Den hundredårige der kravlede ud af vinduet og forsvandt (Jonas Jonasson, 2012)

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Den hundredårige der kravlede ud ad vinduet og forsvandt af Jonas Jonasson er en morsom og livsbekræftende historie om den 100-årige Allan Karlsson, der stikker af fra plejehjemmet. 

Allan kommer ved et tilfælde i besiddelse af en narkohajs kuffert stoppet med pengesedler, og så går den vilde jagt gennem Sverige, hvor han får flere nye venner og allierede i kampen mod gangsterne, der vil have deres penge igen, og politiet, der konstant er fire skridt bagud i opklaringen. Alt i mens dramaet udspiller sig i det midtsvenske skove, hører vi om Allans lange liv forinden i tilbageblik, der bringer os tæt på mange af verdenshistoriens helt store begivenheder og personer.

(Tekst fra Saxo)

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Jeg fortryder egentlig nu at det har taget mig så lang tid at tage mig sammen til at få læst den her bog. For den har overrasket mig noget så positivt på flere måder. Jeg lod mig fortælle at den mindede en smule om Forrest Gump og det er så ganske rigtigt. Vores hundredårige Allan bliver både budt på middag af General Franco, Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, Stalin og Kinas Mao. Der er en hel del flere historiske personligheder vi støder på, men efter noget tid bliver det svært at holde styr på dem alle sammen igennem Allans livshistorie. I stedet skal man bare vælge at følge med historien og dens udvikling.

Jeg blev meget hurtigt glad for Allan som person. Han er både sympatisk og medgørlig, men også en person man fatter medlidenhed med på grund af de oplevelser han kommer ud for igennem livet. Det faktum at han er stort set total afviger når det kommer til politik af enhver art kunne jeg kun identificere endnu mere med, hvilket nok også gjorde at jeg fandt ham des mere elskværdig. Allans tilgang til livet er også meget nem at forholde sig til.

”Det er som det er, og det bliver, som det bliver.”

Det fungerer som hans motto i livet, og det resulterer i at han tager livet meget let og aldrig rigtig bliver ophidset over særlig meget. Det er også af den grund Allan kommer til at opleve så meget i livet, fordi han ikke rigtig tager på vej og bare følger med strømmen, så at sige.
Den måde historien er strikket sammen gør at vi får et indblik i verdenshistorien samtidig med vi følger Allan på vejen. Jeg syntes faktisk det var meget underholdende at få ny viden om historie på den måde, det var i hvert fald meget mere underholdende end mange af de ordinære historietimer jeg kan huske fra min skoletid.

Spol frem i tiden til historien umiddelbart efter at Allan er hoppet ud af vinduet på sin 100 års fødselsdag og vi kan læse om endnu et mærkværdigt ’eventyr’ der involverer 50 millioner, en meget voldelig bande (dog på kun 3, næsten 4 medlemmer), en grilbodsejer med næsten eksamensbevis inden for næsten hver tænkelig branche, en elefant, en ilter rødhåret kvindelig gårdejer, en aggressiv anklager og ikke mindst et par beklagelige mord.

Jeg vil klart anbefale den her bog. Jeg sad flere gange og grinte højlydt over bogen, og jeg kunne næsten ikke lægge den fra mig. Jeg havde den med i fitness, mens jeg spiste morgenmad og da jeg var på familieweekend i påsken. Den var så hurtigt læst at det næsten var ærgerligt. Jeg sad lidt med en forventning om at Allan ville dø til slut (han er jo trods alt 100 år!), men det gjorde han ikke. Derfor var bogen lidt uafsluttet for mit vedkommende, mest af alt fordi jeg bare gerne ville læse mere om Allan og hans mærkværdige liv.

6-star

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The Frog Who Could Not Jump

Det her er et lille eventyr jeg skrev for et par år siden. Det sprang frem i løbet af en time eller to hvor jeg deltog i noget jeg egentlig ikke kan huske hvad handlede om. Det var nok derfor jeg i sidste ende begyndte at skrive i min notesbog; det her er altså hvad der kom ud af et par timers kedsomhed hvor jeg nok skulle have hørt efter.

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This is a little fairy tale I wrote a few years back. It came to me in an hour or two when I should have been paying attention to something else, but I don’t really remember what it was. This is probably because I started scribling in my notebook; this is the result of a few hours’ boredom when I should have paid attention.

 

The Frog Who Could Not Jumplittle_frog_boy_by_metterschlingel-d37taov

Once, there was a frog living with his large family of frogs nearby a small pond. Every day all the frogs would jump out of the water, only to jump right back in to the water again. All frogs, except one. He would simply sit by the pond and look as all the rest of the frogs with a sad expression upon his green face. When his father and brothers invited him to the play of jumping in and out of the pond he would croak very quietly that he did not feel like it. His father and brothers did not pester him about it more pressingly, though they kept asking him every morning if he wanted to come with them, and every morning the frog told them no.

None in his family knew his secret. Every night he would sneak out of his little frog bed, creep along the side bank of the pond to the clearing on the other side. Here he would practice. For this particular frog could not jump. He dared not tell this secret to anyone, for fear of being laughed at. So, in order to prevent this, he sneaked out each night to practice his feeble jump. But no matter how much he stretched and stretched before attempting to jump across the clearing, his legs would not bend correctly and lift him of the ground as all the other frogs did. Despite many years of training he had still not mastered the art of jumping, and you would think it would come natural to him, being a frog and all.

