All posts tagged: Amkaer

All is fair in love and war – and storytelling

The last couple of weeks have been intense with my participation in parliamentary elections in the town of Elsinore, but despite that – or probably due to that – my son and I have had some wonderful storytelling moments. Do you know the story of the leprechaun who walked through the woods to visit his grandma, only to find a wolf in her stead? Or the story of the monkey babies that drive an assortment of fire trucks everywhere they go? It is a great joy to hear his now-four-year-old imagination at play and follow the amazing stories from a spark of well-known inspiration to magnificent new adventures. I am reminded of the great Greek eposes or the new testaments told aloud generation through generation before eventually being committed to paper. There is magic in storytelling, hearing the words spoken or really acted out by the storyteller. Even though there was an expectancy that Odysseus would return home to his Penelope, but twists and turns of his journey were most likely varied, dependent on the …

To review or not to review…

Almost all of the book blogs that I have seen, review books in one way or another, and most of them write a review and grade the book with hearts, stars, thumbs up, or cute personalized icons that I don’t have the technical expertise to make. I resent that! I resent the way, we as readers try to sum up an entire novel – perhaps years of work – to “good” “great” or the like. It is like Caesar’s ruling of thumbs up or down, after a gladiator has fought for survival against three barbarians, two Spartans, and one lion, imported especially for the purpose. At the same time, it is final in the same way as answering “fine” to the question of “how are you” – a non-answer silencing the person posing the question. In my opinion it shows that we are unwilling to commit, unwilling to jump off the fence, and unwilling to let our opinion be known. If you like a book, then tell us why you like it. If you dislike a …

A Piece of Turkey

I was on vacation in the coastal town of Ҫeșme in the westernmost region of Turkey. It is a pleasant town, cooled by the breeze from the Aegean, rich in history and hospitality, and in my mind connected to the sweet taste of sugared, apple tea and newly harvested melons. One day I went to the city of Izmir, probably better known in Western classical literature as Smyrna. However, the difference between the beachside Ҫeșme with the sound of water ever-present and hustle and bustle of the third largest city in Turkey was astounding. Where Ҫeșme was blue skies, blue water, and the gentle breeze, Izmir was stone, blinding white in the sun and the dust of a metropolis. I could feel the dry heat in the back of my mouth and sought shade in the narrow straits and alleys, lined with shops. There were so many people, meandering through the streets; it was claustrophobic and exotic at the same time. At last, I found the bazaar, built in sandstone, away from the blasting heat. …

The Reading Group – Elizabeth Noble

I have taken several stabs at this blog entry without a viable result, probably because I have tried to start on a positive note about book clubs and work my way into the novel, but there is an elephant in the library. I love the premise of a novel centered around a book club as “The Reading Group” is, but the (i.e. my) trouble is the gallery of characters in the novel. For approximately half the novel, I was still reminding myself, who was married to who, who had the adulterous husband, whose boy had an accident, and who was a GP. Five women are in the reading group; all of them have one or more men in their lives; all but one have 1-3 named children, two have mothers that also play a role in the novel. There are many characters; the list of characters in front helps, although in my opinion it should not be necessary. I understand the monstrous task Elizabeth Noble has given herself: write a novel with five main characters …

The Executioner – Chris Carter

  Chris Carter has done it again: another exquisite, horrific thriller that left me up all night. I was unable to go to sleep in fear of nightmares and I wanted to read a few more chapters. Chris Carter deserves to be mentioned in the line-up of the great thriller writers. The plot of “The Executioner” is excellent! The killer knows what his victims fear most: decapitation, fire, needles and uses that knowledge to torture and murder them in the most unimaginable gruesome ways. That unimaginable gruesomeness is a main feature in “The Executioner”. Hardened by reading thrillers, and studying criminal case law, the gruesomeness still chilled me to the bone due to its originality. I am in awe of Carter’s imagination and pretty scared of it. The twists and turns of the novel are finely woven into the plot, so there are no obvious red herrings here. An informant with ESP plays an important part, without making the plot unrealistic, as does a second killer with his own agenda and bullying. These facets give …

