web analytics


Mini Reviews: The Fourth Victim, 66º North, and The Missing

January 17, 2017 | No comments


The Fourth Victim by Mari Jungstedt ★★★★
What: Crime novel set in Gotland, Sweden (9th in the Anders Knutas series).
One sentence synopsis: Inspector Anders Knutas investigates a violent bank robbery, a hit and run, and a brutal murder while dealing with changes in his personal life.
Comments: Mari Jungstedt is one of my favourite crime writers, and this book did not disappoint. It’s a page turner (and borderline 5 stars).

66º North by Michael Ridpath ★★★
What: Crime novel set in Iceland (2nd in the Fire & Ice series).
One sentence synopsis: Homicide detective Magnus Jonson investigates multiple apparent suicides among bankers and politicians following the bank crash in Iceland.
Comments: The tagline “In Iceland, revenge is best served at arctic temperatures” had me hooked, and although it is a great crime novel, the pacing is a bit slow and it doesn’t quite measure up to the first book in the series.

The Missing by Caroline Eriksson ★★
What: Psychological thriller set in Sweden.
One sentence synopsis: Greta’s life comes tumbling down when she visits a tiny, isolated island in Lake Malice with Alex and 4-year-old Smilla, and the latter two disappear into thin air.
Comments: This had all the elements to be a great book, but I couldn’t connect with the main character and the twists and turns were so convoluted that it just left me confused.

[Leave a comment]


Life & Everything

Ask Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies

January 15, 2017 | 2 comments


It was way too long since I filled out a random survey. I stole this one from Audrey. Please play along, won’t you?

What are you completely bored of in life right now?
The darkness. I miss the sun. I think I need more than 4 hours of daylight to function.

What is your favorite scented candle?
I’m more of a non-scented candle type of gal. On the rare occasions I like a scented candle, my go-to scent is always vanilla. It’s the only scent that I don’t get bored with or hate as soon as I get out of the store.

What movie do you laugh at the most?
I have a soft spot for the Police Academy films. Don’t judge me. (Films that don’t make me laugh are Mr Bean or anything with Jim Carey.) Also, you cannot go wrong with John Cleese or Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

What is the last song you listened to?
The last few days, Ed Sheehan’s new singles Castle on the Hill and Shape of You have both been playing on repeat.

What’s one thing you still have from your childhood?
Nothing at my apartment (because I recently moved to a different country and had to prioritize what I could take with me) but my favorite stuffed animals are kept safe at my mother’s place.

What was your least favorite subject in school?
Psychology and history. Mostly because psychology just made me confused and I was horrible at memorizing dates. (I do, however, now really enjoy reading about historical events.)

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Photographic memory.

What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
During a conference dinner, a random guy told me that I have a perfect smile. I gave my dentist (and years of dental braces as a teen, and invisalign as an adult) full credit. I used to be really self conscious about my (what I think) very large front teeth, but comments like that (and my dentist repeatedly telling me that my teeth have the ideal proportions) have made me realize that it was all in my head.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
I don’t really consider myself adventurous, but I guess moving around the world multiple times counts? And my chosen profession (volcanologist) maybe counts as adventurous too?

What’s one thing you need to have in your fridge at any given time?
Cheese, milk and eggs. And soda.

If you could raid one woman’s closet, who would it be?
No idea. Maybe the Swedish Crown Princess Victoria? I’ve always liked her style.

If you could teach one subject in school what would it be?
Geology/Volcanology (which is what I currently teach).

What is your favorite movie?
It’s impossible to narrow it down to only one.

Twitter or Instagram?

Dogs or cats?
Dogs. Definitely dogs.

Dolphins or koalas?
Koalas? And dolphins.

Bird-watching or whale-watching?
Whale-watching. (Although combined puffin bird and whale watching is my favourite.)

Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food, but I had some weird whole fried fish in Indonesia (the eyes did freak me out a bit).

What’s your favorite band?
Lifehouse. And Scars on 45 and Queen (and so many others).

What country do you wish to visit?
Italy and Greece are high on the list.

What’s your favorite color?
Blue and purple.

Least favorite color?

What color dress did you wear to your prom?
I didn’t have a prom.

Blow-dry or air-dry?
I prefer blow-dry my hair but I am too lazy so I usually air-dry it.

Pilates or yoga?

Jogging or swimming?
Swimming. And walking.

