A summary of the ‘going native challenge’

As many of you know, during the summer I challenged myself to read only books written by Swedish authors. I called the challenge going native. For years I’ve only read books in English, written by English speaking authors, which made me realize that I knew more about foreign writers than Swedish ones.  I felt as if I’d lost contact with my country. Thus I created this challenge, and I recommend you do the same if you find yourself feeling this way. Here is a brief summary of what I read as a part of my going native challenge.

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One by Sarah Crossan (blog relay)

Yesterday Bibliotekarier blogged about One, and now it’s finally my turn.

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One is about two twin sisters that share everything, literally. They are conjoined twins, joined at the waist. Although they share the same bones and blood are two different people with their own thoughts, secrets, and emotions, just like any teenager anywhere. Due to their condition, they’ve been homeschooled their whole lives, but as their family can’t afford the twins to be homeschooled any longer, they are forced to start a regular school. Although this change brings a lot of difficulties, it also forces the twins to get out of their comfort zones in a positive way, making them experience things the haven’t been able to before. Grace and Tippy find their first friends, who help them deal with the staring and the whispers they are forced to face every day. But although they share everything they still keep secrets from each other and in the end they have to make an impossible choice.

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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

”Sara Lundqvist
Kornvägen 7, 1st Floor
136 38 Haninge
Sweden”

Sara has just lost her job in the city’s bookstore. To move on with her life and learn to live, decides to visit the little run-down town of Broken Wheel in Iowa to meet with her American pen pal, Amy. Sara and Amy have never met, yet she feels as though she’s always known her. When Sara arrives in Broken Wheel  nothing seems to turn out the way she expected.

This is a real feel-good novel about the power of change, love, books, and to dare to live. A perfect book to read an autumn evening in the glow of lit candles.

As the book-lover I am, I really enjoyed the fact that the love of books was so prominent. I found myself smiling in recognition several times. Katarina understands perfectly what it’s like to love books, even when no one else understands.

What made the book extra special was the outline. The story revolves around Sara, naturally, and one gets to follow her development. However, one also gets to know Sara and what her presence does to Broken Wheel and its people through the eyes of others around her.The reader is shown how their lives change because of Sara’s presence, which really underscores the ripple effect of change.  As a part of the narrative one is told about the relationship between Amy and Sara via Amy’s letters, which makes the reading experience more intimate.

I can say nothing more than that I read this novel with a smile on my face.

If you love to read books about books, and how they can change a life, you need to read this one.

Book review -Vi är inte sådana som i slutet får varandra by Katarina Sandberg

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Vi är inte sådana som i slutet får varandra by Katarina Sandberg

(An attempt at translation: We are not the ones who get each other in the end)

”Jag är en enda natt. Resultatet.” (I am one single night. The result.)

Cassiopeja is 19 years old and doesn’t know what to do with her life. Escaping the small town where she grew up, she ends up studying law with classmates living on their daddy’s money in Stockholm. While everyone around her is falling in love and getting married, she finds herself rolling her eyes at love and trying not to make the same mistakes as her mother. However, deciding to take piano lessons changes everything and makes her realize the meaning of love and life.  Läs mer

Book Review – The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

16101128The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

”There will be no awakening”

Trust no one. Those three words literally describe the whole book, trust no one. Earth has been invaded by aliens, determined  to destroy humanity and take over the planet. Cassie thinks she’s the only one alive. With her brother’s teddy bear in one hand and her trusted M16 in the other, she searches for her brother who was taken by what seems to be the army.

Right, I know I’m a bit late to the party, but better late than never. Everyone has been raving about this book and I kind of understand why it might appeal to some people, but personally, I didn’t love it as much as I expected. However, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t leave me with something to think about. And no, it wasn’t the love story, it was the psychology behind the whole story itself. What happens to us when we can’t trust anyone except ourselves? What would we do if we don’t have access to the technology we’re used to? What would we turn into? Brutal killing machines? Would we try to help or would we only care for ourselves? So many questions.

I honestly found myself feeling nauseous many times while reading. There were so many parallels that could be drawn to the  holocaust during WW2. It made me see humanity in a different light.

The only thing that made me cringe was the love story between Cassie and one of the other characters (no spoiling). You don’t just fall in love and stop thinking rationally as soon as you meet a person. But when I think about it now, maybe you do, especially when you’re scared, lonely and constantly in danger?

Even though I didn’t love it, it was well worth a read. If you like dystopias and playing with thoughts of alien invasions and what would happen to humanity, you should definitely give this one a try.

