2008 May archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: May ‘08


31st May, 2008
May stats
— Love @ 23:27 Comments (2)
Filed under: Stats

I never posted my reading stats for April, mostly because I didn’t read more than two books that month, so I didn’t feel like there was a point to it. In May, however, my lust for reading came back with a vengeance. The monthly total for May ended up forty books, and I don’t know about you, but I think that’s quite a lot of them. True, May was also a month for YA and kiddie lit, which meant that a lot of those forty books were quite short, but all the same! It’s a personal record.

I have all of June off (actually, that’s not quite true—I go back to work on the 30th), which is going to leave me with a ton of time for reading. In fact, I went to the library today and picked up fourteen books (seven of which I have now finished) for some summer reading, and I’ve got a parcel of twelve books due to arrive in the post sometime next week. Not to mention all the books already on my TBR shelves, of course.

May books:

  1. Rockabilly; Josefin Ekman, B
  2. 102 Minutes: The Story of the Fight to Survive inside the Twin Towers; Jim Dwyer & Kevin Flynn, B
  3. I Am America (And So Can You!); Stephen Colbert, B
  4. My War: Killing Time in Iraq; Colby Buzzell, B
  5. Hästen från Porten; Carina Burman, B
  6. Atonement; Ian McEwan, C
  7. Kometen kommer; Tove Jansson, B
  8. Bögslungan; Per Alexandersson, C
  9. Kårnulf Was Here; Josefine Adolfsson, B
  10. Allting som är trevligt är bra för magen; Tove Jansson, C
  11. Bananflugornas herre; Fredrik Eklund, C
  12. Does My Head Look Big in This?; Randa Abdel-Fattah, C
  13. Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm, D
  14. Ior och hästarna; Renata Wrede, C
  15. Lugn för dej, Gelika; Olga Wikström, D
  16. Marsmädchen; Tamara Bach, B
  17. Trollkarlens hatt; Tove Jansson, A
  18. Farlig midsommar; Tove Jansson, A
  19. Trollvinter; Tove Jansson, C
  20. Tjuvlyssnat; Damon Rasti & Gloria Hedman, B
  21. Det osynliga barnet; Tove Jansson, C
  22. Pappan och havet; Tove Jansson, C
  23. Den som inte tar bort luddet ska dö; David Batra (not reviewed)
  24. Sent i november; Tove Jansson, C
  25. Doctor Who: I Am a Dalek; Gareth Roberts, C
  26. Daddy-Long-Legs; Jean Webster, B
  27. Dear Enemy; Jean Webster (not reviewed)
  28. Knappt lovlig; Katarina von Bredow (not reviewed)
  29. Strong Poison; Dorothy L Sayers, B
  30. Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned; Stephen Cole, B
  31. Heart of Darkness; Joseph Conrad, C
  32. Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride; Helen Halstead, D
  33. Språket; Lars-Gunnar Andersson & Anna Lena Ringarp (not reviewed)
  34. Persepolis: volume 1; Marjane Satrapi (not reviewed)
  35. Persepolis: volume 2; Marjane Satrapi (not reviewed)
  36. Persepolis: volume 3; Marjane Satrapi (not reviewed)
  37. Persepolis: volume 4; Marjane Satrapi (not reviewed)
  38. Bögjävlar; Stefan Ingvarsson (ed.) (not reviewed)
  39. Han sa ja!; Bo R Holmberg (not reviewed)
  40. Älskar han mig?; Bo R Holmberg (not reviewed)

Challenge stats:


27th May, 2008
Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride; Helen Halstead
— Love @ 06:57 Comments (4)
Filed under: Back to History, D, English, Historical, Romance

Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride; Helen Halstead Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride
by Helen Halstead
Australian

For the Back to History reading challenge.

English
310 pages
Ulysses Press
ISBN: 978-1-56975-588-4

First line: What a joy it is to have a worthy topic of conversation, to hold the power to amaze!

Back cover blurb:
In Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen brought together one of the most beloved literary couples of all time—Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Now, Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride continues the story of these passion-filled newlyweds as they enter London’s glamorous high society.

This page-turning novel finds Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy entangled in the frivolity and ferocity of social intrigues. Although Elizabeth makes a powerful friend in the Marchioness of Englebury, the rivalry and jealousy among her ladyship’s prestigious clique threatens to destroy the success of her new marriage.

Written in the style of Jane Austen, full of humour and sardonic wit, Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride brings Regency society vividly to life and continues the romantic, sometimes tragic, stories of other popular Pride & Prejudice characters including Georgiana Darcy and Kitty Bennet.

Thoughts: This is the first sequel to Pride & Prejudice that I have ever read (I tend to go for re-workings of the story, rather than continuations of it) and I can’t say I liked it much.

One of the reasons why was that the author felt that she needed to include explanations of who original characters were, and reminders of events of the original novel. It might just be me, but I would think that, if you decide to read a fan-written sequel to a well-known novel, you are probably quite a big fan of said novel already, and would know such basic facts as who Sir William Lucas is, &c.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I quite like Halstead’s take on Miss Anne de Bourgh, for example, and Lord Maddersfield (that’d be Lady Catherine’s brother and Darcy’s uncle) was quite amusing.

On the whole, though, it was not the best of reading experiences. I might add to this later (I have seven minutes before I have to leave for work), but for now, I shall leave it at this and give this work of fiction a D rating.


25th May, 2008
Heart of Darkness; Joseph Conrad
— Love @ 19:51 Comments (2)
Filed under: C, Classics, Decades '08, English, Historical

No cover image available Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
British

For the Decades ’08 reading challenge (first published 1902).

English
111 pages
a Project Gutenberg e-book

First line: The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest.

Back cover blurb:
In this tale of colonial exploitation, the narrator, Marlowe, journeys deep into the heart of Africa. But there he encounters Kurtz, an idealist apparently crazed and depraved by his power over the natives, and the meeting prompts Marlowe to reflect on the darkness at the heart of all men.
This text refers to an edition other than the one I read.

Thoughts: I’ve heard this book mentioned again and again, and I’ve always sort of meant to read it, but I’ve never really known anything about it except the title.

This afternoon I took the time to read it and it was an interesting story. Very dark, but I should maybe have clued into that from the title, had I not been a complete idiot. I did find the narrative a little hard to follow at times, but I’m not sure how much that had to do with the format I read it in (e-book), and how much it was due to the actual writing.

Heart of Darkness receives a C rating. It was an okay read, but I had some issues with the flow of narrative, and at times I was made exceedingly uncomfortable by the blatant racism. It’s true that it was written over a hundred years ago, when racism was more accepted, but I’m reading it now, with 21st century sensitivities, and of course that’s going to colour my reading experience.


25th May, 2008
Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned; Stephen Cole
— Love @ 12:18 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, B, English, Science Fiction

Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned
by Stephen Cole
British

English
254 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 0-563-48644-9

First line:How can something so big sink so fast?