So, again that night he would return to bed with a sad heart. Sure enough, his father and brother asked him to jump with them the following day too. But instead of sitting by the pond and looking enviously as the other frogs, he crept away deeper into the forest. Here he found a small boulder, on to which he climbed, for of course he could not jump on to it. And here he began to cry. He wept and wept till he felt empty of tears. By then, a young girl had sneaked up behind the crying frog and she felt sorry for the tiny creature.

“Why do you cry little fellow?” She asked and the sound of her voice made the frog start and almost fall of the boulder. He clambered back on to the boulder and told the girl why he was crying.

“Well, maybe I can help you.” Said the girl and she scooped up the tiny frog. With the frog in one hand she went to another pond deep in the forest. She put the frog in the water and told him to use his legs as if he were on land and tried to jump. This made the frog scoot through the water, back and forth, faster and faster. The girl then picked the frog out of the water and told him to do the same on land as he had done in water.

But sadly it did not prove to work. The frog began to weep again. The girl picked him up and bade him not to cry. But the frog could not stop. He told the young girl how he was the only frog by the pond that could not jump. The girl told the frog not to fret; she would return the next day and try to help him again. That night, for the first time in a long time, the frog did not sneak out to practice his jump. The girl kept her promise and returned the next day with two small balls made of rubber. She tied these to the frog’s legs and asked him to try again. The frog had never been happier than he was now. He bounced and bounced higher and higher in the air. As high as the girl was tall. He thanked the girl a plenty and jumped back to his family by the pond. There he showed off his new ability to jump as high as he might. But sadly the strings tying the balls to his feet came apart and the frog fell to the ground with a loud plop. Just as he had feared, all the other frogs laughed at him. With tears streaming he ran to the other pond. The girl found him there. In an attempt to comfort the little frog she bent down and kissed his head. By a stroke of magic or pure luck, the frog turned into a young prince.

“That is why you could not jump. You are a prince!” Exclaimed the girl in a voice of surprise. The young prince thanked the girl heartedly and kissed both her cheeks, which in turn flushed scarlet red. The minute the frog had turned prince, the memory of his frog family had left him and he remembered his real family, who must have missed him in the years he had been a frog. He asked the girl for one more favor, to help him find his family and she obliged him in much eagerness.

In return, the prince took the friendly girl to be his bride in a matter of few years. For who could object to a girl willing to help a frog who could not jump?

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Ugens Top10 (#1)

Her midt i påsken begynder ens hjerne til tider at køre lidt på overtryk, enten fordi den tager på et sidespor fra det den rent faktisk skulle lave eller også bare fordi den simpelthen keder sig. For mit vedkommende tror jeg det blev lidt af en blanding her forleden. Uanset hvad besluttede jeg mig altså for at strikke min egen Top10 sammen, lidt a la i stil med dem David Letterman laver i sit show. Eftersom jeg jo er lidt af en bognørd var det der jeg tog min inspiration til denne uges Top10.

Jeg har en fiks ide om at jeg godt kunne tænke mig at lave flere af den her slags Top10, så langt fantasien strækker til det, så det må vi se hvad fremtiden bringer af det. Under alle omstændigheder kan I i mellem tiden småfnise lidt over dem Top10 jeg fik lavet mig i løbet af i dag.

Top 10 Ting Bøger Ville Sige (hvis de altså vel og mærke kunne tale).

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Jeg har brugt billeder fra min Twitter profil fordi det var der jeg lagde dem ud i løbet af dagen og jeg syntes det ville se lidt mere festligt ud på den måde, frem for helt almindelig tekst her på bloggen.

Jeg håber I syntes om den.

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To Read or not to Read…

Jeg syntes efterhånden der er en hel del postyr om det at læse rundt omkring på nettet. Den ene dag læser man et indlæg om en ny app der efter sigende skal forbedre en persons læseevne, sådan at man bliver hurtigere til at læse. Det i sig selv er der en hel del tanker om. Personligt har jeg ikke nogle ambitioner om at forbedre min læseevne eller blive hurtigere til at læse. Jeg nyder at tilbringe min tid med en god bog, og ikke mindst tage fri fra hverdagen og skubbe dagens stress til side. Rent faktisk er jeg blevet rådet af min læge til at sætte tid til side dagligt – kun til mig. Michelle-tid kaldte hun det, og en god måde at tilbringe den tid er at læse for fornøjelsens skyld. Hvilket jeg jo gør hele tiden, jeg kan jo næsten ikke lade være.

Så selvom den nye app måske er bevist at virke, og jeg da nok også vil kigge nærmere på den, tror jeg ikke det er en jeg vil gøre mig synderligt brug af.

