Mach book wrap-up

This is my wrap up for the books I read in March. I didn’t have a great reading month. It was fine, but it might also be my general mood, because I’m really grumpy these days, but it was fine. Hoping April gets better.

Every day is for the Thief by Teju Cole

I read this for the Read Harder challenge a book written by an immigrant or with a central immigration perspective. Teju Cole was born in the States and grew up in Nigeria, where his parents are from, I think he now lives in the States. The unnamed narrator of this short novel is also Nigerian, and lives in the States, is now coming to visit his aunt in Lagos. It’s very short and it’s very beautiful, and it’s… sort of spare. He doesn’t really use too flowery language. The narrator is very disillusioned with the corruption of Lagos, where you can move fairly unencumbered if you’re willing to pay off police and military on your way. He also sees this corruption in the States and he seems so disillusioned and lost in this world he doesn’t like. There is a scene where a boy is caught stealing and executed on the spot, and the narrator doesn’t seem upset or anguished, he just relates the horror of what is happening and it was horrifying, and his spare and monotonous writing style makes the whole thing really good. It’s so good.

Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Him is about two young men who used to go to the same hockey camp when they were kids, and were best friends. Now they’re both in their last year of college and they haven’t talked in years because of something that happened the last year they went to camp. Jamie Canning is straight, as far as he knows, and Ryan Wesley is gay and made a bet with Jamie that pushed their boundaries and then he basically cut Jamie out of his life. And then their teams are going to face off in a hockey championship and they have to meet again and smut ensues. So it’s a M/M romance new adult sort of thing. I don’t think it was perfect, it was fun, and Jamie and Wes are cute squishes, and weirdos. I liked that they used the word bisexual, I liked that it wasn’t just “straight-except-for-you.” I liked that the important people in their life were supportive and helpful. I also liked that Wes’s family weren’t necessarily supportive, because it’s more honest. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun, and cute and adorable and I was almost in a slump, and I read this in like two days because it was so compelling, so that helped.

The Transmigration of bodies by Yuri Herrera

For the Read Harder challenge I had to read a book set 5000 miles from where I live, and Mexico is about 5500 miles from Norway, so I picked this. That was a lot of preamble. Anyway. I read Herrera’s debut novel, and I really liked his way of writing and his way of telling stories. This is about a man called the Redeemer who works for the two crime families in town. When the two families kidnap a child of the opposite family’s it is up to the Redeemer to make sure a gang war doesn’t break out. The language is spare and sparse and Yuri Herrera does not use ten words if he can use two. It’s so beautiful and raw. And it is very crime noir and it shows that violence mostly impacts unintended victims who just happened to get in the way. It’s beautiful and wonderful and I loved it.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Most of March was taken up by me reading Don Quixote. It’s 1000 pages of weird knighthood. This is the story of a man who has read too many books about knights and decides to go out on adventures. He brings along a man who lives in his village named Sancho Panza. He is a farmer and Don Quixote makes him his squire and promises him the rule of an island. In the beginning it isn’t entirely clear if Sancho knows that Don Quixote is crazy, or if Panza actually believes him, but after a while it’s clear he isn’t particularly clever. I liked it, it’s so massive it took me a while, but it was fun. It also drove me a bit crazy that it was so massive. I think that has more to do with my general mood being a bit low these days, and if I’d been in a better mood it wouldn’t have bugged me so much that it was big, but hey. The writing is so sumptuous and beautiful and it’s hilarious.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

So I finally finished this. It won the 2015 Man Booker Prize and it’s big and complex and complicated. It’s set in Jamaica and New York mainly and the first part is focused on the murder attempt on Bob Marley who is referred to as ‘the Singer’ in the book. It also looks at the politics of Kingston mainly and the changing rulers of Jamaica, and the different gangs of Kingston. It is told from multiple perspectives, gang members, a receptionist at a hotel, a CIA operative, a journalist, and a dead peer of the realm who sometimes come into the story and give an overview, among others. The book then moves on to New York and the 80s and we see what happened next and how fun crack was. It is beautiful, and I thought the story was incredible. I will admit that I sometimes struggled with the language, because a lot of it is written in patois and sometimes I had to read sentences a couple of times to make sure I knew what people had said. It did however take me way too long to finish it. I don’t know why. I think because whenever I put it down I didn’t feel a strong urge to pick it up again. Anyway, I liked it, it was fine.