Back cover blurb:
When a naval cruiser sinks in mysterious circumstances in the North Sea, all aboard are lost. Rose is saddened to hear that the brother of her friend, Keisha, was among the dead. And yet he appears to them as a ghostly apparition, begging to be saved from the coming feast, the feast of the drowned.

As the dead crew haunts loved ones all over London, the Doctor and Rose are drawn into a chilling mystery. What sank the ship, and why? When the cruiser’s wreckage was towed up the Thames, what sinister force came with it?

The river’s dark waters are hiding an ever darker secret, as preparations for the feast near their conclusion…

Thoughts: Since Eurovision was on last night, it pushed Doctor Who off the air and there was no episode this week. To get my weekly Doctor fix, I decided to read the second of the DW novels I bought the other week.

This one was loads better than I Am a Dalek, but if that’s just because this was a “proper” book, or because it’s written by someone else, I don’t know. Either way, Cole captures Ten perfectly, as well as Rose, Mickey and Jackie,

I’m giving this a B rating, because I think it deserves it, and now I’m itching to get the other Ten and Rose novels. And to think that, before I started watching new Who, I was so certain I’d never in a million years like Rose. Shows what I know!


22nd May, 2008
Strong Poison; Dorothy L Sayers
— Love @ 11:48 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, English, Historical, Mystery

Strong Poison; Dorothy L Sayers Strong Poison
by Dorothy L Sayers
British
English
261 pages
Harper Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-06-104350-5

First line:There were crimson roses on the bench; they looked like splashes of blood.

Back cover blurb:
Mystery novelist Harriet Vane knew all about poisons, and when her fiancé died in the manner prescribed in one of her books, a jury of her peers had a hangman’s noose in mind. But Lord Peter Wimsey was determined to find her innocent—as determined as he was to make her his wife.

Thoughts: The back cover blurb lies. Harriet Vane was never engaged to the murder victim in this novel, and that’s the truth. I’m just sayin’.

This, then, is the story where Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane first meet. And it’s brilliant. Not as fantastically brilliant as Murder Must Advertise, Unnatural Death or Whose Body, but still loads better than a lot of things out there.

Here’s a few quotes from Wimsey’s first meeting with Harriet Vane, in which he’s just proposed to her:

“I wish you wouldn’t sound as if you thought it was rather funny. I know I’ve got a silly face, but I can’t help that. As a matter of fact, I’d like somebody I could talk sensibly to, who would make life interesting. And I could give you a lot of plots for your books, if that’s any inducement.”
“But you wouldn’t want a wife who wrote books, would you?”
“But I should; it would be great fun. So much more interesting than the ordinary kind that is only keen on clothes and people. Though of course, clothes and people are all right too, in moderation. I don’t mean to say I object to clothes.”

“People have been wrongly condemned before now.”
“Exactly; simply because I wasn’t there.”
“I never thought of that.”
“Think of it now. You will find it very beautiful and inspiring. It might even help to distinguish me from the other forty-six, if you should happen to mislay my features, or anything. Oh, by the way—I don’t positively repel you or anything like that, do I? Because, if I do, I’ll take my name off the waiting-list at once.”
“No,” said Harriet Vane, kindly and a little sadly. “No, you don’t repel me.”
“I don’t remind you of white slugs or make you go gooseflesh all over?”

“[…] It’s my hobby. Not proposing to people, I don’t mean, but investigating things.

Because this is not the best Wimsey-book, I don’t want to give it an A rating, but since it’s still brilliant and all, a B is a must.


20th May, 2008
It must be all that spring air
— Love @ 21:36 Comments (4)
Filed under: General booktalk

Since I last spent a couple of hours updating with reviews (that’d be last night), I have read seven books, which means I am now caught up with my personal goal of reading an average of four books a week. I was way behind on that after my reading slump back in March/April, but after all these brilliant (and, to be honest, some less than brilliant) YA finds from the library, I am back on track. Twenty-seven books so far this month, and I’d be surprised if it stops at that.

I re-read and read, respectively, Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy tonight, and it’s left a taste for love stories. Thing is, I’ve re-read most of my old favourites fairly recently, so what I’d quite like is recommendations, if anyone has any. They don’t have to be romances, strictly speaking, as long as there’s some sort of love story involved. I’m also a fan of classical stuff, where things are implied, rather than spelled out exactly. They don’t have to be classics, though.

However, if anyone happens to recommend The Time Traveller’s Wife, I fear I will have to stab myself in the eye. I tried that one once and only got about two pages in before I chucked it away in a corner and looked for another book to read.


20th May, 2008
Daddy-Long-Legs; Jean Webster
— Love @ 11:33 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, Classics, Decades '08, English, Young Adult

No cover image available Daddy-Long-Legs
by Jean Webster
American

For the Decades ’08 reading challenge (first published 1912).

English
160 pages
J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd/E.P. Dutton & Co. Inc.
ISBN: n/a

First line: The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day—a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste.

Back cover blurb: n/a

Thoughts: I’ve read Daddy-Long-Legs before, but always in Swedish, so this was a bit like reading it for the first time. I’ve always liked it in Swedish, and I like it even more in the original.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s the story of Judy, a girl who’s grown up in an orphanage. Her real name is Jerusha, because the head of the orphanage had a habit of picking first names from head stones (and last names from the phone directory, which is why Judy is an Abbott). When Judy’s eighteen, one of the trustees of the orphanage decides to sponsor her education at college. His only demand on her is that she write him one letter a month, to tell him how she’s doing at school.

In essence, then, it’s a novel in letters. A format that is not always easy to pull off, but that Webster truly excelled at (she wrote other novels in the same style—the sequel to this one, called Dear Enemy, being one of them).

I’m giving this a B grade, in part because the writing is such that I got pulled in, and in part because there is an underlying romance that is lovely, but not too in-your-face and definitely not the only thing in the story. I like that sort of thing.

If you haven’t already read it, do it now! (Or at least soon. If you’re not averse to reading things on the screen, you can find this, and its sequel, at Project Gutenberg.)


20th May, 2008
Doctor Who: I Am a Dalek; Gareth Roberts
— Love @ 11:26 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, C, English, Science Fiction

Doctor Who: I Am a Dalek; Gareth Robert Doctor Who: I Am a Dalek
by Gareth Roberts
British

English
106 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 0-563-48648-1

First line: Rose checked the seal on her space helmet, then she looked across the TARDIS controls to the Doctor.

Back cover blurb:
Equipped with space suits, golf clubs and a flag, the Doctor and Rose are planning to live it up on the Moon, Apollo-mission style. But the TARDIS has other plans, landing them instead in a village on the south coast of England; a picture-postcard sort of place where nothing much happens… until now.

Archaeologists have dug up a Roman mosaic, dating from the year 70 AD. It shows scenes from ancient myths, bunches of grapes—and a Dalek. A few days later a young woman, rushing to get to work, is knocked over and killed by a bus. Then she comes back to life.

