Monthly Archive: November 2008

What’s on Your Nightstand?

So, 5 Minutes for Books asks What’s On Your Nightstand? on the fourth Tuesday of every month.

There’s a handy little view of my own nightstand there. Essential lip balm, water glass, Ipod, and books.

It’s actually a week old this picture … I took it while I remembered to prepare for this post, which is why The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is on there, even though I have actually finished it.

There is Snow by Orhan Pamuk, who won the Nobel Prize for literature. The award is admittedly why I have bought the novel. It keeps sliding further down my pile though, as I’ve tried the first 3 pages and it hasn’t gripped me yet. Obviously three pages isn’t enough to speak intelligently about it, so that will have to wait.

Next is Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, which is next on my list actually. I have really enjoyed Ghosh’s previous books, especially The Hungry Tide. From what I’ve understood, this one is the first of a trilogy, but can have accessibility issues. Can’t wait to start it.

The next two are for when I’m feeling intelligent. The first is After Theory by Terry Eagleton, which my darling sister got me for my birthday. Reminds me of my post-grad university days. Just as was the case when I was at university, however, I always liked the IDEA of reading theory so much better than actually doing it, so I usually manage only a few pages at a time.

Criminal Law is a throwback to law school days, and I really really enjoy it. Usually I pick up a passage or two to read when I get annoyed by the increasing amount of criminalization going on in society. I read some Criminal Law theory to confirm my suspicions and shore up my opinion, which makes me feel better – or worse – all depending on how angry and worked up I get.

Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell has been on the bottom of my pile for a very long time. I’ve read a few chapters, but I had a really hard time with it. It seemed very contrived to me. It’s still on my nightstand and not in my unread books shelf though, so it still has a chance.

Loving the Wrath!

I’ve been playing the new World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King for about 10 days now … enough to get my hunter here to Level 74. It’s about time I wrote my review.

I love it!! I absolutely love it. So far, I have completed the Howling Fjord area — which means I have earned the achievement Tour the Fjord (130 quests there). I’ve also been to a couple of dungeons, and managed to get my professions up to speed. And yesterday, I went to the new central and magical city of Dalaran.

The quests are fantastic. There is very little of the boring old ‘kill 15 of each kind’ quests. Every quest has a story, and something interesting to do and figure out. I have bravely provided cover fire for trapped soldiers being attacked by ghouls, harpooned supply houses, and all sorts of other fun stuff.

Perhaps one of the most amazing things I’ve done is ridden a dragon into battle. One that I could control both flight path and attacks on! I have made the dragon breathe fire and fly and swoop and everything. Probably the coolest thing I’ve done in WoW so far. I am totally excited by everything there is to do. Even the daily cooking quest I did in Dalaran was fun.

Speaking of Dalaran, it is beautiful. There’s a beer garden behind the inn, great profession stores, ports to all over the place (including The Caverns of Time – Yipee!) and a toy store. Oh, and a pet store!!

I’m loving it.

Friday Fill-Ins

So, I thought I’d try the Friday Fill-Ins for kicks:

1. The last band I saw live was Robbie Williams – Adelaide South Australia. And it was totally amazing.
2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is gravy. (if you don’t celebrate thanksgiving, insert your favorite holiday)
3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is not going to get out of hand this year. I hope.
4. Thoughts of all sorts of wacky stuff fill my head.
5. I wish I could wear a backless dress.
6. Bagpipes remind me of graduation.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to wine and World of Warcraft, tomorrow my plans include walking my dog and my fireplace and Sunday, I want to have breakfast out!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Or, if translated directly from the Swedish, “Men who Hate Women” – by Stieg Larsson.

This is an out of the ordinary mystery/suspense novel. It should, however, please readers who do not normally read that genre, as well as those who do. It is very well developed, the characters have a great depth and originality, and it is certainly not one-dimensional.

The mystery is set in a village in Sweden. While the main action takes place in 2K, the plot stretches back into the the 20th century, centering around Harriet Vanger’s disappearance in 1966. That’s about all of the plot I’m willing to give away … suffice it to say that there is no shortage of surprises, intrigue, and probing into the human psyche. Do not, however, expect a thrill ride from the very beginning. The story is allowed to simmer slowly, making the ending all the more delicious!

I did have issues with the translation at times. I found the English awkward far too frequently for a truly great translation. As a native Scandinavian speaker, it was easy for me to see where the translation had been much too literal and word for word – often taking the easy way out instead of searching for a better English phrasing. And it really annoys me when titles are changed to the degree that they are in this one. The original Swedish title is a direct quote from the novel … and the English language title shifts the emphasis of the novel completely.

That being said, I loved it, and towards the end I definitely couldn’t put it down. I’m looking forward to reading the second in the series.

Time for a little beauty.

My friend Erika Tysse makes these beautiful pieces in her home on the West coast of Norway.

I thought I’d give her a shameless plug. This one on the left is actually available on Ebay! I don’t know though, I might have to grab it for myself. I know a place where it would look amazing!

Teaser Tuesday

It’s Tuesday already??? Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Should Be Reading and asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • So, here is mine from Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’:

    Mikael was sitting in the kitchen, drumming his fingers on the table, when Martin Vanger’s Volvo crossed the bridge and turned towards the point. That somehow brought matters to a head.

    That’s from p. 345 of my hardback edition. I’m enjoying it, but I won’t say any more about it till I review it at some point.

    What has HAPPENED to my handwriting?!?

    Once upon a time, I had to sit at my school desk and write essays with a fountain pen and blotter. (Yes, true story!) And then in the more recent past, although still long-long ago, I had to write exam answers that took me 5-6 hours to write BY HAND. And I survived. I scribbled furiously, writing brilliant responses to what often seemed like pointless questions.

    Then, the other day, I was writing a note to my dog-walker/petsitter that needed to say more than the usual ‘Thanks! Have a great walk!’ It was not long by any stretch of the imagination – I’d say about a paragraph. But by the end of the note, my hand, fist, fingers were screaming: “Enough already!”. My hand was TIRED from writing that ‘much’ by hand! And as a result, the last sentence of that paragraph looked atrocious.

    I guess if I can type 80 words a minute, I shoudn’t complain too much, but it was quite the shock!

    Brilliant Book Cover!

    This is hands-down the best book cover of the year!! I am not a raving feminist in any sense of the word, but I love this!

    Thanks to my friend Monty who shared this with me.

    Dogs, a mute boy, and family

    WARNING! There may be spoilers ahead!!! I’ll try not to give too much away though.

    I finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a few weeks ago. It’s taken me this long to decide what I think about it, really. The ending left me so angry and frustrated that I was afraid it would color my overall opinion of the book too much.

    The basic story is about a mute boy growing up in Wisconsin with his mother and father who breed a special kind of dog, known as the Sawtelle dog. There is a family tragedy which sets the stage for much of the second half of the book.

    I enjoyed huge amounts of this book. The story of the bond between Edgar and Almondine is fascinating — as are many other parts of the novel. I found his mother to be extremely frustrating, and Edgar’s character slightly underdeveloped. It was difficult sometimes to understand his motivations. And I wondered for a long time how old he was, although I eventually found out.

    The shifting viewpoints (Edgar’s, Almondine’s, Trudy’s) were interesting, although I would have liked to see more from Trudy’s point of view.

    Overall, I really wanted this book to be better. The potential was huge and underdeveloped. I enjoyed what was there (apart from the infuriating ending), but wanted it to be more.