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Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I wanted to tell him. I wanted to explain everything, and for him to tell me he understood and to offer some tidbit of parental advice. I wanted, in that moment, for everything to go back to the way it had been the way it had been before we came here; back before I ever found that letter from miss Peregrine, back when I was just a sort-of-normal messed-up rich kid in the suburbs. Instead, I sat next to my dad for awhile and talked about nothing, and tried to remember what my life had been like in that unfathomably distant era that was four weeks ago, or imagine what my life would be like four weeks from now – but I couldn’t. Eventually we ran out of nothing to talk about, and I excused myself and went upstairs to be alone.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a bleak but warmhearted, strange but logical, book with photos. Primarily, it is a sparkling debut novel by the American author Ransom Riggs.

Each chapter contains one to four quirky black and white photos illustrating the story. The book is an atypical fantasy novel / picture book that is about the rich boy Jacob who lives a seemingly normal life in an American suburb. The only thing he wants in life are friends, and, as it turns out, finding out what happened when his grandfather Abe was killed.

Abe was a strange grandfather who throughout Jacobs upbringing told him about monsters, a strange orphanage he lived in  in order to escape the war, and children with special abilities. As Jacob grows up he becomes more and more suspicious of his grandfather’s stories.

But one day when he goes to visit his grandfather and finds him out in the woods, killed by what is apparently animals, he becomes determined to uncover the truth about his grandfather’s life. This leads him to an island off the coast of Wales, mostly inhabited by sheep farmers, where all electricity comes from diesel generators which stops at 10 PM every day.

There he discovers things that will turn his hitherto innocent existence upside down. The book has several sequels, including Hollow City and the Library of Souls. If you like fantasy literature, and perhaps particularly innovative literature, you will most likely enjoy this book.

My playlist for curing hangovers and depression

For the past week, I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression. It’s been quite bad.
Today I was awakened involuntarily by my dad. He was calling about something pertaining to my bed.

Now, normally in this situation, I wouldn’t even have managed to get out of bed, and I would have been extremely annoyed by the awakening.

Not in the least because I had been out last night and had gotten extremely little sleep. But yesterday must have been a katharsis, because today I just got out of bed and got right to the task of creating a playlist for curing hangover and depression. It might not be the end-all be-all of playlists, but it is designed to make your day just that little bit sweeter.

What’s more, it is collaborative, so  you can add your own favorites should you wish. So without further ado, I present to you the playlist entitled “Hangover and cure for depression”. Enjoy!

 

A chance encounter

Me and Francisco Yabar

Me and Francisco Yabar

“I’m good at recognizing faces.”
The tall, chubby man in a dark suit outside Museo Naval del Peru looked at me, wondering whether or not I’d been there the day before?
“I have,” I said.
“Where are you going,” he said, smiling.
“To Miraflores.”
“I’m heading in that direction, follow me!”
He was accompanied by a young woman in a uniform, and I quickly realized this was not a man accustomed to being told “no, thank you.”
“Are you the director of the museum,” I asked. He gave me a nod.
“I’m a retired admiral in the navy,” he explained.
When we’d entered his car, he asked me where I was from. “Norway,” I answered truthfully, and explained that I’d gone to the museum looking for information about Kon Tiki and/or balsa wood rafts.
“Thor Heyerdahl’s son, Thor Jr, attended a dinner party at my house. During the dinner I got a phone call from the navy telling me I’d been promoted to admiral. I turned white as a ghost. It turned out that Thor Jr had been involved. He’s very adept at convincing people!”
At this point I was already star struck, but managed to keep my calm.
“You’re coming home with me to take a picture. You’ll send it to Olav Heyerdahl, Thor’s grandson. You know, Olav planned the Tangaroa-expedition in my home.  The Kon Tiki II expedition was also planned in my home.”

Me, in admiral Yabar's house

Me, in admiral Yabar’s house

“That’s awesome,” I admitted. The truth, of course, was I couldn’t find words to express how cool I thought it was.

During the car ride, I expressed my fascination with Thor Heyerdahl.

“You know, I have a funny story about Thor,” he said. “When I was much younger, working in the navy,” I attended a lecture by Thor. I bought a book of his, and wanted it signed. But after the lecture, he was surrounded by professors, military officers and politicians. Then, after a while, he notices me standing alone in a corner. He breaks out of the crowd and comes my way. “Hey, kid, what do you want?” I held out my book, and he signed it for me!”

The impossible made possible

To ancient man, the oceans were not barriers, but pathways.

– Thor Heyerdahl

69 years ago, an anthropologist – who had been doomed to fail by an entire scientific world – banded together an unlikely crew consisting of a navigator and artist, a fridge selling engineer, a couple of telegraph operators and a Swede, and set sail from the port of Callao heading for Polynesia.

