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The Night Circus – Review

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternTitle: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern

Publisher: Vintage digital
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 400
Originally published: 2011

Genre: Fantasy
The dice landed on: 6
Did I finish?: Yes, oh yes.
Do I like the cover?: Yes I do.

One-sentence summary: We follow the people in and around The Night Circus which is both the most marvellous circus in the world and the venue of an ongoing competition between two powerful magicians.

You know those books that you dread coming to the end of because you want to keep on reading? The books that makes you want to slow down to savour it better while you still want to race ahead to find out what happens? If you are a reader, you know those books. The Night Circus is one of those books.

I’m in love with the story, which is different from any fantasy story I’ve read before.
I’m in love with the different characters, most of them at least.
But most of all I’m in love with the language. It’s dreamy and hypnotical, just perfect in a story about a magic fueled circus (and the people in and around it) that only stays open at night.

My christmas gift book choice of the year.

Erin Morgenstern reads a little from The Night Circus.

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Stuck Rubber Baby – Review

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard CruseTitle: Stuck Rubber Baby (Graphic novel)
Author: Howard Cruse

Publisher: Vertigo
Edition: 2010
Pages: 210
Originally published: 1995

Genre: Graphic Novel
The dice landed on: 6
Did I finish?: Yes, oh yes.
Do I like the cover?: Yes I do.

One-sentence summary: Toland Polk is a young man who grows up in the south in the sixties and becomes a part of the civil rights movement while also struggling with being gay.

Stuck Rubber Baby was originally published in 1995, so I’m sorry I didn’t read it before.

The story of Toland Polk is told by himself as a middle-aged, happy gay man. He looks back to his years as a child and young man in the deep south. Toland spends a lot of time in denial of being gay. At the same time he also gets involved with the budding Civil Rights Movement. The story shows both the likeness and the difference between the civil rights movement and the gay movemen. They are both struggles for equal rights, but most black people are visibly black to any casual observer while most gay peole can pass for straight most of the time. So Toland hides his gay feelings, and considers it the right thing to do, while at the same time thinking it’s wrong for society to treat black people the way it does. The story shows both black struggle and gay struggle really well. The characters are all interesting, coming through as real, complicated people with both good, bad sides and potential for change.

In many ways it’s a sad story, but it also has it’s lighter moments. As the narrator is an older, wiser and happier Toland Polk you also know that things will turn out well for him at least.

I think a graphic novel is a good format for a story like this, especially when the drawings are as well done as in this book. There are intimate close ups and big scenes with lots of people, and it’s all wonderfully done. In many ways there’s more information packed into every page than there is in a regular book.

So, if you want to read a very good story about the Civil Rights movement in United States and also a good story of what it’s like coming to terms with being gay in a society that definitely don’t want you around, then this is a good read for you.

Enjoy!

The Glass Castle – Review

The Glass Castle by Jeannette WallsTitle: The Glass Castle : a memoir (Norwegian title: Krystallslottet : en selvbiografisk roman)
Author: Jeanette Walls

Publisher: Pantagruel
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 300
Originally published: 2005

Genre: Memoir
The dice landed on: 6
Did I finish?: Oh, yes!
Do I like the cover?: Yes.

One-sentence summary: Jeannette Walls writes about growing up with alcoholic, but intelligent dad, want-to-be-artist mother, two sisters and a brother.

Jeannette’s parents married in 1956. He was a dashing young officer in the air force and she was an intelligent, artistic young woman who’d trained as a teacher. After getting married he left the air force to better support a family. This could be the start of a stable life with children and good jobs, but that was not the way it turned out.

Jeannette spent her younger years moving around in the desert areas in the western US, relocating every time her dad lost his job and started owing too many people money. The moves usually came without warning, the kids usually only got to take one thing, and longer stays than a few months were a rarity. Rex called every move an adventure and said it was to get away from F.B.I that was too interested in his doings.

The family life was a strange mix of neglect and care. Many basic needs were being neglected, including food and health care,  while the parents also stressed the importance of learning. They always had books around and the children could all read and were doing well in school, when they went to one. The family was always poor, getting poorer as time went by, and any money was spent more on alcohol and art supplies than for food and clothes.

After leaving home, if it could be called home, it’s clear that Jeannette, and her siblings, still love their parents. They are exasperated by them, ashamed of them, and certainly aware that a certain distance is necessary for their own survival. But, they do love them.

So, this sounds like a book that could be full of self-pity, therapy sessions as an adult and loathing for her parents that let them grow up in such hardship. But it isn’t. Jeannette Walls tells the story in a very straight forward manner and manages to convey both the magic times and the increasing hardship as the family slid further and futher into poverty. The details and the tone change as she herself grows older, the magic fades as she understands more of the reality of what goes on, but self-pity and blame never takes center stage.

Very much worth reading.

Catching up on books

I’ve been reading, but I haven’t been blogging about the books I’ve read. I’m sorry.

