September 15, 2011

Review - "Divergent" by Veronica Roth

 Genre: YA/Fantasy

This book I ate raw! It's not often that I plan to read "a bit" and finishes a book in one go like I did this one. The fact that this is Roth's first novel is quite amazing!

About the book

Beatrice lives in dystopian Chicago, a society divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).

On one appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Veronica Roth's own blog you'll find HERE

My evaluation

This novel is the first of a trilogy, where the next one in the series - Insurgent - is planned published May 2012. This novel stands, however, very well on its own two feet. The story is conclusive, even though you can feel the next book lining up. "Divergent" represents a kind of mix between "Enders Game" by Orson Scott Card and "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins without giving you the feeling of a spin-off. The story is quite unique!

The fact that this novel is Roth's first takes me as a surprise. Her writing and language really enthralled me from page one. I was not able to put the book down, despite starting it after a rather busy girlie weekend trip to Copenhagen. And that really tells it all :-) Roth ables in a fantastic way to build a dystopic world which you really feel and see. Tris is a truly believable main character and the challenges that she and her society struggles with get real in all its madness.

This is a pageturner for sure! You get spiralled away from page one, and the story definately picks up even more speed after Tris has made her choice. The challenges she has to handle are both personal and society related. During these (Norwegian) election times one can start wondering - which of the fractions can you really trust? Who keeps their promises, and last but not least - do any of these fractions have an underlying motive for their actions?

It's difficult not to review this book without any spoilers. If you love YA/Fantasy/Dystopian novels, you just have to make time for this book! If you in any way liked "Enders Game" or "The Hunger Games" you definately have to read this book. I hope I get my message through :-)

My rating

of 5

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 501 KB
Print Length: 496 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062024027
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 3, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

A collection of items I found along the fjord...


September 08, 2011

Gone baby, gone...

Instead of doing a Follow Friday stunt tomorrow I am going on a girlie trip to Copenhagen instead! Combining chatting, wining & dining, some photography and good company. I really do look forward to not seeing a PC! Too much work behind a desk lately!

Wish you all a lovely weekend! Take care of yourself, because I'm gone... :-)

Two pictures from my former trip to Copenhagen

 The little mermaid...

Nyhavn, with its boats, colorful houses and outdoor restaurants


September 07, 2011

Hobby sharing!

This blog covers mainly books, reviews and reading experiences, but once or twice monthly I will share bits and pieces from my other time consuming hobby - photography. First up is a collection of my latest macro pictures.

My "Garden Collection of Flying Creatures..."

Do you have another hobby, apart from the obvious - reading? Why not share it? :-)



Review - "A Door to Eli" by Hannah Huber

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Twelve-year-old Eli is autistic, living in a world that few but he can understand, and unreachable to almost everyone outside of his family. If Kylie Watson's little brother Eli has any supernatural power, Kylie doesn't want to know about it. She already knows that the world is not forgiving to individuals like her brother, and she believes that she can only protect him from its scrutiny if she herself knows as little as possible about the beautiful, uncanny drawings that Eli makes. 

For these are drawings that are not only stunning to everyone who looks at them, they seem, against all probability, to make things happen and change in the world around them. It even seems that with his drawings, Eli can make living beings appear out of nowhere …

Kylie will soon need to acknowledge her brother's power for what it is, for Eli and his drawings are transforming the sleepy, small-town world in which Kylie lives. A strange talking crow moves into the Watson house. The neighbors' home is attacked by a creature out of ancient myth. Kylie herself begins to see disturbing visions of future events playing out before her eyes. Eli creates doors that allow him to step directly into other universes that exist alongside our own.

And across the boundaries between worlds, a hungry being named Arius stalks Eli, hoping to claim the boy's power for himself. When Eli is whisked away in the middle of the night, it is left to Kylie, her best friend, and a menagerie of Eli's strange pets to follow his trail across universes, straight into the heart of Arius' dark home …

My evaluation

This is Hubers first novel, and I must say I am impressed with what this young girl has accomplished! This is an intrigueing book with a more than interesting story. Huber really manages to look at the world through the eyes of an autistic boy and has made this the important and vivid element of the story.

The novel is about fumbling and budding love between two young people, good against evil accross universes and the loneliness in being special, as Eli. The story flows in its own tempo. Some of the chapters are a bit slow but followed by chapters where the pace really is picking up speed.