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland all the Way Home by Catherynne M. Valente

This is the last book in the Fairyland series. It focuses on the last adventure that September goes on. She is now the queen of Fairyland, but because of how Fairyland works she has to compete in a derby to keep her throne. She, Saturday, A-through-L and Blunderbuss go on to compete. It’s funny and beautiful and the story is so lovely. I feel like I need to reread the whole series in a more compressed amount of time, because they meet people who I didn’t remember at all. So I think I lost some stuff. So I need to read it again. Anyway, I always love September and Saturday and I love A-through-L so it was lovely.


February book wrap-up

I read twelve books this month. I decided to split my wrap-up in two, and these are the books that I read with my eyeballs. And I will make a different wrap-up for the eight audiobooks I listened to. So these are the four books I read in physical or ebook form.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfeg

Eileen was a big buzzy book in 2015, and it was nominated for the 2016 Man Booker award and I finally read it, I’m slow. Anyway. It’s about a woman named Eileen who is currently in her 60s-70s and is telling the story of something that happened when she was 24, in the 70s. She lives with her alcoholic father near Boston and she works at a boy’s prison. She is incredibly disgusted by her body and even though she is tiny she is terrified of being fat. She’s obsessive about the boys in the prison and one of the guards. And she’s fairly lonely and without friends. And then a woman arrives at the prison. She’s named Rebecca and she’s very beautiful and Eileen is obsessed with her. She feels like she has to be Rebecca’s friend. It is a thriller, sort of, but it’s more of a character study, the thriller-y bit doesn’t arrive until the end of the novel. It’s a study of Eileen and her strange obsessions. She talks a lot about her body and how disgusting she finds it, and the disgusting things it does. She likes stewing in her own filth. She also obsesses over one of the guards, but the idea of him or any other man ever touching her also repulses her. I thought it was fascinating, I found Eileen fascinating, and I really liked the writing. Moshfeg really leans into the disgust and the repulsion, and I thought it was great. I also completely understand why people wouldn’t like it.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

This is a companion novel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. It’s about two people from that novel, and this might be a bit spoiler-y. But it’s about Lovelace and Pepper. Lovelace comes with Pepper to live with her. The chapters alternate being from Lovelace and Pepper’s perspective. It’s very different from The Long Way, but I really loved it. It’s a very quiet and slow novel. It’s not hard-core sci-fi. It’s more about what it means to be a person, and what that means, and learning to be a person, and what it means to be family and friends. I really loved it. I thought it was great. It’s really different from the other novel, but it’s so great.

Lazaretto by Diane McKinney-Whetstone

Lazaretto is set in the late 1800s in Philadelphia in the US. It focuses on Sylvia, a black woman who is learning to be a mid-wife, Meda a black maid who gives birth to her boss’s child, and Linc and Bram, two brothers who grow up together in an orphanage. The climax of the novel is set on the Lazaretto, a quarantine hospital where people who are entering the US have to go if they seem to be sick. It’s really beautiful. It’s a very interesting look at different ways of living in the late 1800s and different friendships and relationships between people. I thought it was really sweet and fascinating. I really like historical fiction. It sort of annoyed me, because it had a tendency to swap point of view within chapters. And that really bugs me. There’s nothing wrong about it, but I personally find it incredibly irritating. I still liked it, and I would definitely like to read another book by McKinney-Whetstone, because I loved the characters in this book and their stories. So, yes.

Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction edited by K.M. Szpara

This is a collection of short fiction written by trans, genderqueer, agender and non-binary writers. They’re all speculative fiction, obviously. I thought it was good. In some of the stories gender and being trans was a very important of the story, and in some it was just a metaphor and not as important. I thought the stories were beautiful, and I really liked the different ways of exploring gender and sexuality. It was really cool. I’m going to look into the different writers in the collection to see if they have published work anywhere else.


