Tagged: books

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019: Books of February

February was a sucky month for books! I fell into a slump and every book took weeks. But trying to keep this up.

Goal for the year: 50 books.
Books read by January 31st: 8.
Books ahead of schedule: 0.33 (50 books / 12 months x 2 = 0.33)

Book bingo: fiction: 3 of 16 books read.
Goal for the month: 2.33 total for January-February, so 0.66 ahead of schedule.

Book bingo: non-fiction: 3 of 16 books read.
Goal for the month: 2.33 total for January-February, so 0.66 ahead of schedule.

 

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Date: January 20th-February 10th
Stars: ★★★★☆

I loved this book. Michelle Obama feels so genuine and real, and a very intelligent, accomplished woman, coming from a working class family, with a disabled parent. Until we hit the point where she was proud (?) to push BMI measurements a standard care in children (this is utterly bullshit people, here’s my Instagram caption about it) I had heart in my eyes. It’s the one thing about her, and about this book that really disappointed me, so it’s still a 4.5 rounded down, but seriously? She’s too intelligent to ever believe that’s a good thing.

 

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Date: February 16th-27th
Stars: ★★★★★

My first five star book of the year! I loved this one so much. It has a lot of low ratings and outraged people on GoodReads, but I’m not one of them. It is a somewhat exaggerated story: Libby is not just fat, she was once cut out of her house because she was too fat to fit through the door; Jack doesn’t just have face blindness, he has the most severe case the doctors have ever seen. But Libby’s story about her size, and how it affects her hits me hard, and Jack’s experience of the world, which is filled with strangers and people who expect things he can’t give them (i.e., remembering who they are), is so anxiety inducing and terrifying. As someone with agoraphobia I identify so hard with these two kids, even though neither of them do, and the love story is sweet and painful and I love it. So, five stars it is.

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018: Books of January

There is NO WAY I’ll be able to keep this up for the entire year, but I’m going to start out all hopeful, intending to write about the books I’ve read in the last month. Let’s see how often that ends up happening!

Goal for the year: 50 books.
Books read by January 31st: 6.5. Ish.
Books ahead of schedule: 2.

Book bingo: fiction: 3 of 16 books read.
Goal for the month: 1.33, so 1.77 ahead of schedule, if books came in decimals.

Book bingo: non-fiction: 2 of 16 books read.
Goal for the month: 1.33, so 0.77 ahead of schedule, if books, again, came in decimals.

 


Halloween Is Not a Verb (Belladonna University #4) by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Date: January 7th-9th
Stars: ★★★★☆

My review for this book is, and I quote “This is the most Tansy story”. Which is true! But not very informative. Idk, guys, I’m not a big reviewer, but reading Tansy’s stuff is always like coming home, somehow. It’s nice and comfortable and fluffy and fun, and that goes double for Belladonna University, which is the ebook versions of the serials she reads on her podcast.


Truly, Wildly Deeply by Jenny McLachlan

Date: January 4th-11th
Stars: ★★★☆☆

Also not a very wordy review (which actually, was in my Instagram stories, not on GoodReads): “Not a favourite, sadly. The disability stuff was really well done, but I want more out of YA romance than I was given”. That about sums it up. I loved a book where the main character was disabled but it was just a small part of her. Her struggles, her not-struggles (being disabled doesn’t mean everything sucks, guys), all that. But the romance? No, thanks. And not just because the guy in question doesn’t take no for an answer and tells her she’s not the girl he thought she was when he sees her kiss someone else.


Kring denna kropp by Stina Wollter

Date: January 11th-14th
Stars: ★★★★☆

This one has an actual review, though I liked what I put in my stories more, which was this: “I loved this book so much, and wish it existed in translation. Stina Wollter is the kindest force of nature I know, and I want to share her words on body positivity and feminism and creativity with EVERYONE.”

This is a book in Swedish about body positivity, but the review is in English, should you want to go and read it.

 


Fake Geek Girl (Belladonna University #1) by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Date: January 16th
Stars: ★★★★☆

I admit it. I read this before it was on GoodReads, and didn’t grade it then, and was suddenly REALLY BOTHERED by the lack of stars and a reading date, so I quickly re-read it. I love it still, and the above ‘review’ of Halloween pretty much covers what I feel about this book as well.


Release by Patrick Ness

Date: January 15th-18th
Stars: ★★★★☆

Also has a review, go me! There are quotes from it as well in it so go read that instead. I’m just gonna tell you that it’s EVERYTHING, gut punchy and amazing and emotional. The way it depicts Adam’s sex life is so much, and I love it. So yeah, read this book. It would’ve been five stars easily, had there not been a bit of a fantasy element that I didn’t much care for woven into Adam’s story.


Hamilton: the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Date: January 26th-28th
Stars: ★★★★★

Loved this one so much. I do wish I’d splurged on the hard cover, because reading it on my computer (reading it on my Kindle didn’t work AT ALL, so the Kindle app it was) was a pain and required a lot of zooming in and out and back and forth.

