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Life & Everything

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #103

January 11, 2018 | One comment


 

1. I don’t do New Years resolutions, but at the start of every year I make a long list of reading goals. Previous years the list has ranged from the simple with just general guidelines to extremely complicated involving colour-coded spreadsheets. This year I’m trying something new. No goals. No list. My only bookish resolution for 2018 is to read books I enjoy. That shouldn’t be so hard, right?

2. Days like this, when we have hurricane strength winds, I’m very grateful I have a job when I can work from home.

3. These made me smile.

4. I started watching the Swedish-Danish crime series The Bridge and I’m so hooked. I’m already on the second season out of four.

5. I’ve started a new crochet project: a temperature blanket with one row per day based on the noon temperature in town. So far, I’m loving it.

Visit Christine at Bookishly Boisterous for more bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts.

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Cruel Is The Night by Karo Hämäläinen

January 8, 2018 | No comments


 

If you do not want spoilers, you should probably stop reading now.

On paper, this book has everything that I like in books.

It is written by an awardwinning Finnish author, and I’m constantly looking for new Finnish crime to read. The book is set in London, rather than in Finland, but after the Nordic countries, UK is one my favourite settings.

It has a locked-room murder mystery with lots of Agatha Christie references. One of the main characters even reads Murder on the Orient Express on the flight to London.

The general plot idea is great: four Finnish friends–Robert and Mikko, and their wives Elise and Veera–meet for dinner. Three cell phones ring, but the calls go unanswered because their recipients are all dead.

Unfortunately, that is where the good things end.

The flow is extremely erratic and it does not help that the chapters alternate between being told by one of four friends, and the single one of them who is still alive at the end of the night. It is quite confusing who is the narrator of each chapter and several times I had to go back and reread passages to understand who was saying or thinking what.

It does not take many chapters before the storyline goes straight into crazy land. There are multiple capsules of cyanide. There are frequent flashbacks to events happening years before. There is a suicide. Lots of internal monologues, and lots of arguments are had. And there is more sex than you would expect from what is described as a “closed room mystery”.

One of the dinner guest, while attempting to kill one of the others with a sword, dies by falling and hitting her head on a suit of armor, and consequently being pierced in the head by the spikes of the armor. If that was not enough to kill her, the sword she was holding launched out of her hand, rotated around its center of mass in the air, and then plunged into her chest.

I quickly found myself wishing for all of the characters to just die so the book would end.

There were great little pieces, like:

“My attention kept getting stuck on the Finnish translation, and I found myself trying to guess how each sentence went in the original English.”

and

“…I had learned the dialect of today’s youth relatively well, but this was my first time hearing someone use the acronym OMG in speech. No principle of economy could justify the expression, as it could in a text message, because pronouncing the three letters took just as much effort as three one-syllable words. So it was nothing more than a corruption of the language.”

Unfortunately, the gems were few. Too much of the text was painful to read. Especially the descriptions.

“The high-backed chair was from the same set as the bookcase. It had leather upholstery. The springs bounced nicely when you sat on it. The two couches and two other armchairs matched each other. They had hefty lines. As if Rubens had turned furniture designer. Sometimes I felt like I was sitting in the lap of an ample matron. Between the bookshelves was a fireplace. A light burned in it. It looked like a perfectly real fireplace. There was a poker and a shovel.”

Several times I found myself wondering what the original text in Finnish sounded like, and if part of my issues with this book is just due to bad translation.

The saving grace is the sentence “Oh Jesus’s ecumenical testicles” that Veera says at one point during the dinner. I feel it pretty much sums up my opinion about this book.

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6 Degrees of Separation: No.1 Ladies Detective Agency

January 6, 2018 | 8 comments


 

6 Degrees of Separation is a book meme hosted by Kate at Books are My Favorite and Best. The goal is to construct a chain with 6 other books, using any criteria you want, and see where you end up.

The starting book this month is Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. It is the first book in a series, with the same name, about Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s leading, and only, female private detective. I have not read it.

A book about a group of ladies who solve crimes that I have read, and really enjoyed, is 1st to Die by James Patterson. It is the first book in the Women’s Murder Club series. All books in the series has consecutive numbers in the title.

Another series where the titles are in a pattern is the Patrick Bowers Files by Steven James. The first book is called The Pawn, and the rest of the titles are all named after different chess pieces.

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll is based on a game of chess, with Alice being the pawn and the other chess pieces being embodied by other characters.

In the prequel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a lot of the characters were based on a deck of cards.

A Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder is structured as a deck of cards, with each chapter of the book being one card. One of the subtle themes in the book is philosophy.

Philosophy is also the main theme in Jostein Gaarder’s more famous novel Sophie’s World.

This time, my chain took me from No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, via some of my favourite series and books, to Sophie’s World.

Why don’t you join us and make your own chain? Starting with No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, where will you end up? Visit Books Are My Favourite and Best to read the rules and see who else made a chain this month.

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Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #102

January 5, 2018 | No comments


 

1. Happy New Year! This last year fly by, and I’m so ready for what this year will bring.

2. 2017 was quite a varied reading year for me. I had a bit of a reading slump for a couple of months, but still managed to read over 200 books. There were a lot of pretty bad or forgettable books. I’m determined that 2018 will be a better year.

3. The 2018 reading year started excellently with Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth (which Kate has been raving about). I don’t venture outside of my comfort zone of mysteries and thrillers that often, but this one was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

4. This is definitely my kind of superhero.

5. Have you seen New York Times’ Literary calendar for 2018?

6. Tomorrow is Saturday and the first 6 Degrees of Separation of the year. The starting book is Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. Are you joining in on the fun?

7. One of my Christmas gifts was a one year subscription to Kindle Unlimited. I think it will be a great supplement to my library accounts.

8. I want one of these.

Visit Christine at Bookishly Boisterous for more bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts.

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Books by the Numbers – 2017

January 3, 2018 | No comments


 

It should be no secret that I am obsessed with books, lists, and statistics. Every year I fill out a very extensive spreadsheet to keep track of what I read (becuase things like that make me very happy). Since 2014, I’ve also made an infographic summarizing my reading year, because infographics are almost as awesome as the original list.

books by the numbers – 2017 | Infogram

How was your reading year?

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Life According to Literature: 2017

January 1, 2018 | 2 comments


 

It’s a new year, and thus time to fill out the annual Life According to Literature survey (originally by Catherine Pope). The rules are easy: answer each statement using the title of a book read in 2017.

+ Describe yourself: The Scarred Woman (Jussi Adler-Olsen)

+ How do you feel: In the Morning I’ll Be Gone (Adrian McKinty)

+ Describe where you currently live: 66º North (Mikael Ridpath)

+ If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Where Roses Never Die (Gunnar Staalesen)

+ Your favourite form of transportation: Into the Water (Paula Hawkins)

+ Your best friend is: The Ice Queen (Nele Neuhaus)

+ You and your friends are: The Missing (Caroline Eriksson)

+ What’s the weather like: Endless Night (Agatha Christie), but also A Cold Day in Paradise (Steve Hamilton)

+ You fear: The Murder Room (Michael Capuzzo)

+ What is the best advice you have to give: Take the Key and Lock Her Up (Ally Carter)

+ Thought for the day: Cruel Is the Night (Karo Hamalainen)

+ How I would like to die: The River at Night (Erica Ferencik)

+ My soul’s present condition: Blue Monday (Nicci French)

How would you describe your 2017, using only the titles of books you read during the year?

 
(Image from someecards.com)

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What I Read – 2017

December 31, 2017 | No comments


 

For the last four years, I’ve done Jamie’s end of the year book survey. This year, to change things up a bit, I’m copying Bookish Beck’s idea ‘Various Superlatives, Good and Bad’, with some modifications (like Kate’s).

The Book Everybody Else Loved but I Didn’t: Bear Town by Fredrik Backman

The Year’s Biggest Disappointment: Cruel is the Night by Karo Hamalainen

The Worst Book I Read This Year: Tie between Dead to Me by Stephen Edger and Mount Misery by Angelo Peluso

The Downright Strangest Book I Read This Year: Mount Misery by Angelo Peluso

The Best Discoveries of the Year: Jane Harper, Beverly Connor, Kati Hiekkapelto, and Chris Carter

The Debut Authors Whose Next Work I’m Most Looking Forward to: Jane Harper – The Dry was splendid.

The Book I Choose Entirely Because of the Cover: Murder on the Lake of Fire by Mikel J Wilson

The Book That Made Me Cry the Most: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

The Book That I Recommended the Most: Something Like Summer by Jay Bell

The Best Book Someone Recommended to me: Passing Strange by Ellen Klages and The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

The Books That Were the Most Memorable: Passing Strange by Ellen Klages, Something Like Summer by Jay Bell, and Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

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The Dry by Jane Harper

December 15, 2017 | No comments


 

What: Murder mystery with links to the past.

