February 2014 – monthly update

So February has been a frustrating month. It seems I just couldn’t find time to read all that much. I have been working a lot all month and have just been too tired. In January, I read whenever I could find time and read through 6 books and lots of pages. This month I have unfortunately prioritized watching sucky tv more. I think it is sometimes easier to just vegetate in front of the tv when you are overworked and stressed out instead of picking up a book even though you know that in the end, you will enjoy the book more.
NightCircus.final_.2But still, I did read 5 books this month and I have still read some amazing good books this month. The first one was Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus which I had postponed reading but absolutely loved when I finally got around to it. The setting in this book was breathtaking and so lovely and I was just blown away by it. An entire black and white circus suddenly appearing out of nowhere and just spellbinding it’s audience. I also really liked the story in this book and the characters and I am really looking forward to Erin Morgenstern’s next novel.
possession-by-a-s-byatt[1]My other favorite novel this month was A.S. Byatt’s Possession. I watched her give a lecture back in 2005 and I was so impressed by her. So impressed that I actually got scared. She is just so clever and knowledgable and I have been really scared that I wasn’t able to get her books. But then I read her The Children’s Book a while ago and really liked it and I watched the movie version of Possession and decided to put the book on my list of reading goals for this year. And then I actually read it. And loved it. It’s a wonderful intelligent book and a beautiful love story. I was so engrossed by the romance of Christabel LaMotte and Randolph Ash. Talk about star-crossed lovers! Add to this that it is a literary mystery with beautiful writing. This is going to be one of my favorite novels of the year – and I can’t wait to reread it. I think it will be one of my favorite novels of all time. It is so intelligent that it can stand to be reread over and over.
It seems that I should learn from this experience not to postpone novels that I really want to read because I’m scared of not being able to get them or scared they are not able to live up to my expectations. I should just read whatever I want when I want it. I might have to work a bit on this before I accomplish doing so!
oryx-and-crakeI also began the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. I will not say too much about this novel or this series here before I’ve read the entire trilogy but I will say that Oryx & Crake is quite an accomplishment and the more I think about it, the more impressed I am. I am reading the second part of this trilogy right now, The Year of the Flood, and I’m just getting more and more impressed. This is clever writing!
My complete list of novels read in February look like this:

  1. Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus
  2. Joyce Carol Oates: Carthage
  3. Susan Hill: Howard’s End is on the Landing
  4. A.S. Byatt: Possession
  5. Margaret Atwood. Oryx & Crake

Last year I read about 50 pages a day. This year, I wanted to do better. My goal was 100 pages a day. Sadly, February has been the month where it dropped. Not only below 100 but actually below 90 (although I ended the month just above 90 pages a day). I know it’s silly getting caught up in numbers and that the important thing is the reading experience. I know I should care more about reading amazing books and taking the time to really enjoy them than care about the amount of books I read. Still, I can’t help it. I want to read many books and therefore I want to read a lot of pages each day. And I just haven’t read all that many pages in February and it depresses me like hell, especially since I could have read so much more if I had just kept on prioritizing reading above other relaxing pastimes.
I’m actually a bit amused that I feel this way because five books in a month is excellent given my current schedule. I think I will have to think quite a bit about whether this focusing on pages a day is actually benefitting me or rather stressing me out. Five books is good – especially since these weren’t short books and they were really good books.

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Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus (review)