But what they were sailing was not a boat, it was a fleet constructed from balsa wood.

The original Kon Tiki

The original Kon Tiki

Everyone who heard about the adventure thought they sailed to their certain death. But 101 days later, they surfed over the Raroia-reef and showed the world that the impossible was possible.

There aren’t many places abroad that one can get a close encounter with Norwegian history. Norwegians are a rare breed, and we keep mostly to ourselves. Even when we were going to be imperialists, we happened upon some of the most remote pieces of land known to man, land that no one else cared about.

But the port of Callao, half a world away from Norway as the crow flies, is one of the places where Norwegians have not only made their mark. From the port of Callao, we changed world history. Perhaps Polynesia was not populated from the east, but that is only a footnote. Thor Heyerdahl showed the world that pre-Incan civilizations could sail, and that they have had contact with Polynesia has later been proven.

Me, at the port in Callao

Me, at the port in Callao

On the twenty eight of April, 1947, an adventure was started that made Norwegians large not only in their own eyes, but in the world’s. As I sit here watching the sea and thinking about the fact that the palm trees that grow behind me have probably been there since 1947, it strikes me that this place, which in some ways looks like any major port in the world, is a temple to something as un-norwegian as standing out. If the Law of Jante is yin, this place is its yang.

The law of Jante states in part: “You should not think you are better than us.”

A cannon in the port of Callao

A cannon in the port of Callao

Thor Heyerdahl not only thought, but knew he was better than the rest of the scientific world, and he proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. If you as a Norwegian have been wondering about the reach of the Law of Jante, I now have the definitive answer: it extends to Callao.

Review!

Trouble in Trondheim was reviewed by Ida Elise Østberg of ByMarlida, and received three of five stars. I’m so grateful!

I hope this is not the last we see of Kurt Hammer, because he is a main character I would love to continue to follow throughout more adventures!

– Ida Elise Østberg

The book can be bought now on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and B&N!

Book finally available!

My latest book, Trouble in Trondheim: Bikers and Gangsters, is now finally available in digital stores everywhere! It can be bought at Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo and Nook.

troubleintrondhem

To celebrate, here’s another chapter!

Twenty-sixth of January, 2012

Olyas mother died suddenly. After her coffin was lowered into the earth and the families had departed, Olya was left to herself when she got home.

In her heart, she knew he would come home as he had done countless times before. When she heard the front door being opened just after midnight, it, none the less, presented itself as something of a bad dream.

«Olya, are you at home?! »

She lay with her eyes closed and hoped he wouldn’t come into the room. Was the door locked, was the door locked, was the door locked…

«Why don’t you answer, you cheeky little piece of shit?! »

She opened one eye and peered out from one edge of her quilt. He reeked of Stolichnaya.

«You’re drunk, papi, go and lie down. »

«What, are you talking back to your papi?! You fucking whore! »

He tore off her quilt, lifted her up by the scruff and threw her into the wall.

«It’s your fault that she’s dead, you know? She had heart trouble from taking care of you, you ungrateful … »

She assembled what little she had of powers and butted him headfirst. He staggered a bit before falling, hard. She ran as fast as she could through the hallway, into the kitchen and tore up the nearest kitchen drawer. Panic stricken, she grabbed a bread knife. Then she heard that he had come into the kitchen – with the knife in both hands she turned to face him, horrified.

«What are you going to do?! Come and take me, » he sneered.

Unable to move, she could only stand to see that he approached with unsteady steps on the tattered kitchen rug on the floor. Finally, his face was less than a meter from hers.

The next thing that happened should be seen in light of her mother’s bruised and swollen eyes. Anyone who saw her knew, but no one said anything, not even at the funeral. All the years of beating, name-calling and shit stirring were discharged at the moment she drove the knife into him. A few seconds of silence followed before he whispered;

«Help me, Olya, help me! »

Her thoughts disappeared back to her mother again, she saw her lying in a pool of her own blood in the morning while he slept in in their bedroom. Her beautiful golden hair was sticky and disgusting; she had to help her into the bathroom, undress her, shower her and massage her. All without saying a word – «silence said more than any of us could have formulated by opening our mouths, » she thought.

Her five-year-old self went around him; her twenty-year-old self pulled up the carpet before closing the door behind her.

*

Among Moscow’s population is whispered a proverb: «Man has not felt cold on his body before he has experienced winter in Moscow. »

Midway between several meter-high snow banks on either side of Tverskaya Street, she was now facing what amounted to miles of shop facades. A few meters beyond the block she lived in some of them were still open, even with thirty degrees below zero outside. On a stand she noticed a newspaper front page with a picture of Putin and his wife. At the top she could read «Divorce» typed in screaming letterheads.

