Books of September

Or, I really liked “Jag ser allt du gör”

Since I am the only person in my family that regularly leaves home for a longer period of time, mother asked me to borrow her book club’s next book for her. Sure, I said. After all, Stadsbiblioteket is less than three minutes from school, and we have so many long breaks. 

All of my first impressions of the book was confusion. Firstly, the title. It sounds like a crime novel, it isn’t. Secondly, when I first saw the book, the cover looked like a child with bad color taste had tried to paint a face. 

My mother had six days to finish it, it only took her three. But then again, I did it in two. 

I was unsure if I would read the book, I did after all have another one that I had already started. But then my book was kind of horrifying (Khaled Hosseini type of horrifying) so I took a break from it and read “Jag ser allt du gör” instead. It might be the best decision I’ve made this year, or at the very least the best decision in the month of September. It was marvelous. 

Annika Norlin excels at writing people. All of her characters are wonderful, hilarious and often heartbreaking. 

My favorite novel would have to be the last one, about a woman whose child has died and to deal with her grief she starts walking. I feel sad, often. I have obviously never felt ‘my child just died sad’. But still, I could relate so damn hard to the woman. I have never read something that describes sadness so well. I too want to just leave. By reading this story the feeling lessened.        

At other times Norlin’s writing was so fun. I loved reading about the musicians, it often felt like I was there with them. And come on, the shit they get up to is just hilarious. Really bad lyrics?, really terrible performances?, one really funny relationship that falls apart? This story got it all. 

Just go read “Jag ser allt du gör”, it deserves the hype. 

The story of why I quit fast fashion

‘it is now our responsibility to stop supporting a company that allows it to happen’

Let me take you back in time. It’s 2016, life is both easier and harder (my mental health sucked, but there were no pandemics). It’s spring time, it has just started being warm outside again. I’m taking what I hope is my last economics class. H&M has just had another scandal about how their seamstresses are severely underpaid.  

I’m in the first row, to the left next to the window. We are in one of the nicer classrooms, with high tables and chairs. They are all a greyish black. I’m wearing my obnoxious neon green blouse, it was made in Italy. The first page of our economics book is the story of how a white dress is made. Beginning with the cotton farmers, who get close to no money and work with harmful chemicals. Next is the fabric workers and seamstresses, both who also get close to no money and work in harmful factories. Then it is the transportation, the seller and the profit. In the end the dress is bought by a girl who is about to graduate, for a low sum of money, ie, around 300 kr. The majority of the money goes to the company selling the dress, not the people who made it. 

Our first lesson is a debate in responsibility. Is it the companys’ responsibility, the manufacturers? Or is the responsibility ours, the consumers? Since the H&M scandal became public literally days before our lesson, it quickly became what the debate revolved around. I say “Because we now know how badly the workers are treated, it is now our responsibility to stop supporting a company that allows it to happen. It is our responsibility to stay away from H&M until they fix the problem.”

I am not capable of saying something and then backtracking. It is not in my character. And since I had said it was our responsibility, I had to act responsible, thus I stopped with H&M. Eventually that stop spread to all other fast fashion companies, because even if there had been no news scandals about them there is no way to sell clothes that cheap without exploitation. We all know it, so for me to boycott H&M and not Zara would be hypocritical. 

During this time I was spending a lot of time with my grandmother, and a lot of that time was in thrift stores, so I had few problems with finding clothes that hadn’t recently been mass manufactured. It also helped that I had a good base of clothes, and that my feet stopped growing early. I still have and use socks from third grade. (They are great, the names of the weekdays are underneath, so when we had a spelling test on the weekday I simply wore the Wednesday socks and cheated.) Of course I will eventually have to buy new socks, just like I buy new underwear, workout clothes and pajamas. Since I’m still a poor student these things are bought in fast fashion stores, I do not get them second hand (even I have limits). But eventually I will be buying all of my clothes in a sustainable way, from places where I know no women have been exploited to make them. I look forward to that day. There are tons of great companies, so if you can support them instead of fast fashion, do it. 

So, that is the story. Nothing to do with the environment, just solidarity to women.

Enola Holmes and the gift that is letting teenagers play teenagers

I loved Enola Holmes so much.

The worst part was that it was only a movie, not a TV series as I have learned that many people, including my father, thought. I knew it was a movie from the beginning, but I still think that it would have made a great series. Partly because I wanted to spend more than two hours with Enola. Partly because I think that it would have been good for the story. It would have meant more time to develop the side characters and Enola would have gotten more time to do detection.

From time to time I would look at Millie Bobby Brown and think: She looks so young. Then I would get overjoyed. She’s a sixteen year old playing a sixteen year old!! Do you know how few shows I have watched during my teen years, where the actors were actually my age? Way too few, and I did not know how much I had wanted it until now. It made me tear up, multiple times.    