NightCircus.final_.2‘You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.’ (p. 499)
Back in June 2012 I bought The Night Circus. I had been desperate to get it for some time and the first time I saw it in a store, I just had to get it. So I did. And then promptly put it on my shelf and waited 1,5 years to read it. Not because I forgot about it – no. It was more like I was scared. See, I kept hearing that this book was amazing and I kept building it up in my head. So much, that I was afraid to start reading it because I didn’t want it to not be able to live up to my expectations and as long as it was just standing safely on my shelf, I could keep on believing it was good. But finally I decided that that wasn’t the proper way to handle a potentially amazing book and so I decided to read it this year.
When I started it, I did feel like it didn’t live up to the hype I had created for myself about it. But I read on and just got more and more intrigued by the circus. I recently read someone writing about how Lord of the Rings was more about the setting for them, the world Tolkien created, than it was about the characters and the adventure. And to a certain extent this was how I felt about this book. I loved the circus. This amazing black and white wandering circus filled with the most intriguing tents, each more wonderful than the next with beautiful scenarios, extremely talented artists and just pure magic. I loved reading about it and about the new tents that pops up from time to time.
The circus is the background for a magic competition. Two men competes with each other about which school of thought about magic is the best when they are working within the same environment. Celia and Marco are the two children who are taught to create things in two different ways and then pitted against each other in the wonderful Le Cirque des Rêves. Both are extremely talented at creating various illusions but the problem is that of course every action has consequences and this means that more and more people get involved in the circus – and none of these seem to age. And that’s just one of the consequences of the circus.
Well, except the twins born on the first night of the circus, Poppet and Widget. The twins grow up in the circus, the only ones who seem to grow. These two red-haired kitten training twins are only two of the amazing characters in this book. Others include Prospero, the Enchanter, Celia’s father, and Alexander, the man in grey who trains Marco. Tsukiko the contortionist. Bailey, the boy who loves the circus. Herr Thiesen, the amazing clock maker who becomes the first fan of the circus and starts a whole movement of people following the circus around.
Which is difficult since the circus arrives with no warning and with no announcements preceding it, only being open from sunset till sunrise. It just appears out of the blue somewhere close to a city and immediately draws people in. And I would really want it to show up here. I don’t particularly like circuses – they have clowns, they travel around with animals who don’t belong in a circus – but this circus doesn’t appear to have any clowns or mistreated animals. Just amazing sights, illusions and cute performing kittens. The Night Circus is a beautiful and fascinating books with endearing characters who just grew on me even though I started out just loving the setting. It is a beautiful fairytale set in a city resembling Victorian London. It’s a lovely fantastic ride which I will definitely return to – sometime after sunset when the circus is in town.

‘”Don’t look at me like that,” he says, “as if you think me inhuman.” “I can see through you,” Celia snaps. “It is not particularly trying on my imagination.”‘ (p. 392)

First line: The circus arrives without warning.

  • Title: The Night Circus
  • Author: Erin Morgenstern
  • Publisher: Anchor Books
  • Year: 2012
  • Pages: 508 pages
  • Source: Own collection
  • Stars: 5 stars out of 5

Holiday Reading

Today, my family and I are going away on holiday. We’re spending a week in a nice cabin in a beautiful part of Denmark and planning on visiting various zoos and other child friendly sights as well as the beach if the weather stays sunny and warm. I’m also hoping for a book shop or two…

When we go away on this type of holiday, my boyfriend and I like to read in the evenings. We usually bring some board games and some books and never even open the game boxes but just spend every evening reading. And since I love to read, that’s perfectly fine by me. (Even though we need to stop buying board games if we never intend to play any of them…)

Of course, this means that I have to choose which books to bring. And this year, it has been really hard. Last year I spend most of the holiday reading Ken Follet: The Pillars of the Earth and loved it. This year – I’m not sure I want to read a chunkster. I just finished The Count of Monte Cristo and can’t quite handle to dive into another huge book so soon after.

So what I’m opting for this year, is options. I’m bringing several books and hoping that they will cover whatever mood I feel. And I’m bringing my kindle. In part because then I can read whatever I fancy but also because I have the complete Sherlock Holmes on it and I plan on reading that this year. I might also have a couple of other books on it and some 20+ samples – just to be sure that I don’t run out of reading material…

Now let’s see what else I’m bringing:

9780141184272Virginia Woolf: Orlando. I’ve been wanting to read Orlando for years. Ever since the movie came out back in 1992! I can’t remember when I bought the book but I’ve owned it a while. I’m really intrigued by how the protagonist changes sex in the novel and lives for 400 years or so as first a man and then a woman. This book is also on my list of reading goals for the year; a list, I’m falling a bit behind on so I plan on starting with this one.