It’s not long before all hell breaks loose, and the Doctor and Rose must use all their courage and cunning against an alien enemy—and a not-quite-alien accomplice—who are intent on destroying humanity.

Thoughts: I had a dream a couple of weeks back that I went to a bookstore to pick up some of the Doctor Who novels and I had the tenth Doctor help me look. It was pretty brilliant, to be honest. When I woke up, I went to my favourite online bookstore and ordered two of the Ten/Rose novels that exist. I didn’t want to order too many at once, in case I decided the writing really, really sucked.

I Am a Dalek is one of the two I ordered. I missed that it was a Quick Reads book at first, but it was decent all the same. Being a Quick Reads book, it was a quick read that left me wanting more. I’m giving it a C rating, which would’ve been a B, had it been a regular book.


20th May, 2008
Sent i november; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 11:22 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, C, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

Sent i november; Tove Jansson Sent i november
by Tove Jansson
Finnish

Swedish
164 pages
Alfabeta
ISBN: 91-501-0473-X

First line: En tidig morgon i Mumindalen vaknade Snusmumriken i sitt tält och kände att det var höst och uppbrott i luften.

Back cover blurb:
Det är höst i Mumindalen. För dem som kommer dit ser allting annorlunda ut, inte riktigt som de hade tänkt sig. Och muminfamiljen tycks inte vara hemma. De som samlas i det tomma muminhuset får försöka bo och leva med varandra bäst de kan. Det är Filifjonkan och Hemulen, Mymlan, Onkelskruttet och den lilla homsan Toft. Långt bortifrån kommer Snusmumriken vandrande tillbaka i dalen där han tappat något mycket viktigt. Ute i trädgården ligger den blå glaskulan på sin pelare och speglar stora förändringar medan mörkret blir tätare omkring dem. Och slutligen en kväll börjar en helt liten men stadig ljuspunkt lysa inne i glaskulan.

Thoughts: In this book, we don’t even meet the Moomins. They are off somewhere (probably on the island they relocated to in Pappan och havet), and other characters move into their house in Moomin valley. Again, it’s a bleak and depressing tale, and most of the people populating the story are unappealing. At least Snufkin hangs around for a greater part of the story.

A C grade is what I give this. It’s not that it’s a bad story, exactly, it’s just that compared to Jansson’s earlier works, I don’t like it at all as much.


20th May, 2008
Pappan och havet; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 11:14 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, C, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

No cover image available Pappan och havet
by Tove Jansson
Finnish

Swedish
203 pages
AWE/Gebers
ISBN: 91-20-06402-0

First line: En obestämd eftermiddag i slutet av augusti gick en pappa omkring i sin trädgård och kände sig onödig.

Back cover blurb:
Långt ute i havet låg Ön. Den var så gott som öde. Där fanns en fyr, men den var släckt. På en udde bodde en fiskare, men han teg. Till denna ö förde pappan sin familj, som han ville beskydda och försvara.
Ön var annorlunda. Den var något helt annat än Mumindalen, där allting var som det skulle.
Sanningen att säga höll det på att bli ganska förfärligt på ön. Den var nära att förvandla alla — utom lilla My. Och orsaken var havet, som man inte kunde förstå sig på.
Vad som behövdes var en storm, en bärgningsbragd och att fyren tändes igen. Havet hade kanske dålig karaktär, men det var en bra fiende.
Tror du att denna roman handlar bara om muminfamiljen?
Läs den då en gång till — det gör man gärna — så får du se.

Thoughts: This is the second to last of the Moomin novels and gone are the optimistic and happy tones of the previous installments. It’s bleak and depressing, and my favourite character is missing, which is why I don’t rate this one particularly high. The best Moomin books are Trollkarlens hatt (Finn Family Moomintroll) and Farlig Midsommar (Moominsummer Madness). Well, in my opinion, anyway.

Pappan och havet receives a C grade.


19th May, 2008
Det osynliga barnet; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 23:09 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, C, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

No cover image available Det osynliga barnet
by Tove Jansson
Finnish

Swedish
167 pages
AWE/Gebers
ISBN: 91-20-07544-8

First line: En lugn och molnfri kväll i slutet av april kom Snusmumriken så långt norrut att snöfläckarna låg kvar på nordsidan.

Back cover blurb:
Om Snusmumrikens vårvisa och Ti-ti-too,
Homsans hemska äventyr och mote med lilla My,
Filifjonkan som trodde på katastrofer,
Den sista draken i världen, inte större än en tändsticksask,
Hemulen som älskade tystnad och byggde ett nöjesfält,
Det osynliga barnet som blev synligt igen,
Hatifnattarnas hemlighet,
Den lilla plysch-hunden Cedric med topasögonen,
och om Mumintrollens jul under granen i snön

handlar denna underbara bok för alla åldrar.

Thoughts: This is a collection of short stories all featuring one or more characters from the world of the Moomins. The longest of these is the one about the invisible child, which is also the one that’s given its name to the collection.

It’s not the best of Jansson’s works, but it’s more than decent all the same. A C rating is in order.


19th May, 2008
Catching up and library finds
— Love @ 19:27 Comments (2)
Filed under: General booktalk

Last Monday I found myself in Simrishamn with time on my hands and nothing much to do (I was going for an X-ray at the hospital and the bus schedule is crap, which meant I had nearly two hours to kill before my appointment). I had toyed with the idea of going to the library, but I never looked up the directions and so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to find it. As luck would have it, however, it was in the building right opposite the bus station, so I happily trotted inside and got myself a library card. Only borrowed one book before my X-ray appointment, though, because I wasn’t terribly keen on carting a ton of books to and from the hospital.

The one book, Kometen kommer, was enough to keep me occupied until I could go back to the library after the hospital visit, though, and then I borrowed a bunch more books. Plus I filled a paper bag with books the library was getting rid of. Wasn’t a terrible lot of interesting stuff left at that point, sadly, so I came away with only five of those books.

I was pleasantly surprised at how big the library was and, while their English section isn’t terribly huge, it’s definitely bigger than I expected it to be. I am so glad to have a decent library to go to again. In fact, I’ve already been back once, because I’d read most of the books I borrowed.

Yup, I read fourteen books last week and made the mistake of not updating Stray Talk after each one. Not doing it that way again, let me tell you! But things are up to date now (and I pity the people who get the feed on their LJ friends’ page. Sorry!). I figured to make it easier for you to find all the new posts, I would link to them here.

Last week I read: Kometen kommer, Bögslungan, Kårnulf Was Here, Allting som är trevligt är bra för magen, Bananflugornas herre, Ser mitt huvud tjockt ut i den här?, Drakvinter, Ior och hästarna, Lugn för dej, Gelika, Från en annan planet, Trollkarlens hatt, Farlig midsommar, Trollvinter and Tjuvlyssnat. That’s more in Swedish than I’ve read in ages, and I realise that’s less than exciting for non-Swedish readers.