Dagene efter man har læst det indlæg begynder der at dukke flere og flere indlæg op om noget bog-bloggerne kalder for Read-athon. Jeg har set det er par gange rundt omkring, og der også havde istandsat deres egne personlige Read-athons. Efter at have læst lidt mere om det, og jeg fandt ud af at ’reglerne’ som sådan bare er guidelines, og jeg så at flere venner og bekendte også havde tilmeldt sig besluttede jeg mig også for at tilmelde mig. Så er spørgsmålet bare om jeg kan holde mig vågen i 24 timer og læse. Jeg tror ugen op til kommer til at inkludere lidt forskellig forberedelse så jeg kan klare hele lørdagen. Dog har jeg endnu ikke besluttet mig for om jeg vil stå op kl. 2 om natten for at begynde at læse, eller om jeg bare vil begynde lige så snart jeg står op. Jeg kan alligevel ikke finde ud af at sove særlig længe i weekenden, mit arbejde har efterhånden fået mit indre vækkeur til at ringe noget tidligere end jeg gerne så det.

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Så kommer det næste spørgsmål bare, hvad skal jeg så læse hele dagen lang? Jeg har jo en del bøger jeg stadig er i færd med, så dem skal jeg selvfølgelig have læst færdig på et eller andet tidspunkt. Hvis jeg ikke får dem læst færdig her i påskedagene ryger de nok på listen. Ellers har jeg endnu ikke overskud til at sætte mig nogle specifikke mål, jeg tror først der vil komme nogle deciderede læsemål engang i næste uge. Som stakken af nye og endnu ikke læste bøger viser, så har jeg jo nok at vælge imellem – og det er ikke inklusive de få elektroniske bøger jeg også har.

Hvem har ellers meldt sig til Read-athon?

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Some Kind of Fairy Tale (Graham Joyce, 2012)

13234408It is Christmas afternoon and Peter Martin gets an unexpected phone call from his parents, asking him to come round. It pulls him away from his wife and children and into a bewildering mystery.

He arrives at his parents’ house and discovers that they have a visitor. His sister Tara. Not so unusual you might think, this is Christmas after all, a time when families get together. But twenty years ago Tara took a walk into the woods and never came back and as the years have gone by with no word from her the family have, unspoken, assumed that she was dead. Now she’s back, tired, dirty, disheveled, but happy and full of stories about twenty years spent traveling the world, an epic odyssey taken on a whim.

But her stories don’t quite hang together and once she has cleaned herself up and got some sleep it becomes apparent that the intervening years have been very kind to Tara. She really does look no different from the young woman who walked out the door twenty years ago. Peter’s parents are just delighted to have their little girl back, but Peter and his best friend Richie, Tara’s one time boyfriend, are not so sure. Tara seems happy enough but there is something about her. A haunted, otherworldly quality. Some would say it’s as if she’s off with the fairies. And as the months go by Peter begins to suspect that the woods around their homes are not finished with Tara and his family.

(Tekst fra Goodreads)

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Det der fangede mig ved den her bog var faktisk titlen. Jeg er jo eventyr-fantast så den her lød oplagt for sådan en som mig. Jeg blev dog overrasket allerede ved første kapitel over dens manglende eventyrlighed. Men overrasket på en god måde, for selv om den manglede den direkte eventyrlighed havde den eventyrets mystisk lige fra starten, og det ligger sig mest i Graham Joyces måde at skrive. Han spinder et spind på tværs af personer og tid som er så sammenfiltret og alligevel afskilt, men det virker fordi eventyret står på hver sin side. Det skal dog bemærkes at det ikke er eventyret i den forstand vi tror vi kender det. Derimod er det mystikken derved og det rebelske opgør med barndommen og skridtet på vej til at blive voksen.

Den mystiske Tara vender tilbage efter hvad hun selv tror er 6 måneder hos de eventyrlige væsner, som kun kan beskrives som feer, men er intet ligesom de feer vi normalt tænker på. Hvad Tara troede var 6 måneder viste sig at være 20 år for resten af hendes familie. Man kan let forestille sig de forviklinger der kan opstå ved sådan en situation. Joyce formår at smelte den skeptiske virkelighed sammen med håbet om at tro på eventyret som Tara repræsenterer. Man vil konstant gerne tro på Tara, men man kan også se det fra resten af hendes families synsvinkel og ser hende som en lille tosse. Den gamle eventyrlige verden bliver hurtigt smeltet sammen med den nymoderne teknologi i jagten på at finde sandheden om hvor Tara har været. Det spænder sig fra en lettere aparte psykolog til nymoderne tandlægemetoder til at determinere biologisk alder. Denne kombination fungerer også rigtig godt, for igen får man det ypperste fra begge verdner.

Det der nok var det bedste for mig var eventyrets konstante tilstedeværelse, om end i baggrunden, af historien. Hvert kapitel bliver indledt med et citat eller udsagn om eventyr på den ene eller den anden måde. Og for sådan en som mig der har skrevet en stor opgave om eventyr, var det en fryd at genkende størstedelen af de her eventyrlærde hele bogen igennem. Samtidig var der en gennemgående anekdote som senere i bogen skulle vise sig at være en sand fortælling fra Irland fra tidernes morgen, om feernes indvirkning i vores liv.

Hele vejen igennem blev jeg mere og mere viklet ind i det her eventyrlige ikke-eventyr verden, og uanset hvordan jeg opfattede historien var der næsten altid et eller andet der overraskede mig. Den endelige slutning var dog ikke helt tilfredsstillende, men det var nok mest af alt fordi jeg manglede den eventyrlige slutning. For den virkelige slutning var der.

