Adding to the Shelves

One of my favorite things to do, is to buy new books. Even for those periods of time when I haven’t been reading, I have still bought books. Not so during this recent reading slump. I really haven’t bought any books since February. And that’s actually kind of scary. I haven’t bought any new books and I haven’t kept up with book publishing or anything. I have really  been doing a cold turkey. I’m trying to view it as a good thing since my normal practice of buying books whether I was reading or not, is the cause of my having more than 200 books on my shelves that I haven’t read…
Still, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t acquired new books. But ever since buying a lot of books back in February, only three new books have been added to my shelves.

041549-fc222 First of these are Tolkien’s Silmarillion. When I still was reading a lot and was on track with my goals for the year and just enjoying myself, I was participating in The Official 2014 TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader. And I was so lucky to win a book of my own choice, thanks to Adam’s generosity. I had been planning to read The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion this summer, and since I already owned the first two, I of course asked for The SilmarillionI’m not sure if I ever properly thanked Adam – and now I see that he has stepped down from Roof Beam Reader due to work obligations so he will not be around much. Still, thank you so much Adam! Now I’m back from my hiatus, I’m looking forward to explore Middle Earth!

9781451660326_p0_v3_s260x420The second new book I have acquired during these last 4 months, was a birthday present from my 3 years old daughter. Whenever she is asked what she want to give to someone, she always answers ‘a book’. I can count the number of times, she whispered to me ‘I’m giving you a book, mommy’. And so she did.
Last year I read Félix J. Palma’s wonderful The Map of Time and it was just such a thrilling ride that I haven been looking forward to reading the second book ever since. And this was the book I was so lucky to receive for my birthday thanks to my little girl knowing exactly what her mommy wants – and her father helping her pick out the right book!

978-87-997204-0-8And finally, the third book was a present from my best friend. Henrik has his own publishing company, H. Harksen Productions, where he publishes weird fiction, H.P. Lovecraft inspired fiction and similar themed books, both in English and Danish. One of his latest publication is this Killer Killer by Danish author Morten Ellemose. This is supposed to be following in the tradition from the Hannibal Lecter books and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a very scary read. Maybe I should try to get around to reading it while it’s still summer and the nights are still light. I don’t do scary very well, I’m afraid.

So that’s the books which have been added to my stash recently. So while few in numbers, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a great time reading these. Have you read any of these? Did you like them? And what else have I been missing in books and book blogging in these last months? I feel dreadfully out of touch…

Related posts:

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

toptentuesday-1This week’s topic is all about new authors. Not new as in debut authors but authors that are new to me (and the other readers participating in Top Te Tuesday this week). And this is a fascinating topic. I have never before noticed how many new authors I read during a year. I have a goal for myself to read a book by each of my (five) favorite authors every year so they are not new but I have never counted how many new authors I try out. I am actually very pleased with my result. I have given 23 authors a chance this year. So far! I like that! To me, it says that I’m willing to take a chance and I’m not stuck in reading the same few authors over and over again. And it’s also interesting because the 23 authors are very different. There’s both debuts, classics, non-fiction and more. So what you’ll find below is my list of the Top Ten Authors that I have read this year and that I expect to explore further in the coming years; the best of the 23.
As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
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  • Toni Morrison. I read Beloved this year and it was an incredible read. I was so blown away by this book. It was such an incredible powerful and heartbreaking book about a mother doing everything, everything, to protect her children. I will definitely read more by Morrison and I’m a bit sad that I have waited this long to read her for the first time.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have postponed reading The Great Gatsby because I watched the movie edition of it starring Robert Redford many years ago and didn’t get it. Not at all. But now I’m apparently the right age for Gatsby because I loved this book too. It was just so good and, again, heartbreaking in all the right ways. Poor Gatsby!
  • Jennifer Egan. Egan’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Goon Squad was the first novel I read this year and it definitely started the year right. I really enjoyed this, all of this, including the powerpoint chapter!
  • Félix J. Palma. The Map of Time was a mad, mad ride. H.G. Wells, Jack the Ripper, time traveling, love, automatons and so much more. It was wonderful and I loved it. I really want to read the next book in this series! and I hope it is just as much fun.
  • Carol Birch. Let’s be honest, Jamrach’s Menagerie is definitely outside my normal comfort zone. But I loved it. The first part when they were chasing the ‘dragon’ and finally caught it, was amazing and the second part with the shipwreck was even better. Really a good book!