But don’t fret, tomorrow I expect a book package in the post (a couple of Doctor Who books, two Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries and a collection of funny/weird/annoying notices that people’ve taped to various noticeboards in buildings and such) and there’s still a lot of English fiction and non-fiction in my TBR-shelves.


18th May, 2008
Tjuvlyssnat; Damon Rasti & Gloria Hedman
— Love @ 18:34 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, Humour, Non-fiction, Swedish

Tjuvlyssnat; Damon Rasti & Gloria Hedman Tjuvlyssnat
by Damon Rasti and Gloria Hedman
Title translated to English: Eavesdropped
Swedish

Swedish
140 pages
Känguru
ISBN: 978-91-85476-61-9

First line: n/a

Back cover blurb:
Vi har alla gjort det: tjuvlyssnat på andras samtal.
På tunnelbanan, i kön i mataffären, på ett café—det går helt enkelt inte att låta bli. Att tjuvlyssna är mer än ett behov. Det är en livsstil, ett folknöje, en del av samtidskulturen. Men vad är det egentligen de säger?
Sedan ett år tillbaka finns några av de bästa tjuvlyssningarna publicerade på sajten tjuvlyssnat.se. Men de allra bästa är sparade till denna bok. Här blandas högt och lågt, humor och allvar, det personliga med det allmängiltiga.

Thoughts: Tjuvlyssnat.se is basically the Swedish version of Overheard in New York and similar sites. I read the site pretty much every day and today I ran out of reading material on the train and decided to buy the first book of collected Tjuvlyssnat gems to help pass the time.

It’s hilarious most of the time, which earns it a B grade, but it’s not exactly something that sticks in your mind.

Can I just say also that I will never again read fourteen books in a single week without writing reviews after each one? Because writing fourteen catch-up reviews in a single evening is hell, even if the reviews are short and utter crap like mine.


18th May, 2008
Trollvinter; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 18:30 Comments (2)
Filed under: Adventure, B, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

No cover image available Trollvinter
by Tove Jansson
Title in English: Moominland Midwinter
Finnish

Swedish
131 pages
AWE/Gebers
ISBN: 91-20-07551-0

First line: Himlen var nästan svart men snön var klarblå i månskenet.

Back cover blurb:
Det är inte lätt att vakna ur sitt vinteride i januari och inte kunna somna om.
Mumintrollet var det mumintroll som nånsin upplevat vintern, och i början var han förfärligt ensam i det sovande. Men småningom befolkades hans dal med vinterns hemlighetsfulla varelser, och den här boken handlar om hur han försökte klara sig med dem och den främmande iskalla värld han ramlat in i.

Very short synopsis in English: The Moomins normally hibernate during the winter months, but this year Moomintroll wakes up in January and finds the world a changed place, with strange creatures and new people who aren’t out in summer.

Thoughts: This book has no Snufkin (except there is a letter from him and Moomintroll occasionally thinks of him), but it’s still quite brilliant. A B grade.


18th May, 2008
Farlig midsommar; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 18:23 Comments (1)
Filed under: A, Adventure, Children's lit, Decades '08, Fantasy, Swedish

Farlig midsommar; Tove Jansson Farlig midsommar
by Tove Jansson
Title in English: Moominsummer Madness
Finnish

For the Decades ’08 reading challenge (first published 1954).

Swedish
146 pages
Alfabeta
ISBN: 91-501-0478-0

First line: Mumintrollets mamma satt på trappan i solskenet och riggade en barkbåt.

Back cover blurb:
Där kommer en teater på drift och med den driver muminfamiljen in i en midsommarnatt som är full av trolldom och överraskning, av nya vänner och fiender.
Vet ni att hattifnattar kommer ur frö och att man måste så dem på midsommarnatten? Har ni nånsin borrat hål genom ert eget golv eller sett en självlysande parkvakt? Och är ni medvetna om hur hemskt farligt det är att vissla på teatern?
Det här är en berättelse om vad som hände i den magiska månaden juni samma år som det eldsprutande berget rörde på sig och Mumintrollets mamma gjorde sin vackraste barkbåt.

Very short synopsis in English: After a huge wave floods Moomin Valley, the Moomins make their escape to a floating theatre.

Thoughts: I love Snufkin. I kind of always have. He’s fantastic and I’m terribly sorry to those who don’t read Swedish, because I am going to post some quotes and they are amazing but you won’t be able to tell. Woe is you.

Skräm dem med Mårran föreslog hon. Det gör min syster.
Blir du snäll då? frågade Snusmumriken.
Naturligtvis inte! sa Lilla My och skrattade så att hon ramlade omkull.

Förmårrade ungar! sa Snusmumriken som stod och tvättade deras strumpor vid husknuten. Har ni glömt att vi tjärade taket i morse? Vill ni att jag ska överge er, kasta mig i sjön eller slå ihjäl er?
Ingetdera! skrek ungarna och drog honom i rocken. Du ska läsa ditt brev!

There’s another quote from Snufkin that I love, but I forget which book it’s from. No matter, I shall insert it here and pretend I’m doing it just because I was talking about him anyway.

One can never be entirely free, if one admires someone else too much.

That is a very wise thing to say, indeed.

Farlig midsommar receives an A grade as well, because it deserves it.


17th May, 2008
Trollkarlens hatt; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 18:16 Comments (1)
Filed under: A, A-Z Reading Challenge, Adventure, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

Trollkarlens hatt; Tove Jansson Trollkarlens hatt
by Tove Jansson
Title in English: Finn Family Moomintroll
Finnish

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
158 pages
Alfabeta
ISBN: 91-501-0479-9

First line: En grå morgon föll den första snön över Mumindalen.

Back cover blurb:
Den här berättelsen börjar med trolldom en tidig vårmorgon och slutar en varm augustinatt som aldrig kommer att glömmas i Mumindalen. Däremellan ligger Mumintrollets långa sommar, full av solsken och åskväder. Den kunde ha varit som en vanlig sommar med upptäckter av nya öar, med långrevsfiske i duggregn och lyckliga bad i bränningarna och hemlighetsfulla nattvandringar—men så hittade muminfamiljen Trollkarlens hatt. Och efter det var ingenting som vanligt längre.
Farlighet och spänning hade kommit in i dalen och tassade hotfullt kring deras hus. Varje dag händr otroliga och upprörande saker—de hade med andra ord aldrig haft så roligt förr!
Det här är historien om små och stora kryp och om glada händelser och hemska händelser som alltid måste vara hopblandade för att ens sommar ska bli riktig och underbar.

Very short synopsis in English: After the Moomins find a peculiar hat, their summer turns into a strange one.

Thoughts: MOOMINS! =D Coherence has gone right out the window, sorry.

This is basically amazing and possibly my favourite Moomin book. Read it! (Banquo says it better.)

