats, so now he is protected by bodyguards and also some other things.

I respect he dares. Not saying Islam is bad - of course it is not, but there a good and bad sides of every religion. 

His rhythm is a bit weird, but original. I would recommend this to every Dane!

He put some thoughts into my head for a very long time, and for that he gets to be number 3 on my rank. 







5 stars - Howl's Moving Castle written by Diana Wynne Jones in 1986.

#1 in the series of the same name.

This book has a special place in my heart. I read this the first time last year 2013 and when I read the second this year, I just had to reread it again, and I am sure it will not be the last time I'll read it again! 

If you think the anime movie is great, then you will find the book supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (wrong movie, but when in need of a better word, this is perfect!). The language is authentic to the old classic fairy-tales and you really get the "Once upon a time"-feeling. It is witty and I do love the characters so much. They are all funny in their own way (although Calcifer and Howl beat the others). 

I love everything about it! It might be my all-time favorite children's book.

Definitely a top 2 book!







5 stars - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen written by Paul Torday in 2006.

Okay... I seriously love this book! I did not expect that, but I do. The themes are countless: integrity, terrorism, identity, faith, science, politic, religion, middle-east/europe, war and soldiers, marriage in crisis and, not to forget, love. All these themes can be related to salmons... SALMONS!!? This author has a way of thinking that is unique and absolutely brilliant!
I loved it by the first pages, and it was really a turn-pages book.

Not only Torday's way of thinking is unique, his narration style is too!

You see, the book's narration is not traditionel. This is supposed to be actually proofs. There are diaries excerpt, mail korrespondance (for example between Al-Quada members), unpublished autobiographic excerpts, articels, manuscript for a televison-show and so on and so on. But the diaries excerpts actually give you a feeling, that you are reading a real book, with dialogues and all that kind of stuff. It may not be the first book, using this style, but it felt unique and original.
The humor is fantastic! I love how stupid Peter Maxwell is and I love the email korrespondance between dr. and mrs. Jones.
The ending was a REALLY suprise! Even if you have seen the movie, you will be suprised. I mean it!
All in all one of the most original, funny and greatest books I have read for a long time!
I know people will think "Salmon? Serously? That sounds boring!"

Y-O-U A-R-E W-R-O-N-G!!!!

This is really my favorite book - not only for the year - of all time!! 

Every separate argument I have given for the following 9 books can all be used again in this book. It was hard to choose the following books place on the list, but this one wasn't a hard one at all! I knew this would be my number 1!




Those were my best readings of the year! I am looking for the next year.

Happy New Year and good luck!

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review 2014-05-04 00:56
Review: The Door in the Wall and Other Stories, by H.G. Wells
The Door in the Wall and Other Stories - H. G. (Herbert George) Wells

I bought this collection on a whim a couple of years ago, and it languished on my shelf, unread.  I had tried reading Wells before, back in college, War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, and was fairly unimpressed.  His language was stuffy and old-fashioned, I thought, and his allegories tortured.  So even though I like short stories as a form, I really wasn't expecting much when I picked this up.


I love being wrong in that way.  It's one of my favorite things about reading, that moment when I suddenly realize I'm going to love this book I hadn't thought much of a minute ago.  From the first page of the first story in this collection, I was floored.


And unlike all too many short story collections, everything in here is good.  No filler, no duds, no self-indulgent B-sides thrown in to bulk up the page count.  With the quality of the selections, the haunting 1911 photo illustrations by Alvin Langdon Coburn, and the beauty of the book as a physical object (thick, textured paper; illuminated letters), this has joined Winesburg, Ohio and The Illustrated Man as one of my favorite short story collections of all time.



The Door In The Wall:


In the instant of coming into it one was exquisitely glad -- as only in rare moments and when one is young and joyful one can be glad in this world.  And everything was beautiful there...


A successful politician is haunted by a magical garden he discovered once as a child and has never been able to find again.  Though the door to it has appeared to him occasionally throughout his life, he has always been too busy to stop and enter it when it is offered him.


This story is my favorite.  It has the feel of a religious allegory, a kind of "paradise lost", or stories about childhood like Peter Pan or The Polar Express, where as adults weighed down by petty quotidian concerns, the wonder and magic of childhood are forever lost to us.


But it's deeper than that, too.  And it's such a fundamental feeling for me, a frequency I am always tuned to.  I have always tended toward nostalgia, which at times is just a flimsy covering over a vast chasm of grief for things lost in the past that can never be regained.  This story offers a perfect encapsulation of that feeling.  A door into a place familiar and sacred.



The Star:


He looked at it as one might look into the eyes of a brave enemy.  "You may kill me," he said after a silence.  "But I can hold you -- and all the universe for that matter -- in the grip of this little brain.  I would not change.  Even now."