To be honest I do not think that there is any reason to cast people in their twenties to play highschoolers. I know that the common answer is that it is easier for filmmakers, because child workers have to follow different laws, among others I think they aren’t allowed work for too many days in a row. And like, I get that, but I’m a teenager and an adult. If the role calls for a teenager and they don’t want to bother following extra regulations, just cast someone that is eighteen to nineteen. It is not perfect, but it is way better than having actors in their late twenties playing a sixteen year old. 

When I was twelve maybe, I  watched a lot of The Vampire Diaries. The main character, Elena, is supposed to be seventeen. Nina Dobrev was twenty one when the first episode aired. The same goes for most of the rest of the cast, although the men playing vampires are closer to thirty than twenty. To be fair, I have no idea how old they were supposed to have been when being turned into vampires. Anyway, twelve year old me got very high expectation of how I and my classmates would look when we were seventeen. No one lived up to it, because guess what? We looked like seventeen year olds, not twenty somethings. My skin wasn’t clear, we did not wear new outfits everyday. Life was (is) still awkward. 

And my last reason: Why even make movies and shows that take place in highschool? If you just want to make a film about young attractive people dating each other, not studying, having absent parents and drinking excessively,  just have them be in college. College means freedom to do all kinds of weird shit without it being too unrealistic. High school sucks enough anyway, so make high school shows to inspire teenagers and realistically portray it. Save the odd shit for college. 

Enola Holmes was wonderful, and correct representation is once again necessary. It is almost like we like connecting to people like us on the screen. Here’s to hoping for more movies with Millie Bobby Brown, an actual teenager.

Growing up in a dystopia

What kind of economic growth is worth my future? Can you put a price on that?

It feels a bit weird to grow up in the beginning of a dystopia, knowing that I can do nothing to stop it and that those that can stop it, does nothing. 

I can’t even remember when they started teaching us about climate change. But I do remember being told not to take the car, because it was bad for the environment. I must have been at least eight years from being able to get a driving licence, what the fuck were we supposed to do? 

I should not feel guilty when buying something new. I should not have to feel bad about having to take the car as much as I do. I should not yearn for when I can move away from home and stop having plastic packaging around. I should not feel apprehensive thinking about what my future holds. 

My friend sometimes jokes about dying young, because the world will be too fucked to live in, when we are fifty. Sometimes I don’t think she’s joking. Sometimes I agree with her.   

Back to school. I don’t think that there is one subject where the environment isn’t mentioned. I’m eighteen and I’m already getting tired when they mention it. We know. You don’t have to remind us. We can’t do anything. Please don’t make me have yet another climate based project. I don’t want to debate different kinds of energy. I don’t want to read about how poor countries are affected worse than others, even though it isn’t their fault. I don’t want to live like this. Fix it!    

I hate reading about Greta Thunberg. It makes me so mad that a girl one year younger than me, has to be the face for the climate movement. It wasn’t us that fucked the world up! We should not have to be the ones to fix it. It makes me so mad that the grownups won’t take their responsibility. Fix what you wronged!

Also, fuck Lyskekil! What kind of economic growth is worth my future? Can you put a price on that? 

I once complained to my mother about grownups not doing the right thing, and she told me that idealism belongs to the youth and that grownups become cynical. But mother dear, I have been told about the world’s independent doom since I started school. I am as cynical as it gets. Still, I refuse to give up, I will not let the greed and comfort of adults destroy the world. I refuse to go down any other way than fighting.

Updated about me

Hello, my name is Johanna and I like words.

My first language is Swedish, then I learned English and I’m currently studying French. I like words in all languages, so next I’m planning on learning either Greek, Russian or Arabic, please help me choose. 

There are two primary reasons for why I write in English. One, I prefer to read in it, therefore I write in it. Two, I would like to get an A in English at some point and practising writing can only help. I think that it’ll finally happen this year now that I’ve got a new English teacher. It will not be as satisfying, because I doubt my new teacher is as meticulous as my former teacher. 

I’m honestly kind of a boring person whose goal is to never stop learning or leaving the academic world. To achieve this, I plan on becoming some kind of scientist, most likely a chemist but we’ll see what the future holds. The one thing I do know, is that I really don’t want to remain in Sweden, I would love to live and work in some other country.

I sometimes fantasize about walking into libraries where most of the books are in English. Can you tell I like reading? I probably write too much about books, but I shall not stop. Also, is it possible to talk too much about books? Worth noting: I care very little for spoilers, I don’t care if things get spoiled to me and I don’t leave spoilers out. Read at your own risk. On occasion I will leave a numerical rating on Goodreads.       

I will write using sources (when needed). Since I believe strongly in honesty and good sourcing I will always refer to them. I’ll be using the APA system because that is the one we currently use in school and therefore the one I’m most comfortable with. This means that all of the sources I’ve used, will be linked at the bottom of the page, in alphabetical order.  

