D archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: D


7th July, 2008
Speed reviews: part I
— Love @ 08:43 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Book Blowout, C, Classics, D, English, GLBT interest, Historical, History, Lifestyle, Mystery, Religion, Romance, Science Fiction, Sex, sexuality & gender, Speed reviews, Swedish, To Be Read, Young Adult

Since I’m sick* and way behind on reviews, I’ve realised the only way to catch up is to make them speed reviews and post a whole batch at once.

The Age of Napoleon; Alistair Horne, eng, 235 British
Interesting, but a little choppily written, and also the author assumes you know certain things and never explains them, while others he explains over and over again.
C

Cold Comfort Farm; Stella Gibbons, eng, 253 British
Funny, though I accidentally didn’t read the preface, so I wasn’t 100 % how much of it was intentional (all of it, as it turns out, and as I suspected). Flora Poste is kind of annoying, but all right all the same.
For the TBR reading challenge and as part of the BBC Big Read.
B

Rebecca; Daphne du Maurier, eng, 410 British
A re-read, not as good as I remembered it, but still lovely. Maxim is both wonderful and creepy.
C

Med uppenbar känsla för stil; Stephan Mendel-Enk, swe, 128 Swedish
Interestingly written about men and what’s considered masculine. References Morrissey at some points, mostly in connection with a man who went berserk and killed people. Lovely… not!
C

Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East; Brian Whitaker, swe, 230 British
Interesting, scary and occasionally a little bit hopeful.
C

Ingen behöver veta; Christina Wahldén, swe, 139 Swedish
About male rape and how it does exist, but people find it hard to believe. Kind of a non-ending, but then I suppose that’s sadly the case in most instances of actual male rape also.
C

Ingen grekisk gud, precis; Katarian Kieri, swe, 217 Swedish
Kind of brilliant tale of a young girl who falls for a teacher. Kind of brilliant mostly because the main character is into Morrissey, but for other reasons also. I was a bit worried where it was going to end, but it’s kind of perfect, really.
B

Sandman: The Kindly Ones; Neil Gaiman et al., eng, 335 British
I wouldn’t say Sandman is Gaiman at his best, but I do like the stories and so also in this volume. Not my favourite, though.
For the TBR reading challenge.
C

Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island; Mike Tucker, eng, 255 British
Scary monsters and kiddies with nightmares. I liked it, but not as much as other DW books.
C

Doctor Who: The Art of Destruction; Stephen Cole, eng, 256 British
Farming in Africa, golden statues and creepy aliens. Good, but not great. Doctor’s always nice, though.
C

Doctor Who: The Price of Paradise; Colin Brake, eng, 255 British
References Franz Ferdinand and other pop culture a time or two. Not the best of the DW books I’ve read—I don’t much care for Colin Brake’s style of writing it, though I can’t put my finger on the exact reason.
C

Tro, hopp och burnout; Johan Unenge, swe, 228 Swedish
YA story about a guy who’s really into cars and death metal, who ends up going on a confirmation camp. It’s a decent story, and I was happy to see it didn’t end up quite where I expected it would, but the writing style is very, very choppy and not at all my cup of tea.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
C

Vadå feminist; Lisa Gålmark, swe, 188 Swedish
Basic guide to feminism. I wasn’t too keen on the writing and didn’t like the book all that much. Mostly it made me a little annoyed with the author, though it did contain sections worth thinking about. It bothers me that there is no question mark in the title.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
D

Homofamiljer; Sara Stenholm & Cecilia Strömberg, swe, 312 Swedish
About rainbow families and different ways to get one. Interesting, especially the personal stories, but not fab.
C

*Just a cold, but a bad one. I hate colds. And I’ve run out of Kleenex, which means my nose is very, very sore from regular paper towels. Woe.


4th July, 2008
Hundår; Markus Zusak
— Love @ 06:14 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Book Blowout, D, Fiction, Swedish, Young Adult

The Underdog; Markus Zusak Hundår
by Markus Zusak
Original title: The Underdog
Australian

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
128 pages
Richters
ISBN: 91-7130-027-9

First line: Det var medan vi tittade på teve som vi bestämde oss för att råna tandläkaren.