In this apocalyptic story, a strange celestial body enters the solar system from beyond, crashing into Neptune and causing them both to plunge headlong into the sun, narrowly missing Earth in the process.


The terrestrial effects of this cosmic fly-by are cataclysmic - storms, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and disastrous global warming.  But after it passes, a "new brotherhood grew presently among men" - those left alive, anyway.  And then the story pulls back to the perspective of Martian astronomers, who note that the Earth is little changed ("the only difference seems to be a shrinkage of the white discoloration (supposed to be frozen water) round either pole").  How insignificant are our Earthly struggles from a cosmic point of view.  How fragile we are, and how vulnerable.


I am fascinated by this story for a lot of reasons: Is it true that only near-obliteration would create a "brotherhood of men"?  How bad would our present struggle against climate change have to get to bring something like that about?  And shouldn't we be working on colonizing space already, so that if something DOES happen to Earth all of humanity won't be obliterated with it?



A Dream of Armageddon:


"We are but phantoms!" he said, "and the phantoms of phantoms, desires like cloud-shadows and wills of straw that eddy in the wind; the days pass, use and wont carry us through as a train carries the shadow of its lights -- so be it!  But one thing is real and certain, one thing is no dreamstuff, but eternal and enduring.  It is the centre of my life, and all other things about it are subordinate or altogether vain.  I loved her, that woman of a dream.  And she and I are dead together!"


Oh shit, this story.


A man on a train meets a stranger, who tells him he has been living a separate life each night when he dreams.  There, it is several hundred years in the future, and he is an important politician who has run away from a war and his duty to be with the woman he loves.  But he can only run for so long...


This is the most moving story in the book, powerful and searing and unforgettable in its imagery.  I may have to revise my statement above that "The Door in the Wall" is my favorite in this collection.  Because while that one is the most iconic and mythic, the one that taps most profoundly into the collective unconscious - this is one of the best pieces of short fiction I have ever read.  If you like science fiction at all, you need to read this story.  It's just that good.



The Cone:


"I am slow to make discoveries," said Horrocks grimly, damping her suddenly.  "But what I discover..."  He stopped.


"What?" she said.




I really wasn't expecting to find a gothic horror story in this collection, so this one took me by surprise.  And it's so good.  Grim and grotesque and shockingly graphic.  The way Wells slowly buillds this heavy sense of foreboding from the very first paragraph is masterful, and then the payoff...!


I suppose the moral of this one is: Don't get involved with your boss's wife if he is an enormous, angry man and you are a sniveling pantywaist.


"Fizzle, you fool!  Fizzle, you hunter of women!  You hot-blooded hound!  Boil!  Boil!  Boil!"



A Moonlight Fable:


He had made up his mind.  He knew now that he was going to wear his suit as it should be worn.  He had no doubt in the matter.  He was afraid, terribly afraid, but glad, glad.


This is the closest thing to a dud, for me, that the book offers, and yet it is critically acclaimed, so someone is finding something in it.


It's a highly symbolic wisp of a story about a little boy whose mother makes him a very nice suit that he is forbidden to wear except on formal occasions.  One night, he puts it on and sneaks out of the house, having a magical moonlit adventure in the yard before falling to his death in his now-ruined suit.  They find his corpse smiling.  Meh.


For me, it's just too similar (and inferior) to "The Door in the Wall" to be all that memorable.  And little allegories like this are probably the most difficult kind of fiction to pull off well.  Wells doesn't quite manage it here.



The Diamond Maker:


"I am sick of being disbelieved," he said impatiently, and suddenly unbuttoning his wretched coat he pulled out a little canvas bag that was hanging by a cord round his neck.  From this he produced a brown pebble.  "I wonder if you know enough to know what that is?"


In this one, the narrator is approached by a beggar who offers him a raw diamond the size of his thumb for 100 pounds.  He then tells the story of how he discovered the way to make large artificial diamonds, but because his neighbor accused him of making bombs he has been forced into hiding, rich with jewels that no one will buy.


This one isn't my favorite either, but it does make think of how just having some of the right accoutrements (wealth, beauty, smarts, diamonds) won't necessarily improve your lot.  And sure, the beggar's way of creating diamonds seems like forgery, a get-rich-quick scheme that isn't legitimate.  But how is it more legitimate to just be born into money?  How does that make you worthy?  At least the beggar is clever.


In any case, what this dude needed was a diamond launderer.  If only the narrator had been up for a business venture...



The Lord of the Dynamos


It is hard to say exactly what madness is.  I fancy Azuma-zi was mad.  The incessant din and whirl of the dynamo shed may have churned up his little store of knowledge and his big store of superstitious fancy, at last, in to something akin to frenzy.


