Sunday, March 09, 2014

Look what I found

And bought:
As actual novels to read they seem shite, but I bought them in Myrornas for ten kr each which beats three times the price as collectible items and they are cuuuute. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Feed and Graceling

These are also from the list of the soon to be filmed. Quite popular books too, took a while for them to work their way down to me from other library aficionados, but then they showed up at the same time. 
Another cracking photo of my bed, I really do spoil my readers.

I quite liked Graceling. I didn't fall head over heels for the characters, but close. It lacked a little fleshing-out somehow. But it's a decent fantasy novel with a decent secondary universe, and towards the end when the plot was coming together it was genuinely exciting too. A good amount of violence, just there because the world is a violent place; a very excellent feminist theme and a great heroine. I put in reservations for the other two books in the not-really-a-series and am looking forward to it. Feed was not as much my cup of tea at all. I like that it's a zombie book without focusing on the zombie gore. Instead it's about how humans are living after the disaster. The medical side of it is well-crafted. Everyone is infected with the dormant virus and will reanimate after death or after being bitten/otherwise exposed to the live version. This is very realistic, a nice touch. I just found the whole thing a little too Aaron Sorkiny, it became a mix of The West Wing and Newsroom and just a bit too snappy. Despite every opportunity to make me care about the characters they faded into the background and became accessories to the one-liners and the technology. I don't think I'll read the others in the series, even though they apparently are better ( even better if you're a fan).

Friday, February 28, 2014

Divergent and sequels

Well, this was fun! Sort of. Not good but you know, entertaining if you don't mind not thinking too much about things. If you think too much you might not even think it was fun. I think I've changed my mind now. It wasn't great at all.

Please gaze ecstatically upon these library books upon my lap in my bed just before me nodding off. Can I take a picture or what, what.

So, teen dystopia. Fabulous genre. These books, well the first one for starters, are being filmed now (as you can see if you've got good eyesight and can make out the print on that little black sticker on the right-hand book). Because teen dystopia is Hot. Sizzling even. I borrowed Divergent because it's on the list I wrote about with books you have to read before they're filmed. It's one of the most popular ones so it took a while for the library to give it to me. Then I read it and thought ok, pretty fun, so I borrowed Insurgent too. But then I got bored so I've read the synopsis for part three, Allegiant, on Wikipedia and I'm alright with that, thanks.

Divergent is often compared, I’ve noticed, to The Hunger Games, reasons presumably being a sixteen-year-old girl as main character, a first person narrative, that it’s based in the US (more specifically in Divergent, in a future, ravaged version of Chicago, populated by only a fraction of the current population) after somthing cataclysmic has happened to destroy society as we know it now, and, most importantly, that a bunch of teens spend a lot of time fighting bloodily against each other in a large part of the book. However, where THG has a very clear message about the horror of violence as entertainment, how violence desensitizes and violates both victims and aggressors, about living under an oppressive government and how even a person of some resources is never free in a dictatorship, Divergent has a message of … well… I dunno. Sex? Because honestly, there’s a lot of ogling going on. Nothing happens beyond petting (it’s all a bit Twilight without the obvious preaching, and I can’t help wondering about that since her acknowledgments at the end of the book start with a big thank you to God. Which makes me, a secular sort of Catholic, squirm more than a bit), but oh boy are we ever obsessed with the taut young adolescent male physique. The strip of skin between his t-shirt and his trousers. His tattoos stretched over his muscles, blah blah blah. Drowning in his eyes. Pressing of lips. Hands on curve of hips and melting sensation in stomach. All the while he is eighteen and she sixteen which, although not Twilight standard, still means that any sex is statutory rape if consummated. But never mind that. I’m Swedish and we have a more laissez-faire attitude to teens having sex after all; it’s mostly the adult woman clearly revelling in the hotness of the teen bod that is a bit disturbing. I had a rant half written out about how weird it is that a presumably middle-aged or so woman is leering over young men like this but then I looked Veronica Roth up and she's born in 1988 which makes her ... math is hard ... not so old as too make the idea of sexing an eighteen-year-old revolting. Not that I judge. Much. However, I betcha it goes down well in the target audience. I wonder though if it doesn’t become more a girl book than a unisex book? Also, nuclear family FTW? Is that a message? I think that ”it’s not really good to kick ass but it sure looks cool” is a sort of message too. And "tattoos are cool and Have Meaning and people who have tattoos aren't necessarily bad people you know". It's all very "I just discovered MTV" in 1991 or so.

