Victoria ****

“I know that I am young, but I am ready for the great responsibility that lies before me.”  

In 1837 the young Alexandrina Victoria finds herself Queen of England. In this fictional version of actual events we follow her in her first two years of reign.

Victoria has been brought up sheltered from the world and only allowed the influence of her mother and her household. As such, she is perhaps a bit naive and not entirely aware of what it means to be queen. It first her thoughts centreres about her newfound freedom and how she can now separate herself from her controlling mother, but soon she is to realise that defining herself as a woman and a monarch in a world traditionally controlled by men is no easy task.

Navigating in political waters and ruling a country without the proper training, while being surrounded by people who wishes to manipulate her, makes her turn to the prime minister Lord M, who soon fills the role of confidant and advisor – but is he, and can he, be more …

We follow her struggle to redefine the nations view on how a proper queen should be and her journey towards independence.

The book may not be great litterature, but is very well written and Daisy Goodwin makes history come to life. The book only covers the first two years of Victorias reign, but the PBS show Victoria (also written/created by Daisy Goodwin) continues the journey, so maybe there are more books coming.

About the picture above: does the flower symbolise anything? Well I could say, that it symbolises the flower given to Victoria by Lord M – but in reality Freja brought it from the other room – apparently she felt the book needed a little something 🙂

Everything Everything ***

“In the beginning there was nothing. And then there was everything”

As you can see, Freja found the book Everything Everything very interesting, so I thought I should give it a go.

Maddy has not left her house for seventeen years – if she does, she will die. Maddy is allergic to the world and everything in it, so she lives in her own little bubble with her mother and a nurse.

One day a new family moves in next door, and Maddy is instantly fascinated with the boy Olly (you already know where this is going, right?). But can you ever really experience love and life, if life itself is out to kill you?

This is a quick, sweat summer read, but somehow the book does not really deliver what it promises. The main characters are so sweat and instantly lovable that it is just a little over the top. There was so much more potential in the book – but then – we don’t always get what we wish for …

If you want to read more about Nicola Yoon, go here:

http://www.nicolayoon.com/

The Reader on the 6.27 ****

“For all those fellow commuters, he was the reader, the bizarre character who each weekday would read out, in a loud, clear voice, from the handful of pages he extracted from his briefcase.”  

If you are looking for a book that really shows a true passion for literature, then this is it!  A quick and easy read that leaves you with a smile in your heart and a feeling of recognizing just how much effect literature can have in lives.

Guylain destroyes books for a living  (oh, the horror!) but as a quit rebellion against his boss and a horrible co-worker, he each day rescues a few pages from the books. And every day on his way to work, he reads these pages to his fellow commuters on the 6.27. Just random pages, but they capture his audience and gives him a purpose in life.

One day he finds a usb stick on his seat, and soon he and his fellow commuters are involved in finding the mysterious Julie, whose diary is on the stick.

This book is quite the gem, and with a beautifully written language and a quiet sense of humor, you will not be disappointed.

Selfies af Jussi Adler-Olsen (Department Q # 7)****

He is back! Carl is back, Assad is back and Jussi is defiantly back!

Lets be honest: Buried (Marco effekten) and The Hanging Girl (Den grænseløse), really did not  live up to my (very high) Jussi expectations, so I was hesitant when starting Selfies – but thank God I did!. I was hooked from page one.

Once again Department Q is in danger of being shut down, since it’s detection rates are down, an older woman is found dead in The Kings Garden and Rose is forced to face the demons of her past. Ad a social worker who is fed up with her clients and a camera crew following Carl, and you get a read that is both thrilling and wonderfully funny.

Carl and Assad will once again have to solve the puzzle and find the links between descendants of a nazi officer, Roses father and a murderer loose in Copenhagen ( a social worker fed up with her demanding clients).

The main character in this volume is Rose, and we find out a lot more about this complex person – on the work level and much more on the personal level. She can no longer run from her past and how her fathers dead (and his treatment of her, while he was alive), has influenced her development. The focus on Rose however makes the other characters take a more withdrawn role in the book, which is a bit of a loss – but apparently volume 8 will have Assad as the main character and volume 9 Carl, so we will learn more about them later.