This story, about a "fresh off the boat" foreigner who begins to worship the dynamos (generators) that he services, is another favorite.  Its major flaw is that it's pretty racist in its portrayal of the protagonist, Azuma-zi -- and the fact that the story is 100 years old doesn't make some of its descriptions any more comfortable to read.  Still, Azuma-zi is portrayed more or less sympathetically, and his abuse at the hands of his boss, Holroyd, is thoroughly condemned.


I just love the way this one develops and plays out.  It's another model for how short stories should be constructed - brief, punchy, unforgettable.  And without spoiling it too much, I love how Azuma-zi's dynamo god is actually a far more effective deity than many of its more famous peers.  That bastard answered some prayers.



The Country of the Blind:


There were deep, mysterious shadows in the gorge, blue deepening into purple, and purple into a luminous darkness, and overhead was the illimitable vastness of the sky.  But he heeded these things no longer, but lay quite still there, smiling as if he were content now merely to have escaped from the valley of the Blind, in which he had thought to be King.  And the glow of the sunset passed, and the night came, and still he lay there, under the cold, clear stars.


This is probably Wells's most famous work of short fiction, and with reason.  If you haven't read it, you should probably quit reading my bullshit and get ahold of this collection.  I keep overusing superlatives, so I won't say that this one is "the best".  But damn.  Just damn.  Here's what the dustflap says:


The book concludes with "The Country of the Blind", a durably famous tale which underscores Wells's belief that a person can and should quit an intolerable situation.  Bernard Bergonzi notes, "it shows how the human spirit can assert its true freedom, even at the cost of physical extinction.  'The Country of the Blind' is a magnificent example of Wells's mythopoeic genius."


Critic Richard Hauer Costa says:


Wells viewed mankind darkly: as struggling in an evolutionary whirl to achieve a millennium of beauty, but always forced back into some sealed-off country of the blind.


I won't summarize this one.  It's a strange and precious and powerful story.  I've dreamt about it, and it terrifies me.


Among the blind, close your eyes.

- Turkish proverb



(2014 #15)

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review 2014-03-18 05:09
Short story review: "The Ball Room", China Miéville
Looking for Jake - China Miéville

I've always known there was something deeply wrong about Ikea.  It's like some kind of Swedish hellscape, a garish blue-and-yellow mercantile abyss.  You go there and wander that infernal labyrinth in despair, and you feel your soul being sucked out of you slowly by some unseen chthonic force.  That endless forgery of rooms that will never be lived in, fake books on the shelves, cardboard televisions staring out at you blankly.  All of it mocking you, all of it exposing the vast meaningless depths of modern consumerism.  And all around you, the shrieks of small children and the gripes of sullen adolescents.  Hounding you, assailing you, wearing you down.


And all you wanted was a god damn particleboard bookcase.



Leave it to China Miéville to delineate and intensify and vivisect that vague revulsion.  Who else would situate a horror story in the kiddie ballpit of a suburban furniture megastore?


The short story collection Looking for Jake is disappointingly mediocre, overall.  This story is its best offering, but it's a triumph.  Worth picking up the book for this one alone.


In this story, the narrator John is a security guard in an unnamed superstore:


It's on the outskirts of town, a huge metal warehouse.  Full of a hundred little fake rooms, with a single path running through them, and all the furniture we sell made up and laid out so you can see how it should look.  Then the same products, disassembled, packed flat and stacked high in the warehouse for people to buy.  They're cheap.


Yeah, I think I recognize this place...


But not all is well in this consumer mecca.  John keeps getting called over to manage various incidents in the childcare area.  They seem innocuous at first -- upset children, frazzled attendants -- but oddly they all seem to surround the ball room, that vibrant chamber of childlike glee:



And how can anything be terrifying about that place?  I googled all kinds of variations on "scary ball pit" and "horror ball pit" and so forth, and got nothing more creepy than, well, this.  Or rather, this:


(who--or WHAT--is collecting all the yellow ones at the end of the abandoned hallway??)


So, you know, ball pits: FUN FOR ALL!  Except when they are terrifying.


What could be hiding just out of sight within all those colorful balls, after all?  Who are all the lonely children playing with?  Why does the attendant have so much trouble keeping track of how many kids are in there at a time?


"It always seems like there's too many," she said.  "I count them and there's six, and I count them again and there's six, but it always seems there's too many."



Read this one alone, or late at night, at your own risk.  It may have put me off ever shopping at Ikea again, but then... I always knew there was something off about that place.





Other recommended stories in this collection: "Foundation", "An End to Hunger", "'Tis the Season".  The rest can be skipped.


(2014 #12)

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