5-star

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Mini-Cognac-Cupcakes

Kæresten skulle til fødselsdag her til aften og eftersom fødselaren er meget glad for kage blev vi enige om at det skulle være gaven. Så naturligvis gik jeg med glæde i køkkenet i løbet af eftermiddagen. Først skulle jeg dog finde ud af hvad jeg skulle bage. Når der er lejlighed til det er det jo altid dejligt at prøve noget nyt, så gik om bord i mine kogebøger og blev bare mere forvirret over hvad jeg skulle vælge. Valget faldt på miniupcakes, for så ville der jo også være lidt flere til nogle af alle gæsterne. Når det nu var til fødselsdagslejlighed blev de lidt mere specielle med en opskrift der krævede cognac. Det skabte dog endnu et problem, for ville kæresten tillade at donere noget af sine fornemme cognac? Det var det helt store spørgsmål, men i sidste ende gik han med til det eftersom det faktisk ikke var særlig meget der skulle i.

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De var faktisk også helt vildt nemme at lave, nok mest af alt fordi jeg har min elskede køkkenmaskine som gør det meste af arbejdet for mig. Du starter med en skål med 40g usaltet smør, 140g sukker, 100g mel, 20g kakao, 1½tsk bagepulver, ½tsk revet appelsinskal og en knivspids salt og det rører du sammen godt og grundigt ved lav hastighed indtil det ligner krummer. Ved siden af blander du 1 stort æg med ½dl cognac og ¾ dl sødmælk. Den blanding hælder du stille og roligt i smørblandingen – mens maskinen stadig kører – indtil dejen er glat. Fyld dejen i små cupcake forme (2/3 fyldte) og bag dem i ovnen ved 170 grader i ca. 15 min.

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Når kagerne er helt kølet af kan du dekorere dem med en glasur som du laver af 75g usaltet smør, 225g flormelis, 30g kakao og ¾ revet appelsinskal der røres sammen til en grynet-hed ved lav hastighed. Her tilsætter du så en blanding af 1 spsk cognac og 1 spsk sødmælk og skruer op på høj hastighed til glasuren er klar til at blive smurt på kagerne. Så kan du selv bestemme hvordan du selv vil over-pynte kagerne med krymmel eller hvad du ellers har stående.

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Jeg vil selvfølgelig ikke tage æren for den her opskrift for den er fra The Hummingbird Bakery og deres kogebog; Kagedage. I sig selv kan den kogebog anbefales noget så højt, jeg selv fandt den til 100 kr i Føtex (eller var det Bilka?) i sin tid, og den er alle pengene værd. Den er i min top5 af kogebøger, hvad er dine?

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Samlebøger

Med så mange fantastiske bøger i verdenen er det nogle gange svært at vælge hvad man skal læse. Derudover er der også så mange forskellige udgaver og serier i så mange flotte udseende og det gør det endnu mere vanskeligt at vælge hvilke udgaver man skal samle på. I min længere proces på at læse mig igennem de gode gamle klassikere begyndte jeg at samle på dem i små fine udgaver. Jeg faldt faktisk over dem første gang i USA, hvilket er lidt ironisk eftersom de bliver udgivet af et britisk forlag.

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Serien hedder The Collector’s Library og de er simpelthen så små og fine. Det er lige før de er i lommestørrelse allerede. Siderne er rigtig flot guldbelagt så det ser endnu flottere ud på hylden og når man beundrer dem. Næsten hver bog har også både pæne introduktioner og illustrationer. Illustrationerne er nogle af de originale og det syntes jeg er rigtig dejligt at opleve, i stedet for nogle af de mordene, ikke altid for pæne illustrationer der nogle gange kan følge med.

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Gennem årerne har jeg dog opdaget mange andre udgaver af de samme bøger, og det er nogle gange svært ikke at skifte mellem hvilke serier man skal samle på. I sidste ende er jeg alligevel glad for at jeg har vedholdt min samling af mine bøger. Indtil videre har jeg ikke fået tilføjet så mange nye dertil på det seneste, men det kommer med tiden. Der er jo som sagt så mange andre bøger at læse.

Hvilke udgaver har du valgt at samle på?

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Det Syvende Barn (Erik Valeur, 2011)

12527294Ved fødslen har de syv børn en eneste ting til fælles: De kommer til verden på Rigshospitalets fødegang B, og de skal alle bortadopteres. I månederne efter finder frøkenerne på det berømte spædbørnehjem Kongslund nye familier til dem rundt om i Danmark, og de vokser op uden at ane det mindste om deres fortid. Men en af børnene bærer på en hemmelighed, som for enhver pris skal skjules, og da en ældre kvinde mange år senere findes død på en strandbred tæt ved børnehjemmet, og et anonymt brev opskræmmer nationens mest magtfulde ministre, eksploderer sagen: Har det hæderkronede børnehjem gennem et halvt århundrede dækket over rige og berømte danskeres sidespring og skjulte skandaler på højeste plan?

Det 7. barn er fortællingen om denne gåde – og om båndet mellem de syv børn, hvis liv kom til at hænge uløseligt sammen i de årtier, hvor velfærden kom til Danmark – fra 1960’erne frem til i dag.