Huber definately knows how to describe new, different universes. It is as we can smell, hear and feel a world we get eager to experience ourselves. All in all I liked the novel. The story is original and parts of it is truly beautiful. This is one of the better debut novels I have read, and I look forward to reading more from this writer!

My rating

(of 5 with a big + behind it :-)

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 662 KB
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English


Pic of the day: Another lovely universe, Emerald Lake BC - Canada

September 06, 2011

Review - "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA

Every year in Panem the Capitol shows the reality program "The Hunger Games" where two teen "tributes" from each of the twelve surrounding districts are put to fight to the death. Katniss and Peeta, the tributes from the poor district Twelve, have both survived the games the year before (read "The Hunger Games, book 1). In this extremely anticipated sequel Katniss returns to her district and finds out that she is more in the center of attraction than ever.

The president Snow from The Capitol pays her a visit, and Katniss starts to fear that even if she survived the games, she is still in danger. She has come to be known among all the districts as the one who defied The Capitol. In the last Hunger Games she was able to force The Capitol to accept two winners, and that way saved  her friend Peeta in the process. She has become a symbol of rebellion!

"Catching Fire" starts with Katniss and Peeta's mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, where Katniss - oblivious or not - ignites rebellios thoughts with the common people. Then there is the Qarter Quell coming up, and the preparations for the 75th hunger games. Every 25th year The Capitol holds a special surprise for that particular game. Finally there is the 75th games themselves. To avoid any spoilers I will not go into any further details, but the story definately evolves!

"The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol's plans. The symbol of the rebellion."

A fan made book teaser!

 My evaluation

This is a GREAT read! After reading the "The Hunger Games" I was afraid that Collins couldn't keep up with the same high standards, since book number one was so amazingly good. Boy was I wrong! The author manages continously to impress with even new twists and turns in the story. You an only wonder where she gets her ideas from.. The triangle relationship between Katniss, Peeta and Gale kept me excited through the whole story. Who would she choose? Based on what? And, what would I have done?

The focus in this number two in the series is very different from the first book. The plot is  much more complex and ambitious. There is a bigger picture of both corruption, manipulation and rebel tendencies present here. All the time with Katniss as the narrator. Catching Fire didn't just hold the same qualities as The Hunger Games, it even surpassed the first book in my opinion. The main twist for the 75th Quarter Quell is the really big surprise of the story! What a genious Collins is :-)

Read and enjoy! This is definately not a waist of time!

My rating

of 5

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 479 KB
Print Length: 391 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0439023491
Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

Pic of the day: Remnants of a summer... Malta


September 05, 2011

Review - "Speaker for the Dead" by Orson Scott Card

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

This is book number two in "The Ender's Game" series. It follows Ender Wiggin, a young genius who used his military prowess to all but exterminate the "buggers," the first alien race mankind had ever encountered. Wiggin then transformed himself into the "Speaker for the Dead," who claimed it had been a mistake to destroy the alien civilization. 

Many years later, when a new breed of intelligent life forms called the "piggies" is discovered, Wiggin takes the opportunity to atone for his earlier actions. This long, rich and ambitious novel views the interplay between the races from the differing perspectives of the colonists, ethnologists, biologists, clergy, politicians, a computer artificial intelligence, the lone surviving bugger and the piggies themselves. 

Added to this rich novel we also have the romance between Ender and a young woman who calls for a Speaker because of her father. This young woman is the main reason that Ender decides to settle down for good on the planet Lusitania and join the other inhabitants in studying the "piggies" to avoid their extinction.

"...But when it comes to human beings, the only type of cause that matters is final cause, the purpose. What a person had in mind. Once you understand what people really want, you can't hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can't hate them, because you can always find the same desires in your own heart." 

My evaluation

This novel is completely different from "Enders Game", but in my opinion more complete and - in lack of a better word - mature. Card's understanding of human relations makes the reader empathize and even sympathize with the characters in the book. You cannot avoid being entangled in the lives and the fights these people are subjected to. There is a good reason this novel too got both the Hugo and the Nebula award...

It would be very sad if the readers and the lovers (which I know come by the thousands) of "Ender's Game" ignore "Speaker for the Dead" and the two following books in the series only because Card has another focus in these books. Because this one is as difficult to put down. It is a truly fantastic story with trustworthy and very richly developed characters who questions our excistence. Like in "Ender's Game" it explores alienation and misunderstandings, but it is a richer - and also slower - book. As far as I am concerned it's also even better!