So, here’s a list of books read the last month or so with a short version of my personal opinion. There’s 10 of them, I did get a lot of reading done on those trans-atlantic flights.

Changes by Jim ButcherChanges by Jim Butcher

As always, nasty surprises happens to Harry Dresden. The book keeps the expected decent standard of a book in The Dresden Files.

The title is fitting, there are some real changes happening to The Dresden Universe in this book, promising some very different adventures for Harry when he next turns up. The book also has a cliffhanger ending. Sneaky.

A 4 for Harry this time.

Among others by Jo WaltonAmong Others by Jo Walton

OMG, OMG, OMG!!!

This is so GOOD.

And I love the cover too.

Run, buy (or borrow) and read!

I gave it a 6. No other choice.

Don't be such a scientist by Randy OlsonDon’t be such a scientist : talking substance in an age of style by Randy Olson

Funny and interesting non-fiction.

Well worth reading for anyone who’s interested in science and communication. I think that Mr. Olson probably provoced a few scientists with this book, but I’m also sure that he has a point in most things he’s describing.

I gave it a 5.

Shadow man by Melissa ScottShadow Man by Melissa Scott.

Some side-effect of faster-than-light travel has made humankind develop into 5 genders instead of the 2 we’re used too. Most planets have dealt with this by giving the genders names and giving members of the new genders equal rights to anyone else. But one planet became isolated for a long time and made members of the “new” genders take on one of the 2 recognized genders. Even after being back in contact with the rest of humankind they keep this system. Not everyone is happy about this.

Really interesting read. I would like to see this story continued in a sequel as we leave some interesting people at a time when a lot is happening in their lives and on their world. Another 5 from me.

Across the Universe by Beth RevisAcross the Universe by Beth Revis

Sci-fi, dystopia, mystery and some YA romance, this book has it all.

But, sometimes I just don’t get along with a book. I don’t know why this one didn’t click, but it didn’t.

So I gave it a 4.

Moon over Soho by Ben AaronovitchMoon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

This is good fun again.

Peter Grant, wizard apprentice/police officer is investigating the death of jazz musicians in London. He’s also got a very, very sexy new girlfriend.

The book is fairly predictable, but the characters are such a joy that I gave it a 5 anyhow.

Home Fires by Gene WolfeHome Fires by Gene Wolfe

Difficult love, people back from the dead, space travel, secret agents, hijacked cruise ship….

I should truly love this book. But I don’t. I’m intrigued, but not really liking it.I think it must be something with me and Gene Wolfe, I had a similar problem with Litany of The Long Sun.

So, a 4 because I can see that it’s fairly good despite our lack of chemistry.

The Summoner by Layton GreenThe Summoner by Layton Green

A man has disappeared in Zimbabwe. He was last seen entering a circle of people at a juju-ceremony.

The man is a friend of the American ambassador to Zimbabwe, and Dominic Grey in Diplomatic Security gets saddled with the task of finding out what happened.

I liked this book a lot. For me the African setting is exotic and the book has some really interesting characters. The book is the first in the series, I might pick up the next one too.

I gave it a 5.

The Breach by Patrick LeeGhost county by Patrick LeeThe Breach and Ghost Country by Patrick Lee

I’m doing these together as they are in a series and have the same main characters.

A failed physics experiment created a breach between our world and another world. A few times every day strange objects come trough the breach, and some of them are a serious threat to our world. A secret organization has been set up to handle the objects, but this organization is facing some big threats. It’s mainly up to Travis Chase to set it right.

Very exiting reads, and a really intriguing concept. I would really have loved them if our hero didn’t consistently kill alle the opponents he gets hold of. I know they would have killed him if they could, but a hero shouldn’t kill enemies that he’s already rendered harmless. It gives me a bad taste in my mouth. McGyver is my kind of hero.

Because of this they get a 4 instead of the 5 the rest of the stories deserve.

Slaughterhouse 5

The first book I read in 2011 is “Slaughterhouse 5 or The Children’s Crusade : a duty-dance with death” by Kurt Vonnegut, one of the classic science fiction novels that has been on my to-read-list for a long time. It has also been translated into Norwegian and is called “Slaktehus 5 eller Barnekorstoget : en pliktdans med døden“.

I’m not going to give you any spoilers, there’s enough of that in the other sources I’ve linked to.

I loved it!

I loved the language. The sentences are fairly short and simple and there’s no annoying euphemising. The language is as direct and brutal as it probably was among soldiers in WWII. I also loved the way the story bounced around in space and time, and I loved  how it made me smile with tears in my eyes.

There are enough people that dislike it, whether they’ve read it or not, that it gained at 46th spot on The American Library Association list of 100 most frequently challenged books : 2000-2009 (up from a 67th in the previous decade). So it goes. (to quote the most used sentence in the book)

Other people has opinions about it too. Most like it, some don’t. None of them advocate banning it:

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