She picked up a copy of a newspaper and went into the little grocery store behind the stand.

«Olya, right? »

She nodded meekly to the bearded giant behind the counter, showed him the newspaper and left a ruble in front of him.

«Condolences! Greet your papi from Oleg, he must be absolutely horrified now … »

She smiled and muttered «Thank you, I will, » before she went out again. No sooner had she closed the door, before she stopped. How was it he had looked at her, the old pig? She tore off a piece of newsprint and wrote down her address. Then she paused for a few seconds, before she adding “30 minutes”. Finally, she went back in, handed him the note and disappeared again without saying a word.

Back in the apartment, she opened the kitchen window onto the side street and aimed at a rubbish container she had opened. Olya summoned superhuman strength, eased her father’s body onto the kitchen counter and pushed it out the window. The fall from the twenty-second floor was spectacular. If he wasn’t already dead, he was guaranteed to be as he landed headfirst far below. She let out an involuntary shout of joy as she slowly became filled with relief over the fact that that as someone found the now dismembered body below, she would be far away.

Soon, a knock could be heard emanating from the front door. No matter how much it filled her with disgust, she forced herself to down a glass of Stolichnaya before she went to open it. In the hallway she walked past a mirror: the dark curls she had from her father were bursting in all directions, but there was nothing she could do about it right now. Her verdigris almond eyes were her best feature, she knew, so she took a little eyeliner from the dresser before she applied a coat of lipstick to her voluptuous lips. The red color matched with the hair and eyes.

«You are one fourth Spanish, » her mother had said one day Olya came home from school. Somehow, she had always known it. «My papi was Spanish, » her mother said with a smile and winked at her. She’d never mentioned him before, but it explained the golden color of their skin. The night had been particularly hard, which was probably the reason she mentioned him now.

«Did he die … » before I was born? »

«He probably did. He lived in Málaga, you see. My mami brought me here just after I was born. She was homesick, but never forgot about papi. »

«Come, » her mother said and pulled her into their bedroom. She sat down onto the bed and patted beside her. «Here, » she said and handed her a faded picture from her wallet. To the left of her mother stood a man with almond eyes, a nose that was slightly too big for his face and an utterly charming smile parked in the middle of a forest of a beard. On his head he wore a sailor’s cap slightly askew.

«He could have been my papi, » said Olya. They smiled at each other for the first time in a long while. With the image of her grandpa fresh in mind, she went and opened the front door.

Oleg was even larger than she remembered. Before he could open his mouth she enunciated an insane sum. He opened his wallet, gave her cash and stepped over the threshold.

A few hours later she stood in one of the counters at Sheremetyevo airport.

«Do you have a ticket to Malaga for eight thousand rubles? »

«Hmm, not until well into the next month, at least … » but you can get to Trondheim, Norway for five thousand in a few hours! »

She thought about it. Norway was a rich country, wasn’t it? » Her papi had said so at one point, he had been fishing there with a buddy. Apparently, they had really big salmon there, too.

«All right, she said finally. I’m going to Norway! »

Review: The Son by Jo Nesbø

image

This is a really good Crime Thriller. It’s also pretty brutal.
It features at least four murders and one torture, with varying degrees of intensity. This is not a book for the faint of heart, in other words.
But if you like well-written, modern crime fiction, you will probably dig this book. Especially if you live in Oslo or you’ve ever visited it.
Jo Nesbø features lots of good descriptions of Oslo in this book, from the city’s classy hotels to the more slummy areas east in the city where the drug addicts live. He also features a varied cast of characters.
One thing I didn’t like was the names, many of which are untypical and somewhat unrealistic, such as “Sonny”, “Rover” and “Ab”.
That said, the characters are still interesting, such as the main character Sonny who is a brutal murderer but still very sympathetic, the love interest Martha which is very conflicted and takes a long time to realize that she’s fallen for Sonny, and the old wise cop Simon who turns out to be very different from what he initially seems.
The plot is well crafted and gripping, and will keep you at the edge of your seat like a good thriller is supposed to do.

Finally done!

So, it finally happened. I finished Trouble in Trondheim: Bikers and Gangsters, and you can read the first 15% here. You can also preorder it from there, so you’ll get it on the 29th of March.

Soon, previews should be available from iTunes, Kobo and Nook also.

This is a monumental achievement for me, because it’s the longest novel I ever wrote. Right now I am immensely proud.