Setting: Small town, Australia.

Plot in brief: Federal Agent Aaron Falk return to his hometown to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Luke was Falk’s alibi for the murder of their friend when they were teenagers, and now Luke is thought to have murdered his wife and young son before taking his own life. Falk joins forces with the local detective to figure out what really happened to Luke.

The good: This book has everything you could ever wish for in a murder mystery. The setting is splendid, the characters are diverse and complex, and the story was beautifully presented.

The not-so-good: I have nothing to say. I loved everything about this book, from the first page to the last.

Why I read it: I was intrigued by the description (and the gorgeous cover).

My rating: ★★★★★

Conclusion: One of the best books I have read this year.

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Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #101

December 13, 2017 | No comments


 

1. It’s December! Bring on all the Christmas music. (I’ve got the Science Christmas Songs stuck in my head.)

2. My Christmas decorations are up, but they are sadly not in the same league as these.

3. Kate has done the amazing job of going through all the best-of-2017-book-lists and summarized them into one massive list of the top 47 books. This year, I have not read a single book that made the list. I usually stay quite on top of recent publications, but I don’t know what happened this year.

4. My sister and my mother are coming to spend Christmas at my place, and I’ve got this insane idea that I’m gonna cook a proper Christmas dinner. (Including doing some fancy Christmas baking.) Check back after Christmas to see how this goes.

5. I recently finished two books that both, for very different reasons, made me want to write a review.

6. This video of a polar bear broke my heart.

7. Videos of amazing dogs heals my heart again.

8. We had a professional photographer at work yesterday morning and everyone could get a free headshot taken. I hate having my picture taken, but figured I should probably have a more professional photo than a selfie for all the work-related things. The timing was crappy – I had an appointment to get a haircut today so of course today my hair looks fabulous and yesterday it was a mess. (Also, I had just walked through wind and rain and snow to get to work right before the photo was taken). Still, it cannot be worse than a selfie, right?

Visit Christine at Bookishly Boisterous for more bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts.

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Literary Mixtape: The Silent Girls

December 10, 2017 | No comments


 

I love mixtapes and I love books, so there should be no surprise that I have a soft spot for literary mixtapes (especially those by Rory and Kate). I don’t know why I have never made one of my own.

Maybe I have just not read the right book for it. That is, until now.

I recently read Eric Rickstad’s The Silent Girls, published in 2014. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read. Far from it. It is an interesting mystery in a nice setting but the characters are nothing special. It falls in that grey zone of ok books that are good reads, but when you’re done you quickly move on to the next one and don’t look back. The one exception that made The Silent Girls slightly more memorable is that it was littered with passages that made me feel that this book really required a soundtrack.

3/5

01. I Started a Joke / Bee Gees

“Nothing dulled the guilt or the loss.”

02. Dream On / Aerosmith

“But peril pressed in at the edges of a girl’s life, and worry planted roots in Rath’s heart and bloomed wild and reckless.”

03. Living in Danger / Ace of Base

“It was a loathsome fact about the human condition: Wherever there were girls, some would go missing, plucked like errant threads from the fabric of everyday life and cast into a lurid nightmare of someone else’s making.”

04. Here I Go Again / Whitesnake

“Rath gazed at the long, deserted stretch of road that ran north into Canada in just under a mile, then looked south to a length of road equally long and deserted.”

05. Love Is The Drug / Roxy Music

“Rath lit his cigarette, drew the smoke deep. It tasted like dryer lint, but he’d suck it to the filter anyway. That’s why they called it addiction.”

06. Why / Annie Lennox

“Ghosts from a past life he wished would remain dead.”

07. Before It Breaks / Brandi Carlile

“Hope was a luxury. And Rath had to knock on the door and ask the missing girl’s mother painful intrusive questions, yank scabs off tender wounds and gouge old sores, let the blood run fresh.”

08. Still Fighting It / Ben Folds

“Memory was a devil that wore many disguises.”

09. Brightest Light / FDVM

“She radiates. A smile like sunshine’s pouring from her.”

10. Dancing With Myself / Billy Idol

“She was unclear on what compelled her to run with such mania.”

11. Where Were You Last Night / Ankie Bagger

“This was the trouble with lying: it bred paranoia.”

12. Lost Stars / Adam Levine

“The recessed lights dimmed to leave the office in perpetual dusk.”

13. Better Alone / Carolina Liar

“Pain could always get worse.”

 

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