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Title: The Door to Time (Ulysses Moore #1)
Author: Pierdomenico Baccalario
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 123
Date read: December, 2009

Eleven-year-old twins Jason and Julia have just moved from London to an old mansion on the English coast. Their new home is filled with twisting tunnels and strange artifacts from around the world, and the twins can't wait to discover all its secrets.

Before long, Jason, Julia, and their friend Rick stumble upon a mysterious-looking door hidden behind an old wardrobe. But none of the keys in the house will open it.

What lies behind the door? And why has someone tried to conceal it? Jason, Julia, and Rick are determined to find out, no matter what it takes...

Very interesting combination of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and "Over Sea, Under Stone" in style and atmosphere, plus it had a bunch of riddles to solve and codes to break, which always fascinates me. Obviously aimed at a much younger audience, but it still had enough going for it to keep an older reader like me entertained ;)

Unfortunately it ends with a cliff-hanger (a pet-peeve of mine), and feels more like a part of a longer book, or an introduction/prequel than a book that's meant to stand alone. If it had felt more 'complete', I would probably have rated it a 4 instead.
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Title: Looking for Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta
Genre: YA
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 228
Date read: December, 2009

For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it's just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it's her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn't be any stricter - but that doesn't seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the no-nonsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family's past - and the year she sets herself free.

A friend saw I'd really enjoyed "Does My Head Look Big In This?", and recommended "Looking for Alibrandi" as being even better. I still prefer the former, but I did enjoy this one as well. It's a sweet YA and I enjoyed the way Melina Marchetta explored the family dynamics of the Alibrandi family.

I would probably have liked it better if I hadn't known to compare it to DMHLBIT though. It's good on its own, but couldn't live up to my expectations.
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Title: Flaskepost fra P (Message in a Bottle From P)
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 486
Date read: December, 2009

In the small town of Wick in Scotland, a bottle had been forgotten in the old police station for many years. When somebody finally notices a letter hidden inside, possibly written in blood and with only the word "HELP" legible, the bottle travels to Denmark where policeman Carl Mørck and his assistant Assad discover a disturbing case about kidnapped siblings who've never been reported missing by their parents.

A true page-turner. It's almost 500 pages long but I simply couldn't put it down. It's well-written and the changing narrators fits the style and plot well and helps build the tension. I was absolutely mesmerised and found myself alternatively feeling pity for the perpetrator and being absolutely disgusted by him.

"Flaskepost fra P" is the third book in the series about Department Q, but though I could occasionally sense references to the previous books, they were in no way necessary in order to follow the plot of this one.

Brilliant crime novel. I hope it will eventually be translated to English so more people get to read it.
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<Title: Drizzle
Author: Kathleen Van Cleve
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 288
Date read: December, 2009

Polly has lived on her parents' rhubarb farm her entire life. She knows it's magic even if nobody else will admit it - how else can they have a lake that will let nobody drown, how else can it be that it rains at exactly 1pm every Monday, and how else can it be that she can speak to plants and insects?

But one day aunt Edith reveals that she no longer wants to work on the farm, and that she has found a buyer if only Polly's father will agree to sell his half of the farm as well. Initially he refuses, but when it suddenly stops raining and Polly's brother gets dangerously ill, he needs to make a decision - and quickly. Now it's up to Polly to discover the secret of the farm before it's too late.

I'm hard pressed to say what I think of this book. I was very well entertained while reading it, but afterwards it occurred to me both that a lot of questions were left unanswered and that Van Cleve occasionally seemed to rely a bit too heavily on magic to save the day, where a logical solution would have worked just as well. And - strangely enough - occasionally vice versa as well.

That said, I did enjoy it, and it'll probably do well once it's published, although I do think it's targeted to a somewhat younger audience than myself.
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Title: March: Conspiracy 365
Author: Gabrielle Lord
Genre: YA, Suspense
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 186
Date read: December, 2009

On New Year's Eve, Cal is chased down the street by a crazed man with a deadly warning: They killed your father. They'll kill you. You must survive the next 365 days! Now everyone's searching for Cal, the psycho kid who's meant to have attacked his uncle and put his sister in a coma. He's desperate to clear his name and protect his family, but he also has less than a year to solve an ancient family secret: the Ormond Singularity. And the closer he gets to the truth, the more dangerous his life becomes. He has 306 days. The threat is growing..