I always admire the way Jussi can incorporate his views  on society into his books and, like the title says, in this volume explores the selfie culture of our time portrayed in the form of the social clients. Also his use of the camera crew that is forced on Carl, and the managements demands for good pictures, is a welcome slap in the face of reality TV.  At the same time he has created a plot with a lot of different courses of action, all of which develops in unexpected directions but still are wonderfully connected.

Unlike a lot of other crime writers Jussi Adler-Olsen has a unique way of incorporating humor in his story, and several times I found myself laughing out loud at Carl and Assads conversations (I wonder if they seem just as funny when translated from danish?). 

If any of you ever wondered, how Carls workplace looks like, here it is:

It also happens to be where I work as an consultant – and small parts of the Department Q movies are filmed there – we love it when Carl comes by 😀

The Woman in Cabin 10 **(*)

Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

Books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train seemed to start a new trend in writing: the female protagonist has to be unstable/imperfect, and best so if these imperfections makes her surroundings question her mental stability. And I am okay with that – but it only works well, if the protagonist is actually someone you can root for …

Lo is a mess! A drunken, whining, half depressive mess! And after a break-in, a fight with the boyfriend and lack of sleep, a luxury cruise sounds like the best thing. But on board the cruise ship, Lo hears screaming and finds tracks of blood from the cabin next door – so why does everybody insist that nobody lived in Cabin 10? Did her stressed out mind start making up things – or is Lo the only one with the answers?

The story in itself is actually quite good, but Lo as a characters is just so utterly annoying that it destroys the book. The fact that the book took place on a ship added something, since the isolation and the developing group dynamics was a factor – but still I kept feeling like when you watch a reality TV-show: You don’t really know why you keep watching, but you still do.

The author seemed to have found some inspiration in Agatha Christie – and way to much inspiration from The Girl on The Train. But the plot is just a little bit to unbelievable, and I had the feeling of an author who just tried to hard (but at least Lo had a cat – so there is that :-)).

As decent psychological thrillers go, this will never make my favorite list – but if you find yourself on a beach with free books – and need a light reading – then go ahead.

The Chemist ***

Stephenie Meyer (yes, the one with the vampires), has wandered of to other genres, and this time takes a go at mystery/suspense. In connection with a book blogger event in Copenhagen, the very lovely people at Lindhardt & Ringhof sent me a copy – which I am very grateful for 🙂 (who doesn’t love free books)

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

I really like the fact, that Stephenie tries her talent at other genres (be honest: how much more vampire stuff can we gobble down), and I found the premise of the book very interesting.

Alex (lets just go with that name, for the sake of it) is on the run. When she worked for the agency, she was known as The Chemist – and for her ways to make people talk. Now the agency wants her dead, but Alex has more than a few tricks up her sleeve.

Now Alex and her special talents are needed to save a lot of people, and she grabs the chance to get her life back – while being forced to make some very unexpected alliances (including some very talented dogs).

I don’t think I have ever met a more paranoid character (who sleeps with a gas mask for Gods sake!), but her use of her chemical knowledge is defiantly interesting. The book was easy to read, but it really didn’t make me fall in love with it (like the insta love happening in the book – please stop that). I did like the dogs though 🙂

It was a page turner, but still somehow just not a great book. Don’t get me wrong: I liked it – I just did not love it. Freja also seemed like a plant was more to her liking:

While reading this book, I enjoyed cups of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee – which was defiantly to my liking 🙂

 

 

 

Three sisters, Three Queens ***(*)

As some of you may know, the Tudor era is probably the most fascinating period of English history to me. And after attending a online course at Exeter University regarding history, culture and religion in the Tudor period, I have gained a more all round knowledge in this subject.

Being interested in the subject, I have of course devoured Philippa Gregory’s novels about Tudor and Plantagenet, and although her novels are fiction, they are still based on historical facts – and she never disappoints regarding bringing history to life.

The title refers to the three queens Katherine, Queen of England, Margaret, Queen of Scotland and Mary, Queen of France. The novel is a tale of the way the three women’s lives is entwined and the great influence Henry VIII has over their lives. Women of that time could be used as ponds in the political games, and Henry knew how to play the game.

Although the title may give another image, the book is centred about the narrator Margaret Tudor, a woman, who has mostly been overshadowed by her (in)famous brother. Raised to power, and knowing her value as a Tudor princess, she was married of to King James IV of Scotland – entering the marriage believing, that she would be the one to bring eternal peace between England and Scotland.