I’m being facetious. Albeit with a heavy hand Roth wants to tell us that selflessness and bravery are good values and often amount to the same thing. How true courage is about being able to say you’re afraid and to stand up to peer pressure. Stuff like that. I just don't think it's very well done. She's a sort of competent writer (especially for her age) but not very original and a bit messy. Her writing is very sparse and brief (which fits the general emo moping mood) so you'd be excused for mistaking the style for clarity of thought. Her plot lines and entire secondary universe, however, lacks structure and cohesion, in my opinion. If you think about it, it's just not that believable.

One of my big issues with the books are that Roth is clearly incapable of truly imagining a world with different values than the one she lives in. You therefore have an unspecified future, after society has been turned upside down by wars and other horrors - but basic male-female gender roles of contemporary America remain the same, for example. Which means that her attitude to sex sucks. You might think – and I think she thinks -  that she is sex-positive, since she acknowledges sexual desire. It is however clear that to her abstinence is a virtue. Tris and Four can indulge in some heavy groping and then stop, and the only reason for them stopping seems to be that it isn’t right to do the sex. And there is no forthcoming explanation for why it isn’t right. And I’m not going to swear to it because I didn’t keep count or anything, but I do believe that the shifting is interrupted by Tris, who takes a deep breath and pulls down her t-shirt past her hips again, like. Now, I’m all for her backing out of sex if she loses the hots, and I would have gone whoop-whoop if that is what happened, but it’s not. She (and Four, who is a Good Guy you see and Respectful) backs off by exercising self-control. Which I can also be fine with but I’d appreciate some reasoning behind why this is important. Otherwise, the message is that sure, you get all hot and bothered and shift like mad but don’t go all the way girl, and most importantly, girl. This is not sex-positive. Fundamentally the idea that a promiscuous woman is a slut remains, a morality not at all so definite when it comes to men. Anyway, gender roles and views on sex were not the only examples I had of Roth's lack of imagination, but it'll have to do for now. Mostly because after a while I got a really icky feeling off it, like this book truly could have a negative impact on young people because it's so insidious.

That said, the two youngsters maybe do the deed in Insurgent,  the second book. But it’s a bit Asimov (I haven’t read Asimov really. But my husband told me once that he is meticulous about not writing sex scenes. Instead the two approach each other, and then new paragraph and ”Afterwards …”) so I’m not sure.

Right, this post has been sitting here for a month now I think without being posted, waiting for me to wrap up with something smart. Since that's not gonna happen I'll publish now. Oh, I'm obviously going to see the film - I'm not proud, also I'm a hypocrite. But I'll wait until it hits the television.

Decisions decisions...

Which one to start with?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Update: this was written yonks ago, I just fixed the link and suddenly publication date changes? Don't understand why.

So I read this Buzzfeed list  and put a number of books on reservation because why the hell not, some YF always goes down. The first one to arrive was Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy, a book so lame (I assumed) that my teenagers showed zero interest in it (unlike that book Divergent which has a Hype). Well, it is quite lame. As nothing more than competent entertaining literature it's okay, just lacking in that certain something that can make even so-so books a bit more than average. It's always the characters that have to be so interesting that you want more of them. Somehow they have to be imbued with real traits and the at least hint of the complexity of actual people. Vampire Academy has none of that, sadly. Worse than that though is how sexist it is. Our main character, Rose, is a half human half vampire hybrid, who is gorgeous and curvy (unlike full-blood vampires) which makes her desirable to all men (no gay relationships in this book) at the vampire boarding school she attends together with the full-blood vampire Lissa that she has sworn to protect. However, exploring your sexuality and enjoying sex will brand you a slut and start some malicious gossip, as Rose soon discovers. After all, we can't have women uncrossing their legs all over the place, can we. She immediately accepts this and starts modifying her behaviour so people finally can respect her as an honourable woman. Oh I haven't the energy to even analyse this shit, but it's bad. Here's a picture instead.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Iain M. Banks: Consider Phlebas