Back cover blurb:
Cameron Wolfe är en ensamvarg och underdog som slår i underläge. Alltid i underläge!
I Hundår berättar han om några månader i sitt liv. Inte för att det hände något särskilt. Bara hans försök att hitta sin väg genom livet. Och några boxningsmatcher på bakgården.

Thoughts: I don’t know if it was because of the translation, my mood at the time, or because Zusak is just not my cup of tea, but I didn’t like this book. I’ve been hearing a lot of good stuff about him, so I think I’ll probably try The Book Thief anyway, though not by buying it. If I’ll read it, I’ll borrow it from the library.

A D grade. It just wasn’t interesting to me.


27th May, 2008
Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride; Helen Halstead
— Love @ 06:57 Comments (4)
Filed under: Back to History, D, English, Historical, Romance

Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride; Helen Halstead Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride
by Helen Halstead
Australian

For the Back to History reading challenge.

English
310 pages
Ulysses Press
ISBN: 978-1-56975-588-4

First line: What a joy it is to have a worthy topic of conversation, to hold the power to amaze!

Back cover blurb:
In Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen brought together one of the most beloved literary couples of all time—Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Now, Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride continues the story of these passion-filled newlyweds as they enter London’s glamorous high society.

This page-turning novel finds Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy entangled in the frivolity and ferocity of social intrigues. Although Elizabeth makes a powerful friend in the Marchioness of Englebury, the rivalry and jealousy among her ladyship’s prestigious clique threatens to destroy the success of her new marriage.

Written in the style of Jane Austen, full of humour and sardonic wit, Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride brings Regency society vividly to life and continues the romantic, sometimes tragic, stories of other popular Pride & Prejudice characters including Georgiana Darcy and Kitty Bennet.

Thoughts: This is the first sequel to Pride & Prejudice that I have ever read (I tend to go for re-workings of the story, rather than continuations of it) and I can’t say I liked it much.

One of the reasons why was that the author felt that she needed to include explanations of who original characters were, and reminders of events of the original novel. It might just be me, but I would think that, if you decide to read a fan-written sequel to a well-known novel, you are probably quite a big fan of said novel already, and would know such basic facts as who Sir William Lucas is, &c.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I quite like Halstead’s take on Miss Anne de Bourgh, for example, and Lord Maddersfield (that’d be Lady Catherine’s brother and Darcy’s uncle) was quite amusing.

On the whole, though, it was not the best of reading experiences. I might add to this later (I have seven minutes before I have to leave for work), but for now, I shall leave it at this and give this work of fiction a D rating.


17th May, 2008
Lugn för dej, Gelika; Olga Wikström
— Love @ 18:10 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, D, Historical, Swedish

No cover image available Lugn för dej, Gelika
by Olga Wikström
Swedish

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
204 pages
Bokförlaget Settern
ISBN: 91-7586-051-1

First line: Hon levde i en värld där allt fanns ovanför henne.

Back cover blurb:
Hon heter Gelika. Hon är en vallonflicka, mörk, ful tycker hon själv. Gelika bor på en stor gård i Värmland. Fadern, den älskade, har övergett möbelkonsten för lantbruket, därför att hustrun vill det. Någon riktigt bra bonde blir han inte. Han lever upp då han arbetar i trä. Han är och förblir en konstnärsnatur.
“Ska vi dansa, Singoalla?” frågar studenten. Han och Gelika dansar bort i vägen, som en gång Frödings ungdomar. “Vem är Singoalla?” undrar Gelika. En dag vet hon det, men då har mycket hänt och Gelika känner att vingarna bär. Hon är en skönhet och hon är på väg ut.

Very short synopsis in English: Gelika is a farmer’s daughter and, in her own mind, quite ugly. This is the story of her growing up, of the tragedies that strike, and the realisation that she’s not so bad-looking after all.

Thoughts: I was quite disappointed in this. The back cover blurb made it sound like it would be about something else than it was. Well, actually, what was on the back cover blurb did happen in the book, but made up maybe one fifth of the entire novel, whilst the blurb made it seem like it would be the majority.