I will write about politics, environment and equality because it needs to be said and I care about my opinions. I will also write a lot about autism because I’m autistic and it’s just my life. If a word, saying or sentence is followed by an (/s) then it was meant sarcastically, hopefully I will remember to write it always but feel free to ask if you want clarifications.  

Other fun facts about me:

I have two horses, one cat and sadly also a dog. I’m so not a dog person. He’s the only dog I can stand to be around.

I do not want children. Also, having the dog has solidified that opinion. 

I like clothes and photography. On occasion I will post pictures of me wearing clothes, or just of other beautiful things on my instagram. Same name as the blogg. 

I love climbing but I also have a fucked up wrist and it pains me to say that climbing is often too painful. But all the doctors and specialists I’ve spoken to say that I will most likely no longer be in pain when I’m twentyfour so I’ll only have to wait six years to start climbing regularly.

I don’t like the concept of five fast facts so I’m not sure why I choose to write some of my own. 

And that was your brief introduction to me. To learn more, I think that there is a subscribe button? Or just read what I have already written. I try to update once a week, but school likes to keep our workload inconsistent and I’m bad at planning ahead.

Books of August

Romanov 

Nadine Brandes

This book suffers from either an identity crisis or just a case of a really bad summary.  

When I borrowed the book I was expecting action, adventure, magic and not much historical accuracy. That was what the summary said, “But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.” (Goodreads) That sounds like action to me. But no, the first ⅔ ‘s of the book is what I assume a fairly historically accurate retelling of their time in exile. With very little magic, and no action. 

If they just would have written it, I would have had no problem with it. Historical accuracy is fun, and I would have found it interesting to learn more about the Romanovs if that had been advertised. But, since I was expecting fantasy and excitement, I just found it boring. 

Brandes also fails at assuming what people already know about the Romanovs and the revolution. My knowledge is limited to the movie Anastasia and a brief history lesson in connection to the World Wars. The book starts with the Romanovs already exiled and abdicated and explains nothing of what has happened before, or who the different actors are. Side note, I really dislike it when a book is written in English, but the characters are supposed to be from some other country and to show this, they at occasions say random words in their mother tongue, but for the most part just speak English. It is weird. 

That said, the last ⅓ was more of what I was expecting, magic and action. And once I got to it, I found the book quite enjoyable. Had it been advertised correctly I think that I would have liked the entirety.   

Six of Crows 

Leigh Bardugo

Whenever I read fantasy heist books I go through multiple stages. The first is always: Oh no, a fantasy heist book. The last one is always: Why don’t I read more fantasy heist books? I really should read more fantasy heist books.

I honestly have nothing to say about the book other than it was good and that the characters should have been older. The oldest of the main characters was eighteen, most of the others were seventeen, but one or two of them were even younger. Having young characters is often not a problem, but it becomes odd when all of them act like grownups. There was no fumbling teenagingness going on, no awkward romances, no uncertainties. They were all selfasured, well dressed, eloquent and did a lot of things you can’t imagine teenagers doing. Like killing people. It kind of made those scenes funny, I could not help but think that they were younger than me. 

Overall, great book, weird ages.    

Son of Neptune 

Rick Riordan 

The best part of reading this book was when I had to go home and ditched my friend’s Swedish copy and borrow my brother’s English copy. That ment that Riptide was once more called Riptide and not Tidvattensvåg, English is so much cooler. 

But for real. The Swedish translation is at times ridiculous. Books are just so much better in English. Fight me!

As always Riordan writes brilliantly and fun books enjoyable for the whole family. I can’t wait for the TV adaptation that I’ll pirate watch because I don’t like Disney.

Stop Burying your Gays, and Other Representation Problems.

There is a lot one can write about representation, and this barely scratches the surface. Nevertheless it felt good to write. Please educate yourself further, perhaps starting with the links I included at the end?

There are a few things in literature and movies that I can’t stand: abusive fathers, cheating couples, love triangles. But the absolute worst one, is the unnecessary killing of LGBTQ+ characters, commonly known as “bury your gays”. So when “The Letter for the King” fell victim to that trope in the last few minutes of the first season it was as dead to me, as the gay kid was dead in the show.     

The thing that makes it even more absurd is that “The Letter for the King” is very much a kids show, focusing on representation! All of the actors are of appropriate ages, not twenty-somethings playing teenagers. And they are of multiple ethnicities. The main character is black, the chosen one is female. The supporting characters are a diverse group, and when two of them, males, began a relationship the representation was at a top. The show is not only great at representation, it also deals with some heavy topics that kids need to learn about: racism, class prejudice, war and other moral questions. All important stuff! So why the fuck would they bury their gay?

Firstly, an explanation on “Bury your gays”. Bury your gays (also knowns as Dead Lesbian Syndrom) is the name of a TV trope where, kind of self explenatory, the gay (or any typ of LGBT+) character dies or have an unhappy ending (TV tropes, NDa). 

