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Showing posts from August, 2011

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer

Originally published in May 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.
This is a delightful Regency romance from the mother of the genre, Georgette Heyer. It should perhaps rather be classified as a historical novel with a romantic twist, because, like in all the Heyer novels I have read so far, the romantic element doesn’t come in until about 3/4 of the way into the story and takes second place to adventure. All the way through it is a delightful romp with a plot that would not feel out of place in a Shakespearian comedy.
Sir Richard Wyndham, dandy and sportsman supreme, is about to give in to family pressure and marry a young woman who only wants him because he’s rich and can get her family out of financial trouble. As he walks from his club one night, slightly the worse for drink (as they would have put it back in those days), he sees a young woman, dressed as a boy, struggling to climb out a window. She turns out to be the Honourable Miss Penelope Creed, an heiress who is attempting to es…
If you remember the B&N video from a few weeks ago about the mystery-obsessed couple, here is another one, this one about a woman who loves a good romance novel. Without further ado, here is the Disclaimer: Although this video is a Barnes & Noble production, I would like to state that I am in no way affiliated with them. And now the video:


Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers

Originally published in May 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.
This is the first of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, written during the Golden Era of crime fiction, an era that produced many authors who are still in print and considered to be classics. They include Sayers, Agatha Christie, S.S. Van Dine, Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr, to name a few of the biggest.
The story tells of how Lord Peter Wimsey gets involved in two criminal cases. The first is the mysterious appearance of a naked corpse in the bathtub of a respectable architect, and the second the disappearance of a rich businessman who had a strong resemblance to the dead man. Aided by his valet, Bunter, and his detective friend, Parker, Wimsey uncovers a clever and diabolical revenge scheme and a very ingenious method of corpse disposal, with a few red herrings thrown in to confuse both Wimsey and the reader.
Wimsey has, when the story begins, solved at least one case of theft, and other criminal investi…

Friday night folk-tale: The Disappearing Passenger

The Disappearing Passenger is a famous story belonging to the type of folkloric tales that are called urban legends. It has been localised in many countries, and Iceland is no exception. The area where this version is supposed to have taken place was a very lonely and rather desolate place before they put down electrical lighting along the road, and was thought to be haunted long before the motor-car was invented, so it was perfectly natural that sooner or later a ghost story would pop up in connection with cars.
This isn't a translation, but the story as it was told to me. 
It was during the Second World War and a lorry driver was driving from Keflavík home to Reykjavík after dark. There was a blackout, so no lights could be seen anywhere except the car lights, and those only lit the road for a couple of meters right in front of the car, because of black-out precautions. The road in those days was all gravel and the going was slow. On a lonely stretch of the road the driver beg…

Wednesday night video: Superlibrarian kicks ass

Enjoy!


List love and Top Ten Tuesdays meme: 10 bookish pet peeves, fantasy, horror and urban fantasy snark edition

It’s freebie week at The Broke and the Bookish, which means we can post and link a list of anything book-related, so I decided to use this List Love list I had prepared and enter it in the meme. Please click on the link above to visit the hosting blog and check out what the other participants have posted.

I have read a fair bit of fantasy and horror literature over the years and some science fiction, and am now making inroads into urban fantasy. While I have been mostly lucky in my choices of reading material in those genres, I have come across some duds and a few really terrible books and short stories, and I have also come across tropes and clichés that I have disliked in stories that I have otherwise enjoyed. So here, without further ado, is a list of 10 things that irk me about fantasy, urban fantasy and science fiction:

Over-complicated world-building, including when there is a map and the story takes place in 1/20th of the area shown and nothing of the rest is mentioned in the st…

Used & Rare and Slightly Chipped by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

Originally published in April 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

I read these two books by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone one after the other. The first, Used and Rare: Travels in the book world, is about why and how they started accumulating a library of used books, how they gradually began to understand the language of book collecting and recognise the value of books, and how their collecting escalated until they were buying expensive first editions, and how they finally came to their senses and decided it was more important to get good reading copies of many favourite books than to spend thousands of dollars on a few first editions.
This is a charming book about the development of a hobby that the authors show can be both affordable and enjoyable, even for people of modest income, as long as they don’t get carried away with first edition fever.

The second book, Slightly Chipped: Footnotes in booklore, which on the dust jacket is somewhat pretentiously called a “companion piece” to th…

Friday Night Folk-tale: Strandarkirkja

Strandarkirkja is located on the south coast of Iceland and is one of Iceland‘s oldest churches. The current building dates back to 1888, but there has been a church in this location since at least the 13th century.