I'm reminded of Animorphs when reading this series. There's nothing exceptional about it, but I still feel entertained while not expecting too much of it. I'm impressed that Gabrielle Lord so far has escaped being predictable, and hope she can keep that up.
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Title: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Author: Laurie Viera Rigler
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 288
Date read: December, 2009

After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?

Not only is Courtney stuck in another woman's life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman; and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer. But not even her love of Jane Austen has prepared Courtney for the chamber pots and filthy coaching inns of nineteenth-century England, let alone the realities of being a single woman who must fend off suffocating chaperones, condomless seducers, and marriages of convenience. Enter the enigmatic Mr. Edgeworth, who fills Courtney's borrowed brain with confusing memories that are clearly not her own.

Try as she might to control her mind and find a way home, Courtney cannot deny that she is becoming this other woman—and being this other woman is not without its advantages: Especially in a looking-glass Austen world. Especially with a suitor who may not turn out to be a familiar species of philanderer after all.

I always find books with some sort of time-travel fascinating - especially those where the main character cannot reveal that she is not from that era, but has to "fake" her way through. A trick made even more interesting here by the fact that Courtney didn't just end up in a different time, but also in a different body, and had to figure out how her "new" self acted and what she knew.

Enjoyable, light-hearted chick-lit. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody who didn't know (and love) Jane Austen though.
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Title: February: Conspiracy 365
Author: Gabrielle Lord
Genre: YA, suspense
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 186
Date read: December, 2009

On New Year's Eve, Callum Ormond is chased down the street by a crazed man with a deadly warning: They killed your father. They'll kill you. You must survive the next 365 days! Now he's on the run. The people who killed his father want him dead, and the police are chasing him for a crime he didn't commit.

A month has gone by and he's still no nearer to solving the Ormond Riddle, the family secret that has turned his life into a nightmare. Can he trust the mysterious Winter Frey, or will she lead him further into danger? He has 334 days. The clock is ticking...

After having read February, I'm more impressed by this series. It still needs to be marketed correctly, as no single book in it can stand alone, but could be compared to separate episodes of "24", but now that Gabrielle Lord has set the stage, she has more time to explore the characters and not just let the action carry the plot.
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Title: Adam
Author: Ted Dekker
Genre: Christian fiction, suspense
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 388
Date read: December, 2009

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has been made famous by his arguments that religion is one of society's greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn't know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as "Eve" will end in his own death at Eve's hand. Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by those twenty missing minutes of life.

It soon becomes painfully clear that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes by dying... again. What isn't nearly as clear is just how many times he will have to die to discover the truth, not only about Eve, but about himself. Daniel will have to face haunting realities about demon possession in the modern world--and reevaluate his own prejudice against religion--to stop the killer.

Good entertainment, but not high literature. Some threads were left hanging, and certain twist had the definite air of a true plot device. Also I was annoyed by Daniel's single-mindedness and the flirtation with death that that caused.

I found the ending a bit rushed, which was a shame, as it had me riveted. I'd love to have had Ted Dekker spend more time on that aspect of it.
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Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 287
Date read: December, 2009

Calla has waited 17 years to finally be told who The Society picked as her perfect match, and is at first overjoyed to hear that it's her life-long friend, Xander... but what happens when she falls in love with somebody else?

"Matched" is an excellent new YA novel that in style and atmosphere mostly reminds me of a mixture of The Giver and Uglies. The love story is believable, but what really carried the book for me, were the descriptions of the society Calla and Ky lived in. A Society where people were Matched at age 17, where individual meals were delivered, tailored to suit each person's nutritional demands, and where everybody died exactly on their 80th birthday.