My rating

of 5

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 609 KB
Print Length: 416 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0812550757
Publisher: Tor Books (November 30, 2009)
Sold by: 
Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

 Blog-Pic: Abstract found by the fjord


Review - "Heirs of Mars" by Robert Lewis

Genre: pure Sci-Fi

The dream that was Mars has become a nightmare for the children born there. Asher roams the vast canyons of Mars in search of dying souls ready for digital reincarnation. But his strange profession has its perils. Those who fear the newborn clones have hunted Asher and his friends for years, claiming the lives of countless innocents, including his daughter. 

Claudia hosts the two most popular shows on two worlds, exhausting herself to educate the children of Mars and risking her life to raise the morale of the entire population. But when one of her cohosts is brutally murdered, she'll stop at nothing to avenge his death and make Mars safe again for everyone.

Brought together in a moment of tragedy, Asher and Claudia lead a group of scientists, clones, and bikers on a high-octane charge across frozen deserts and over raging volcanoes to end the first war on Mars.

"Heirs of Mars" follows the lives of six men and women (not all of them entirely human) from the dusty wind farms of the Valles Marineris to the shining city of New Troy, and from the ancient tunnels beneath the Noctis Labyrinth to the sandy highways where daredevils race on single-wheeled motorcycles for a fleeting glimpse of fame and freedom. 
My  evaluation

It was revealing to read a pure Sci-Fi novel for a change! This novel reminded me of why I love this genre :-) To begin with I found it a bit difficult to relate to all the different "persons" - or rather personalities that was introduced. But I soon picked up the story and was blown away in great speed. It is both a humouristic and futuristic novel. Its characters were all well developed and was actually more than interesting.
If you remove all of the science fiction window-dressing, this is a well-written story about a lot of people during the worst week of their life. The human vs. robot storyline was significantly less fun than the clones vs. humans one, so I was pleased that more time was spent following it. I flew through this book, and it's because there were so many little moments when I felt Lewis did things just right.

The story picks up a few rather important subjects, such as cloning, ethics and what actually make a person human.. It's a good introduction to the Sci-Fi genre. It's a rather easy read with not too many overly technical descriptions and complexities.

My rating

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 484 KB
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Joseph Robert Lewis (October 28, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

Pic of the day: Having fun with my macro lens :-)


September 04, 2011

Need some help choosing Vampire Series!

I have to admit - I haven't read one single vampire series - but, that is now going to change! Problem is 

I do not know which one to choose!

I don't want to make a wrong decision here, so I would really like an advice on which one to start. Which one do you prefer? And why?

As you understand, I am in desperate need of some experienced help :-)

Pic of the day: Another garden flower...


Guess what - I am a winner!!!

Today I won my first books ever on a blog giveway, and I am SO happy :-)

Sharons Garden of Book Reviews is celebrating her 3 years blog anniversary with great prices, and you can still win the BIG one - a NOOK Simple Touch e-reader, donated by Avon Books!  

Join Sharons Garden of Book Reviews HERE :-)

Pic of the day: My lovely Kudu from Botswana - another happy moment!


Review - "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

This is the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy. It introduces sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem where North America once existed. This is where a government working in a central city called the Capitol holds power. 

In the book, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event where the Capitol chooses one boy and one girl from each of 12 districts to fight to the death. The Hunger Games exist to demonstrate that not even children are beyond the reach of the Capitol's jurisdiction. 

Katniss, from what was once Appalachia, offers to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, but after this ultimate sacrifice, she is entirely focused on survival at any cost. It is her teammate, Peeta, who recognizes the importance of holding on to one's humanity in such inhuman circumstances. 

I don't want to spoil for those of you you haven't read the series, so I will not get into details of what's happening in the games. Children fight and they die. Some are good, some are bad and a few are even worse. You will not be able to put this one down for sure..

A film teaser based on the book - yes, I do look forward to this movie!

My evaluation

No way around this - the book is brutal! Young people that are forced to kill each other to survive cannot be anything else. Despite of all the suffering, Collins manages the unbelievable - to write an enthralling story which is very alive with people who cares for each other. It's a book about fighting to death, but it is also a story about love, compassion and thoughtfulness. 