The following tale is told of the origins of the church:
A young man, the son of a farmer, was sailing from Norway with a load of wood for building houses. As his ship neared the southern coast of Iceland, a great storm broke out with thick fog and darkness and the crew were convinced that the ship was going to founder upon the shore and break apart. There are few natural harbours in this particular area of the southern coast and there was no way of finding any shelter from the storm. 
The crew knelt in prayer and pledged to build a church if they were able to land safely, in the location of landing. As soon as the words of the pledge were uttered, a bright light blazed up on the shore. They followed the light and suddenly the storm died down and all was still. As they approa…

A look back in time

I posted the message below on this date 7 years ago on the original blog:
Heatwave and perennial books, top 5 Posted at 9:39 am. The weather outside is Mediterranean today: blazing sun, still and sticky atmosphere (wouldn’t be surprised if there is a thunderstorm later today) and a heat haze is obscuring the mountains. Good day for sitting on the balcony, reading a book and getting sunburned. A record temperature was registered for Reykjavík this morning and it looks set to be broken in the afternoon. Apparently tourists have been complaining about the heat. I can imagine the complaints: “We didn’t come here to get sunburned - where’s all the snow?”
And now back to business as usual: There are several favourite books that I read again and again, and the re-reading of some of them has become an annual or biennial event for me. These perennials vary widely in subject, ranging from biography, to fantasy, travel and children’s books. One thing they all have in common is a certain kind of ma…

Wednesday night video: It takes a really good book to do this

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Originally published in April 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

I just finished reading this collection of short stories and poetry by Neil Gaiman. Previously, I had read Stardust, Neverwhere, American Gods, Good Omens (collaboration with Terry Pratchett) and the Sandman comics and enjoyed all of them, as well as his illustrated children’s books, Coraline and The Wolves in the Walls.

(I don't have the book with me, so there may be some errors in the story titles below.)


The stories and poems in this collection are mostly fantasy, and in fact there are stories for lovers of just about any subgenre of fantasy. You will find humorous stories (Chivalry, Bay Wolf, Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar), dark stories (Only the end of the world again, The White Road), supernatural stories (The wedding present, The daughter of owls, Black cat), weird stories (Eaten alive, The facts in the disappearance of Miss Finch), folkloric stories (Troll bridge, The white road, Snow, glass, apples), detective st…

Reading report for July 2011

The number of my read books is staying low at 8 books finished in July. Three were rereads, but the remaining 5 were all TBR books, so I am getting somewhere with that challenge.

I found one keeper among the TBR books: Bellwether, which went into the rereads shelf alongside To Say Nothing of the Dog. The Paris literary companion is also going in my keeper collection for now, as there are a few passages in it that I want to keep, but for the most part it was disappointing, with its too-strong focus on literary classics and the past. All three murder mysteries were good reads, all in different ways. I may post mini-reviews of them next week.

The TBR books:
Catherine Aird : A Late Phoenix. Murder mystery. Ian Littlewood ( chose the passages and wrote the introductions): Paris: A Literary Companion. Literary passages describing different aspects of Paris. Julie Smith : Dead in the Water. Murder mystery.Janwillem van de Wetering : The Corpse on the Dike. Murder mystery.Connie Willis : Bellw…

Wednesday night video: The Cookie Monster visits the library

Sesame Street has, to my knowledge, never been shown on Icelandic television, so I missed out on ever experiencing that as a child. I am sure I would have loved it. Here the Cookie Monster, one of the recurring and best loved Sesame Street muppets, visits the library:

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Originally published in April 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.
Story: The relationship between Min Dobbs and Cal Morrisey begins on a sour note when she overhears her ex-boyfriend, David, make a bet with Cal that he can’t get Min to have dinner with him. A further bet, which Cal does not accept but both Min and David think he has accepted, says that Cal can’t get her into bed with him within a month. Min, upset and slightly drunk, decides to piss David off by going out with Cal, and thus begins a rollercoaster relationship that involves food, friends, families, in-laws, statistics, snow globes, a frantic ex-girlfriend, a jealous ex-boyfriend, and a stray cat with a talent for mischief.
I’m fast becoming a fan of Jennifer Crusie. Not only does she write great romance, but her novels (at least those I’ve read) are funny and the characters great. This one is no exception. In the last Crusie novel I read (Fast Women) I felt there were too many side characters that drew the attention away…