Book Review – Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

shatterme1Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

”I’ve been locked up for 264 days”.
Juliette has powers which make her lethal and no one knows why. She can’t touch another human being without hurting or killing them. Everyone is afraid of her, her parents hate her and sent her to a mental institution where she’s been locked up for over 260 days and nobody cares. The word outside is too busy falling apart. Almost everything is poisoned and there’s nothing to eat and nowhere to live, and everyone is under surveillance by the Reestablishment. To increase their power and control, the Reestablishment wants to use Juliette and her powers as their secret weapon. However, Juliette has other plans.

I really enjoyed reading this one even though the storyline isn’t new in that sense, it’s like most dystopian fiction but with a dash of fantasy. And I like both dystopian fiction and fantasy, so I mean, I really couldn’t go wrong with this one. But what stood out the most for me was the language. It was amazing, very descriptive and full of metaphors and poetic in a way. Tahereh also describes broken characters very well.

Juliette is constantly battling with herself and who she truly is. She basically hates herself for being able to kill people by touching them and trust me I would too, and it’s easy to understand why Juliette acts ant thinks the way she does. Tahareh describes that hatred in a way true to human behaviour. She’s not a superhuman, she’s a human being with human behaviours and reactions. The only difference is that she’s been cursed (or blessed) with supernatural powers.

I can’t imagine how scared I’d be if I knew I could kill my family and friends by just giving them a hug. Imagine the anxiety. As you keep reading about Juliette and the world she comes from you can’t stop wondering how it got to be that way and how the Reestablishment could brainwash people so completely.

Another thing I both like and dislike about the book was how Juliette isn’t portrayed as the typical strong female protagonist (but she has potential to become one). I like that because she’s broken and has to rebuild herself and accept the way she is, therefore, becoming a stronger version of herself. I think that’s very true to real life. Some may be born strong others have to grow, fight and learn to find their place in this world.

However, even though I really liked Shatter Me, I can’t say that you should definitely without a doubt read it, but I think you might enjoy it especially if you like to become caught in a whirlwind of emotions.

If you like dystopias like The Hunger Games or Divergent I think you’d like this one.

 

Book Review – Kaninhjärta (Rabbit Heart) by Christin Ljungqvist

kaninhjartaKaninhjärta (Rabbit Heart) by Christin Ljungqvist

”Mary betyder Maria, som betyder, man vet inte riktigt, men det kan betyda upprorisk eller bitter eller motspänstig och det stämmer precis för sådan var Mary”.

(”Mary means Maria, which means, you don’t really know, but it might mean rebellious or resentful, or intractable, and that’s true because Mary was like that”)

Mary and Anne are identical twins and completely inseparable. But they’re different from others, they can contact and be contacted by the other side, by ghosts. Anne is able to see ghosts and Mary lend them her voice. Usually, the ghosts give them warnings about something that’s going to happen in the future, mostly to other but one ghost warns Anne that she and her sister has to tread lightly because one wrong decision might lead to something terrible happening. By chance, they become members of a group of mediums trying to find a missing girl. Mary gets obsessed by finding the girl while Anne tries to follow the ghost’s advice.

All I have to say is, finally, for the first time in my life, I’ve read a book that’s set in the Gothenburg area. It’s a very peculiar feeling reading a book in which I actually know exactly where the characters are. I haven’t experienced that before.  But as a whole, I really don’t know how I feel about this one. I like it, but I don’t love it, and I’d probably not read it again. What was interesting, though, was the mystery and the relationship between the sisters and how different they are from each other.

The story is told from the perspective of one of the sisters, Anne, the seemingly more rational, calm and caring one, who really goes out of her way to save her sister from herself. The sisters relationship is very complex and very true to real life in regards of how they act towards each other and people around them. It must be hard, being so young, trying to be normal, and have ghosts appear out of nowhere telling you all these things that are going to happen. The ghost element also made the story mysterious and sometimes very creepy.

However, I sometimes felt that it was a bit too much and the characters were a bit extreme. The language also made me feel really old. It’s hard to explain and I don’t know if you can relate, but, it’s like when you’re on a bus and you overhear a conversation between two fifteen-year-old girls, the way they talk and the words they use is very different from the way you speak yourself. They’re not very eloquent if you know what I mean? At the same time, it makes the story seem more real. The right age group would probably love it and find it very easy to read. All I kept thinking to myself was ‘kids these days’.

As a whole, I really enjoyed reading this book, but I didn’t love it. Yet, I’d like to read the rest of the series and see what happens.