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  • Ben Marcus. The Flame Alphabet was a strange book indeed. I’m not sure I got all of it but it was so very different and so very fascinating. A very different book to most dystopian literature. I’m still wondering about those weird listening holes… and all the rest of it. As well as how it must be not to be able to be close to your children because their speech makes you sick…
  • Karen Thompson Walker. The Age of Miracles was the second book I read this year and it was really different and very good. I liked the different take on a dystopian novel and how it also had focus on the fact that life goes on, especially when you’re a teenager.
  • Colm Tóibín. I was so impressed with not only Tóibín’s courage to take on the story of the mother of Jesus and her lack of belief in her son being the Son of God but also with the way he did it. The Testament of Mary is a wonderful novella, highly recommended. And I plan on reading more by Tóibín!
  • Alan Bennett. I absolutely adored The Uncommon Reader and I was so well entertained by it. It had it’s flaws, sure, but it was so very good at the same time. And the ending absolutely blew me away! If this one is typical of the way Bennett writes, I definitely want to explore him further in the future.*
  • Jim Butcher. When I needed something light and entertaining to help me deal with too much work and too little sleep, Jim Butcher was the man to deliver it. I’ve read the two first of The Dresden Files (Storm Front and Fool Moon) and while they are not amazing fantasy, they were good enough to keep me entertained and awake, no easy feat!

* Okay, this is rather embarrassing. Apparently, I read The Clothes They Stood Up In back in 2008 and liked it somewhat … So he’s not a new author. Or is he, when I had completely forgotten having ever read anything by him?

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Top Ten Favorite Books Taking Place in London

toptentuesday-1So this week, The Broke and the Bookish are focusing on settings. Top Ten Favorite Books from one setting. I chose London as my setting because I love London and I enjoy reading books taking place in this wonderful city. Especially because it seems to inspire some great writers too. This city seems to have a life of it’s own so that books taking place here, are always special because the city seems to be a character all on it’s own. So here’s a list of books taking place in London – do you know any other books taking place in London, I should read?

  1. China Miéville: Un Lun Dun. So London is not just London, no, beneath London there’s another city where all the lost and broken things of London end up. UnLondon is very different from London and much more dangerous but it’s still a wonderful place to visit – or, it is when you just have to read about it!
  2. Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere. So as in the previous book, in this book too there’s two Londons. A London Above and a London Below. Gaiman explains a lot of London place names in this one – and this is probably my favorite book on this list. Followed closely by the next two … and the first one … (My review)
  3. Félix J. Palma: The Map of Time. This book features not only one London, but two. Victorian London as well as a future version of London, devastated by war. Or so it seems. The novel also features some of the main persons from London’s history – like H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper. (My review)
  4. Dan Simmons: Drood. Dan Simmons shows us through the London of Dickens and Wilkie Collins, both the posh and poor parts of Victorian London. It’s a wonderful book and again, the book would never have worked in any other city. (My review)
  5. Marie Phillips: Gods Behaving Badly. So where have the Greek gods gone in the 21st century? Well, London of course! Artemis, Apollo, Aphrodite and more all live in Northern London, trying to combine being a god with normal life.
  6. Peter Ackroyd: London The Biography. No one seems to understand the power of London better than Peter Ackroyd – or the city’s ability to be it’s own character. He has written an entire book with the city as it’s main character – a biography of a city. I haven’t read all of it yet but what I have read, is extremely impressive.
  7. J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan. Yes, I know. Peter Pan doesn’t take place in London but for once on this list, London is not important because of all it’s wonders, but as a representative of the stiff society one wishes to escape from.
  8. Michael Bond: The Paddington series. Well, Paddington wouldn’t be Paddington if he hadn’t been named after Paddington station. I guess for many tourists, Paddington station is more important because of it’s significance in this wonderful series than because of it’s connection to the rest of the London Underground. And yes, I have been and seen the statue…
  9. Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes. Everyone knows that Sherlock Holmes resides at 221B Baker Street. Although he also ventures out of London to solve crimes, he does pop around London quite a bit – and Sherlock wouldn’t be Sherlock without London.
  10. Charles Dickens. I haven’t picked any particular book by Dickens because, really, isn’t London a part of almost all of them? When I think of Dickens, one of the main thing that pops into my head is Victorian London – which he knew thoroughly. So of course, Dickens had to be on this list.