I don’t like being disappointed, and besides it wasn’t very good anyway, so a D grade.


13th May, 2008
Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm
— Love @ 18:06 Comments (1)
Filed under: D, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm Drakvinter
by Elvira Birgitta Holm
Title translated to English: Dragon Winter
Swedish

Swedish
186 pages
Bonnier Carlsen
ISBN: 91-638-3847-8

First line: Hjälp!

Back cover blurb:
Plötsligt slog Madeleine armarna om Bim, drog in henne i famnen så att hennes ansikte pressades mot Madeleines hals, hon kunde känna Madeleines bröst mot sina nyckelben, doften av mandel från Madeleines hud.
Bim ville slita sig loss, hon ville stå kvar, nej, hon visste inte vad hon ville. De stod där orörliga.

Akta dig för vargarna, hade Madeleine sagt. Men Bim hade inte kunnat göra någonting för att skydda henne.

Very short synopsis in English: Bim is thirteen and kind of lonely. Madeleine, who used to be her enemy, suddenly takes a special interest and things change. Especially after that fateful New Year’s Eve.

Thoughts: This was kind of boring, to be honest, so it doesn’t get more than a D grade.


24th February, 2008
Standish; Erastes
— Love @ 13:38 Comments (2)
Filed under: Back to History, D, English, GLBT interest, Historical, Romance

Standish; Erastes Standish
by Erastes
British

For the Back to History reading challenge.

English
215 pages
P.D. Publishing Inc.
ISBN: 1-933720-09-3

First line: The candle guttered, and Ambrose looked up at it with a frown, the long blond hair falling away from the sides of his face.

Back cover blurb:
A great house. A family dispossessed. A sensitive young man. A powerful landowner. An epic love that springs up between two men. Set in the post-Napoleonic years of the 1820’s, Standish is a tale of two men — one man discovering his sexuality and the other struggling to overcome his traumatic past.

Ambrose Standish, a studious and fragile young man, has dreams of regaining the great house his grandfather lost in a card game. When Rafe Goshawk returns from the continent to claim the estate, their meeting sets them on a path of desire and betrayal which threatens to tear both of their worlds apart.

Painting a picture of homosexuality in Georgian England, Standish is a love story of how the decisions of two men affect their journey through Europe and through life.

Thoughts: From the moment I came across this book on Amazon.co.uk, I knew I had to read it. The story sounded amazing and I just love historical gay romance, there’s no denying that. Unfortunately, I was in for quite a disappointment.

I started reading it in January, got about a third of the way through during my first sitting with it, and then I put it down and did not pick it up again until now. I kept trying to persuade myself that if I read only one chapter a day, I would finish it in less than a month, but there just was no way of doing it. I wanted so badly to love the story, and I just couldn’t do it. I had such a hard time with the language and the way it was written — they didn’t appeal to me at all.

Finally, I picked it up again and found that if I just skimmed certain bits, it was tolerable. And so I finished the remaining two-thirds in a second sitting. I even, towards the end, found myself almost enjoying it. A part of the reason for this was, I dare say, the character of Padraig Fleury who appeared in the second half of the novel.

In the end, I didn’t like it even half as much as I had hoped to going in, but on the other hand, I did like it more than I thought I would after the first third. Even though it’s nowhere near the best book I’ve ever read, I am glad I decided to stick with it and read the entire thing. I have rarely been so close to making a book a DNF (did not finish), though. If it weren’t for the fact that I had it on my (no changes allowed) list of books for the Back to History challenge, or the fact that I had paid money for it and didn’t much like the idea of that being wasted, I don’t think I would have finished.

However, apart from all that I have outlined above, there was another thing that particularly bothered me. At one point Ambrose reads Dracula. Which is, y’know, cool and all. Except Standish is set in 1821 and Dracula wasn’t published until 1897, so unless there was time travel that I completely missed, that’s a big mistake on the part of the author, and that loses them a lot of respect from me.

I should think it obvious that the rating is not going to be a great one, but in the end, solely thanks to Fleury, it does manage a D, rather than an F. I realise we are only at the end of February and that much of the reading year remains, but I will be much surprised if this does not end up being “Disappointment of the Year.”