Ally Condie fully understands how to hold the interest of her readers, and I can't wait to see what happens in the sequel.
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Title: Voices in Summer
Author: Rosamunde Pilcher
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 190
Date read: December, 2009

Rosamunde Pilcher invites you into long summer days on the coast of Cornwall-and into the stormy heart of newlywed Laura Haverstock. Shy, recovering from illness, and away from her husband, Laura's is a fearful heart on the verge of intimate discoveries...about herself, her family, and the source of true love within her.

Usually Rosamunde Pilcher's shorter books aren't as well-written as her long ones, but this is the exception that proves the rule. It's a simple plot that works very well in the 190 pages she used for it, and her character descriptions were thorough and believable. I'd guessed the who of the ending but not the why, which meant the book avoided being too predictable, and I was very glad to be proven wrong about both Alec and Gabriel.

Sweet book, and perfect for a lazy afternoon.
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Title: Twilight Children
Author: Torey Hayden
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 403
Date read: December, 2009

While working in the children's psychiatric ward of a large hospital, Torey was introduced to seven-year-old Cassandra, a child who had been kidnapped by her father and was found dirty, starving and picking through rubbish bins to survive. She refused to speak, so Torey could only imagine what she had been through.
Drake, by contrast, was a charismatic four-year-old who managed to participate fully in his pre-school class without uttering a single word.

Last, there was Gerda, eighty-two, who had suffered a massive stroke and was unwilling to engage in conversation with anyone. Although Torey had never worked with adults, she agreed to help when all other efforts had failed.

This is the third book by Torey Hayden I've read, and like the two others, it was fascinating. I find it intriguing to read how she connects with troubled children and helps them move on.

I think that most of its appeal is that it's memoir - I don't think I'd be nearly as interested if it was fiction, because I wouldn't be as certain about the validity of the actions. As it is, I'm eager to read more.
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Title: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Author: Barbara Robinson
Genre: YA
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 76
Date read: December, 2009

The horrible Herdmans are the meanest kids around. They lie, steal, cuss, and smoke cigars---even the girls. The last place anyone expected to see them is in church. So when the Herdmans storm Sunday school and take over the annual Christmas pageant, everyone braces for the worst. But no one is prepared for what really happens when the rottenest kids in the world take over the greatest story ever told. It's a pageant full of surprises for everyone--including the Herdmans themselves.

A quick read (took me all of 30 minutes) and just utterly adorable. I hadn't read it in years until somebody reminded me of it, and had forgotten how much I like it. Reading how the children transformed the story of Christmas to something they could relate to and understand was a vivid reminder of what Christmas is actually about. Seeing the children discover this brought tears to my eyes.
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Title: And Then He Kissed Her
Author: Laura Lee Guhrke
Genre: Chick-lit, historical fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 375
Date read: December 2009

An expert in etiquette, Emma takes her pristine reputation most seriously. But the devilish Lord Marlowe is determined to prove that some rules of proper behavior are made to be broken...

Supremely sensible Emmaline Dove wishes to share her etiquette expertise with London's readers, and as secretary to Viscount Marlowe, Emma knows she's in the perfect position to make her dream come true. Marlowe might be a rake with a preference for can-can dancers and an aversion to matrimony, but he is also the city's leading publisher, and Emma is convinced he's her best chance to see her work in print...until she discovers the lying scoundrel has been rejecting her manuscripts without ever reading a single page!

As a publisher, Harry finds reading etiquette books akin to slow, painful torture. Besides, he can't believe his proper secretary has the passion to write anything worth reading. Then she has the nerve to call him a liar, and even resigns without notice, leaving his business in an uproar and his honor in question! Harry desides it's time to teach Miss Dove a few things that aren't proper. But when he kisses her, he discovers that his former secretary has more passion and fire than he'd ever imagined, for one luscious taste of her lips only leaves him hungry for more...

This book has been on my to-read shelf for so long, that I don't remember who recommended it to me any longer! ;-)

Would it qualify as a regency romance? I'm not quite sure, but no matter what, it's pure fluff - predictable... and very charming.