There are of course lots of other books featuring London – like Gail Carriger’s The Parasol Protectorate seriesHarry Potter and Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series to name but a few – but I’ve tried to choose the ones where the city is more than just a background for the story and instead takes an explicit part in the book. I think London is an important player in all of these books. And of course, now I want to go back …

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Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

toptentuesday-1I’ve been taking a break from Top Ten Tuesday, in part because I haven’t been blogging, but also because the topics haven’t felt right for me or my blog. At times, the topics are very ya focused and I don’t read a lot of ya so these topics don’t speak that much to me. However, this Tuesday the theme is authors who deserve more recognition and I love that. I like being giving the opportunity to praise authors whom I love but nobody else does (it’s a bit silly since I can praise them every day on this blog but nevermind. Today is the day.) As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

  1. Joyce Carol Oates. I know Joyce Carol Oates might seem like a odd choice but for some reason, it seems to me that she is not regarded as highly as her (male) colleagues John Updike, Philip Roth and others. I don’t know if this is in any way gender related and I’m not going to claim that’s why but I do think it’s wrong that she’s not mentioned when people talk about the Nobel prize for instance – like Roth is every year. I’m not saying Roth doesn’t deserve the praise – he blows me away when I read him – but I love Oates and she deserves just as much praise and as many accolades.
  2. Georges Perec. I’ve only read Life – a User’s Manual by Perec and it’s a strange novel, detailing the lives of the people living in an apartment building in Paris. I loved it so much. Perec has both written a novel without using the letter ‘e’ and a novel where ‘e’ is the only vowel used. I really want to read more by him because he’s is such a strange and fascinating author and I definitely think he deserves a lot more recognition while at the same time I admit that he’s not for everyone.
  3. Mark Helprin. Maybe I am speaking more for the recognition of the novel Winter’s Tale than Mark Helprin. Winter’s Tale is just such an amazingly wonderful and lyrical novel that is simply an experience I would hate to have been without. I don’t know much about Mark Helprin otherwise – I think maybe he’s a Republican Governor or something but this is not felt in his work. And I appreciate that. Too much politic can ruin a novel. I found this book unread in a secondhand bookstore and I had never heard of the book or author before that so I want to encourage everyone to read this one.
  4. Félix J. Palma. For a wild ride, Palma is your guy. Light sci fi elements, fictional and real characters co-mingling, great story telling. The Map of Time lived completely up to my expectations and was just such a great thrilling ride. I can’t wait to read the follow up novel, The Map of the Sky.
  5. Donna Tartt. Donna Tartt is a very slow writer who have only published two books so far (the third one coming out later this year). I’ve read both The Secret History and The Little Friend and really enjoyed them both. I’m really looking forward to her next novel and hopes that it is as great as the first two. So please try her out.
  6. Jack Vance. I see a lot of readers and bloggers enjoying retelling of fairy tales and for people who enjoys these, Vance’s Lyonesse series is one not to miss. It’s a wonderful wonderful series of three novels with princes and princesses, lost lovers, lost children, fairies, wars, intrigue and everything a fairy tale lover enjoys. It’s really a beautiful book, all three volumes of it, and I loved it. Vance is also a sci fi writer and I really want to explore these as well.
  7. Steven Hall. Hall is the author of one novel, I think, The Raw Shark Texts which is an incredibly imaginative novel about a man who has lost his memory but keeps receiving letters from himself. A man on the run from a mysterious word shark – who even appears on the pages. A book that plays with both the story and the way it’s told in ways which resembles the ways Jonathan Safran Foer plays. Highly, highly recommended.

So that was 7 authors you should give some love. Finally, three authors I need to read more. Authors, that for some reason or other I don’t read enough.

  1. Gabriel García Márquez. I loved Love in the Time of Cholera and have bought One Hundred Years of Solitude. But I haven’t read any else. And I can’t explain why. So he’s on my list of authors I need to dedicate more time too.
  2. Margaret Atwood. I have read and loved two of Atwood’s books, Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale. But for some reason, even though the blurbs to her books always sound fascinating, I never get around to actually reading more by her. I really, really need to do so!
  3. José Saramago. I looooved Blindness. I really really did. It was such a great novel. Since I have been keeping an eye out for Saramago, adding titles to my wish list – but I haven’t bought or read another novel by him. I need to fix that too!

So that was my Top Ten for this week. Have I convinced you to read any of them? Do you agree with me about the authors I need to pay more attention to? (Don’t worry – the list doesn’t stop there…!)

Related posts:

Félix J. Palma: The Map of Time (review)

the-map-of-timeOh what a ride this was. What a ride!