Best way to decompress?
Go for a long walk while listening to a good audiobook or podcast.

What’s the best thing to happen to you this year?
It’s too early to tell, but last year will be hard to beat. My best friend got married, I finished my PhD and moved to Iceland to start a new job.

Where would you love to live?
I’ve just moved to my dream city (Reykjavik). If I had to move again, I would probably move back to the UK.

What’s your midnight snack?
Ice cream.

What do you usually order at Starbucks?
I prefer Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf over Starbucks, but when I go to Starbucks I tend to order either an earl grey tea or a hot chocolate.

Who is the last person you texted?
My sister.

What are three things you can’t live without?
Books, music, and my sister.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Brush my teeth, and then have a cup of tea.

What is the question you get asked the most?
No idea.

What’s one word you use too much?
OK, and exactly.

Would you describe yourself as messy or neat?
Neat with a side order of messy.

What karaoke song would you sing without needing the monitor?
Ironic by Alanis Morissette (but only if I was the only one in the room).

What’s one skill you wish you had?
I wish I could sing (other in the shower) and dance (other than when no-one is watching).

What is the geekiest thing about you?
I learned html coding on my spare time when I was 13 or 14 (so that I could make tribute pages for my favourite movies, books, and artists).

(picture from someecards.com)

[Leave a comment]



Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #71

January 12, 2017 | 3 comments


1. This is how I’m choosing to approach 2017.

2. We’re finally going to see Rogue One tonight. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, and have heard mostly good things about it, so I hope I won’t be disappointed.

3. I’m also looking forward to the new film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, coming to theaters sometime next year.

4. I’ve started reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, using the Serial Reader app. So far, getting one short section to read each day is working for me. I’m, however, getting a bit distracted because reading the book makes me want to listen to the soundtrack which makes me want to just want to watch the film again.

5. I’m trying to not buy so many books this year, but I caved in and bought The Gravity of Love by Sara Stridsberg (which Kate recommended to me). I cannot wait to start it.

6. Work is crazy busy this week because I’m starting teaching next week. To be honest, the thought of lecturing for 2 hours straight is a bit daunting (and preparing the powerpoint presentation is taking a lot of time).

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

[Leave a comment]



Top Ten 2016 Releases to Read in 2017

January 10, 2017 | 4 comments


For being a bookworm, I pay very little attention to which books are being published each year (unless it is by one of my favourite authors or from a series I’m currently up to speed on). Somehow, last year I still managed to read 21 newly published books. The top ten books from last year that I didn’t read, but want to read this year (as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) are:

1. Kaninjägaren by Lars Kepler published in October 2016

2. Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes published in November 2016

3. An Author’s Odyssey by Chris Colfer published in July 2016

4. Why Did You Lie? by Yrsa Sigurdardottir English translation published in August 2016

5. The Good People by Hannah Kent published in September 2016

6. No Man’s Land by David Baldacci published in November 2016

7. Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter published in December 2016

8. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick published in November 2016

9. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren published in March 2016

10. The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes published in June 2016

Which books from last year are highest up on your tbr list?

[Leave a comment]



Bookish Resolutions

January 9, 2017 | 2 comments


I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but at the beginning of every year I tend to set some kind of reading goal. I’ve tried everything from wanting to read a minimum number of books to making a detailed reading plan (obviously involving a list with multiple subheading and levels because that is just how I roll). One thing that I have learned over the last few years is that I cannot plan my reading that far ahead. I’m an emotional reader.

Last year’s unofficial reading plan was simple: read more books I enjoy, catch up on series, and read more in Swedish. It was a mixed result. I read some really good books, but mostly I read books that were just ok or books that I didn’t like at all. I finished 10 old series, but I also started 75 new ones (of which I did finished 15). In spite of finally getting a new Swedish library card, only 11% of the books I read were in Swedish.

2016 was in no way a bad reading year. In fact, I read more books in 2016 than I have ever done in a single year before. And yet, it left me feeling a bit disappointed.

I want more out of 2017.

Actually, I want the same things as last year, but this year I’m making it official.

I want to focus on quality over quantity. I’m planning on being more picky with my book selections this year, and reading books and authors I really enjoy. I have a bad habit of saving books (including books that I’m dying to read), constantly telling myself that I should wait to read them until I really need a great book. It doesn’t make any sense – I always need great books. Life is too short to read bad books.