The origins of this trope are awful. It comes from a time in Hollywood when the only way to portray gay people was to have them pay for their so called immorality (McConnaughy, J, 2016, 29 of Mars). This was due to the Hays Code, which banned many things considered immoral, such as nudity and sex, blasphemy, as well as interracial relationships and homosexualiy, both of which were considerd perverted! (TV tropes, NDb). 

The Hays Code was made by Hollywood, but it wouldn’t have had to be a thing, if not for the fact that the US Congress were already planning to make laws for censoring films. This, due to public complaints of the “perceived lewd content of films” (TV tropes, NDb). 

Nowadays there is literally no need to kill gay characters. Homosexuality is no longer seen as shameful and bad (in these parts of the world) and there is nothing stopping people from writing happy gay stories. Still, it goes on. 

One example is of course “The Letter From The King”. But there is also “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, “The 100”, “Arrow”, “Brokeback Mountain” and way more tv series and movies (TV tropes, ND). 

Well, now that we all know what “Bury your Gay” is; let’s talk about why it shouldn’t be done. 

It’s because representation matters. It’s as simple as that. Stories have always been human things, we tell eachother things all the time. Nowadays there are stories everywhere. Not just stories we tell eachother, there are movies, books, blogs and so forth. But, what does it do to you, if the characters that are just like you, always meet a bad faith? If you can’t get a happy ending? Constant heartbreak and death? I would get pretty depressed, and I’m guessing you would too. 

From personal experience, I tend to avoid autistic characters because I know that most of the time, they will be nothing like me and I’ll just be disappointed…I do not have a perfect memory. I do not like trains and I do not have that much trouble connecting with people. I would just want to see people like me, who get overwhelmed easily, don’t like eye contact, do like structure and occasionally don’t get the social context. And, you know, is a woman. How hard can it be?

That is also what I would like for others to see. Because, as Nancy Wang Yuen writes “on-screen images can shape our views of reality”(2019, 22 of May). So if all you ever see, are autistics with superpowers or just in general autistic white men (who often act like boys), then that will influence your perception of autistics. This, of course, applies for all types of representation. 

Bad representation of people like me is mostly an annoyance, and a reminder of sexism. But to others, especially people of color, this is outright dangerous. If we want “Karens” to stop calling the paid murderers (Police) on black people, who are just existing, then a part of it is to stop bad representation. It will not fix centuries of systematic racism. But perhaps it will stop some “Karens” -actions and save some peoples’ lives in the end.  

Good representation in movies is important both for the person being represented and for the people watching. It will not fix everything, but mixed with other “fixes” it will lead to a better, more tolerant world. Something we desperately need. Also, I just want one cool autistic woman with a well developed story line, played by an autistic woman, to look up too, please. 

Representation matters. Black life matters.  

Shortly after I wrote this I started having second thoughts, perhaps I was too mean, too controversial about coops. Maybe I shouldn’t have called them paid killers. But then I saw the news. On the very day that I wrote most of this text the police shot Jacob Blake, a black man, in his back eight times in front of his kids. I no longer hesitate to call them paid killers. That and the fact that Breonna Taylors killers have not been arrested, it has been over five months.  

Sources

Beside my normal sources I will also link some articles.

https://www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html – The NY Times, about Breonna Taylor 

https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/8/25/21400481/jacob-blake-kenosha-police-shooting-riots-evanston – Chicago Sun Times, about James Blake

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/29/us/minneapolis-police-george-floyd.html – The NY Time, about George Floyd

https://blacklivesmatter.com – Official site 

The movie 13th (det 13:e tillägget) on Netflix is good to watch.

McConnaughy, J. (2016, 29 of Mars).What Led to Lexa: A Look at the History of Media Burying Its Gays. The Mary Sue.  Retrieved from 

TV Tropes. (NDa). Bury Your Gays. Retrieved 2020-8-14 from 

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BuryYourGays

TV Tropes. (NDb). The Hays Code. Retrieved 2020-8-19 from 

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode

Wang Yuen, N. (2019, 22 of May). Why Is Equal Representation In Media Important? Forbes. Retrieved from 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2019/05/22/why-is-equal-representation-in-media-important/#89654082a84e

Disabilities are difficult. Aka, they come in all shapes and sizes

So, I had this weird moment last fall. I had booked dance classes with my friend, and we were really looking forward to them. And then we had our first, it went well. I liked the dance, I liked the people and I liked the music. But afterwards my wrist was hurting. 

The day of our next class had been a bad day, my wrist had hurt at multiple times and I did not feel like it would have been a good idea to force it to do more physically demanding things that day, dance class was cancelled for the day. 

The next week was the same. So, there I sat with my friend. On the top floor of our school, having to debate with myself if it was worth the additional pain to do something I liked. The answer was no, dance class was cancelled for an unforeseeable time. But while I was sitting there, debating with myself, I suddenly realised that the injury that I had been living with for maybe two and a half years at that point was a disability. 