In a novel split into three separate but intertwined story lines, we meet a young man and a young woman having troubled love life in ways, that are not so easily remedied. Like for instance Andrew Harrington who is madly in love with Marie Kelly – who is then murdered by Jack the Ripper. Andrew is thrown into huge depths of despair which after 8 long years causes him to want to kill himself. However, his cousin intervenes, claiming that it will be possible for Andrew to travel back in time and save Marie by killing Jack the Ripper.

Because time travel is possible. A man has opened a business in the middle of London where he offers the possibility to travel to the year 2000 and see the final battle between the humans and the automatons. So the cousins visit this man, Gilliam Murray, to make him help them go back in time.

But time traveling is not all that easy so Murray encourages them to enlist the help of the one man responsible for putting the idea of time traveling and dreams of the future in to the minds of everyone, the author of The Time Machine, H.G. Wells. Because guess what he has stashed away in the attic?

Meanwhile, Claire Haggerty is quickly making herself impossible, refusing to bow down to her parents’ expectations about how it is proper for a young lady to behave. When she and her cousin goes on one of Murray’s time travels to the year 2000, she falls in love with the handsome captain leading the human charge, Derek Shackleton. Another impossible love, separated by more than 100 years and with unforeseeable consequences should one of them attempt to stay with the other.

Not much is exactly as it seems in this novel. People are not telling the truth, real historical figures rub elbows with imagined ones, and with the possibility of time travel nothing is sacred. Everything is subject to change. Or so it seems.

And just when things really get weird or when people start getting intimate, the author calmingly inserts himself to explain a few things, point something out that the characters may not know (yet) or even to give them a bit of privacy. He does this all the way through this book and I loved that!

I’m fascinated by the paradoxes time traveling causes. In this book, the characters are faced with the typical ones; the ones, we know from Return to the FutureDoctor Who and more. What happens if you kill your own grandparents? If you change something in the past, how will it effect the future? And is time traveling even possible?

I really haven’t read much science fiction, I haven’t read anything by H.G. Wells, and I don’t know much about the theories behind parallel universes but I absolutely loved this novel. Parts of it were better than others, but still, the ideas in this novel are so fantastic and amazing that I just loved it. I am no judge as to whether these are actually new and amazing ideas or I’m just new to the genre, so keep that in mind but this one comes with my warmest recommendations. This is the way I like my speculative fiction!

With surprise guests like Bram Stoker, Henry James and The Elephant Man, this novel is a roller coaster of unexpected twists and turns. Reality is not what you thought it was – or maybe it is – or maybe it isn’t. Who knows? You’ll have to read this thing to find out what’s real and what’s not because I’m not telling. And guess what? There’s a sort of sequel so it doesn’t end here! Or maybe it does…

‘Aren’t there lies that make life more beautiful?’ (p. 418)

  • Title: The Map of Time
  • Author: Félix J. Palma
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Year: 2012 (original 2008)
  • Pages: 514 pages
  • Source: Own collection
  • Stars:  4 stars out of 5

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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Book Buying 2013 – part 1

One might think that I haven’t bought any books this year since I haven’t posted about it. One might think so, yes – but one would be very wrong. I just haven’t gotten my blogging act enough together so far this year to get such a post done. So here it is – the 8 books I’ve bought so far this year …!

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  1. SJ Watson: Before I Go to Sleep
  2. J.K. Rowling: The Casual Vacancy
  3. Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
  4. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas
  5. Toni Morrison: Beloved
  6. Salman Rushdie: Joseph Anton. A Memoir
  7. Erlend Loe: Doppler
  8. Félix J. Palma: The Map of Time

5 of these have been bought from Strand Bookstore in New York (online). The SJ Watson one I bought at a local bookstore after hearing about it on the Guardian Books podcast. Dopper and The Map of Time was bought at my favorite bookstore in Odense – I had never heard of Doppler before but got it highly recommended by young girl working as a trainee in the store – she spoke so positively about it and it’s about an elk so how could I possibly not buy it?

As you can see, I’ve already read the Salman Rushdie one – and really enjoyed it – and I’m currently reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved and really liking it. Enjoying is the wrong word to use for how I feel about that book but it’s an important book and I do get a lot from reading it even though I sometimes have to read the same paragraph over and over to really get what is happening. But that’s okay. I don’t mind that as long as the book has so much to offer as this one truly has.

Anyway, most of these books – or at least about half of them – are well-known and I’m really looking forward to reading all of them. I think they all sounds very interesting and fascinating – duh, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought them – and I hope to get to them all soon (-ish).

So as you can see, no book buying ban here… I just keep on buying even though the shelves (and the boyfriend) are groaning …!