Darfur – Julie Flint & Alex de Waal

A starving African child lulled into complacency by famine. That is my image regarding Darfur and its humanitarian crises together with a salute to my high school geography teacher, who placed a blank sheet of paper over the entire continent of Africa on the world map and told us, that this was how most Westerners perceived the world. How right she was, and that is the reason, there is a need for a book such as “Darfur” by Flint & de Waal with the catchphrase: a new history of a long war. Reading “Darfur” does not require any further knowledge that the sparing news coverage on the crises as the book includes introductory chapters regarding Sudan, the region Darfur and the people of Darfur, before focusing on the Sudanese government, the Janjawiid, the various rebel movements, the international reaction and the Abuja peace talks. My critic of “Darfur” is that it focuses almost completely on the political tug-of-war and not on the real life devastation of the conflict. The authors also make a side regard …

The Ice Queen – Alice Hoffman

What if one of those ugly wishes, we mutter in anger before thinking it through, came true? That is the defining moment in the childhood of the protagonist in “The Ice Queen”, and it turns her into ice. Feel not and be not tempted to make wishes. As an adult, she is then stroke by lightning – literally. What does not kill you, is supposed to make you stronger; but it does not come automatically. The main character has to struggle through and (re)gain her life and sanity. Moreover, this is the story of “The Ice Queen” written in the magnificent Hoffman style of magical realism that hits home every time. “The Ice Queen” is a fairy tale for adults, which makes you question your own life, wishes, passions, direction, and more than anything, that secret many carry that turns into a shard of glass in our eye. With the title as it is, it is impossible not to compare the novel to H. C. Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name. The parallels are …

What French Women Know – Debra Ollivier

What is it about French women that seems so sensual, intelligent, beautiful, sophisticated, and above all French from an Anglo-Saxon (American or British) perspective? That is what American-born, French-wed Debra Ollivier explores in this tongue-in-cheek book with the catch phrase: about love, sex and other matters of the heart and mind. Despite the fact that “What French Women Know” does include reference to scientific studies around the differences between French and American mindsets, the book is a broad generalization about women on both sides of the Atlantic in chapters about men, mystery, rules, perfection, nature, art de vivre, and body. A witty pearl, written without scruples, “What French Women Know” works because of the generalization. The epitome French woman is so clearly defined that it is easy to see her positive and negative facets, and compare and contrast her the Anglo-Saxon woman. Debra Ollivier has lived in France for a number of years and experienced the cultural clash between French and Anglo-Saxon women first hand, so the caricature is not without factual observations and truth …

Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

(Includes rant about young adult fiction) I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it – I have the same guilty conscience after reading Beautiful Creatures as when I have eaten too much chocolate and enjoyed every bite. Here is yet another young adult novel with a supernatural twist and lo and behold, the main characters are teenagers and the balance between good and evil in the world is at risk. So far, Beautiful Creatures is generic, one in an unending line of young adult novel á la the Twilight Saga, and yes, this one is now a major motion picture. Surprised? Nah, not so much. However, Beautiful Creatures made a good impression on me and has its own identity and unique supernatural world. Winning characteristics include the male protagonist (I kid you not) and the novel’s Southern flair, which is far from the white trash in the Sookie Stackhouse series, but retains that old plantation, Civil War reenactment, history-saturated atmosphere, which the authors manage to incorporate in the plot. The uniqueness …

Dissolution – C. J. Sansom

Dissolution is one of those immaculate novels where the reader is immersed in history, not that history is a heavy cloak, but where the author brings a period in time to life and the pages are saturated in historical details which makes the time period in question even more vivid. C. J. Sansom works magic in Dissolution. I could actually feel the stigma of being a hunchback, as the main character is, feel the mud of a cold November road cling to my shoes, and feel the warmth of a well-stoked fire in an otherwise stone cold room. The relevant time-period is 1537 and for once, the plot line is not Henry VIII and his capricious love affairs, leaving many a wife dead. Henry has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church, and Thomas Cromwell implements new laws and the following terrorizing regime of trails both swiftly and without compromise. One order of business is ensuring the obedience of the monasteries and the building of wealth through the monasteries’ concession to the crown. A commissioner …