The first half of the book took me in completely. I loved the writing style, and enjoyed getting to know the characters (would have loved to see more of Harry's favourite sister actually). However, the second half of the book bothered me. I don't know if I'm old-fashioned or just too much of a prude, but it bothered me to see Emma give up her morals that way. The way the ending was handled did mollify me somewhat fortunately, so I did end up enjoying it, but don't see it being a regular reread.
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Title: January (Conspiracy 365)
Author: Gabrielle Lord
Genre: YA, suspense
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 187 pages
Date read: December, 2009

On New Year's Eve, Cal is chased down the street by a crazed man with a deadly warning: They killed your father. They'll kill you. You must survive the next 365 days! Forced into a life on the run, Cal finds himself hunted by ruthless criminals and the police. Somehow he must uncover the truth about his father's mysterious death and solve the Ormond Singularity, a secret from the past, before the year is up. But who can he turn to when the whole world seems to want him dead? The clock is ticking. Any second could be his last. Callum Ormond has been warned. He has 365 days. The countdown has begun ...

It's always fun to get hold of books that haven't even been published yet! January: Conspiracy 365 won't be published until January 2010. (I wonder if Gabrielle Lord intends to publish a book a month for a year? That would be quite impressive!)

I'm not entirely sure what I think of the book though. It's well aimed at the target audience (young readers - age 10-12 I'd say), and could probably be a big hit if it's marketed correctly. The reason I put it like that is that January cannot stand alone, and shouldn't be viewed as an independent book, but as the first part in a serial. Nothing at all is resolved, all threads are left hanging, and the last page is one big cliff-hanger. This would annoy me terribly usually, but if I knew to expect it before starting the book, it could work. It's all in the PR ;-)

One thing I found incredibly amusing was that the page numbers counted down rather than up! It started on page 187 and ended on page 1. Interesting idea!
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Title: Flashforward
Author: Robert J. Sawyer
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 319
Date read: December, 2009

Nobel-hungry physicists conducting an unimaginably high-energy experiment accidentally induce a global consciousness shift. In an instant, everyone on Earth is "flashed forward" 21 years, experiencing several minutes of the future. But while everyone is, literally, out of their minds, their bodies drop unconscious; when the world reawakens, car wrecks, botched surgeries, falls, and other mishaps add up to massive death and destruction.

Slowly, as recovery efforts continue, people realize that during the Flashforward (as it comes to be called) they experienced a vision of the future. The range of visions is astounding--those who would be asleep in the future saw psychedelic dream landscapes, while others saw nothing at all (presumably they'd be dead). But those who saw everyday life 20 years hence have to come to grips with evidence of dreams forsaken (or realized). Soon, the physicists who caused the Flashforward are struggling to help the world decide whether the future is changeable--and whether the experiment is worth repeating.

Fascinating premise, and I thought it was quite well written too for the most part. It did get a bit too technical at times though - even for me - and I don't know enough physics to know whether or not what Robert Sawyer went on about was even correct.

I found it very interesting that the book was written in 1999, took place in 2009 and flashed forward to 2030 - not the least because of some of the tidbits of information given about the future - this one quote in particular: "There will be another huge stock market crash; those who know what year it will take place are apparently keeping that information to themselves." Amazing insight into the future, or just a firm belief that history repeats? You decide.

The ending was quite a let-down though. It seemed as if Robert Sawyer was determined to outdo himself, and ended up going so far that it just became ridiculous.

So the 4 stars are for the first 250 pages. The last 50 only deserve 3 at most.
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Title: Drager over Kabul (The Kites of Kabul)
Author: Morten Hesseldahl
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 302
Date read: December, 2009

Mathias Toldstrup is a young artist with only vague ideas of what he wants to do with his life. An affair with a mysterious woman - and the subsequent discovery of a dead body in a Norwegian wood - changes everything.

Lars-Ole Ravn is minister of foreign affairs. He's pleased to know that the children of Kabul are once again flying kites in Kabul, but worries about the coming meeting between the president of Afghanistan and the anti-islamic journalist Mona Tariq.