For some reason, that also made me think more about my autism diagnosis. I rarely think of it as a disability, it is just a part of what makes me awesome. But there and then I understood that not everyone saw it as a strength. I want to be careful here, it is something that makes my life more difficult, not some weird supertalent that people can write books about. But it is me, and if people around me behave respectably then it is more of an asset to me, than a hindrance.     

I hadn’t really thought about my diagnosis and what it meant for me. On one hand I was still myself, nothing had really changed. I knew that I was autistic before it was confirmed.  On the other hand it felt like everything had changed. It was official. It was something that others could use against me. Like the police, and military (fuck them and their “Come as you are” campaign). People could use it to discriminate against me. 

I understand where the discrimination comes from, uneducation. I’ll even admit that I at one time thought of myself as autistic but not  “Autistic”, kind of like how Isak in Skam was gay but he wasn’t “Gay”. Or how most girls go through a “I’m not like other Girls” phase. It is an attempt to distance oneself from a stereotype portrayed in the media that isn’t recognizable. An attempt that I realised was meaningless once I had spent time on parts of the internet where I could interact with all types of people and get educated. I came to the realisation that I am not better than anybody else and that all ways of being is equally valid. 

Other fun things that happened when I got my diagnosis, I started seeing casual ableism. What a joy. My best example of this is from the fall of my first year at Hvitfeldtska. It was in English class, we were reading The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime (btw, bad book) and we were preparing for a written exam with the book as a base. We were to answer three of four questions with well thought out arguments and all of that fun English stuff. And since my (former ) English teacher wanted all of us to do our best he gave us one of the questions beforehand so that we could prepare properly. The question was “Do you think that Christopher is a reliable narrator?”. Objectively a really good question, it both tied on to the book and to the lessons we had had about different kinds of narrators. We had to discuss the question two and two. As far as I could hear they all said no, he isn’t a reliable narrator. And while it wasn’t said outright it was his autism that made him unreliable. It was partially harrowing to hear the girl I was paired with list characteristics that Christopher and I share, as a reason to why he was an unreliable narrator. That was my first time experiencing casual ableism and one of the reasons that I started writing. 

To this day I don’t know what my teacher’s answer to the question was, or what he intended with it. All I know is that in my text I wrote passionately about how the question was discriminating and wrong. It was one of the first things I wrote at Hvitfeldtska but it will without a doubt always be the one that I’m most proud of. But that moment has stayed with me, perhaps it is why I have problems telling anyone about my diagnosis. Or perhaps I just think that it doesn’t matter and isn’t anyone else’s business.    

Another fun thing that happened was that my parents didn’t have any problem at all telling all of their acquaintances and friends. To this day I don’t know when we meet if they know or not, it makes me uncomfortable. I am a strong believer in being open about mental health in order to end the stigma, but be open with your own mental health, not anybody else’s. No shade to my parents, they did what they thought was best. I have seen way too many “family youtubers” and celebrities talk about things that their children do that I wouldn’t want the internet to know if it were me, so I have a vastly different opinion about what parents should share. I think I’m going to write a full text about it, so look forward to that. 

Anyway, back to my disabilities and back to that fall day on the top floor where I realised that I had been failed by the system. 

It was partially fun (/s) to realise that my wrist pain was in fact a disability. It is a pain that I have lived with since eighth grade, and I had never considered it a disability before. I had cried about it, I had been in unimaginable pain due to it and I had feared because of it. But never had I considered it a disability, because you know, a disability is something like being paralyzed or having lost a limb, something that affects your life daily.

 That day I realised that it does in fact impact my life everyday. That I hesitate to do certain things because I don’t want to be in pain, that I think and worry about it regularly and that I wasn’t able to live my life to the fullest due to it.            

There are two ways I was failed by the system. First one, no one realized that I was on the spectrum or that I was a “gifted” child (aka I’m really good at school). Had either of those things been realized earlier I would most likely not have suffered for three years and my education would have been more stimulating. I like to credit books for surviving school. 

Second one, no one took my pain seriously enough at the hospital. It took two weeks before I even got to see a doctor and she just sent me along to some physiotherapist that told me that I had a weak wrist. She didn’t even check my grip strength (it is perfectly fine!). I came back and I came back and I came back. It took two years before they sent me along to a specialist! Two years of pain and fear and uncertainty. Two years of no progress. This last year has been better, I feel seen, heard and helpt.                

I guess what I’m trying to say is that all pain is valid and that disabilities comes in all shapes and sizes. Just because someone has it worse doesn’t mean that you don’t have it bad, and all bad things should be taken seriously and treated. It doesn’t have to be as it looks on TV.

For those of you that are curious of what’s wrong with my arm, no one really knows. A lot of ideas and a lot of tests are happening but so far no definite answer. The most common answer is that I will grow out of it in my mid twenties because that is when you start to stiffen, really looking forward to five to nine more years of pain (/s).