(Tekst fra goodreads)

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Det Syvende Barn vandt jo forfærdeligt mange priser i det år den kom på banen, hvilket var grunden til den kom på min liste af bøger jeg ville læse. Mange bekendte roste den også flot, så jeg blev overbevist om at der nok var noget om snakken. Dog havde jeg ikke overskud til at læse den i bogform, eftersom den jo var skrevet på dansk, og det på trods af at originalsproget rent faktisk er dansk. Alligevel var jeg heldig at finde den som lydbog på biblioteket og det var den udvej jeg tog – og det jeg godt nok glad for jeg gjorde. Havde jeg begyndt på den i bogform er jeg bange for jeg aldrig ville have kommet igennem den.

I starten syntes jeg egentlig at det var en okay bog, men jo længere ind i historien vi kom og jo flere personer der blev præsenteret blev den også bare mere indviklet. Der er så mange personer og deres næsten fulde baggrundshistorie man skal holde styr på at det bliver alt for uoverskueligt. Så meget at jeg i mange tilfælde bare lod lydbogen spille uden helt at høre efter. Det kunne jeg faktisk også slippe af sted med og stadig komme tilbage til hovedhistorien, netop fordi vi får fortalt så mange små længere historier udover den egentlige historie.

Derudover er der også alt for meget politik inde over historien til min smag. Der går alt for meget magt-intriger i det at det til sidst bare handler om hvem der kan få skovlen under hvem, mens man sidder og venter på at få de sidste detaljer at det enormt store puslespil til at gå op. Selv da man endelig kommer til slutningen er det ikke alt der giver mening, ikke efter mit hoved i hvert fald. Der var nogle ting jeg bare ikke fangede ved slutningen at jeg sad tilbage med en meget flad følelse, og enorm skuffelse efter den omtale bogen har fået.

Det er vist tydeligt at sige jeg ikke var synderlige begejstret over denne bog og jeg kan på sin vis ikke helt sætte mig ind i hvordan den har kunnet vinde nogle af alle de priser den fik i sine første år på bogmarkedet. Nu har jeg læst den og kan strege den på min læseliste og hurtigt begive mig videre til den næste, for jeg kan også roligt sige at det nok ikke er en jeg kan finde på at genlæse.

1 star

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Lørdagscookies

Fordi det er weekend og fordi jeg får en veninde på besøg i morgen blev lørdag i dag til en mindre bagedag for mig. Ikke nødvendigvis fordi det tog mig lang tid at bage to omgange af cookies, de var faktisk utrolig nemme at lave hvis man selv skulle få lyst til det. Min veninde som jeg får besøg af i morgen er på det seneste blevet lettere overfølsom overfor mel og hvidt sukker, hvilket jo satte mig lidt på en prøve med at finde på hvad jeg skulle bage. Men, men jeg kender jo noget til det ikke at spise mel i større mængder, eftersom vi herhjemme spiser efter Jane Faerbers vidunderlige LCHF kogebøger, og der er der mange lækre opskrifter på ’sunde’ brød og kager. Det er dog ikke der jeg har fundet de opskrifter jeg valgte af afprøve i dag. Tværtimod var det bogen Lykken er Chokolade. Nu tænker du måske hvordan kan der findes ’sunde’ opskrifter i en kogebog dedikeret til chokolade? Men det kan der altså, med det i mente at man bruger chokolade med så højt kakaoindhold som man kan holde ud.

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Heri fandt jeg opskrifterne på hele to forskellige cookies. Den første jeg faldt over var lavet på mel malet af Pecan nødder og med appelsin og chokolade. Den var så nem at lave, ligesom den anden at jeg havde lavet begge portioner på lige knap en time. Jeg har endnu ikke fået smagt på dem her med pecan endnu, jeg har valgt at gemme dem til i morgen.

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De andre jeg lavede derimod har jeg smagt på. De er heller ikke lavet på mel, men peanutbutter og masser af det. I begge opskrifter skulle der godt nok sukker i, men i stedet for almindelig hvidt sukker brugte jeg noget af det lyse rørsukker jeg havde i skabet, for at se om det ikke ville lette lidt på tingene. Begge opskrifter havde en god portion groft, hakket mørkt chokolade blandet i, men den her skulle også have lidt havsalt i sig. Normalt syntes jeg at den salte kombination ikke passer til den søde del af køkkenet, men kæresten er meget glad for det, så i håb om at han også vil syntes om den fik de det.

2014-04-05 14.57.22

Som sagt fik jeg lavet begge portioner på under en time og de smager indtil videre rigtig godt. Så hvis du ligesom forfatterne til Lykken er Chokolade er utrolig glad for chokolade og spiser det dagligt, så vil jeg anbefale den her kogebog.

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Chapter One – Memories of the Past

Det er den første fredag i måneden og som jeg har lovet begynder jeg fremover at udgive et kapitel fra min roman, som jeg stadig arbejder på. I sidste uge fik i en lille smagsprøve i form af en prolog. I dag er det så tid til første kapitel hvor I møder vores hovedperson Jennifer Paris.

(It is the first Friday of the month and as I promised I will henceforth post a chapter from my novel, which is still a work in progress. Last week you had a little teaser in the shape of a prologue. Today it is time for the first chapter in which you meet our protagonist Jennifer Paris.)