An A rating, yes.


17th May, 2008
Från en annan planet; Tamara Bach
— Love @ 18:13 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Från en annan planet; Tamara Bach Från en annan planet
by Tamara Bach
Original title: Marsmädchen
German

Swedish
168 pages
Berghs
ISBN: 91-502-1541-8

First line: Mitt namn är Miriam.

Back cover blurb:
“Laura och jag bredvid varandra på väg mot klassrummet. Steg, andas in, steg, andas ut. Lagom takt. Ska jag säga nåt? Hålla tyst? Andas. Där framme är dörren och jag kan inte göra nåt utom att gå, andas gå. Och jag vågar inte se på henne.”

Om Miriam 15 år, som bor i en småstad där det aldrig händer något. Men när Laura börjar i hennes klass förändras allt. Miriam har äntligen hittat en vän, och vänskapen övergår till kärlek.

Very short synopsis in English: Miriam is fifteen and lives in a small town. Laura is new in her class and they become friends, and maybe more.

Thoughts: This is the first lesbian-related YA novel I’ve read and properly liked. Still can’t remember one with a decently upbeat ending, though. Everyone always moves away. Or dies.

Either way, read it if you find it. I think it’s called Girl from Mars in English.

A B rating.


17th May, 2008
Lugn för dej, Gelika; Olga Wikström
— Love @ 18:10 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, D, Historical, Swedish

No cover image available Lugn för dej, Gelika
by Olga Wikström
Swedish

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
204 pages
Bokförlaget Settern
ISBN: 91-7586-051-1

First line: Hon levde i en värld där allt fanns ovanför henne.

Back cover blurb:
Hon heter Gelika. Hon är en vallonflicka, mörk, ful tycker hon själv. Gelika bor på en stor gård i Värmland. Fadern, den älskade, har övergett möbelkonsten för lantbruket, därför att hustrun vill det. Någon riktigt bra bonde blir han inte. Han lever upp då han arbetar i trä. Han är och förblir en konstnärsnatur.
“Ska vi dansa, Singoalla?” frågar studenten. Han och Gelika dansar bort i vägen, som en gång Frödings ungdomar. “Vem är Singoalla?” undrar Gelika. En dag vet hon det, men då har mycket hänt och Gelika känner att vingarna bär. Hon är en skönhet och hon är på väg ut.

Very short synopsis in English: Gelika is a farmer’s daughter and, in her own mind, quite ugly. This is the story of her growing up, of the tragedies that strike, and the realisation that she’s not so bad-looking after all.

Thoughts: I was quite disappointed in this. The back cover blurb made it sound like it would be about something else than it was. Well, actually, what was on the back cover blurb did happen in the book, but made up maybe one fifth of the entire novel, whilst the blurb made it seem like it would be the majority.

I don’t like being disappointed, and besides it wasn’t very good anyway, so a D grade.


14th May, 2008
Ior och hästarna; Renata Wrede
— Love @ 18:08 Comments (1)
Filed under: Biographies, C, Fiction, Swedish

No cover image available Ior och hästarna
by Renata Wrede
Title translated to English: Eeyore and the horses
Swedish

Swedish
133 pages
Forum
ISBN: 91-37-06412-6

First line: Vi låtsas inte om, känns inte vid, vill inte medvetet medge den mänskliga faktorns existens, i alla fall inte hur stark den är, trots att den är det starkaste vi har, den är starkare än vi.

Back cover blurb:
“Kärleken till hästar har många namn: mani, passion, snobbism, dårskap eller lyte”, säger Renata Wrede i denna entusiastiska bok om ett livs hästupplevelser. Själv kallar hon det alltså kärlek.
Ior och hästarna är en lovsång till hästen och prisar samarbetet mellan häst och människa. Den är fylld av glädje och beundran.
Renata Wrede berättar om hästar som hon känt, vårdat, tävlat med eller bara ridit. Hon skildrar hästar med personlighet: Courbette, U-17, Naseva, Herr Hildeberg och andra. Glimtar från krigstidens sjukstall, från tävlingsbanor—Kviberg, Skabersjö, Niinisalo, Rom—från skånska och finska landskap utgör bakgrunden till dessa intensivt livfulla porträtt av hästen som kamrat och medarbetare—och av människorna i sadeln.

Very short synopsis in English: Renata Wrede writes about horses she’s known in her life.

Thoughts: Decent book about one woman’s love of horses. I used to read this kind of book by the dozen when I was younger. A C grade.


13th May, 2008
Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm
— Love @ 18:06 Comments (1)
Filed under: D, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Drakvinter; Elvira Birgitta Holm Drakvinter
by Elvira Birgitta Holm
Title translated to English: Dragon Winter
Swedish

Swedish
186 pages
Bonnier Carlsen
ISBN: 91-638-3847-8

First line: Hjälp!

Back cover blurb:
Plötsligt slog Madeleine armarna om Bim, drog in henne i famnen så att hennes ansikte pressades mot Madeleines hals, hon kunde känna Madeleines bröst mot sina nyckelben, doften av mandel från Madeleines hud.
Bim ville slita sig loss, hon ville stå kvar, nej, hon visste inte vad hon ville. De stod där orörliga.

Akta dig för vargarna, hade Madeleine sagt. Men Bim hade inte kunnat göra någonting för att skydda henne.

Very short synopsis in English: Bim is thirteen and kind of lonely. Madeleine, who used to be her enemy, suddenly takes a special interest and things change. Especially after that fateful New Year’s Eve.

Thoughts: This was kind of boring, to be honest, so it doesn’t get more than a D grade.


13th May, 2008
Ser mitt huvud tjockt ut i den här?; Randa Abdel-Fattah
— Love @ 18:00 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, Fiction, Swedish, Young Adult

Ser mitt huvud tjockt ut i den här?; Randa Abdel-Fattah Ser mitt huvud tjockt ut i den här?
by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Original title: Does My Head Look Big in This?
Australian

Swedish
350 pages
Bonnier Carlsen
ISBN: 978-91-638-5367-8

First line: Det slog mig under ett intensivpass på löpbandet därhemma medan jag tittade på en Vänner-repris för nittonde gången eller så.

Back cover blurb:
High school är tufft nog utan slöja…

Vad ska mina klasskompisar säga när jag kommer till skolan med slöja för första gången? Gissa om de kommer att freaka ut. Det skulle vara lättare att gå in i klassrummet naken. Har jag blivit en religiös fanatiker? Att bli den första tjejen med slöja kommer att stämpla mig som tidernas största loser.

Och vad ska Adam säga?

Amals beslut att bärja [sic] slöja kräver mycket mod. Klarar hon av att stå emot alla fördomar, behålla sina kompisar och få skolans snyggaste kille att tycka att hon är läcker?

Thoughts: I’ve seen this talked about all over the place, so when I randomly saw it at the library, I took it home with me. And it’s a good story. It’s not your typical YA novel in some ways, but in other ways it is completely.