BTW, The Incident with the dog in the nighttime is a bad book and sad stereotypical representation. The awful thing is that when I was researching different disabilities autism was the last one I looked up just because most of my understanding came from bad representation in media such as the Incident.  

Books of June

Persuasion

Jane Austen 

I have read my fair share of exes to lover stories, and I have never particularly enjoyed any of them. Jane Austen changed that.

Persuasion would have been a better read in the fall, there is a cosy, “sitting indoors in a nice thick sweater, while it rains outside” vibe to it. It is at times a melancholic story and at the same time you know that it will have a happy ending, making the whole read overall cosy. Like a bad weathered fall day; it looks gloomy, but you know that eventually the sun will shine again and that knowledge means that the weather can be enjoyed to the fullest.   

It is not only a book of lost love, of course there is a sense of humor in it. In fact it starts with a brutal roasting of the main characters’ father. Multiple pages telling us how his only personality trait is vanity. How could you not love Austen’s works? That is just one of many examples scattered thru the book, Austen’s wit should never be underestimated. 

The worst part of this book is that I now have unrealistic romantic expectations. If my future partner doesn’t write me a romantic letter telling me how they feel and that they will respect whatever choice I make, then what is the point? I would even settle for an email, or a really long text. There is so much feeling in words. I adore it.     

Pride and Prejudice is the classic Jane Austen, and it will always be loved by me. But I think that Persuasion is my new favourite. The tenderness and sense of humor of the book just really speaks to me. I look forward to reading while it rains.   

Renegades

Marissa Meyer

I have recently decided to give up on Marvels superhero movies. I am no longer interested in movies, that only is meant to make money for Disney. I’m glad to have found this book series as a reading replacement for any future Marvel movie. 

This book starts with a somewhat typical anti hero that  goes undercover to infiltrate the good guys. So I was scared that the protagonist would see the “error” of her way, betray her former allies and join the good guys. She didn’t. 

Meyer portrays both sides as both good and bad, as it tends to be with different sides of politics. So far it is up to the reader to choose with groups values they believe in. 

One thing that helps with that, is having dual p.o.v. One from the girl protagonist and one from the boy that has a large role, however not being a lead character (he doesn’t get too much page time).

This is a good example of how to write a good fighter. Meyer actually shows us how the protagonist defeats her enemies and in what way she is powerful. Meyer doesn’t just tell us that over and over again without actually showing it, making the reader question the abilities.   Yes, I’m still upset over Throne of Glass….. But back to Meyer’s writing. She shows us how Nova, the main character, is smart, inventive and a good fighter through the entire book. It makes the whole book, which centers around superheroes and villains, more credible.

Another thing I like with the book, is the setting. It takes place after a revolution that dismantled all governments, leaving the world in anarchy. After that there was another revolution between the anarchist and people that wanted to restart a government. In the beginning of Renegades, the world is a police/military dictatorship with constant talk of making it a democracy. The “good guys” rule and ironically don’t realise that the world they created has as many flaws as the anarchistic had. I don’t think that I have ever read a book that takes place after the revolution when the world is getting rebuilt. It was an interesting and (for me) unique storytelling way, one that I look forward to returning to.     

The Migration

Helen Marshall

Reading a story about a pandemic that only affects children in a world plagued by climate change induced storms, it was almost like reading the news. 

The concept was good, and for most of the book I was on the edge of my seat. But I felt like the ending was severely lacking and that ruined the book for me. Children all over the world are getting sick, eventually dying, and after their death they start transforming. All good so far. But I felt like we never got a good enough explanation of why they were changing. That made the main characters arcs ending extra weak. I never understood if transforming was a good thing or not, so I mostly felt confused. Honestly, I would have prefered if Marshall just would have gone with aliens.       

There were other smaller things that bothered me too. Like how the main character managed to steal her sisters’ corpse from the hospital. A sister that died from the pandemic and whose body was to be taken care of carefully. How could that hospital be so easy to break into? Especially given that it was one of the leading research centers. This brings me to the only thing that I liked about the book, the doctor. She was the only interesting character, doing morally bad things ordered by her boss. Eventually her morals got the better of her and she gave the protagonist some horrifying information about how the hospital was conducting some highly unethical experiments. If only Marshall would have made them the bad guys.    

Except for the doctor most of the book was forgettable, particularly after getting to the end. If you want to read about a pandemic, just read the news.

The Lost Hero

Rick Riordan 

I read Percy Jackson when I was ten, maybe? And I loved the series, I even reread it. The last book ends with a new prophecy and a promise of new books. Back then I did not think of Googling and therefore learned of the new series much later. Had I thought of using the internet, I would definitely have made my parents buy The Lost Hero. And I would have been so very disappointed, as Percy isn’t in it. Rick Riordan is brave, I’v give him that. 