January wrap-up

This is my wrap-up of books I read in January. I was going to try and read fewer books in 2017, but I don’t have a job, so I have nothing to do in the daytime except work out, clean and read all the things. So there are quite a few books here. If I have a review of the book I will link to it.

Mine brødre (My Brothers) by Adel Khan Farooq

This is a new Norwegian Young Adult novel written by a second generation immigrant who grew up in Oslo. This book is about a second generation Pakistani immigrant who lives in Oslo. He’s sort of disillusioned with his life. He is also in love with a girl in his class, a Somali girl named Faisa. He and Faisa become close and talk about Islam. He starts praying, and finds a quiet calm in it. He also meets with a young man who is part of a Muslim brotherhood and the narrator becomes part of the brotherhood. I liked it. I thought it was an effective story. It’s not something I know anything about, but it is fascinating. I thought it was a bit trope-y. And I thought the narrator was easily persuaded by both Faisa and the brotherhood. I also think the ending was way too simple, but it was a fascinating look into something that I know pretty much nothing about. I wrote a review, here.

God Collar by Marcus Brigstocke

God Collar is Marcus Brigstocke’s memoir and exploration of god and his relationship to god, and religion. He focuses the book around losing his friend and not knowing how to cope with it because he never really believed in god and thus has nowhere to turn really. He talks about the criticisms he has against religion and why he can’t believe. He talks about why he would really like to believe, how he feels like he has a void in his life that religion should fill, but he doesn’t know how to believe. It feels a lot like my own atheism. I don’t believe in God, and I feel like people should be able to believe in what they want so long as they don’t hurt anyone. And religion seems nice, but I can’t believe in anything. Anyway. I liked it, it was fine. I listened to the audiobook and Brigstocke read it himself, which was nice. I thought it was fun, but nothing fantastic. I wrote a review here.

How we got to now by Steven Johnson

This is an illustrated history of great innovations that led us to today. The book is filled with weird and surprising stories of accidental genius, and people making mistakes. And people discovering the same thing at the same time. The book talks about the history of everyday objects we use every day. It was fun and an interesting look at different innovations. There was however a fault in the audiobook I listened to, so I missed a chapter. I have no other way of listening to the book, so I’m not sure how to solve the issue, so for now it’s just how it is.

Vindeltorn (The Twistrose key) by Tone Almhjell

Vindeltorn is a Norwegian middle grade novel about a young girl who has lost her pet mouse, Rufus, and also had to move from the country side to the city. She finds a key and a door to a different world, Sylver, where dead animals who were loved by children live. She has been brought there to find a lost winter lord to save Sylver from doom. I thought it was fun. It had a great Narnia vibe. I think it worked well as a children’s book, but it didn’t work as well for an adult audience. It was sweet, it had some absolutely lovely moments, but it lacked some world building. It was perfectly alright though. I wrote a review here.

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

This is the first Charles Dickens I’ve ever read, and I’m quite impressed with myself, because it was a big ass book. It’s about a whole ensemble of characters. A man named John Harmon has inherited his father’s estate, a dust-heap where rich people throw away their trash, and with that he also gets a young woman in marriage, miss Bella Wilfer. Sadly Mr. Harmon dies and the money and estate goes to Noddy Boffin and his wife, Mrs. Boffin. They decide to take in Bella out of sympathy since she lost her future husband and the money she would inherit. Meanwhile the man who takes lodging in Bella’s father’s house becomes Mr. Boffin’s secretary. The money that Mr. Boffin inherits seems to go to his head. It was delightful and funny, and it’s a great satire, and commentary on what money does to people. Dickens is snarky and funny and I loved it and I will read more Dickens.

Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

This book is about Venetia Digby, a real-life woman who lived in the 1600s. The book is a fictionalised version of her life. She was incredibly beautiful and people wrote poems about her, paint beautiful paintings of her, and all that. In the book she is starting to get older and her beauty is fading, so she starts drinking this beauty-fication drink called Viper Wine. I liked it, it was interesting. It’s also interspersed with journalists from these days appearing in the story, so it’s also commenting on our current obsession with beauty. I wrote a review of this here.