I want to finish series. I have started so many great series, and it is time to finish them.

I want to read more in Swedish. It is a beautiful language and living abroad for over 10 years (and hence no longer using it as my primary language) has made me realize how much I miss it. Reading books in Swedish is also a good way of not losing my vocabulary.

That’s it. That’s what I want.

(I might need some reminding during the year.)

[Leave a comment]



The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: 9 links for 6 Degrees of Separation

January 8, 2017 | No comments


The starting book for the first 6 Degrees of Separation Chain this year was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (which I had suggested to Kate). It is no secret that I absolutely love Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, and I actually had a hard time getting started with my chain this month because I had so many ideas of how to link it. I finally settled on using my pet peeve about the translated title, but here are the other ideas that I considered using.

Books published posthumously | All three books in the Millennium series were published after Stieg Larsson passed away in November 2004. A link could be made to e.g. The Janson Directive by Robert Ludlum, the first book in the Paul Janson series, which was published after Ludlum passed away in 2001.

Series that were not finished because the author passed away | Larsson had planned for the Millennium series to consist of 10 parts, but only the first three books were completed when he passed away. A link could be made to Snow Angels by James Thompson. It is the first book in the crime series about Inspector Kari Vaara, which was supposed to consists of five books, but only four were finished when Thompson unexpectedly passed away in August 2014.

First in a trilogy | The original Millennium series is a trilogy, so links could be made between The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and e.g. The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Series continued by another author | In 2015, a fourth book called The Girl in the Spider’s Web, written by David Lagercrantz, was published (and two more have been contracted). A link could be made to The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, which is the first in a trilogy that was extended into a longer series by another author (Eric van Lustbader) after the death of the original author. Alternatively, a link could be made between The Girl in the Spider’s Web and The Bourne Legacy by Eric van Lustbader, since both are the fourth book in the series, and the first book written by the new author. I would then first link The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to The Girl in the Spider’s Web using the fact that both titles lost their charm when translated to English. The original Swedish title of the Lagercrantz’s book is Det som inte dödar oss or ‘That Which Does Not Kill Us’ which I much prefer over The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

Crime series in Sweden | Millennium is probably one of the most famous Swedish crime trilogies. A link could be made to Roseanna, the first book in the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, which by many are considered the series that really started Swedish noir. Alternatively, a link could be made to Kristina Appelqvist’s trilogy about literature expert Helena Waller, starting with Minns mig som en ängel (‘Remember Me Like an Angel’) which sadly has not yet been published in English, but which like the Millennium trilogy, has a protagonist that is not a police detective.

Crime series with a reporter | One of the main protagonists in the trilogy is the journalist Mikael Blomqvist. A link could be made to Spåren på bryggan by Lars Rambe, another crime novel set in Sweden where one of the protagonists is a reporter (named Fredrik Gransjö).

Strong female character | The character setup is one of my favourite things in the Millennium trilogy. At first, the main protagonist appears to be the journalist Mikael Blomqvist who is the one that mostly drives the plot forward. Themewise, however, the main protagonist is Lisbet Salander (and with the English titles, the focus is definitely on her). Lisbet is probably one of my all-time favourite characters because she is so strong and complex. A link could be made to other strong female characters such as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Beatrice Prior in Divergent by Veronica Roth (although in my opinion, Lisbeth Salander is in a league of her own).

Book better than film adaption | I’m a big fan of using film adaptions as a way of linking books. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was made into a film in 2011 starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara as Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander. I hate this film adaption with a passion and I could write an entire post about it. (The only thing I will say it that was originally made into a Swedish movie in 2009, starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace, and it is a perfect adaption, which in my mind makes the US film even worse because there was absolutely no need for that film.) If you wanted to use the film adaption as a link, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo could be linked to The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, which is another great book that was made into a horrible film (in 2007) starring Daniel Craig. Like with the US version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, only the first book in the trilogy was made into a film.

Plot line tied do an event multiple years ago | The plot in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has two levels – part of it is very much set in present time whereas the underlying motivations for everything that happens is based in events taking place earlier. Links could be made to numerous books where a previous event has strong influences on the present, such as The Lake House by Kate Morton or The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain.

If you made a chain, what did you use as your link? Or what’s the best link you think someone else made with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?

[Leave a comment]



6 Degrees of Separation: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

January 7, 2017 | 5 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.