Now that I’m older the lack of Percy didn’t affect me as it would have. Instead I think it was a good move on Riordans part. It forces the reader to accept and get to know the new characters and not just wait for the old favorites to appear. Beside adding new characters, Riordan also adds more diverse representation. The first five books were great, kids with ADHD and dyslexia, but most of them were white. With The Lost Hero Riordan introduces one Native American protagonist and one Hispanic protagonist.  

As usual Riordan excels in writing funny. I was reading the book, at my friends’ and I kept having to take a break and read the funniest lines out loud to her. It was impossible to read all of the fun lines out loud because I did not have time to read the entire book to her. That’s how fun it is. It is not just how he writes that is fun, it is all of the bonkers situations they find themself in that’s also amusing. 

I can’t believe that it took me at least eight years to read this book.  I will most likely read the rest of the series before the summer is over. (I can’t believe that I’ll have to borrow these books from my brother!)       

Ash Princess

Laura Sebastian

When I opened the book and the ruler was called “kaiser” (German word for emperor) I was sceptical, it got worse when Søren was introduced on page eight. Do you know how annoying it is to read and suddenly an å, ä or ö just pops up in a word and ruins the flow. My brain is in English mode and suddenly the word forces it to face Swedish, it is a jarring experience. It didn’t help that Søren is an old man’s name, the Søren in the book is supposed to be young. I’m glad that I managed to look beyond my scepticism because Ash Princess is really good.

Sebastian is really good at describing emotions, one of the protagonists’ old family members is killed in the beginning of the book. There was no real time to form an emotional connection to him, despite that, I felt sad over his death, that is how good of an author Sebastian is. 

On the topic of violence, I like how it is treated. The protagonist is the princess in a country colonised and controlled by a people inspired by Scandinavia and Germany and it doesn’t shy away from how awful colonisation was. The princess is treated terribly in the castle and her people are exploited. The colonisateurs use their culture as fashion statements, but look down on all indigenous people. I like that Sebastian didn’t shy away from showing violence, since she didn’t do the thing that some other authors do, when seeming to almost glorify or enjoy the violence. Good work Sebastian, you are a decent human being.   

There were of course some things that I didn’t like with the book, foremost: I hate love triangles. This one is one of the better love triangles, but still. There were some other small things as well, but nothing worth mentioning. Except, she included a random å in the word wås. I thought it was going to mean mås (a type of sea bird). But no, it is the name of the goddess of cats. That was possibly the funniest moment of the whole book.

My only other problem is why didn’t I borrow all of the books at the same time? Now I will have to wait until the next time I go to the library to read the rest. 

Eliza and Her Monsters

Francesca Zappia

When the main character laughed at something on her phone, her parents asked her what was so fun and she replied “nothing” I knew that this was going to be a good book.  

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I deliberately took three days to read it, because I didn’t want it to end. It is the first book about teenagers that I’ve read, that actually feels relatable. I recognize myself in so many things that Eliza do. Her internet habits are similar to mine, the generation gap between her parents and herself is described wonderfully and I see myself in her feelings. The only thing to complain about, is that sometimes the chat language they use is a bit off, but Zappia is not a teenager so I’ll forgive her for that. It is way better than what some older authors try to write.

The mental health representation is on point. Eliza suffers from anxiety and while I don’t, I can say that her panic attack was written very realistic, it was almost painful to read. I had to take a break and calm down after reading it. Don’t know if that is a good or bad grade.

Like I said before, the internet and the generation gap was really well written. Zappia perfectly described what it is like to be in a fandom, how we interact with other people on the net and how it all works. Things that older people just don’t get. Older people were represented by Eliza’s parents, and often reading their conversations felt like revisiting old conversations with my parents. Or, you know, just any rant by old people that complains about the internet.    

Online life is great, and this book gets it. 

I’m not sure if any book about teenagers is ever going to live up to this one, but then again, when my generation start getting books published, then the internet will be well described. Until then I will have to suffer thru books where it, at times, seems like the kids don’t even have a phone, let alone internet activity. Side note, I think I’m going to have to buy this book, it was so good.  

Vacation at Grandma’s

Did I break folkhälsomyndighetens recommendations? Possibly, I never bothered reading the part about old people. Do I think that You should break the recommendations? Absolutely not. Do as I say (write) and not as I do, kids. 

Day one, Saturday.

We left “early” so I had no chance to steal some of mothers’ chocolate. It’s extra sad because I’m about to have my period and really want chocolate. Mother was weirdly sad to see Gatsby go, resulting in some weirdly cute photos. Also I’m really tired because I stayed up way too late in order to watch a 1h and 49 min long youtube video about why Sherlock was bad. Worth it.   

It was nice to have a quiet animal in the car, unlike certain cats. 

We arrived, Gatsby was surprisingly nice towards Grandma. Father started working right away, didn’t do anything. Grandmother gave me way too much food. 