23rd February, 2008
The World According to Clarkson: And Another Thing…; Jeremy Clarkson
— Love @ 13:28 Comments (1)
Filed under: D, English, Humour, Non-fiction

The World According to Clarkson: And Another Thing...; Jeremy Clarkson The World According to Clarkson: And Another Thing…
by Jeremy Clarkson
British

English
340 pages
Penguin Books
ISBN: 978-0-141-02860-6

First line: I suppose all of us were out and about before Christmas, pummelling our credit cards to within an inch of their lives.

Back cover blurb:
Jeremy Clarkson finds the world such a perplexing place that he wrote a bestselling book about it. Yet, despite the appearance of The World According to Clarkson, things — amazingly — haven’t improved. Not being someone to give up easily, however, he’s decided to have another go.

In And Another Thing… the king of exasperated quip discovers that:

  • bombing North Carolina is bad for Yorkshire
  • we can look forward to exploding at the age of 62
  • Russians look bad in Speedos. But not as bad as we do
  • wasps are the highest form of life.

Thoughts: I love Top Gear, which, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is an outrageous sort of motor programme that even such car un-enthusiasts as myself can thoroughly enjoy. As Clarkson is one of the three presenters on the show, I found it hard to resist when I saw a copy of one of his books in a bookstore. After reading it, I discovered that it had been better for me had I managed to resist the temptation. Simply put: he drives me up the wall and infuriates me with pretty much every little column he’s ever written. I have thus come to the conclusion that I will keep watching, and enjoying, Top Gear, but will keep as far away as possible from anything of Clarkson’s that is not directly related to the show. (I now have to figure out if I should give in to the temptation to read any of the books by James May and Richard Hammond (the two other presenters), or if it’s best to just stay away from those as well.)

As for the rating, a D will do.


23rd February, 2008
Den hemlösa sexualiteten: en antologi
— Love @ 13:21 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, D, GLBT interest, Religion, Swedish, To Be Read

Den hemlösa sexualiteten: en antologi Den hemlösa sexualiteten: en antologi
by a number of different authors
Swedish & American

For the A-Z and To Be Read reading challenges.

Swedish
286 pages
Bokförlaget Libris
ISBN: 91-7195-402-3

First line: n/a

Back cover blurb:
Homosexualitet är en av de mest brännande frågorna i kyrkorna i dag. Ämnet väcker starka känslor. Många tycker att det är svårt att ta till orda, andra tycks redan vara klara med frågan.
Antologin Den hemlösa sexualiteten vill medverka till ett konstruktivt och nyanserat samtal i kyrkan om homosexualitet. Om kristen tro innebär att man ställer hela livet i relation till Gud och evangeliet, då är homosexualitet också en teologisk angelägenhet för kyrkan. Det väcker frågor om:

  • Vad säger Bibeln om homosexualitet?
  • Vilken syn har kristna på sex och samlevnad?
  • Hur ska kyrkorna reagera inför de orättvisor som homosexuella drabbas av?
  • På vilka villkor kan homosexuella välkomnas i församlingen?
  • Kan partnerskap välsignas i kyrkan?

Författarna till Den hemlösa sexualiteten tar upp dessa och andra frågor. Utgångspunkten är klassisk kristen tro i förening med lyhördhet och respekt inför de homosexuellas situation. Frågorna blir belysta ur fyra olika perspektiv — bibliska, etiska, kulturella och pastorala. De 18 författarna representerar olika kristna traditioner.
Boken ger inga färdiga svar, men läsaren får hjälp att själv orientera sig i frågorna utifrån en kristen livsvärld.

Thoughts: This is another book I got in the 2006 book sale and that has been in my TBR-pile ever since. Unlike Profile of a Criminal Mind it is actually included on my list for the TBR-challenge, so I can strike one off there now. Yay!