NightCircus.final_.2Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus. This next choice was between Erin Morgenstern’s novel The Night Circus and Christos Tsiolkas’s book The Slap. I ended up choosing The Night Circus because I have kept postponing reading it because I’m scared that it can’t live up to my expectations. And now I want to force myself to read it because I do think it is a novel that I will enjoy – and Morgenstern is working on a new one and I would like to have this one finished before she does.

waste-landsStephen King: The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3). The fantasy category. Here, I chose between the third installment in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, the fifth in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and the first in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I decided against A Song of Ice and Fire since I am already reading the other two series. And I decided against A Wheel of Time because, frankly, it’s not all that good and the writing annoys me. I know King can deliver a good and thrilling read!

BRUN_MANDS_BYRDE_FORSIDE_300dpiHassan Preisler: Brun mands byrde (Brown Man’s Burden). A debut novel which has gotten a lot of praise in Denmark. Apparently, it is a modern version of Rudyard Kipling’s poem White Man’s Burden but set on it’s head where the author and others like him have to teach the ordinary white Dane that we live in a multicolored and multicultural world. It seems to be not about the importance of tolerance but of respect – to respect each other enough to also tell each other if something we’ve made sucks.

I don’t plan on posting a lot next week. I hope to write a lot of notes to the books I read so it will be relatively easy to write (hopefully a lot of) reviews when I get back but I don’t plan on  actually finishing anything – except a lot of books!

Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy…But Which Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

toptentuesday-1Oh my. I’m definitely guilty of this. I often buy books that I’m desperate to get my hands on – and then, they just sit on the shelf, sometimes for years, before I get around to reading them… It’s silly, really. Or maybe not because the chance of me reading them is bigger when I actually own them than if I first have to go out and buy them. Of course, this approach means that I have a list of 200+ books which I own – and haven’t read yet … So this week’s Top Ten list is right up my alley – the difficult part is actually to narrow it down… As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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  1. Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus. I think I have mentioned enough times how excited I am about this one and how scared I am that I’ll end up not loving it…
  2. Benjamin Hale: The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore. I was so intrigued by this one when it came out. Still am. Just haven’t read it yet, for some reason.
  3. J.K. Rowling: The Casual Vacancy. So this one, like the first two books on this list, are books I put on last weeks list of Top Ten Books at the Top of my Spring 2013 TBR List so hopefully, I will get around to reading this one very, very soon. I’m really curious to see what J.K. Rowling can do with something outside the Harry Potter universe!
  4. Monica Ali: Untold Story. I was so excited about this one that I had my friend buy it to me when he visited Copenhagen and Denmark’s best bookstore, Politikens. Of course, that didn’t mean that I actually read it…!
  5. Margaret Weis: The Dark Disciple Trilogy. Yes. This one is rather embarrassing. Not only did I buy one book and then let it just sit and gather dust on a shelf, I bought three. On three separate occasions. And two of them in hardcover because I just couldn’t wait to read them…! So I now have a trilogy where the first and third volume is in hardcover, the second volume is a paperback (and not even a pretty trade paperback) and I have owned them for years and haven’t read them … Silly, silly me.
  6. Steve Martin: An Object of Beauty. I love Steve Martin. I think he is hilarious. And I’m interested in art and fascinated by the art world so of course I wanted this book. And then – just nothing. Never have gotten around to actually reading it…
  7. Yann Martel: Beatrice and Virgil. I looooooved Life of Pi so when Yann Martel published this book, I had to have it immediately. And then … well, it got some bad reviews and I just never read it. Still want to. Someday.
  8. Per Højholt: Auricula. On September 7th, 1915 at 4.09 pm there was a sudden silence all over Europe. 9 months later, a lot of women gave birth to a child – and an ear. The ears go out in the world and visits artists like Kafka and Duchamp. Højholt spent 23 years writing this book apparently and it just sounds weird and quirky – and I want to read it! Bought it years ago – never got around to doing anything but putting it on the shelf…
  9. Anne Rice: Christ the Lord – Out of Egypt. When I saw this, I was so excited. Anne Rice of vampire fame writing about Jesus. I just had to own it. And since – meh. I’ve kind of lost interest in this one. I hope that I will pull myself together and read it – but it’s not looking good so far.
  10. Ali Smith: There but for the. A man locks himself in a room in the house where he attends a dinner party – and he refuses to leave. Soon, he becomes some sort of phenomenon because everybody want to know about the man who has locked himself in a room in someone else’s house. I think this sounds like a fun plot with lots of potential to turn into something really special