Papergirls volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang

This is the second volume in a graphic novel series. The story is about four paper girls in the 1980s. In volume 1 they meet time travelers and three of them end up in 2016. In this volume they hang out with the adult version of Erin and try to avoid being killed by time travelers and aliens. It’s very cool. I really love the 80s theme, it’s reminiscent of Stranger Things, and I love that. I like the art style, and I always like Brian K. Vaughan’s stories. It’s very cool and I’m looking forward to volume 3.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

This is one of Carrie Fisher’s memoirs. It’s about Carrie Fisher’s struggles with alcoholism and drug abuse, and her mental health issues. It’s really great. She’s very honest and self-deprecating and cool. And I have loved Carrie Fisher for a long ass time, because my parents made me watch Star Wars when I was ten. I also always loved the Blues Brothers. My parents are weird. Anyway. I haven’t really delved into Carrie Fisher’s other work, like her books, until now, and I’m very excited about it. I love her writing style. I listened to it on audio, which was a bit horrible, because she read it herself and she died recently. She also makes a reference to her mother saying that when she died Carrie and her brother should go through her house and take what they want or whatever, and that broke my heart a little bit, since Debbie Reynolds outlived Carrie Fisher by a day or two. I loved hearing about Carrie’s crazy upbringing, she was the daughter of two Hollywood superstars, and her parents were clearly a bit eccentric. I really loved it, and I really want to read the rest of Carrie’s books. I also want to read anything by or about Debbie Reynolds.

The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake

So I’ve had this book on my shelves forever. And I had a lot of time on my hands so I decided to read it even though I was already reading a long-ass book. It’s about this castle-thing, called Gormenghast. It is the home of the Groan family. And the current earl Groan has just had a son called Titus. The book just goes through the lives of the Groan family and Gormenghast. It was fine. It’s so involved and there are so many family members and minutiae. And there are a lot of people. And I got sort of exhausted by it, so I had to listen to it on audiobook to get through it. It is supposed to be a classic fantasy story, but fantasy stories need to have plot, at least a bit of plot, and while this book has a villain and a bit of plot I don’t feel like it had enough. It might have been the wrong time for me, but it just felt like it dragged and it annoyed me. I thought the characters were interesting, but it was too slow. Also Titus was the most annoying person ever created.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

This is the second Jacqueline Woodson book I’ve read and it was beautiful. It is about a woman named August who has come back to Brooklyn to go to her father’s funeral. On her way home she runs into an old friend on the subway and she thinks back to her youth in Brooklyn in the 1970s. It is beautiful and poetic, and it’s such a beautiful story of different kinds of childhoods and different kinds of families. It’s great. And I wrote a review here.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

This is a short story collection by Lahiri. It is the first of Lahiri’s books I’ve read and I really liked it. All the stories feature Bengali people, and are usually centered around an immigration theme. The narrator or main character isn’t necessarily Bengali, but they interact with a Bengali person. I thought it was really great. I am not a big short story reader, but I thought this was great, and I’m very excited to read more Lahiri. I really loved the title story, which is about a Bengali man who works as a guide for people on weekends and on weekdays he works as a translator at a doctor’s office and I thought that was beautiful.

Those were the books I read in January. Excited about February.


Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

another-brooklynThe book

Another Brooklyn is about August, who grew up in Brooklyn in the 1970s and then moved to Rhode Island to go to college. She goes back to Brooklyn for her father’s funeral and she runs into an old friend and they don’t actually speak, but it makes her remember her childhood in Brooklyn and the book is basically her Brooklyn childhood, and her friendships and her relationship with her brother and father.


This was really beautiful. I have also read Brown Girl Dreaming by Woodson, and it’s basically about her real life childhood, and it’s written as poetry. And her sort of poetic writing style is also a big part of this novel. It’s not written as poetry, but it feels poetic.

I loved her sort of stream of consciousness writing. It’s not actual stream of consciousness, it just feels a bit like her story just poured out of her, and it was beautiful.