Another thing that differs compared with Profile… is that I really liked that one, and I didn’t particularly like this. I have to admit that when I bought it, I thought it was a different sort of book than it turned out to be. I initially thought that it was a collection of essays by Christians who were positive when it came to homosexuality, perhaps homosexual themselves, and how they managed to make their beliefs and their sexualities match. That was not the case, however. Rather, the approach in the book is more along the lines of “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Interesting, yes, but also a little prone to making me angry. I will not touch on that too much, but I will mention one thing in particular: it drives me absolutely nuts that people so often seem to think that bisexuality always means a complete lack of ability to be monogamous. Seriously, people, homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality are on a completely different scale than monogamy vs. polygamy/polyamory. You can be heterosexual and polyamorous, or you can be bisexual and monogamous. Just because a person has the ability to be attracted to persons of both genders1, doesn’t mean that they want to be with people of both genders at the same time. (Sorry for rambling, but that really is a pet peeve of mine.)

I’ve mentioned it before, but I find rating non-fiction quite difficult. A book can be well-written and well-argued, but if I personally don’t agree with the views expressed in the book, that will obviously colour the grade I give it. Keep that in mind when I now dole out a D to Den hemlösa sexualiteten.

1. Or is attracted to people with a complete disregard of gender. I am being consciously simplistic here.


17th February, 2008
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept; Elizabeth Smart
— Love @ 14:03 Comments (1)
Filed under: D, Decades '08, English, Fiction, Poetry

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept; Elizabeth Smart By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
by Elizabeth Smart
Canadian

For the Decades ’08 reading challenge (first published 1945).

English
112 pages
Flamingo
ISBN: 0-586-09039-8

First line: I am standing on a corner in Monterey, waiting for the bus to come in, and all of the muscles of my will are holding my terror to face the moment I most desire.

Back cover blurb:
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, Elizabeth Smart’s passionate fictional account of her intense love-affair with the poet George Barker, is widely recognised to be a classic.

Thoughts: You might not know, if you are a new acquaintance, but I am absolutely crazy about Morrissey. This is one of his favourite books, and it’s inspired a number of his songs, so I have long been meaning to read it. This weekend, I was visiting a dear friend for the first time and she had it in her bookshelf, so I finally got a chance to read it myself (she even graciously offered to let me borrow it if I didn’t manage to finish it before I had to leave, which I didn’t).

I can see where Morrissey got his inspiration — there are certain lines that echo lines found in his songs — but that’s about it. I don’t think poetic prose is really my cup of tea, and I had a lot of trouble actually understanding what was going on in the story. I get that it’s the fictional account of the author’s love-affair with a poet (one who is married, I might add), and at one point they are arrested by the police, but that’s about as far as my understanding goes. It’s just plain weird.

No, like I said, the style of writing exhibited in this story is definitely not my thing and I will leave other works in the genre be (though apparently not all of them, as supposedly Jean Genet is a prime example of a prose poetry writer and I intend to read his The Thief’s Journal at some point this year. We’ll see how that goes).

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (I do like the ridiculously long title) receives a D rating.


3rd February, 2008
Mamma sa att jag var sjuk; Julie Gregory
— Love @ 21:13 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Biographies, D, Diseases and disorders, Swedish

Mamma sa att jag var sjuk; Julie Gregory Mamma sa att jag var sjuk
by Julie Gregory
Original title: Sickened
American

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
259 pages
Bra Böcker
ISBN: 978-91-7002-361-6

First line: Det värsta var att bli rakad.

Back cover blurb:
An unusual memoir describes growing up as the victim of Munchausen by proxy, a dangerous form of child abuse in which her mother invented or caused a series of illnesses and ailments, and her struggle to escape her mother’s serious psychological problems to rebuild her life as a healthy, compassionate young woman.
(This text refers to an edition other than the one I read.)

Thoughts: This book paints a truly horrific picture of Gregory’s childhood and adolescence, but while it was moving at times, I just couldn’t like it. I always feel bad when I don’t like a book by someone who’s gone through terrible things, but there are writing styles I just can’t stand, and Gregory’s is one of them. Perhaps I’d have got more out of the book, had I read it in the original English, but I didn’t and I don’t plan on it either, so I guess I’ll never know now.

I’m giving the book a D rating, because as a book it just wasn’t very good at all. It makes my stomach churn that anyone has had to go through what Gregory has, though. It’s absolutely terrible and chilling that someone would treat their child that way.