You should definately read this book! The language is lovely, the main character Katniss is a strong, honest and resourceful girl, the surroundings are brutal - yes, but described with care. The violence is neither exaggerated nor disregarded. This is a strong story that got me thinking. How far can a human person go to survive without destroing himself in the process?

My rating

of 5 - and strong one too!

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 482 KB
Print Length: 384 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0439023483
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; 1st edition (September 1, 2009)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

 Pic of the day: Sea weed from one of the Norwegian fjords


September 03, 2011

New Sony Reader brings challenge to the Kindle

Sony Reader Wi-Fi PRS-T1

If rumors are to be believed Amazon will get som real Kindle challenge in October. Sony plan to jump back into the ring with their new Sony Reader Wi-Fi PRS-T1. Not the most sexy of brand names, but who cares!

The price will be $149, and that finally follows the pricing for the rest of the industry.

Apart from a nicer price, Sony has finally brought wireless connectivity to the Sony Reader. That has been long sought for. And this eReader is also supposed to be the lightest on the market. Not the worst of news either! Of course you'll find the E Ink Pearl screen and battery life better measured in weeks than hours..., and the touch screen meets the current readers' expectations for modern devices.

A few other things that should excite people is that this is the first major eReader at the price point, to allow users to take notes in-text with a stylus.  It will have expandable memory and come in a variety of colors.  One limited edition offering will even include bundled Harry Potter eBooks!  Things are definately looking up for Sony.

Amazon beware!

Pic of the day: Orchid in my living room

Review - "DreamWar" by Stephen Prosapio

Genre: Sci-Fi

This story takes place in our dreams! An interesting concept. For those of you (like me) who have seen and enjoyed the movie "Inception" with Leonardo DiCaprio, Dream War will be spot on!

The main characters in the novel are Nadia & Drew, a quite normal couple - and Hector Lopez. Lopez is trained to connect to the dreams of known terrorists to be able to read their minds. This way any terrorist attach can be stopped before it has even started. At least that is the plan... As it turns out  it isn't just Lopez who wander around in the dreams of these terrorists. And it isn't just terrorists dreams that are invaded. All people are in fact vulnerable for dream intruders!

Nadia and Drew have for some reason got a silver medallion which protect them against dream intruders. This medallion is a treasured object among several factions in this story. During the novel we end up in Italy, by the Vesuvius. What is it that actually hides in this sleeping, but still not quite dead volcano? Why are continously more silver medallions turning up? And who the hell is Luzveyn Dred?

"Given the mysteries of the human mind, it was perhaps inevitable that the CIA would one day invade our dreams.

Since the beginning of human history, dreams have been considered an element of the supernatural world. The Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible tell stories of them used as divine messages, warnings, and visions. Mohammed claimed to have received much of the Koran from dreams..

My evaluation

If you are in search of a different book, this one is definately worth checking out! I was thoroughly in doubt whether Prosapio managed to put the whole story toghether towards the end, but he did that brilliantly! This is Sci-Fi mixed with known elements and actual political events, and it makes the story very credible. Maybe you should think twice about what to wish for in your dreams...?

My rating

of 5

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 505 KB
Publisher: Noble Publishing; 1 edition (July 14, 2010)
Sold by:
 Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

 Pic of the day: Dream sky, Calgary


September 02, 2011

Travelling and Blog Hopping :-)

This is an attempt to connect to fellow book bloggers reading the same genres as myself. Being new to this, I am quite curious. Will this work for me? You never know if you never try, that's why I have joined  the Book Blogger hop at "Crazy for Books ...

This Week's Question:
What are you most looking forward to this fall/autumn season - a particular book release? Halloween? The leaves changing color? Cooler temperatures? A vacation? (If your next season is other than fall/autumn, tell us about it and what you are most looking forward to in your part of the world!)
This fall/autumn season I really look forward to travel a lot! On my plan is a girlie trip to Copenhagen next weekend, a 4-days trip with my daughters 10th grade class to Poland early October and - at last but not least - a possible 2 weeks getaway with my boyfriend to Indonesia and Australia !!! Do I look forward to this? Yeyyyhhh..!!!

I will bring my laptop and Kindle with me. Nowhere without!

A nice Friday evening to you all :-)

Pic of the day: Looking forward to this!

AND I have joined Parajunkee's Follow my Book Blog Friday coming up here:

The question of the week is - "If you could change the ending of any book (or series), which book would you choose? Why and to what?