For the first chain of 2017, Kate went with my suggestion of using The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It is one of my all-time favourite books. The one big pet peeve I have with it is the title, or rather the English title. The original Swedish title (Män som hatar kvinnor) is perfect, and I will never stop arguing that the English edition should have used the direct translation ‘Men Who Hate Women’.

Another fairly recent example of a translated title that changed for the worse is Jonas Jonasson’s Analfabeten som kunde räkna (‘The Illiterate Who Could Count’) which became The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden. The title is unfortunately better than the book.

The Girl Who Disappeared Twice by Andrea Kane is an example of a book where the content was just as good as the title. For the Swedish edition, the title was translated to just Flickan som försvann (‘The Girl Who Disappeared’).

That title always makes me think of Johanna Nilsson’s debut novel Hon går genom tavlan, ut ur bilden. It sadly has not been published in English, but the title would translate to ‘She goes through the frame, out of the painting’. It’s a beautifully written, but emotionally heavy, book about a teenage girl who is bullied in school and how this shapes the rest of her life.

A much more light-hearted book, where the protagonist literally disappears (but of his own will) is The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I much preferred it over his second novel, the already mentioned The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden. One of the things I liked most about it is that it is one of those books that are funny without trying too hard, and where most of the comedic elements are drawn from everyday events.

A book on my tbr list that I also think will be very funny (and where the comedy is rooted in everyday life) is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I’ve read one of his other books in Swedish, but I was first introduced to him via his blog (which is absolutely hilarious).

Another book I read after following the author’s blog is Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica. I, however, much preferred the blog over the book.

This time, my chain took me from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, via some hits and some misses, to Waiter Rant.

Why don’t you join us and make your own chain? Starting with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, 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.

[Leave a comment]


Life & Everything

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #70

January 6, 2017 | 5 comments


1. I’m not quite ready for Christmas vacation to be over. I need more lazy days of doing nothing but drinking tea, reading books, and doing jigsaw puzzles.

2. I want all of these literary scarfs (but especially #7 and 14).

3. The first 6 Degrees of Separation of the year is tomorrow, and I’m so excited that Kate went with my suggestion of using The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as the starting book. There are so many great links one could make with it, and I cannot wait to see what everyone comes up with.

4. This is pretty cool.

5. I’ve been meaning to read Les Misérables for years but never get around to actually doing it (it’s just so freaking long). 2017 is the year I’m actually going to do it, with the help from the serial reader app that Kate introduced me to. I’m only four days into it, but so far, I’ve stuck to the schedule. Only 229 more days to go…

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

[Leave a comment]



Books by the Numbers – 2016

January 4, 2017 | 3 comments


It should be no secret that I’m obsessed with lists (and especially book 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 copied Kerry’s idea and made an infographic with the results (because those are almost as awesome as the list itself).

books by the numbers – 2016 | Create your own infographics

How was your reading year?

[Leave a comment]



Life According to Literature: 2016

January 3, 2017 | 2 comments


It’s a new year, and thus time to fill out the annual Life According to Literature survey (originally by Catherine Pope although she hasn’t posted one for this year so I’m linking back to 2015). The rules are easy: answer each statement using the title of a book read in 2016.

+ Describe yourself: The Woman in Blue (Elly Griffiths)

+ How do you feel: Ice Blue (Anne Stuart)

+ Describe where you currently live: Reykjavik Nights (Arnaldur Indriðason)

+ If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Nowhere But Here (Katie McGarry)

+ Your favourite form of transportation: Walking by Night (Kate Ellis)

+ Your best friend is: Maggie Smith (Michael Coveney)

+ You and your friends are: The Friday Night Knitting Club (Kate Jacobs)

+ What’s the weather like: Arctic Chill (Arnaldur Indriðason)

+ You fear: Deadly Decisions (Kathy Reichs)

+ What is the best advice you have to give: All You Need Is Love (Marie Force)

+ Thought for the day: Into Oblivion (Arnaldur Indriðason)

+ How I would like to die: Forever on the Mountain (James M Tabor)

+ My soul’s present condition: Raven Black (Ann Cleeves)

How would you describe your 2016, using only the titles of books you read during the year?

(Image from someecards.com)

[Leave a comment]


2013-2017 © maria helena. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is powered by Wordpress and uses a modified version of Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.