After reading Ela's post on how much she likes Banks' books I borrowed the first one in the Culture series - but I am so bored. Half way through and I DO NOT CARE. Hang on, not half way, only about a quarter. I misremembered because it feels like I've been plodding through this forever. Should I persevere? Is it worth it? Boo. Re-reading the post I see that this is the (only) one she didn't care for much. Should I chuck it in and try a different one just? I thought it'd be good because it starts with an execution (not that I enjoy executions per se, but because I enjoy novelty of thought) done by slowly drowning the victim in sewage. But it didn't pick up. Also, it reminds me of a Douglas Adams universe, Vogons and all. I just can't take it seriously. Douglas Adams without the humour. What.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

This is what I'm going to read soon

Susan Hill's The Woman in Black. After a tip from my husband who read the review in Svenska Dagbladet of the new Swedish translation. But I'm going to read it in English. First I have to read Divergent though, because YF come on, and then Matens Pris because books discussion club, come on. But then!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bloglovin fish and overhaul

Sure why not, I'll give it a go.

Följ min blogg med Bloglovin

Also, the blog is due an overhaul. I don't want all the linksies, I use a feed reader and they were mostly there for me to find blogs I like, originally. Also, the masthead might need revamping. I was looking through it and JESUS I've changed my mind about a fair few books alright.

I'm not reading The Magician King by the way

Noticed this post in my drafts since months. There's nothing more to say really so why I didn't post I don't know: I borrowed it and my eldest daughter started to read it, and she just went meh I don't want to. So I started to but she's right - meh. I just don't care. I don't care about the characters enough. If it were my own book I might get around to it some day but I don't think it's going to happen... Returned. Funny that, a one-book phenomenon.

Catherynne Valente: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

After the glowing recommendation below

I promptly checked what the library had to offer and borrowed this (n.b. that I'm not naive enough to jump out and BUY it on any aul recommendation, no sirree):

So, oddly they only had the sequel, not the first book. They do have the first one, but as an audio book, and not only that, it seems to be a DAISY edition, which means it's specially made for blind people. Apart from these, I can only see that there's a school library in the boondocks that has her collection of norty sheksy short stories, Palimpsest. So I settled for this. It's a children's book, but I just might rather read that than erotic short stories anyway.

The recommendations are glowing. There are prizes that have been won, there are ecstatic reviews. "The kind of book you don't want to end" and so on.

 Me, I don't get it. I think there are certainly some original and sweet ideas in Valente's version of Fairyland, but she seems a little too enamoured with her ideas because every character our heroine, September, meets holds a long quirky speech for her in a manner that quickly gets old. I don't really see that children would like this. Adults who fancy that they are in touch with their inner child will love this. It's like blogger pics of cupcakes and bunting, a bit pastelly and very artfully posed. "I love children, see how I've made them cupcakes!" Each scene wraps you up in so many words that you never get a sense of or feel for what the words are describing and what is actually happening in the flesh and blood story. Valente will write that something was terrifying but I never feel it. Everything is pretty. Unlike Gaiman's children's books with similar themes that have actual gore, this only glosses. Too clever. Jasper Fforde does this as well, loves his clever ideas so much he murders his book. No-one wants to read 200 pages of wordplay, bro. Anyway, book one might be better and this might just be filler, but I'm not going to go looking for book one.

Damn, this makes a long stretch of boring books. Meh.