After the death of her husband, she is forced to fight for her self and her sons – them being the heirs to both the Scottish and English thrones. She has to choose the right allies that can both keep her country and her sons safe – but also not evoke the brutal anger of her brother. In this journey we get glimpses of the way the three queens always watch over each others every move, and how their advice to each other are always given in a political context – they were all raised knowing, that the wrong advice could mean death or exclusion from the court and power.

A good example of conflicting interest, is when Margaret wants the support of her sister regarding the annulment of her marriage – and Katherine for very good reasons (Anne Boleyn anyone), has to fight this wish.

This is the first book I have read, that tells of the England-Scotland relationship as seen from the Scottish side, and this new look was very fascinating.  To be honest, this was not the best of her books, but Philippa Gregory once again blends history and fiction in a way, that makes history come to life – and inspires to find new knowledge on the subject.

More on Philippa Gregory

Don’t tell the groom *** (*)

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“Every woman should feel like a princess on her wedding day; It’s practically a law”

Once in a while, I buy a book simply based on the cover – and this is one of these books (Just admit it – you have done it too :-)). And once in a while, all you need is a true chick lit; a light, fluffy read to leave you smiling – and this is it.

Penny is getting married (well, she will be once Mark proposes), and to get her dream wedding she is going to add to the wedding fund by playing online bingo – which doesn’t exactly go as as planned. Horrified to discover that she spend a lot more than she thought, Penny now has to find a way to plan the perfect wedding – on a budget and without the groom finding out.

We now follow Penny through a funny, enjoyable and romantic travel around dresses, locations, invitations and weddings, where creativity and resources are of the essential.

The book is not just another romantic comedy, but also a story about what is really important in life, addictions, owning up to your problems and doing what it takes to make things right.

Anna Bell makes the words and story flow easily, and you can not help falling in love with the characters – this book is perfect for both a beach read or curling up on a rainy day.

More on Anna Bell

The girl on the Train ****

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“It’s ridiculous, when I think about it. How did I find myself here? I wonder where it started, my decline; I wonder at what point I could have halted it. Where did I take the wrong turn?”

With this book, Paula Hawkins succeeded in writhing a debut novel that will keep you suspended from beginning to end. And with a debut like this, I expect many great reading experiences from her in the future.

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. (Goodreads).

On her daily train ride Rachel passes her old neighborhood and her previous home. Further down the street lives the couple Rachel fantasies about. Their perfect life, their perfect marriage, their perfect love –  so different from Rachel’s own experiences. But as w all know, everybody has their secrets – and a lot can be hidden beneath the surface.

The story unfolds through the eyes of three women: Rachel, Anna ans Megan – each one with their own hidden agenda and each one a suspect as the story progresses. Lies, manipulations and infidelity ties these three women together in a highly addictive tale. The characters are complex and flawed, especially Rachel with her depression and alcohol related problems giving her frequent black outs – has she just witnessed a murder, or is it just a fiction of her imagination?

The book is a bit slow in the beginning, but soon you will find yourself enthralled in a haunting, psychological thriller, where everybody is a suspect and you are kept guessing til the very end.

The book has been made in to a movie, premiering later this year.

 

Britt-Marie was here ****

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It really is poor taste to be found dead only because of the smell. That is why 63 year old Britt-Marie, who just left her cheating husband, is getting a job. Because if you have  job, people will miss you if you do not show up for work – and if you are dead, you will be found before the smell gets to bad.

This is my second book by Fredrik Bachman (the first one being A man called Ove), and he is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

Britt-Marie ends up in the small town of Borg – and the town newer knew what hit it. Britt-Marie has very specific rules for life and how cultivated people should do things (how can you respect a person with the wrong order in their utensils draw), and at first she is not really a likable person.

Britt-Maries serious lack of social skills puts her in the most hilarious situations and the generation gap between her and the teenagers of Borg makes for laugh out loud funny reading.

Although the book is mostly funny, it also contains a lot of depth as Britt-Marie and Borg grows together.  Never did Britt-Marie suspect that her going to Borg would be the start of a life changing journey, where she discovers that she is so much more than Kents wife – that she is a value in herself.

It is about never giving up, never being to old to find love and bonding with a rat (you need Snickers for that).

More on Fredrik Backman