Chapter One – Memories of the Past

The shadow moved swiftly across the ground in the increasing twilight. A necessary feat to keep up with its owner. The young woman ran through the wilderness paying no attention to her long, red hair getting caught in the branches surrounding her in her chase. The only thing her green eyes could focus on was a point ahead of her; everything else was just a blur on her path.

The woman was not fully grown in her appearance, yet she could no longer be called a child. Her eyes would give her away, and the determination they showed at that precise moment said it all. Her tiny body moved gracefully yet hastily through the thick undergrowth of the forest and did not take any notice of the many cuts and bruises she gained on her way. Her thin clothes were torn from the many thorns she had come across on her long journey. The skin was bright underneath layers of dirt and numerous cuts and bruises her body had sustained form the long period on the move. She stopped very suddenly. Every one of her senses were heightened and she slowly closed her eyes to enhance them. Standing like this, calm and peaceful, you would not know how upset the woman was and how strong her desire was to capture her prey. For several days she had been on the hunt, stopping only to take care of the basic needs that arose. The memory of a good night’s sleep was too far from her to recall and no longer a familiarity to her. All those basic things were no longer of importance however, not if her hunt would result in her gaining what was rightfully hers once more.

She glanced carefully around for the smallest movement, but as she became better at tracking her prey, so did the prey become better at hiding from her. She suddenly heard a branch break not far from her. Her prey had made a mistake and the woman leaped ahead sure of herself to catch up. The darkness was closing in on the forest but it didn’t bother her. Through her hunt all her senses had grown, including her vision; and she was rapidly adapting to the darkness growing stronger and stronger as the night fell. She could still tell the harsh smell of her prey through the fresh air of the forest and the newly coming dew of the night. The disgusting smell of soot, sweat and confinement was unmistakable.

She moved faster and faster and the stench grew stronger and stronger but she forced herself not to breathe it in. All of a sudden she found herself in a tiny clearing thickly covered with moss.  Several small boulders lined the edge of the clearing. Leaning on one of these boulders was an old man. He was gasping for breath, heaving large amounts of air down his tired lungs. He stood bent over, arching his back, making it more hunched than it already was. His old skin was ruddy under the many layers of dirt and grime and like the woman’s his had several cuts and bruises; many of these were surrounded by congealed blood. His thinning grey hair was sweaty, clinging to his forehead and halfway covering the rest of his face. The eyes were bloodshot and stared directly at the woman, who had stopped behind him. Despite the many obvious and less obvious injuries, the old man did not seem to care about any of those things. His energy was addressed at the woman behind him and the tiny object he held tightly in his left hand. It was no bigger than a walnut and barely visible, aside from the silver chain dangling from the man’s hand reflecting the amount of moonlight getting through the trees. The eyes of the old man darted back and forth between the young woman and his left hand. He tightened his grip around the tiny object and very slowly, tiny drops of blood began to trickle down his hand and arm.

>>Hand it over!<< Commanded the young woman holding out her hand as she took two steps closer. The old man scrambled, as far as his body would let him, further away from the woman. He was a pathetic sight as he stood there, though it could be more accurate to say he was hanging on the boulder, still gasping for breath. It seemed unbelievable that it was this old man, looking so close to death, the woman had been chasing for so long.

>>Never!<< He rasped back, his voice only just audible above the swarm of mosquitoes drawn to the blood of the old man, yet he paid no attention to these either. If anything his grip only tightened further around the object, dropping more blood on the ground.

The woman felt more frustrated than ever before and her anger towards the old man grew steadily as he tightened his grip. As her anger rose, so did a bright light that had started to spread through the fingers of the old man and the tiny object he was clutching. In a desperate attempt he moved his hand further away from the young woman though it did no good. The light grew stronger and bigger and still he kept his grip tight. A tiny smile crept over the lips of the young woman. She could see the pain on the man’s face. He collapsed onto both knees on the ground in the clearing, yet he still did not loosen his grip on the object and the anger of the woman increased steadily with each minute. The air around the clearing started to grow warm and moisture began to find its way to the clearing, along with the many insects, besides the mosquitoes, and swarmed around the old man, now dripping blood from several more places on his body, though no places as bad as his hand.

His hand glowed red as if it were in flames and you could begin to see the shape of the object on the back of his hand; A small figure in the shape of a circle with a strap over it appeared to be burning its way through the old man’s hand.

>>Is it worth it? Is the pain worth it?<< Raged the woman, standing her ground, firm as one of the boulders, and staring hard at her prey without the tiniest amount of pity. The man was trembling from head to toe and sweat was dripping from him, soaking his worn clothes. He calmed himself for a few seconds and stared right back at the woman and her green eyes and in an almost non-audible voice he said:

>>Yes.<< At that exact same moment the wrath of the woman exploded and flames arose at the edge of the clearing cutting off every way of escape. The woman could feel the fear of the man seep through the warmth and she embraced it. The man was shaking and was by now lying flat on the ground. The young woman brushed a tiny lock of her hair from her face as she stepped over him and gazed down at him eagerly. Then, kneeling down she said: >>You can’t win Teron.<< No sooner had the last syllable left her lips before an ocean of flames erupted around them. The man twisted, screaming from pain. He couldn’t see or feel anything besides the scorching flames licking all over his body. All he felt was his life seeping out of his body as the flames consumed him ever so slowly.