Other than that (and let’s be real, that was a me-issue, not a book-issue), I LOVED this book. The annotations in the lyrics were great, the peeks into Lin-Manuel’s notebooks were super cool, and the in between bits following a different actor and the way from an idea to a show was awesome.

I’m going to make a little cut here and put in some pictures of quotes I screenshotted, because I can do that. They’re not that clear because of the zoom issue, but I want them here anyway.

a picture or five this way ⌲ ⌲ ⌲

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016: Problematic sexualisation in books (and also, a review)

This was written for GoodReads, but I’m crossposting, since I want to use this blog more! Today’s topic: problematic portrayals of women in books.

Since I started my GoodReads account in 2009 I’ve given a total of six one star reviews. I’m generous, usually, because I’ll always appreciate the work that goes into a book, being a writer myself, and usually round up. One thing I can’t stand is men writing questionable portrayals of women, especially teenage girls. The most memorable one stars here are World War Z (review) and Eldvittnet (review), a Swedish crime mystery, translated to English with the title The Fire Witness.

My review for World War Z details how bad it is at portraying women, how few there are (I read 25% before deciding not to finish, and in that time there were interviews with 17 people, of which 14 were male and 3 female (82 vs 18%), 1 male and 2 females (7 vs 66%) had their looks described), and how they’re objectified and their accomplishments are passed by. For Eldvittnet I talk about how problematic it is when a crime mystery is centered around teenage girls with mental health problems, many of them self harming, when a big plot point is them being either used sexually or drugged or restrained in unethical ways by staff at a treatment centre they’ve been committed to against their will.

And then there’s this book, Oktober är den kallaste månaden, translated to English with the title October is the Coldest Month by Christoffer Carlsson (review, though this is more or less a c/p of this post), which incidentally have won a price for best crime novel for children and teens. (Insert my alarm that a book with this portrayal of a sixteen year old girl won an actual prize?)

The setting is the following: Vega, 16, lives in rural Sweden where things are bleak in every way. Police starts searching for her brother, who goes missing after being present at the scene of a crime. What they don’t know is that Vega was present too, and knows what happened. That sounds like a decent story, right? It would’ve been, if it hadn’t been so rife with unnecessary, gross depictions of sex in relation to this girl, who is 16. I’m no prude, and I’m actually a fan of books that talks about sex in frank terms, because people have sex and that’s just the way it is. I’m not in any way saying that YA it has no place in YA. I’m saying that if you, as a male, write teen girls, you really need to be mindful of how you write about sex.

In this book it’s done in a way that makes it feel… everything but that. Under the cut I’m listing all the sexual references in the first 40 pages, which is as far as I read. They’re graphic, as a warning. (Will using these terms give me gross bots? Time will tell.)

So much graphic ⌲ ⌲ ⌲

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014: #fallforbooksmugglers, day 18-31


Part 2 of me being the weirdo that transcribes Instagram challenges so I have them in a nice collection coming up. No, it doesn’t make sense. And no, I don’t care.

  

Day 18: day 18: Shelfie. This is always my favourite prompt. Here’s my big bookcase! Over half the books I own are actually on my Kindle, so it’s not full and shares space with yarn, candles, photographs, a Tardis-mug filled with pens, two My Little Ponies, a yarn winder and some other crap. It’s also the first piece of furniture I bought when moving out of my parents’ house nearby 20(!) years ago, so I love it even more because of that, even though it’s just a standard IKEA-shelf.

Lots more under here ⌲ ⌲ ⌲

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013: #fallforbooksmugglers, day 1-14

Okay, so I’m an old lady of the internet  and want to save some of my Instagram content onto here, so I don’t lose it. Today this will be my #fallforbooksmugglers month because I almost completely finished it! Which is a struggle with month long challenges. This is super image heavy, and got really long so I’m dividing it on several posts.

Day 1: last SF/F read: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (4 stars). Still have 18% to go but it still counts! This novella was a happy surprise too because I wasn’t a huge fan of book 1 in the series.

Day 2: favourite SF/F read in 2018 (so far!): Impossible to choose, but I decided to give Swedish fantasy writer Sara Bergmark Elfgren some love. Her book Norra Latin, book 1 of Stockholmsserien (review, 5 stars), is about a girl who moves to Stockholm to go to a theatre high school since her local high school doesn’t offer that program.

Side note: In Swedish you have to choose a focus from the start and the classes are tailored to that, with some base classes everyone takes regardless of what you choose. Some of the less common options are only available in bigger cities.

Either way: the school is an old, amazing building (which in reality hasn’t been a school since the 1980s) home to some supernatural fun stuff. The two main characters are both queer, and it took some getting into but I really liked it. As far as I know it hasn’t been translated to English.

Lots more under here ⌲ ⌲ ⌲

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010: Reading adventures in 2017

I usually do a summary like this, and I figure I could actually post it in public too. I’m not a big reviewer (I think my best review to date is IT’S LIKE BUFFY BUT WITH UNICORNS about Rampant by Diana Peterfreund), but I do like stats. God, do I love stats. So here’s a small Q&A with myself about the reading year that was 2017. (The best thing about 2017, let’s be real.)