I really loved the story of August and her friends. It was a beautiful story of four fierce black girls growing up in Brooklyn together and everything that went wrong, and everything that went well. It was fascinating to see the different ways that people are raised, and that being black in Brooklyn in the 70s isn’t a monolith. August is quite poor, she has what she needs, but never has all new clothes, and while she’s happy she knows she’s poor. She lives with her father and brother because something happened to her mother and August left Tennessee with her brother and dad to her dad’s old hometown. August and her brother are basically released into the street and they are left to themselves. In another family the girls are kept on a tight leash, live in a traditional family and are expected to be perfect and are always in new clothes and go to private school.

I loved how it was written. It was always hinting to what happens in the future. It’s clear that one of the girls did something that made her family disappointed and also hurt August somehow. And I liked that writing style. It built a lot of tension, and even though I guessed what it was it was climactic and hurt when the explanation came.

This is a really small thing, but adult August is an anthropologist who studies death and death rituals, and I really loved that. Because I love anthropology, and I’m fascinated by death rituals, because of course I am. The book is also a lot about death. And it is death and the confusion around death through the eyes of a child, who doesn’t understand everything that isn’t going on. I thought it was beautiful.


I thought this was beautiful, I really liked it. I love the writing style and the poetry of the writing style. It was wonderful.

Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

The book

Viper Wine is about Venetia (née Stanley) Digby, who lives in 17th century with her husband Kenelm Digby, and her two sons. The book is based on the real Venetia Digby who was known as quite a beauty in her time, who had poetry written about her and paintings painted by the biggest and best painters of the time. This fictionalised version of her life is about her seeing that she has begun to age, because she’s a human. And she starts to take the most extreme measures to avoid aging. She meets a man named Lancelot Choice who sells her viper wine, which makes her look young and fresh and those great things.


First of all, Hermione Eyre has the coolest names of all time. I thought it was a pseudonym, but it’s not, it’s great. Anyway.

I thought this concept was really interesting. I didn’t know about Venetia Digby, because I can’t know everything about every English nobleman. But I don’t think you need to know much about her, or her husband. I did look into him a bit, because I thought the story was interesting. He was the son of one of the men in the gunpowder plot, which is also quite fascinating. His wife was known to be an amazing beauty, and she died mysteriously when she was in her mid-thirties. And she actually had an autopsy performed on her, which wasn’t too common at the time.

It was interesting to read about 17th century beauty regimens. What Venetia and the other women do is basically 17th century Botox. Their faces become stiff and frozen and her husband at one point says that he can’t pick her out in a crowd. He keeps seeing a bunch of women who look the same, and he isn’t sure where Venetia is until she waves at him.

The book has quotes at the beginning of chapters and they are often from people who actually lived in the 1600s, but a lot were also from people who live in 2017, and who are in the beauty industry, like models and actors, and the like. Kenelm Digby is a scientist and explorer and he has “press conferences” where current journalists, including the author, interview him. I thought this was a really interesting way to show how beauty is still something we obsess over today, and something women in particular do as much as possible to remain beautiful.

It was interesting to see how Lancelot Choice basically got the ladies he worked with addicted to his concoction. I think there’s opium in the viper wine, so they’re actually addicts, and I thought it was an interesting way to show people getting sort of addicted to their beauty regimes. That’s sort of an obnoxious thing to say, but I think that when you do something enough times you feel sort of naked without the beauty thing you do, and it feels like you should do it.


I really liked it, I liked how the women hid all their beauty regimens and their makeup from the men in their lives and the men are just clueless and dumb. I liked that it brought the 17th century and 21st century together and how some things haven’t really changed so much. I liked Eyre’s voice and her writing. I thought it was really fun.

Vindeltorn (the Twistrose Key) by Tone Almhjell


The book

Vindeltorn is about Lin, who has moved with her mom and dad from their big farm in the countryside to an apartment in the city. She really misses her best friend, and her pet mouse, Rufus, who died when they moved to the city. One day she gets a key and finds a door in her basement which leads her to Sylver. This is a world where all animals who were once loved by a child goes when they die. So Lin is reunited with Rufus, who is now about six foot tall and can talk. Since she’s a child sent to a fantasy land she gets a quest and has to find the prince of Sylver, and return him by nightfall, or she can never go home and Sylver will be thrown into chaos. And all that jazz


So this is a middle grade novel and it is very sweet and lovely. It’s also very Norwegian and wintery and beautiful. It was also released first in English, which is quite interesting. Anyway.