 

At the same moment Jennifer awoke, drenched in sweat and tangled in her sheets. For a moment one would believe it had been her trapped in the flames because her eyes portrayed the same fear. She untangled herself from the clammy sheets. She had been so engaged in her dream, as if she was right next to the old man and young woman, that she had thrashed and turned in her bed, wrapping herself more and more in her sheets. Still shaking from the dream, she pulled her legs close and sat dead still for a few moments to gather herself. According to the clock on the dresser it was far past midnight yet a long time till she had to get up. The dream still lingered with her and she was well aware she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep.

The same dream had been returning to Jennifer for several nights in a row, and it intensified more and more with each night; so much in fact that Jennifer could almost feel the wrath of the young woman and the old man’s fear. She rubbed her tired eyes as they started to adjust to the darkness. The lack of sleep during the night was starting to get to her and despite the fact that the summer holidays was about to start, her teachers were not happy with her for snoozing in class for most of the time.

She hinged her dark hair behind her ears and pulled the sheets over her again. After calming down again, the cold of the night crept over her. She had completely given up hope of going back to sleep. The first night the dream occurred she’d gone straight back to sleep, merely figuring it was a normal nightmare. However, she quickly woke again after returning to the exact same dream. After that first night, the dream had reoccurred almost every night, and Jennifer was well aware by now that it was no ordinary nightmare. She no longer tried to go back to sleep, afraid to go back to the dream, and she kept putting off going to sleep at all in the evenings. She knew it was just a dream, but at the same time it seemed much more real and not like any other nightmare she had ever had. That part scared her most of all. It was that part that kept her from going to bed at all some nights. But she had to try and get some sleep eventually.

Tonight was no different than the others; She would get no more sleep. Once more she pushed the sheets off and went to turn on the lights. Ever so slowly she opened the door to hear whether the rest of the house was asleep. After just a few seconds she recognized the light snoring going through the house from the rest of the occupants. She closed the door again and turned to face her room. Yet again Jennifer was forced to entertain herself in the solitude of her room. The problem was, she had been doing this for many nights prior to this and there wasn’t much left for her to do. She had tidied what could be tidied, organized what could be organized, leaving her questioning what to do this night? Her eyes caught sight of a photo album at the top of one of her shelves. The spine of the album was worn and the album itself was slightly dusty. She hadn’t been able to dust her room, due to the fact that she had to do everything by night without disturbing the rest of the house. Jennifer blew on the album, making the dust fly about the room as she sat down with her back against the bed. Thankfully the pictures had not been harmed by the dust. Naturally, a few had torn corners from years of flipping through the album but otherwise Jennifer had taken good care of them. She flicked swiftly through the first couple of pages, containing mostly baby pictures of her. After a few pages she stopped abruptly. She’d come across a picture of her mother. Her breathing became heavier and her mood dropped a few levels, even further after the nightmare. Her mother looked so happy and peaceful in the picture; Jennifer checked the date on the back. It went back almost three years, which meant it was dated nearly a year before they had discovered her illness and another year before the doctors had given up hope. Jennifer let out a heavy sigh. The last days had been very hard and trying for her mother. The only comfort Jennifer could think of was at least her mother would be happy now she had joined her father.

At the mere age of 17 Jennifer had lost both her parents. Granted, she had never met her father, he had died shortly after she was born. But she’d had her mother since she had been able to remember and now she would never see her again. It had been five months now. Five months where Jennifer had been forced to live without her mother, five hard months. Though, she wasn’t alone it didn’t make the loss easier. She still had her two sisters Samantha and Anna. Samantha, who insisted on being called Sam, had moved back into the house along with her husband, Jack, and their daughter, Susan, of barely one year old. Sam and Jack had named their daughter after Susan, their mother.

In the first days Jennifer didn’t want to be around people, let alone talk to them. Because she was the youngest of the three she’d had a different and at times closer relationship to their mother, and her death had left a larger gap in her heart compared to theirs, at least Jennifer felt it had. Jennifer had closed up and had not wished to talk to anyone during the first weeks. Sam and Jack had moved back in along with Susan, back to Sam’s childhood home, taking care Jennifer wouldn’t end up in the system the last year before she turned 18. After a short while Sam had been made Jennifer’s legal guardian. Yet Jennifer still was not approachable by anybody. Her other sister, Anna, who had also lived at home the first few weeks after their mother’s death swept Jennifer’s behaviour off as grief, saying she just needed time to get over the shock. In a way, Anna had been right, because as the time went by Jennifer slowly opened up. Although she wasn’t quite herself yet. However, Jennifer had realized she wasn’t the only one missing her mother and with the help from her sisters everything became a bit easier.

In the bedroom across the hall Jennifer could hear Jack mumble in his sleep, a thing he did quite often and it made Jennifer smile because of the familiarity. She replaced the picture of her mother in the album and kept flicking through it. More pictures of Jennifer as a baby came, along with baby pictures of Anna and Sam. All in all she was glad she still had them and that they both took so good care of her. She didn’t even dare to think of how it would be without them. As the minutes passed and Jennifer got through photo album upon photo album, light started to brighten outside her window. She hadn’t kept track of time and it came as a slight surprise when Sam poked her head in Jennifer’s bedroom.