30th January, 2008
Messenger; Lois Lowry
— Love @ 19:28 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, D, English, Fantasy, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Messenger; Lois Lowry Messenger
by Lois Lowry
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
186 pages
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 0-385-73253-8

First line: Matty was impatient to have the supper preparations over and done with.

Back cover blurb:
For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight. Once, Village was a place that welcomed newcomers and offered hope and homes to people fleeing poverty and cruelty. But something sinister has seeped into Village, and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. All along, Matty has been invaluable as a messenger between Village and other communities. He hopes someday to earn the name of Messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the increasingly treacherous forest to spread the message of Village’s closing and convince Kira, Seer’s daughter, to return with him. Matty’s only weapon against his dangerous surroundings is a secret power he unexpectedly discovers within himself. He wants to heal the people who have nourished his body and spirit and is willing to offer the greatest gift and pay the ultimate price.

Thoughts: As expected, this book tied together the characters of both The Giver and Gathering Blue. However, it didn’t really resolve the issue I had with one particular event in Gathering Blue, nor did it really appeal to me as much as the previous two books in the series did.

It also confused me a great deal. Apparently, the events of both previous books take place at much the same point in time, yet in one there is advanced technology, and in the other everything is exceedingly basic and primitive. These places don’t seem to be all that distant from each other, geographically, so I must admit I don’t quite see how the difference could be so marked, especially since the high tech one has the means to travel far and wide in not much time at all.

No, in the end I didn’t like the end to the series at all. I’m giving it a D rating, and that’s mostly just because I’m feeling generous today. I think I’ll try to pretend that there was nothing after Gathering Blue and that even if there was, I certainly didn’t read it.


5th January, 2008
Flambards Divided; KM Peyton
— Love @ 15:34 Comments (2)
Filed under: D, Decades '08, English, Historical, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Flambards Divided; KM Peyton Flambards Divided
by KM Peyton
British

For the Young Adult and Decades ’08 (first published 1981) reading challenges.

English
283 pages
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-257055-6

First line: Christina had dreamed of Will again.

Back cover blurb:
When Christina marries Dick, she hopes that life at Flambards will settle down at last. But the village gossips find it scandalous that she, a rich landowner, should marry a peasant, and show their disapproval in no uncertain terms.

Even more unsettling is Mark’s return from the war in France. Badly injured and resentful of Dick, Mark is still the imposing character of old who stirs up confusing feelings in Christina. Just as before, Christina finds her loyalties divided between two very different men, and knows she has a terrible decision ahead of her…

Thoughts: This is by far my least favourite book in the series. It is the last one and the most grown-up, so you’d think I’d like it better, being older now than the first time I read it. But no. In fact I feel as though Peyton quite ruins my favourite character (even if his reactions are understandable, I still don’t want him to have them quite so violently. Things could have worked out, I am quite certain of it).

Another thing is that all the other books are seen completely from Christina’s perspective, but here we suddenly get passages written from someone else’s point of view. Normally I wouldn’t have minded that, but with three books behind you, it’s a little late to start changing things around without it seeming a little strange.

In the end, whilst the rest of the Flambards-books have received Cs, this one gets a D, for the reasons outlined above.


29th December, 2007
The Night Watch; Sarah Waters
— Love @ 13:10 Comments (0)
Filed under: D, English, GLBT interest, Historical, Personal challenges

The Night Watch; Sarah Waters The Night Watch
by Sarah Waters
British

For the End of Year Mini Challenge.

English
506 pages
Virago Press
ISBN: 978-1-84408-241-4

First line: So this, said Kay to herself, is the sort of person you’ve become: a person whose clocks and wrist-watches have stopped, and who tells the time, instead, by the particular kind of cripple arriving at her landlord’s door.

Back cover blurb:
The Night Watch is the extraordinary story of four Londoners: Kay, who wanders the streets in mannish clothes, restless and searching… Helen, who harbours a troubling secret… Viv, glamour girl, recklessly loyal to her soldier love… and Duncan, an apparent innocent, struggling with demons of his own.

Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit liaisons and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, this is an astonishing novel.