I thought it was fun, I thought Lin was clever and fierce and strong. She was afraid, but she never let that stop her, which I loved about her. She was sort of relentless, in the best kind of way. She also had a tendency to not take her predicament seriously. Like a lot of kids in fantasy lands she seems to think that she can’t be hurt there, which is silly.

I think that the idea of animals who were loved by children going to a land where they live and thrive and have fun was absolutely lovely. I thought it was so incredible. It was a great nod to Narnia, eternal winter, a fairyland and talking animals. There is also an absolutely heart breaking moment that reminded me of Susan and her relationship to Narnia. I thought it was beautiful, and I don’t want to say what it is, but it has to do with the fact that kids do grow up.

I think it probably works really well as a kid’s book. A lot of kid’s books work for adults as well, but I don’t know that this one did. There were some issues with world building. Like they meet trolls when they’re out on their missions, and Lin says she knows what kills these trolls, and what kills those trolls, and there is no reference to how she has this knowledge. I think there should have been more world building. I also think the timeline was a bit messy. I didn’t entirely know where they were or how much time had passed, and where they were.


I still think this was a completely fine middle grade fantasy book. I thought it was fun, and I thought Lin was great, and I thought it was a beautiful concept. And I thought it handled the way children love their pets and how serious that love is.

#Diverseathon 2.0

The second installment of Diverseathon will happen and from the 22nd to the 29th of January and I wasn’t planning to take part, because I had other books planned, but then I thought, I decide what I read, screw this, I want to do the Diverseathon. I’m an adult. I do what I want.

Then I remembered I wasn’t planning to buy books, and I have to use the books I already own, and I haven’t been good at buying diverse books up to this point, but I do have some so I will read those. I also have an audiobook app full of audiobooks. It’s a bit like Netflix, but for audiobooks, and if you’re Norwegian (and possibly Swedish?); Storytel is great.

The Diverseathon is hosted by Joce from Squibblesreads, Christina Marie from the channel Christina Marie, Monica from the channel Shemightbemonica and Simon from Savidgereads. The group book this time is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I won’t read it because I don’t own it and I’d be behind five other people to get it from my library.

What will I read you say? My TBR consists of four books, two books I own, and two books from Storytel.

  1. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. This won the Man Booker Prize in 2015. It is about the Bob Marley assassination attempt in Jamaica in 1976, the crack wars in New York in the 1980s, and a changed Jamaica in the 1990s. I don’t think Bob Marley is referred to as Bob Marley, but it’s partly about him. Marlon James is a Jamaican man himself so it’s partly an #ownvoices novel as well.
  2. Transcendent: the Year’s best transgender speculative fiction edited by K.M. Szpara. I bought this on a whim in my local comic book/fantasy/sci-fi store. It’s an anthology of short stories written by trans authors and featuring trans characters. Either the fact that the characters are trans is central to the story, or it isn’t. I very rarely read short stories, so this is very exciting to me.
  3. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. I’ve read another book by Woodson called Brown Girl Dreaming. It was gorgeous. This is about a lady named August, who meets a long-ago friend from Brooklyn. It sounds really fascinating. I really liked Brown Girl Dreaming and Woodson’s writing style. Jacqueline Woodson is an African-American woman and the book is about an African-American woman. I’m going to listen to this on audio, and it’s going to be great.
  4. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. I love Carrie Fisher, this audiobook is read by her, and I’m pretty sure I’ll cry, but I will prevail. Carrie Fisher, if you don’t know, played Princess Leia/General Organa in the Star Wars movies, and she died right around Christmas 2016. And apart from that she was a badass ambassador for mental health. Carrie Fisher had bipolar disorder and was addicted to cocaine and prescription drugs for quite a while. She has spoken openly about both. This is her memoir, based on her one-woman-show of the same name and it’s about her addiction and her bipolar disorder, and her life in general. So I’m excited, and nervous. I am not very good at reading about mental health issues, so I should be better. And I will start with Carrie Fisher.


So those are the books I’m reading. I’m very excited.