Others have plans for this meeting as well: an Islamic terror cell, an Afghani soldier on a special mission in Europe as well as the Danish police.

Interesting book and great plot, but I felt the pacing was off somewhat. The build-up too long, the climax and resolution too quickly over and done with. The main confrontation happened 5 minutes before the book ended! This meant that there were a lot of loose threads hanging around everywhere, which I found rather frustrating.

In style it seemed almost like a mixture of The Kite Runner and Dronningeofret. As I was bored by the former and loved the latter, I couldn't quite make up my mind whether or not I liked it. It kept me interested enough that I wanted to know what happened next, but I'm not sure I'm about to go rushing out to read more of Morten Hesseldahl's work.
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Title: Ateistisk andagsbog (The Atheistic Devotional)
Author: Leif Andersen
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 127 pages
Date read: December, 2009

An atheistic devotional sounds like an oxymoron, but Leif Andersen makes it work. He is an atheist by nature, and only started believing in a God because he became convinced that Christianity is the true religion. In this devotional he raises a lot of the questions and doubts a Christian might have: Does God listen to prayer? Why is there so much evil in the world? Does it really matter what you believe, as long as you are a good person? Does God ever leave us? Not all of these questions were relevant for, but enough of them were, that I felt I could use a lot of what I read. Definitely one of the better devotionals I've read.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Breaking Dawn
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 833
Date read: August 2008, December 2009, July 2011, August 2014


As August 13th draws closer, Bella is more sure than ever that she has made the right choice - forsaking her human life to spend eternity with Edward. But a new enemy stalks closer, seeking to tear Bella and Edward apart forever, one with ties to both Vampire and Werewolf.

Can the treaty between the two hold? Or will the new threat force both sides to settle their blood feud once and for all?

Because when the dawn breaks an angel will fall.

Like I had hoped, I adored it. The series has been accused of being misogynistic and advocating paedophilia (laughable), and I'm sure this book will get more of the same, but I really don't see either. Instead I see an amazing book about love, family and friendship in a group of people who just happen to be vampires and werewolves. While the other books were great in their own right, it really felt as if they were just setting the scene for this one. Not that that makes Breaking Dawn better than any of the others, it just made it feel more complete. I loved that Bella became a vampire so early in this book, that we got to see how she reacted to that as well, and how she adjusted to her new life.

Even Jacob became lovable again in this one. I'm glad. I really liked him and hated that Meyer turned him into such a jerk.

Like with the other books in the series, I just couldn't put it down and wish I hadn't had work and sleep interfere so I could've finished sooner.

For my reread I chose to listen to it as an audiobook instead in order to force myself to take it slower, and was pleased to find it was very well recorded indeed.

Reread in 2011: I was in the mood for a book I could disappear completely into and decided to go with a reread to get something I was SURE I'd enjoy. I ended up finishing it in 48 hours, so I'd say I reached my goal.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Eclipse
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 629
Date read: August 2007, December 2008, December 2009, August 2014


As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob --- knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Just like the two others, I devoured this in less than 24 hours. It was amazing, even if I was disappointed that we were cheated out of seeing Charlie's reaction to a certain event near the end. I've seldom read as captivating books, and it was difficult to move on from them once I finished as I wanted to stay in the same universe. I highly recommend this series, it's absolutely amazing. I'm still firmly placed on Team Edward, but felt so sorry for Jacob.

Reread in December 2008: Still really, really good, but I found myself taking my time with it this time around, meaning that some things struck me more on this read-through. Most noticeably Jacob's "assault" on Bella which totally turned me off him, and Charlie's outrageous reaction to it... even if he did sort of redeem himself later. I know we're supposed to like Jacob, but Meyer really went too far there. I just found him obnoxious.

Reread in December 2009: What struck me this time around was how nobody seemed to respect Bella's wishes at first. Edward came around thankfully, and mostly Jacob and Charlie did too, but Alice's insistence on throwing a wedding annoyed me. Especially the "If you loved me, you'd let me do this." How about "If you loved me, you wouldn't force me to do this."??

I still love the book though, and still couldn't put it down.

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