Well - I have two series that I didn't like the ending to. Firstly - The Harry Potter Series! The ending I found just lame... I would entirely drop the last bit with Potter and his son...

Second was The Hunger Games! I just SO loved the series, and was definitely ready for Katniss to end up with... not Peeta! (...almost, but not quite a spoiler there... :-D

How to convert EPUB files to Kindle format

What has annoyed me for quite some time is the e-book business (or lack of) in Norway (and probably elsewhere too..).

How sane is it that other people should decide which e-reader I am going to read my e-books on?!?

I have always bought my books from Amazon - hardcopies and paperbacks. I have been very happy with Amazon and a few other online stores. Early this year I converted to e-books, mostly because I travel a lot and read even more. I was so tired of carrying all the kgs of books with me everywhere.

But - guess what? Do you think I find Norwegian books on Amazon? Nope! Do I find Norwegian authors? A very few - and only their books translated into English! And I really don't have any problems at all with that. What I do however have a problem with is - that EVERY single e-book in Norwegian comes in EPUB format. And which is my preferred e-reader? The Kindle...

Where there is a will there is always a way... And I found it, hidden inbetween a lot of nonsense and difficulties. If you are in the business of choosing an e-reader, just have in mind the following - Do not hang up on fileformats!!! If you have a Kindle you can read EPUB files. If you have a Sony e-reader, you CAN read Amazon books!

On the left hand side of my blog I will add the following recipes:

  • EPUB to Kindle conversion
  • Kindle to EPUB conversion
  • PDF conversion to both EPUB and Kindle formats

As you can see - one is in place already - ePUB to Kindle. The rest will follow during the weekend!

Spread the word! Choose your preferred e-reader! Despite of the "big businesses" out there trying to confuse you!

My dog Toby :-)

Review - "Season of the Harvest" by Michael R. Hicks

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thriller/Action

What if the genetically modified crops that we increasingly depend on for food weren’t really created by man? What if they had a far more sinister purpose?

FBI Special Agent Jack Dawson investigates the gruesome murder of his best friend and fellow agent who had been pursuing a group of suspected eco-terrorists. The group's leader, Naomi Perrault, is a beautiful geneticist who Jack believes conspired to kill his friend, and is claiming that a major international conglomerate specializing in genetically modified organisms is plotting a sinister transformation of our world that will lead humanity to extinction.

As he pursues the truth, Jack is drawn into a quietly raging war that suddenly explodes onto the front pages of the news, and discovers that Naomi's claims may not be so outrageous after all. Together, the two of them must battle a horror Jack could never have imagined as he learns the terrifying truth behind the old adage that "you are what you eat..." 

My evaluation

This book is REALLY good! And I do not normally misuse big letters...! I was originally in doubt about a fantasy/thriller book based on the subject GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms), but boy was I wrong! The tempo in this book is fantastic. This is non-stop action, and always something new. Something different. 

At the same time Hicks manages to develop his characters in his own, marvellous way. There is just somehing about his understanding of how to build stories and credible characters in them that is unique.

There is quite a bit of research done prior to this book which makes it not only very believable and interesting, but also educating and thought provoking. Parts of the story takes place in my parts of the world, at Svalbard Global Seed Vault - a secure seedbank which preserves a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern. It's Sci-Fi all right, but with enough realism you begin to wonder if it could really happen to us. A must read!

My rating

of 5 - and a very strong one, too :-)

Click on Hicks and be transferred to the author's own page about "Season of the Harvest".

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 547 KB
Sold by:
 Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

Pic of the day: Spring flower from my garden

September 01, 2011

"Official" release date of this blog - Sept 1, 2011

Yeyyhhh...!!! Finally finished my project - an English book blog in addition to the Norwegian one I have had for some time!

Hopefully I'll find active book blogging communities out there. Help with discovering these is most wanted :-)

The blog will be updated on a daily basis, and to begin with I will add some of the reviews from the books I read this summer. 

My favourite genre is Sci-Fi/Fantasy (80%). I also read Adventure/Action, YA and Mystery/Crime. Inbetween you'll find the occational Romance and Classic reviewed.

All the pictures in the blog are taken by me. My other time consuming hobby...

And now - ready to start :-)

Pic of the day: A tiny one visiting our veranda early this spring

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