>>Morning Jennifer. Up and…<< She had a surprised look on her face when she saw Jennifer sitting on the floor.

>>At’em.<< Jennifer finished.

>>Good morning.<< Jennifer closed the photo album and got to her feet. >>Is it morning already?<< She looked in bewilderment out the window at the sunshine.

>>Another nightmare tonight?<< Sam crossed her arms as she leaned in the doorway and looked at Jennifer in a way much too similar to their mother. Jennifer nodded without so much as a word and dropped down on her bed. Sam gave a sigh and went over to sit beside her as she pulled her blonde hair to one side.

>>How many nights has it been now?<< She asked quietly and placed her hands in her lap, waiting for Jennifer to answer. Jennifer kept her silence as she tried to remember when the first nightmare had occurred.

>>A few weeks. Sam, why do you think I keep having this same dream, over and over again?<< Jennifer looked up at her sister. Her green eyes pierced their way to Sam’s greyish eyes and she bit her lip, just as she always did when she was in doubt of anything. >>Sam?<< Jennifer repeated. Sam averted her eyes and sighed.

>>Come along.<< Was all she said and Jennifer followed her to Anna’s old room, which now also functioned as storage room. She pushed her way through the many boxes to get to a dresser at the very back of the room while Jennifer waited by the door. Sam soon returned with a tiny box, barely bigger than a lunchbox. She gave a small nod of the head telling Jennifer to follow her again. They went into Sam and Jack’s bedroom where Jack was only just getting out of bed.

>>Could you give us a moment, darling?<< Sam asked, and Jack left the two of them with a nod and a kiss for Sam. He recognised the look she gave him and he knew the two sisters needed some time alone. Once Jack had left the room Sam went to sit on the bed and indicated for Jennifer to join her. >>Originally, I hadn’t planned for you to have this at least for another year or two.<< She still had her eyes on the tiny box. >>But as things and time have progressed I only see it fit it is returned to you now.<< Her voice was heavy and Jennifer got the feeling Sam really didn’t want to give her what was in the tiny box. Sam opened the box and revealed another even tinier box. Jennifer could tell it was a small jewellery box of some kind. With the bigger box pushed aside, Sam held tightly around the smaller jewellery box.

>>Returned? What do you mean by returned to me?<<

>>This was given as a gift to you when you were born.  It was a gift from our father.<< Sam began but was interrupted by Jennifer.

>>But if it was a gift from when I was born how come I haven’t seen it before?<< Sam sighed before she continued.

>>Because, and let me finish before you start asking questions. As I said, it was a gift from our father; mum however, took it away from us later on. Shortly after dad died she took them and hid them from all of us, she didn’t want us to be reminded of dad too much. It’s only recently I had mine back.<< At this point Sam found a box from her dresser in the exact same size as the one she had in her lap, only slightly more damaged and worn from time. Afterwards she handed the first box to Jennifer, who hesitantly opened it. Inside she found a necklace; bright silver with a beautiful locket. Sam opened her box and showed an almost identical necklace with locket, only in gold.

>>Once mum found out the seriousness of her illness it didn’t take her more than a couple of days before she gave me mine back. The next day, she gave Anna hers back. She asked me to give you yours on your birthday, when you were ready for it. Although it’s not your birthday I think you’re about ready for it. It’s a locket. Go ahead and open it.<< Just as Jennifer opened hers, so did Sam. There was already a picture inside the locket of their parents taken years ago, several years before they had children. They looked blissfully happy and as if they had just met.

>>It’s from their first year together. Taken many years ago. Dad told mum he knew at that point already she was the one for him and he had the first locket made as a gift for her. That was this one.<< Sam held out her own locket and Jennifer could clearly see it was much older than hers. >>When they had me it was handed down to me. When mum got pregnant for the second time dad had a second locket made just like the first one with the exact same picture. Anna’s is in a brighter gold. And they repeated it with you in silver as you can see. It’s our common link to our parents and each other.<<

>>But how come you’re giving it to me now and what’s this got to do with my nightmares? There’s more to it, isn’t there?<< Jennifer became very sceptical and with a look at her sister she suddenly began to question whether she wanted to hear more. Sam fell silent with a sad look on her face.

>>Yes, I do know more. I’m just not sure how to tell you. If mum was still here she would stop me for sure. It’s only six months ago I was allowed to tell Anna, while mum was still alive to back me up. So once I tell you this you have to believe me because no matter how you may want to twist and turn it around, it is true. There’s no way around it.<<

>>But what is it?<< Silence roamed between the two for a while, a silence Sam used to gather her nerves to tell Jennifer a piece of information that would change her life forever. Jennifer waited for Sam’s news and didn’t dare break the silence. Finally, Sam heaved in a deep breath and opened her mouth. But what she said was so mind boggling and impossible for Jennifer to wrap her head around that she simply sat completely still with her mouth open in shock.

>>Jennifer, dad never died. He’s still alive.<<

Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg

 

To be continued in Chapter Two – Burn Marks.

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