A C grade is reasonable, and I’d say more about it, except I’ve fallen behind on my so-called reviews and when you have fourteen to do to catch up, well, you don’t have the energy to say much about each one (at least I don’t!).


12th May, 2008
Bananflugornas herre; Fredrik Eklund
— Love @ 18:05 Comments (0)
Filed under: C, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish

Bananflugornas herre; Fredrik Eklund Bananflugornas herre
by Fredrik Eklund
Title translated to English: Lord of the Fruitflies
Swedish

Swedish
152 pages
Debutantförlaget
ISBN: 91-974438-4-0

First line: “Ever thought of doing movies?”

Back cover blurb:
“Ever thought of doing movies?”

Jag stirrade på skärmen utan att förstå. Avsändaren var Male Eagles. Om mamma eller pappa hade ringt på mobilen och sagt att middagen var klar. Om Joel hade velat gå ut och dricka öl. Om staden bara hade visat mig en enda glimt av vad jag förväntade mig i livet. Då hade jag aldrig gjort porr.

Bananflugornas herre tar oss med på en resa in det förbjudna tillsammans med en sökande och stolt huvudperson. En som vill befria sig från omgivningens konventioner, visa sina fjädrar för hela världen, finna sanningen på sitt sätt. Det är en bok om att skapa sig själv, om utanförskap och homosexualitet, om modet att välja.

Very short synopsis in English: A novel about a young Swedish man, on a journey, both physical and mental, to start doing gay porn in the US.

Thougths: I started this fairly late at night and realised immediately I wouldn’t put it down until I’d finished it. Luckily, it was a pretty short novel, so the impact it had on my sleep was minimal. Minimal is also the impact it has had on me since I finished it. It’s only a week ago as I write this, but I can’t remember the name of the main character no matter how hard I try (it might possibly be Jonas).

It was decent enough, I don’t deny that, but it’s not a book you remember very well after and none of the characters were once I fell completely in love with. Still, it earns a C. Could have been better, but could also have been so much worse.


12th May, 2008
Allting som är trevligt är bra för magen; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 17:54 Comments (1)
Filed under: C, Children's lit, Fiction, Swedish

Allting som är trevligt är bra för magen; Tove Jansson Allting som är trevligt är bra för magen
by Tove Jansson
Finnish

Swedish
92 pages
Schildts
ISBN: 951-50-1301-1

First line: Det är underligt med vägar och floder, funderade Sniff, man ser dem gå förbi och får en hemsk list att vara nån annanstans.

Back cover blurb:
Tove Janssons muminböcker är en outtömlig källa till skratt, insikter och igenkännande. Citaten i Allting som är trevligt är bra för magen är valda ur de åtta textböckerna från Kometen kommer till Sent i november. Citaten speglar varje boks speciella stämning och karaktärer, men samtidigt är de underbart allmängiltiga och träffande. I sin korta form ger de uttryck för den osvikliga humor och livshållning som är muminvärldens särmärke.

Very short synopsis in English: The Moomin-books are a source of many a good quote. Here is a collection of some of them.

Thoughts: A cute collection of quotes from the Moomin books, this gets a C grade.


12th May, 2008
Kårnulf Was Here; Josefine Adolfsson
— Love @ 17:49 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, Biographies, Fiction, Swedish

Kårnulf Was Here; Josefine Adolfsson Kårnulf Was Here
by Josefine Adolfsson
Swedish

Swedish
167 pages
Bokförlaget Atlas
ISBN: 91-7389-132-0

First line: När jag och min tonårsbästis Anna är femton, flyttar hon hem till en trettio år äldre man som heter Charles.

Back cover blurb:
“När jag och min tonårsbästis Anna är femton, flyttar hon hem till en trettio år äldre man som heter Charles. Vi sitter ofta i soffan på hans inglasade veranda och äter chokladkladdkaka och sköljer ner Valium, Stesolid, Sobril och Rohypnol tillsammans med te och honung. Vi håller alltid varandra i handen när vi somnar.”

Så börjar Kårnulf Was Here—en dokumentär roman om det som skaver. Det handlar om människor som på olika sätt försöker att skaffa sig en plats i samhället men som hamnar utanför ramarna. Moa som knaprar Valium för att klara av att gå på svenskalektioner, Ida som drömmer om att bli aupair hos Madonna och Cecilia som föredrar att gömma sig hos torskar som misshandlar henne framför att hamna på institution.

Kårnulf är en reaktion på en vuxenvärld som abdikerat och ett samhälle som föredrar att förenkla. Men Kårnulf är också motstånd, lust, kärlek, nyfikenhet och vänskap. Ett försök att skapa ett eget utrymme och hantera känslan av att det finns något som skulle vara förutbestämt eller normalt, något som man själv inte har tillgång till.

Kårnulf Was Here är en hembygdsskildring från Sverige.

Very short synopsis in English: Moa and her best friend Anna start doing drugs at the age of fourteen. This is fact-based fiction telling their story.

Thoughts: This was a quick read, but one that left a bad taste in my mouth. Not because the writing sucked or because I didn’t think it was interesting, but because of the subject matter and what these girl have lived through.

As always, non-fiction (even if this technically isn’t that. It’s fact-based fiction, which, though close, isn’t the same thing) is hard to rate. A B grade is what it ends up with.


12th May, 2008
Bögslungan; Per Alexandersson
— Love @ 17:44 Comments (2)
Filed under: C, Fiction, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Bögslungan; Per Alexandersson Bögslungan
by Per Alexandersson
Swedish

Swedish
136 p
LL-förlaget
ISBN: 978-91-7053-187-3

First line: Max ligger helt utmattad i sin säng, med huvudet djupt i kudden.

Back cover blurb:
Det är veckan innan nian slutar. Nu händer allt. Bråk ställs på sin spets och kompisar blir fiender. Det gäller att inte bära väskan på fel sätt, ha på sig fel kläder eller säga något klumpigt. Minsta felsteg och du går från cool till mobbad. När Max äntligen får en tjej blir han lycklig, men är han verkligen kär i henne?

Max blir livrädd när han börjar tänka för mycket på Niklas. Är han bög?!

Very short synopsis in English: It’s one week until the end of ninth grade and it’s never been as important to fit in as it is now. Max fights with his best friend, gets a girlfriend and starts to have strange feelings for Niklas, the bullied kid in school.

Thoughts: This was the winner in a contest held by LL-förlaget, a publisher specialising in books that are easy to read, for those who perhaps aren’t that good at reading (yet). The reason I read it was because it came up when I did a search on ‘homosexuality’ in the library database. It was so new, apparently, that they hadn’t even had time to put in in the ‘Just in’ case.

It’s a pretty cute story, but nothing terribly special, so the rating is a C one.