I think those of you who enjoy mysteries and the supernatural would really enjoy this book. I haven’t read anything like it so I can’t compare it to anything.

Would you rather be able to see ghost like Anne or have them possess you to lend them your voice like Mary?

Book Review – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

”There was a boy in her room”.

Cath and her identical twin sister Wren are about to start their first year of college. Wren, the more outgoing and socially comfortable sister decides that she doesn’t want her and Cath to become roommates. She wants to go off on her own and start living her life without being tied to her sister, who is the complete opposite of Wren. Cath has social anxiety and Wren has been her safety. When Wren decides to go off without her, she feels betrayed by the only person who understands her as well as incredibly afraid of everything unknown that she now has to face on her own. As a well-known fanfiction writer, she escapes into the world she created based on the characters Simon and Bas and bunker up with protein bars to not have to leave her room. Her roommate, the sarcastic and very confident Reagan, reluctantly takes her under her wings and becomes her friend. Reagan also has a boyfriend, Levi, who is the nicest and most cheerful person Cath’s ever met.  Levi’s always spending time in their dorm room which makes Cath quite uncomfortable at the start.

Roughly, one can say that Fangirl is about sisterhood, first love, fanfiction and growing up.

I really loved reading this book. It was funny, heartbreaking, nuanced and truthful. I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between the sisters and how different they really are. Cath was also, to me, an easy character to relate to. To face change and new situations are scary, as well as trusting people enough to let them get close to you. I also found it very true to how it might be to find social situations difficult to cope with as well as how it might feel like to get everything that is safe taken away from you, leaving you to fight for yourself.

I’m sorry if I make it sound like a difficult and emotional read, but it’s a very easy read.  It’s written with an enormous amount of empathy and humor even though there is a hint of seriousness to it. I also love that the act and love of writing are such a huge part of the story and who Cath is.

The only thing that I didn’t like at all was the extracts of the stories of Simon and Bas at the beginning of the majority of the chapters. They put me off and it just felt like they were thrown in there with no connection to the rest of the plot. But that’s a minor problem, it’s still one of the most amazing books I’ve read this year.

I recommend all of you to read it and especially those of you who enjoy reading books by John Green.

The Swenglish dilemma

I’ve been thinking, trying to figure out how to relate to the fact that I’m Swedish writing a blog in English. Since I started this blog, I’ve mostly read and reviewed books by English-speaking authors because it would be more available to an English-speaking audience, which I don’t mind at all. The problem, or rather my dilemma is; whether or not I could review Swedish books too and try to adapt it to an English-speaking audience even though some of the books might not be available in English. Is that possible?

Personally, I’d love to read about books from other countries and cultures even if it might not be immediately available in Swedish or English.

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I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, the reason being I’ve started reading more and more books by Swedish authors, which I haven’t done in about five years. And I really feel like reading in my mother tongue for a while. Not that I’m discarding everything that has to do with books in English (I simply can’t) but I think I just need this somehow.

Thus, to be able to continue blogging, which I love, I’d really like to know what you guys, my readers think about that. It would definitely generate more frequent posts (at least, that’s what I’m hoping).

Is it something you’d like to read about and have me discuss with you and talk to you about?

Book Review – All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All-the-Bright-Places-jktAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

‘Is today a good day to die?’

Violet is devastated by the loss of her sister and is having a hard time. Everything has changed and she lost herself when she lost her sister.

Along comes Finch, the weird guy at school no one really want to be seen with, helping Violet to start living her life again. In the meantime, he struggles with problems of his own. He is broken beyond repair and is trapped in a dark place of his own.

They meet on a rooftop staring into the depth of their own darkness. A meeting that introduces a beautiful story about finding a way out, the single stream of light in all that darkness.

The two protagonists, Finch, and Violet are two completely different people from different social groups and family situations, but bond over the fact that they are both hurting in a way that isn’t visible to others.

Mental illnesses like depression (and suicidal thoughts) can’t necessarily be seen on the outside. The seemingly happy people can be breaking inside. No matter who you are and where you come from. However, a kind or caring action or word can make one find that little stream of light in all of that darkness and change everything.

On the other hand, not everyone can be saved. Their darkness is too thick and they can’t see of find that single stream of light.

Mental illnesses and suicide need to be talked about more. It’s out there, no, it’s here, it happens right here among us and it won’t go away  just because we ignore it or label it differently.

A truly amazing story that really gets underneath your skin and stays with you for a long time. This book is a great way to get a discussion about suicide, mental illnesses, norms and ethical issues going. Read it with you child, friend, parents or students.