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Top Ten Books At The TOP Of My Spring 2013 TBR list!

toptentuesday-1So I like keeping list of books I want to read soon. I often think about which book to read next so this week’s list of books I want to read this spring, was rather easy to put together.

As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. There are a lot of people participating, people reading all kinds of books, so if you check out some of the other blogs, beware of your to-read list – it might explode!

  1. Jonathan Safran Foer: Everything is Illuminated. I hadn’t planned to read this anytime soon but then I discovered that it’s the next group read for the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die group on Goodreads, beginning March 15. I read and loved Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close last year so I’m actually looking forward to this read.
  2. SJ Watson: Before I Go To Sleep. I have heard so much good about this book about a woman who is unable to remember her past or who she is – and who slowly starts to question if everything is right with her husband and with what he is telling her. It’s a debut novel and it sounds unputdownable!
  3. Amy Chua: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. So this book has gotten a lot of bad publicity but ever since I heard an interview with Amy Chua, I’ve wanted to read it.
  4. Félix J. Palma: The Map of Time. I don’t know quite how to describe this book. It sounds like a combination of a lot of different genres and just utterly engrossing and fascinating. Like a wild ride. It takes place in London in 1896, it’s about a man who has lost his lover to Jack the Ripper and a woman who struggles against the rules of Victorian society. And it involves H.G. Wells and some sort of machine that will change anything.
  5. Erik Valeur: Det syvende barn. (The Seventh Child.) 7 babies are born at the same hospital and are all placed at the same orphanage from which they are all adopted – without knowing their back ground. But they all receive an anonymous letter detailing their past and this sets events in motion. Both my mother and mother-in-law have read this and loved it and it has been rather popular in Denmark so here we go. I will read more books by Danish authors!!!
  6. Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus. Oh how I want to read this book. I actually want to read it so bad that I’m scared to do so and therefore, I keep pushing it back. I’m afraid that I have too high expectations and that they will ruin the book for me. But I want to read it and I will read it – and soon.
  7. Benjamin Hale: The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore. An interspecies lovestory. Bruno is a chimpanzee who falls in love with his human teacher. I was dying to read this when it was published, bought it – and it has been gathering dust on the shelf ever since … Now’s the time!
  8. Eowyn Ivey: The Snow Child. Everyone has read this, most seem to like it. It sounds like some sort of sad fairy tale and I have it home from the library and want to get to it to see what all the fuss is about – and if it is as good as people say it is.
  9. J.K. Rowling: The Casual Vacancy. Why haven’t I read Rowling’s new book yet? I bought it right after Christmas and I’m looking forward to reading it but somehow, I haven’t gotten around to it yet. When you liked the Harry Potter books, this is kind of a must-read and I really liked them so – another need to read soon. Maybe I’m a bit scared of this one not living up to my expectations too…
  10. Christos Tsiolkas: The Slap. This is another one I’ve been wanting to read for a while. A parent slaps someone else’s child and the repercussions are overwhelming. We had a case of that here in Denmark and the mother who slapped someone else’s child, was put in jail. I have felt the urge to slap kids if they are doing something to my girls, I can feel the lion mom come up in me, so even though I have never acted on this – and probably never will – I can see myself in this book.

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Uh, uh, uh – so excited about my new book

I have one book that I have really been wanting to read for a long time. My friend Sisse (The Literary Princess) has it as one of her 10 favorite books and so many others have talked or written or chatted about this book – and it just sounds so so good. So finally I saw it in a bookstore the other day – and immediately picked it up.

The book is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It sounds like a story about love and a sinister Circus – and it sounds like something I will really enjoy. I’m so looking forward to reading this

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

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