Thoughts: I borrowed this book from the library in the spring, but never got more than a few pages in. I found it quite cheap in an online book store a while back, so decided to get it and try again. I’ve seen it read all over the places and people have really liked it, plus I’ve read all the other books by Waters.

However, while I did finish it this time around, I just did not like it. It’s told backwards, almost, and I found it really hard to get invested in the characters. Every time I had managed to start to care, even a little bit, and was curious as to what would happen to them next, the story jumped back in time and it was like starting all over again.

I’m giving this novel a D rating, because no matter how much I might have wanted to like it—love it, even—I just couldn’t. I’m not sure I’ll read any more Waters, if she does write something new. All her books have had, to me, tedious passages that I struggled to get through to get at the good bits, but it seems that each new story from her has more and more of these. I’m sorry, Miss Waters, but I think we’re through.


12th December, 2007
Kaninernas kulle; Robert Lawson
— Love @ 21:48 Comments (0)
Filed under: Children's lit, D, Fiction, Swedish

no coverKaninernas kulle
by Robert Lawson
Original title: Rabbit Hill
American

Swedish
140 pages
En bok för alla
ISBN: 91-7448-685-3

First line: Hela kullen kokade av upphetsning.

Back cover blurb:
It has been a while since Folks lived in the Big House, and an even longer time has passed since there has been a garden at the House. All the animals of the Hill are very excited about the new Folks moving in, and they wonder how things are going to change. It’s only a matter of time before the animals of the Hill find out just who is moving in, and they may be a little bit surprised when they do.
(This text refers to an edition other than the one I read.)

Thoughts: I read this book a couple of times when I was wee and I loved it every time. The time, I thought, was ripe for a re-read. Sometimes, with books like that, I like them a lot still just because of nostalgia; sometimes, I like them still because they really are good and sometimes, like now, I don’t particularly care for them at all now that I’ve grown a little older.

I’m not sure if that’s because it’s genuinely not good, or if it’s because I am at a time in my reading life where I really do not care for books in Swedish. I might’ve liked it more if I hadn’t read the translation. I probably won’t find out which it is, though—at least not for quite some time yet.

The rating, I might add, ends up a D, if only because I still fall for the kind of cheesy ending.


6th December, 2007
Historiens största mordgåtor; Andreas Nyberg (ed.)
— Love @ 10:51 Comments (0)
Filed under: D, Swedish, True crime

Historiens största mordgåtor; Andreas Nyberg (ed.) Historiens största mordgåtor
by Andreas Nyberg (ed.)
Swedish

Swedish
214 pages
Bokförlaget Semic
ISBN: 91-552-3186-1

First line: I det dagliga livet har vi ett stort behov av ordning.

Back cover blurb:
FN:s kontroversielle generalsekreterare Dag Hammarskjöld dog i en flygkrash i Kongo 1961. En olycka menar många. Andra hävdar att en bomb placerats i planet. 1998 fick den sydafrikanska säkerhetskommissionen dokument som tyder på att landets säkerhetstjänst låg bakom kraschen.

Tändstickskungen Ivar Kreugers död 1932 brukar betraktas som självmord, men var det verkligen det? Han hittades skjuten, med en revolver i vänster hand trots att han var högerhänt. Mycket tyder på att han blev mördad av någon som ville åt hans enorma tillgångar.

Sonen till den världsberömda flygaren Charles Lindbergh kidnappades 1932 och återsågs aldrig. Man har antagit att han mördades. Men det finns åtminstone två personer som lagt fram bevisning för att de är den försvunne sonen.

Författarna skriver kunnigt och underhållande om nio av historiens största mordgåtor, bland annat om Marilyn Monroe, den omstridde amerikanske fackföreningsledaren Jimmy Hoffa och Hammarbymordet — Sveriges kanske mest uppmärksammade mordfall.

Thoughts: Apparently all the authors involved in this joint effort are conspiracy theorists and it shows! It’s true that circumstances surrounding these nine cases were a little iffy, but there are limits to how far you can go with wild theories without sounding like a complete nutter. This somewhat ruined what would have otherwise been a pretty interesting book, and pulls the grade down to a D.