12th May, 2008
Kometen kommer; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 17:38 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Adventure, B, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

No cover image available Kometen kommer
by Tove Jansson
Title in English: Comet in Moominland
Finnish

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
150 pages
AWE/Gebers
ISBN: 91-20-07546-4

First line: Samma morgon som mumintrollets pappa fick bron över floden färdig gjorde det lilla djuret Sniff en upptäckt.

Back cover blurb:
Sommaren är som den brukar i Mumintrollets dal, varm och full av hemliga möjligheter.
Det lilla djuret Sniff har hittat en egen grotta, en mycket stor händelse.
Men sent på natten kommer stormen…
Om man är mycket liten är det svårt att fatta att världsrymden är kolsvart och aldrig slutar och att jorden är en försvinnande liten gnista av liv. Plötsligt—långt ute i mörkret—lyser ett rött öga, det blir större dag för dag.
Det är kometen som kommer närmare och närmare Mumindalen! Himlen är röd och havet kryper längst ner i sina hålor, vartenda knytt packar ihop sina saker och flyr. Men Snusmumriken tog sin munharmonika och spelade visan om äventyr som inte är lagom stora utan alldeles kolossala, och så gav de sig rakt ut i farligheten.
Följ med!

Very short synopsis in English: It’s the middle of summer and a comet is heading for Moomin Valley. Moomintroll and Sniff decide to journey to the observatory to ask the Professor about the comet. On their way, they make new friends.

Thoughts: It’s been ages since I last read the Moomin books (actually, I don’t think I’ve actually read them myself before, but have always had them read to me), but they still hold up now. My favourite character is Snufkin, who is the rebel who doesn’t like owning things and sometimes just needs to be alone with his thoughts and his pipe.

Kometen kommer receives a B grade.


11th May, 2008
Atonement; Ian McEwan
— Love @ 16:31 Comments (3)
Filed under: C, English, Historical

Atonement; Ian McEwan Atonement
by Ian McEwan
British

English
481 pages
Anchor Books
ISBN: 978-0-307-38884-1

First line: The play—for which Briony had designed the posters, programs and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crêpe paper—was written by her in a two-day tempest of composition, causing her to miss a breakfast and a lunch.

Back cover blurb:
On a summer day in 1935, young Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant. But Briony’s misunderstanding of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives, a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the 20th century.

Thoughts: My god, this novel made me sad. It was good, though, if a little slow to get into. I much preferred part two over part one, because that one covered ground more quickly. Part one tells the events of two or three days, while part two tells the events of at least a couple of months. I’m not a huge fan of all that slow stuff, to be honest.

The rating is a C. It would have been higher if I’d enjoyed the language more.

I’m still trying to decide if I should watch the film. Part of me wants to, but part of me is also very much anti Keira Knightley, which is making watching the film seem like less of a good idea.


6th May, 2008
Hästen från Porten; Carina Burman
— Love @ 15:40 Comments (0)
Filed under: B, GLBT interest, Historical, Mystery, Swedish

Hästen från Porten; Carina Burman Hästen från Porten
by Carina Burman
Swedish

Swedish
354 pages
Albert Bonniers Förlag
ISBN: 978-91-0-011729-0

First line: För andra gången kom jag till Philadelphia.

Back cover blurb:
Han hette Djinn. Åtminstone var det så hon kallade honom, succéförfattarinnan Euthanasia Bondeson, när de möttes i den syriska öknen.
Det fanns varken lugn eller inspiration där i hettan, där sanden letade sig in överallt och städerna mest bestod av ruiner. Återigen måste Euthanasia Bondeson utreda ett försvinnande. Sökandet leder henne till den myllrande storstaden Konstantinopel, på gränsen mellan väst och öst.
I ökensol och bland mörka gränder möter Euthanasia mystiska resenärer, tvetydiga poliser och tillmötesgående haremsdamer. Det är mars 1853, och den nyfikna författarinnans svärmeri för antiken måste stå tillbaka för den alltmer påträngande politiken. Under andningspauserna mellan överfall och utredningar gör hon även förvånande fynd inom erotiken—men ingenting förbryllar så som Djinn, den vackraste arabhästen av dem alla.

Very short synopsis in English: Euthanasia Bondeson, amateur detective and writer of fiction, has left Europe for the Middle East. In the Syrian desert, she meets Djinn, the most gorgeous of horses, who soon thereafter disappears. Stolen, as far as anyone can tell, but why and by whom? Miss Bondeson’s investigations take her back to the border between East and West, to Constantinople, where she suddenly finds herself involved in political intrigue.

Thoughts: I’ve been waiting for this book. I would’ve got it the second it was published, if I hadn’t made that month one of the two of my embargo on book buying. The moment the embargo was lifted, however, I made it down to the bookshop to procure it. Of course, they didn’t have it in, so I had them place a special order and the week after I popped ’round to pick it up (at a discounted price, I might add).

I then proceeded to read it in one sitting. Now, it’s not as good as my favourite in the series (Babylons gator, now out in English as The Streets of Babylon, which is set in London, 1853 and has molly houses and all sorts of other good stuff), but it’s still more than just okay. An old favourite of mine, from the first book, is back, which was nice, and even though this installment is not quite as queer as the previous two, it still has its moments.

Now, I’m not sure if it was intentional, or if it’s just my mind going places it shouldn’t, but I get disturbing “sailor and his goat”-vibes à la Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander from a certain character. Probably it’s just my mind. I certainly hope so. (Talk about omnisexual, though.)

What else? There is a wonderful moment of not-so-subtle mocking of Jan Guillou’s Arn books (which I don’t ever plan on reading—yuck!) that had me laughing out loud.

To conclude: yes, good book! (a B rating, methinks), but not quite queer enough (though certainly queerer than I was lead to expect by other reviews) and if the author ever finds out about my sailor and his goat”-vibes, I shall be most cross. I’m just sayin’.


6th May, 2008
My War: Killing Time in Iraq; Colby Buzzell
— Love @ 15:30 Comments (1)
Filed under: B, Biographies, English

My War: Killing Time in Iraq; Colby Buzzell My War: Killing Time in Iraq
by Colby Buzzell
American

English
358 pages
Berkley Caliber
ISBN: 0-425-21136-3

First line: Kids from the suburbs don’t really join the military.

Back cover blurb:
Colby Buzzell traded a dead-end future for the army—and ended up as a machine gunner in Iraq. To make sense of the absurd and frightening events surrounding him, he started writing a blog about the war—and how it differed from the government’s official version. But as his blog’s popularity grew, Buzzell became the embedded reporter the army couldn’t control—despite its often hilarious efforts to do so.

The result is an extraordinary narrative, rich with unforgettable scenes: the Iraqi woman crying uncontrollably during a raid on her home; the soldier too afraid to fight; the troops chain-smoking in a guard tower and counting tracer rounds; the first fierce firefight against the “men in black.” Drawing comparisons to everything from Charles Bukowski to Catch-22‘s Yossarian, My War depicts a generation caught in a complicated and dangerous world—and marks the debut of a raw, remarkable new voice.

