Read: Troll by Johanna Sinisalo

troll

This book was on my wishlist for several years, and then I got hold of it via Bookmooch. It is indeed the somewhat odd tale I expected it would be.

A young man finds a wounded troll outside his apartment building and takes it in to look after it. He knows it is not allowed to keep wild animals, so in order to hide it from his friends, he becomes a semi-reclusive. Whereas before, his so-called friends never cared much about him, now, since he’s not so eager to meet up with them, they start to show more of an interest in him. This causes all kinds of problems, especially when one of them finds out about the troll.

The story about the young man is alternated with research articles from the research he does on the history of trolls and how to look after them. This I found these the least interesting parts of the book. While I did like to read about some of the folklore of Scandinavian trolls, it went in too much detail for me.

Overall, this was a quirky, modern story that was fun to read.

(My eighteenth book of this year)

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Book Review: Day of the Vikings by J.F. Penn

Day of the Vikings by J. F. PennDay of the Vikings: What it is about

From goodreads: “A ritual murder on a remote island under the shifting skies of the aurora borealis.
A staff of power that can summon Ragnarok, the Viking apocalypse.

When Neo-Viking terrorists invade the British Museum in London to reclaim the staff of Skara Brae, ARKANE agent Dr. Morgan Sierra is trapped in the building along with hostages under mortal threat.

As the slaughter begins, Morgan works alongside psychic Blake Daniel to discern the past of the staff, dating back to islands invaded by the Vikings generations ago.

Can Morgan and Blake uncover the truth before Ragnarok is unleashed, consuming all in its wake?

Day of the Vikings is a fast-paced, action adventure thriller set in the British Museum, the British Library and the islands of Orkney, Lindisfarne and Iona. Set in the present day, it resonates with the history and myth of the Vikings.

Day of the Vikings features Dr. Morgan Sierra from the ARKANE thrillers, and Blake Daniel from the London Mysteries, but it is also a stand-alone novella that can be read and enjoyed separately.”

Day of the Vikings: What I thought

This is a (long) short story, part of a series of thrillers. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the other books; it didn’t feel as if I was missing something.  The story was a cross between Dan Brown’s modern people looking into the history of some secret sect and the Canadian TV series The Vikings. I actually know the horific  Blood Eagle procedure from that series, so I could imagine it all too lively.

A fast-paced and fun read, although one particular ritual was repeated three times. That was a little too much. One of the characters could actually go back in time, in his mind. Now, I would love to do that, it so appeals to me!

I’m not a keen reader of short stories and think I would love this book better as a full-blown novel. The main characters are great people to spend some time with and I love stories about Nordic countries in general. This story actually played in the UK, partially in the British Museum and partially in the Orkneys (two of those must-visit places).

If the topic interests you, this is worth a read. It’s well-written, too!


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 77

First published: 2014

I got this: for review from the author

Genre: historical fiction,

 

Quick Book Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

I found this book in the YA section in the library when I was looking for a book for my son (14). I’ve read two of this writer’s books (written for adults) so I was excited to see another of his books. My son liked it loads and I enjoyed it too. I’ve previously read Buzz Aldrin: What Happened to You in All the Confusion, and Hässelby by this author from Norway.

***

There’s a… problem on the moon and NASA needs to get back there after they haven’t been there for many years. There is a secret base on the moon which will be used for the first time ever. But there is a money problem. So, to get lots of media attention (and the accompanying funds), they hold a lottery for teenagers between 14 and 18 years old. Three lucky teenagers from all over the world will join five astronauts in their trip to the moon.

So, Midori from Japan, Mia from Norway and Antoine from France train in the USA for their trip up into the skies. Before they leave for the moon, a few strange things happen to them. And once on the moon, things are not quite as they expected, either. The 172 hours that they were to spend on the moon will be spend differently than planned.

This book combined the fascination of the author with moon travelling from Buzz Aldrin: What Happened to You in All the Confusion with the rather unexpected ending of HässelbyI loved reading this book and towards the end, when it was clear something was very wrong, I was really spooked. I very much wanted to know what was happening, but I also wanted the book to last a bit longer.

A very enjoyable story. The book follows the three teenagers but Mia from Norway has a slightly bigger role in the story. She didn’t actually want to go but hoped it would be good publicity for the rock band that she’s in. During the stay on the moon, the teenagers are forced to take a more active role as time passes. This is done in a believable way, I thought. The children weren’t made more heroïc than could realistically be expected of them, as you often see in children’s fiction.

There were a lot of pictures, too. They were all photographs of situations in the book and maps of the space station. I really liked this, as it made the book more realistic.

A scary story that you won’t want to put down!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Number of pages: 368

First published: 2008

Genre: science fiction, YA

Book Review: The Bomber by Liza Marklund

The Bomber by Liza MarklundThis was the last (fourth) book I read for the Transworld Group Reading Challenge.

I love a good thriller and I had heard of Liza Marklund (but not read anything by her yet), so I was interested to see what this would be like.

Well, I was not disappointed.

The Bomber: What it is about

Annika Bengtzon is a journalist in Stockholm who is woken in the middle of the night because a bomb has gone off in the Olympic Stadium that is being built in the city. A few days later there is a second explosion.

From the start, Annika is spending all her time on the investigation, and with a persistence you can only expect from a newspaper journalist, she digs deep. However, she does have some eye for decency and will not pursue someone who is incoherent with grief.

With her husband and children demanding to see more of her, and some of her colleagues critical of her, their new female boss, she is having a difficult time. Not to mention that it’s almost Christmas and she hasn’t had time at all to prepare for it.

But when her investigation leads her to dangerous territory, the question is whether she will even be home for Christmas.

The Bomber: What I thought

You know the kind of book where you start reading and think “Hey, yes, this is exactly as I like it”? This is that kind of book. I started reading and I felt at home straight away. While I wasn’t constantly thinking about the book when I was not reading it, as soon as I picked it up again I was happy in my little Bomber world.

I thought the atmosphere was brilliant: a wintery Stockholm, just before Christmas. It was cold, very cold, there was snow, there was sleety rain, there was slushy, melted snow. It was no pleasure to be outside. But Annika Bengtzon takes buses, taxis, and walks through the awful weather, a lot. It gives a melancholy, sad, atmosphere to the book.

Annika herself lives the life of successful women: while at work, she has to rush be in time to pick the kids up from nursery, or has to ask her husband to do it for her. At home, she’s rushing off to work. Neither her work nor her home life seems satisfactory. She has to disappoint people, especially herself, a lot of the time. Everything seems a struggle.

In addition, not all of her colleagues like their new female boss. More out of principle than for who she is, really. That seemed very real. Especially as Annika, like a real woman, doesn’t dare to confront her colleagues and stoically undergoes their behaviour towards her. The result is that their behaviour becomes even worse. Luckily she has a boss who believes in her and looks out for her.

The only drawback was the bomber for me: quite a rambling story (by the bomber) about the reasons behind the attacks. That story wasn’t very interesting or comprehensible, and I’m sure it was meant that way, but it also made the reading less compelling for me.

What I really liked was Annika’s intelligence, following up throw-away comments that people make, that turn out to be quite important. I also liked how professional she is in one sense, and how vulnerable in another. Liza Marklund managed to invent a real-life character that is neither a cliché nor too commonplace to be interesting.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I got this book: from Transworld Publishers (Corgi Books) in their Group Reading Challenge

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 528

First published: 2005 (Swedish: Sprängaren), Corgi Paperback edition November 24th, 2011.

Genre: thriller

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