Review: Hail, Caesar

First, an admission: I was never a huge fan of the Coen-brothers. I never watched any of their movies except for Bridge of Spies (which I loved!), The Big Lebowski (which was ok), and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou (which was so-so).

I hadn’t read or seen anything about this movie when I went to see it, so I didn’t know what to expect. The movie starts off in antique Rome, where a roman soldier, played by Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is leading a flock of prisoners back to the capitol.

Soon, the movie somewhat abruptly cuts to a confession booth inside a Catholic church. Here we meet the movie’s actual protagonist, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin). He’s a “fixer” working for a Hollywood studio in the 1950s, and the movie depicts a day in his life.

Ralph Fiennes as Laurence Laurentz

Ralph Fiennes as Laurence Laurentz

Problems start piling up almost immediately: Whitlock is drugged by a couple of extras on the set and kidnapped by what turns out to be a bunch of screenwriters-turned-communists. They demand $100,000 in ransome money from the studio.

DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johanson), another one of the studio’s stars, has become pregnant and doesn’t want to take responsibility for her baby while her movie is in production.

The director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) is missing a male lead for his latest production. With all these things going on at the same time and more, hilarity ensues.

What I liked best about this movie was its interspersed scenes from movies that could have been made in the 1950s, complete with dancing sailors, diving mermaids, live music, and rodeo cowboys. Movies are not made this way anymore, and this movie offers a fresh look at how things were way back when.

The acting performances are spot on, as you would expect from the ensemble that this movie offers up. In the end though, this really is Brolin’s movie, and he works really hard to make you feel for all the problems he has to fix during the course of this movie.

I also liked quite a lot of the music in this movie, which is fittingly infused with plenty of jazz and big band.

If you like period movies, smart comedies, classic Hollywood, and /or movies made by the Coen brothers, you will definitely like this one.

Review: The Hateful Eight

When you go to see a movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, there are two things you can be sure of: plenty of gratuitous violence, and Samuel L. «Motherfucking» Jackson. But that doesn’t mean you know what you’re going to get.

When I saw this movie, I didn’t know anything about it except it featured mr. Jackson and that it was shot on 70mm film. As a director and script writer, Tarantino is like a fine wine: he always tastes the same, but gives you new flavors with every sip.

So it is with this movie: quite unlike anything Tarantino has done before, this movie is a chamber play set in a stagecoach and (primarily) a haberdashery.

Mr. Jackson plays a bounty hunter lost in the snow, who happens upon another bounty hunter riding in a stagecoach (played by Kurt Russell, another Tarantino alumni). John Ruth (Russell) has a prisoner, Daisy Domergue (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is destined for the gallows.

Samuel L. Jackson as Marquis Warren.

Samuel L. Jackson as Marquis Warren.

Marquis Warren (Jackson) and John Ruth have met previously, and Ruth is aware that Warren has been a pen pall of president Lincoln. Because of this, Warren decides to let the doomed bounty hunter into his carriage, and the unlikely threesome make their way towards a haberdashery in the mountains.

Before too long, they run into another man lost in the snow – Chris Mannix (played by Walton Goggins, yet another Tarantino alumni). He purports to be the new sherriff of Red Rocks, the town on the other side of the mountains, the stagecoach’s final destination. Ruth doubts this, but nevertheless lets Mannix into the warmth, lest he be responsible for killing the new sheriff.

As the party reaches Sweet Minnie’s haberdashery, where they seek shelter, it turns out that the owner has left to visit her mother and left the place in charge of a Mexican, a Brit who claims to be the hangman of Red Rocks, a mysterious cowboy (played by Michael Madsen, yet another Tarantino alumni) and a southern general.

Neither Mannix nor the old general are particularily fond of black people, and Ruth is sceptical of all the people in the haberdashery. Needless to say, the plot develops into a Agatha Christie-esque thriller. In the end, Tarantino has managed to kill off most of his cast in the most brutal way possible. I was left wondering how he was going to pull off a satisfactory ending, but I was not disappointed.

Speaking of cast; Tarantino has managed to assemble some of Hollywood’s greatest actors for this movie. Though many are alumni, their characters all feel original and fresh and are played with such ferocity and thrilling charm that it’s impossible not to be impressed.

For the score, Tarantino has hired Ennio Morricone, and he does a splendid job of recreating the feeling of the old wild west, while not repeating his collaboration with Sergio Leone.

The film is shot on 70mm film, the widest format available, and the shots, colors and contrasts are all amazing. Cinematographer Robert Richardson has done a great job of capturing the raw spirit of the nature of the american  west.

As with every Tarantino film, I didn’t know quite what to expect when I went into the cinema. But I was not disappointed. This movie should be watched by anyone who likes Tarantino’s work and everyone who likes film in general.

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