Thoughts: You’ll have to forgive me for being briefer even than usual in this review, but I don’t quite know what to say about this book. It was interesting as all that, and I quite liked Buzzell’s language, but he seemed sometimes so completely removed from me and my world that I didn’t know what to make of him (and sometimes he was closer, such as when he mentioned music and really digging The Smiths/Morrissey).

The book is based on Buzzell’s blog (http://cbftw.blogspot.com), but seems to be much more than just the blog entries transfered onto a book page. In the end, I liked it enough for a B rating and I don’t mind recommending it to others.


5th May, 2008
I Am America (And So Can You!); Stephen Colbert
— Love @ 21:17 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Humour, Politics, Religion, Sex, sexuality & gender

I Am America (And So Can You!); Stephen Colbert I Am America (And So Can You!)
by Stephen Colbert
American

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
iPod audiobook

First line: Hi, I’m Stephen Colbert and I am no fan of books.

Back cover blurb:
Realizing that it takes more than thirty minutes a night to fix everything that’s destroying America, Colbert bravely takes on the forces aligned to destroy our country — whether they be terrorists, environmentalists, or Kashi brand breakfast cereals. His various targets include nature (“I’ve never trusted the sea. What’s it hiding under there?”), the Hollywood Blacklist (“I would have named enough names to fill the Moscow phone book”), and atheists (“Imagine going through life completely duped into thinking that there’s no invisible, omniscient higher power guiding every action on Earth. It’s just so arbitrary!”). Colbert also provides helpful illustrations and charts (Things That Are Trying to Turn Me Gay) and a complete transcript of his infamous speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner all of which add up to a book that is sure to be a bestseller and match the success of Colbert’s former Daily Show boss Jon Stewart’s America (The Book).

Thoughts: I recently decided that I really need to get fitter and as a step in the right direction, I’ve started going for walks with audiobooks on my iPod. I can’t listen to them unless I’m out for a walk (or, as time goes by, a run), which I’m hoping will be a bit like killing two birds with one stone—I get fitter and I get some reading done, all at the same time!

Works great so far. I Am America (And So Can You!) was the first book I picked. It’s just over three and a half hours long and I finished listening to it in three walks. Or, in other words: the plan worked! I wanted to go out walking so I’d get to hear the next part of the book, which I found really amusing (worthy of a B rating, actually).

Exercise and audiobooks really are the ideal combination. My only problem is that I can’t figure out how to count these in my book stats, as page counts are a vital part of them, and that doesn’t quite work with the spoken word. I’m sure I’ll figure something out at some point, though.


4th May, 2008
102 minuter: den sanna berättelsen om kampen för överlevnad inne i World Trade Center; Jim Dwyer & Kevin Flynn
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Filed under: B, History, Swedish

102 minuter: den sanna berättelsen om kampen för överlevnad inne i World Trade Center; Jim Dwyer & Kevin Flynn 102 minuter: den sanna berättelsen om kampen för överlevnad inne i World Trade Center
by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn
Original title: 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive inside the Twin Towers
American

Swedish
427 pages
Bra Böcker
ISBN: 91-7002-370-0

First line: Under 102 minuter på morgonen den 11 september 2001 slogs 14 000 människor för livet i World Trade Center.

Back cover blurb:
At 8.46 am on September 11, 2001, 14,000 people were inside the Twin Towers in New York — reading emails, making calls, eating croissants… over the next 102 minutes each would become part of a drama for the ages, one truly witnessed only by the people who lived through it — until now. Of the millions of words written about that unforgettable day, most have been from outsiders. New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn have taken the more revealing approach — reporting solely from the perspective of those inside the towers, 102 Minutes is the epic count of ordinary men and women, and includes incredible stories of bravery, courage, and overcoming unbelievable odds including the construction manager and his colleagues who pried open the doors and saved dozens of people in the north tower; the police officer who was a few blocks away, filing his retirement papers, but grabbed his badge and sprinted to the buildings; the window washer stuck in a lift fifty floors up who used a squeegee to escape; and the secretaries who led an elderly man down eighty-nine flights of stairs.

Chance encounters, moments of grace, a shout across an office shaped these minutes, marking the border between fear and solace, staking the boundary between life and death. Crossing a bridge of voices to go inside the infernos seeing cataclysm and herosim one person at a time, Dwyer and Flynn tell the affecting, authoritative saga of the men and women — the 12,000 who escaped and the 2,749 who perished — as they made 102 minutes count as never before.
(This text refers to an edition other than the one I read.)

Thoughts: This was one of the books I got in the book sale this year and this morning, when I woke up at five am with terrible cramps, it was one of four books I brought into my bedroom to try to keep my mind off the cramps, before the ibuprofen and paracetamol had time to work their magic. The plan was to read a chapter in each book and then decide which one to continue in. What happened was I picked up 102 Minutes, read a chapter, then read another chapter, until I found it was nearly seven o’clock and I was about a hundred pages in. I went back to sleep again then, and when I woke up again later, I picked the book right up and finished it.

It’s a good book, though a horrifying read, and cried for parts of it. It was hard not to, reading what those people went through, and given the fact that if things had been different — organised differently, built differently, communicated differently — it might not have been a disaster on such a massive scale.

A B rating, though as always I find it hard to rate non-fiction.


1st May, 2008
Rockabilly: en bok om de sista romantikerna; Josefin Ekman
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Filed under: B, Fashion, History, Lifestyle, Music, Swedish

Rockabilly: en bok om de sista romantikerna; Josefin Ekman Rockabilly: en bok om de sista romantikerna
by Josefin Ekman
Title translated to English: Rockabilly: a book about the last romantics
Swedish

Swedish
263 pages
Atlas förlag
ISBN: 978-91-7389-303-9

First line: I juli 1959 reste den amerikanske vicepresidenten Richard Nixon till Moskva för att öppna American National Exhibition, en utställning om de tekniska och materiella framsteg som USA gjort.

Back cover blurb: n/a

Very short synopsis in English: This book is a report on the state of rockabilly today, mainly concentrating on Sweden, but briefly dealing with the US as well. A book about those whose passion in life is rockabilly—the music, the cars, the style.

Thoughts: I’ve had a fascination with the rockabilly style for a couple of years now, so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it sooner or later. It was an interesting work of non-fiction and I learnt a thing or two—apparently, true rockabilly fans absolutely abhor psychobilly (personally, I really like psychobilly), and (this was news to me) rockabilly is more alive and kicking in Sweden than almost anywhere else. I had no idea! (In other words: if this is true, why do I almost never see anyone with a quiff?)

Ekman’s language is well suited for the work and was a big part of why I enjoyed this book as much as I did. A B rating seems perfectly in order. And now I’m off to take a bath and wash my hair. You see, unlike 50’s hairstyles, mine does not stand to go more than a day or two without a wash.