Books read | Books I aimed to read
I read 71 (!) thanks to the Hugos and their novellas/novelette/graphic novel categories (I don’t count short stories in this tally). I burnt out several times over, which isn’t weird given that my goal was just 40. Lesson for 2018 is definitely to pace myself.

Number of authors | Authors with multiple works
51 unique authors. I read more than one book of 8 authors.

Brian K Vaughan (7)
G Willow Wilson (6)
Ebbe Schön (4)
Cath Crowley, Gail Carriger, Mira Grant (3)
Becky Chambers, Linn Ullmann (2)

Gender; author | Gender; main character
I always skew heavily towards female so this is roughly where I usually end up.

32 unique female authors, 45 books total. (63%)
17 unique male authors, 25 books total. (35%)
One book had one male and two female authors (1%)

35 books with a female main character (64%)
7 books with a male main character (13%)
13 books with both a female and male main characters (24%)

Nationality | Ethnicity
I read a lot of books by Americans. A lot. I also read a lot of white authors. It’s something I try to be mindful of, but I could do a hell of a lot better.

USA: 28 (55%)
UK: 6 (12%)
Sweden: 6 (12%)
Australia: 4 (8%)
Norway: 3 (6%)
Austria, Canada, Iran, Nigeria: 1 (2% each)

37 white authors (72%)
14 POCs (mainly Asian and African American) (27%)

Fiction | Non-fiction | Graphic novels
41 fiction, 15 non-fiction, 15 graphic novels. In 2016 the number was 43/5/0, so my commitment to more non-fiction is working even if fiction is my #1 love.

Oldest book read | Newest book read
The oldest were Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847), Männen med rosa triangel by Heinz Heger (1972), and The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982). The newest were Everything But the Truth by Gillian McAllister, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Bromancers (Tansy Rayner Roberts), all published in 2017.

Rereads
Sixteen. Saga, Ms Marvel, the Gracie Faltrain books (Cath Crowley), the Newsflesh books (Mira Grant), and Wuthering Heights. I barely even remember reading the last one before, because my English wasn’t great when I attempted it. Also, it was twenty years ago.

Translated works
Thanks to the library I read more translated stuff this year. My favourite was definitely Norwegian non-fiction, which sounds like a weird sub-genre, but it translates so smoothly to Swedish, and it’s a delight to read. This is the whole list:

47 sekunder/The Gaze of the Gazelle by Arash Hejazi. From English.
Det största brottet/Den største forbrytelsen by Marte Michelet. From Norwegian.
En av oss/En av oss by Åsne Seierstad. From Norwegian.
Männen med rosa triangel/Die Männer mit dem rosa Winkel by Heinz Heger. From German.
De oroliga/De urulige by Linn Ullmann. From Norwegian.
De dyrbara/Det dyrbare (from Norwegian) by Linn Ullman

Works in Swedish
This is actually a high number for me. Most of the time I read ten books in English (my second language) for every book in Swedish (my first language). So this is actually remarkable, being me. I’m aiming to do even better this year.

Grönt! by Karin Eliasson.
I havet finns så många stora fiskar by Sara Lövestam.
Håll käften, jag räknar! by Julia Skott.
Dig blir det aldrig något av by Peter Pohl.
Folktro om ödet och lyckanÄlvor, vättar och andra väsenSvenska sägner and Erotiska väsen by Ebbe Schön.
Döden i skogen by Göran Lager.

Favourite reads | Books that deserve a mention
I’m very generous with my stars so this isn’t necessarily what I loved the best or had the most stars. It’s just what I really want to remember.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I read this in a DAY, which I haven’t done since 2007.

A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2) by Becky Chambers. About an AI trying to human and a girl raised by one. Many thanks to the Hugos for this one.

I havet finns så många stora fiskar (available in Swedish) by Sara Lövestam. It’s from the POV of a five year old boy whose parents neglect him enough that a pedophile almost grabs him. It hurts to read. It hurts so much. Sadly not available in translation.

Det största brottet (available in Swedish and Norwegian) by by Marte Michelet. Non-fiction, about Norway during World War II. I cried. A lot.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. So painful. Honestly, after reading this I don’t know if I can bring myself to watch the show.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. What if you lived on a hellmouth and wasn’t a Slayer or a Scooby? Add some mental illness and a dash of queer representation, and you’re good to go.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Loved this one and the chaotic nature of the narrative. Thanks to the Hugos for kicking it in my path.

En av oss/One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway (available in a ton of languages, including English!) by by Åsne Seierstad. I can’t summarise this one, so maybe read this for the quick recap. Or remember that this is the guy who set off a bomb, posed as a police officer to calm a large group of teens about it, and then murdered all of them. Afterwards, when the police told him people were scared he smiled and told them ‘that’s what terror does’.

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definite History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi. Long, academic, hard to read in all ways; both emotionally and literally. It took me two months to read and was absolutely worth it.