In the evening we went on a walk with Gatsby, so that I could begin the first step of my plan. I want to make him into a dog that likes swimming, and for that to work he had to be introduced to the sea. It did not go that well. He cared for it very little, except from when he tried to drink salt water. I shall try again tomorrow.

Day two, Sunday.

My Grandmother has breakfast, and then at ten she has tea with another sandwich. Essentially she has two breakfasts, and now I have too. There is so much eating at Grandmother’s place. 

I finally started reading a book, the last time I read was in June! The book I’m reading is Persuasion by Jane Austen and I really enjoy it. The best thing with classics is that they take a long time to read, normally I could finish a book this short (~250 pages) in a day. But with a classic I have to take some time, it is nice and weirdly relaxing. 

I picked cherries and I had forgotten how good they are. I’ll be eating them all.

I love cherries

We took Gatsby on another walk to the sea, no luck this time either. Perhaps I should look into how to actually get a dog to like water.    

The best part of Sunday was the truly shocking amount of times I got to tell people that it was Sunday, no one was aware.   

Day Three, Monday.

Today father went home and I was very sad to see Gatsby go. I will miss that very annoying dog.  

We went to Lars’ to get water, and I got to meet The Cat. The Cat is a cat that belongs to one of Lars’ neighbors, but The Cat has adopted Lars. So now The Cat has two humans and two houses that he can chill in. Peak cat behavior, it was an honour to meet him. 

The Cat

Grandmother is unable to see someone being inactive for a longer time, after reading some I spent time on my phone, and then Grandmother comes in and says that we are going to go and deliver the wares that one of her customers bought earlier that day. Only that she wasn’t home when we arrived. Her back patio door was opened, so Grandmother had me go in and put the items there. And that is the story of my first ever breakin.      

Apparently I have been spending so much time in the sun that my face got burned. It doesn’t matter what Grandma says, my face is red, not tanned. 

I went biking for the first time in almost a year, it went well. I should probably have been wearing a helmet but my time in France corrupted me. Also, I wanted to listen to music. 

The sea is beautiful.

All of us went biking after dinner, unlike France, old people didn’t bike past me. That was embarrassingly good for my ego.    

My face itches, it is hard to sleep. 

Day four, Tuesday.

It is raining today, so Grandmother and I are going to Uddevalla.

First we walked around Torp (a mall) and it was like every other mall, except not finished. Best part was Grandmothers’ inability to get, that I try my hardest, to not buy new clothes from fast fashion companies that don’t pay their workers proper salaries. The actual best part was when she called me Greta, I felt honoured. 

But then we went to a secondhand store where I could actually buy things. And I got three pieces, best part, only one needs alterations. Afterwards we went to Lidl, Grandma’s favourite food store, I got waffles. I want to eat them to breakfast, we shall see how much she protests. 

Worst part, I was pretty out of it the entire time. Wanna be sensory overload and pms combo not great for focusing. And I kept thinking of mothers’ chocolate that I never got to eat. I miss you…          

My period is definitely going to start, like, tomorrow. Have almost started crying like four times over ridiculous things. Like mothers’ not answering her phone, and our friends getting a new horse and not being able to find Singoalla Citron but being able to find one that tastes of pineapple (I hate pineapple). And I have eaten four Mums Mums. 

My Sad Rain Photograpfy

Sorry about that brief break, I had to go out and cry a little in the rain because of PMS and angsty teenager who’s favourite genre is Indie. What did you expect? 

Also, period crying is really weird. Previous year I had to excuse myself, to go crying some with the horses, in the middle of either mothers’ or fathers’ birthday celebration, because the day before my mum had drunk about 60% of my cider. A cider that I had had many times before and that isn’t even that good.  

I think I’m done crying now.

Day five, Wednesday.

Still raining so we are going to Göksäter. When I was young that was one of the highlights of the vacation. Nowadays I appreciate other parts of staying at Grandmothers more, but Göken will always be fun.

Also, did not eat a waffle for breakfast because Grandma made my breakfast before I woke up. Nice of her but it was a normal, boring sandwich.

One of the peculiar parts of staying with two old people is to try and figure out if they are angry at each other, or if they just really have that much problem hearing each other.

Shopping at Göksäter was fine. I got the thread that I was looking for, do you know how annoying it is to run out of thread at Friday evening while sewing? I got two rolls so it wouldn’t happen again. I also appear to have left my normally hardcore convictions outside, because it bought a cardigan. My defense is lacking but let me just say, I was cold and it is in one of my favourite colours. I’m going to have to sin some more this summer, I need new underwear.  

I don’t think that I have eaten this much sweets since right before my last period. It is bad. Also, a really great motivation to work out. Feel free to shame me if I don’t work out. 

We are having guests on Saturday, so I’ll have to cut this vacation short and go home on Friday. Sad, but I’ll come back. 

I went biking, and I fully plan to do at least some yoga, possibly abs as well. Working out is going well. 

The yoga went well, but now I have so many mosquito bites on my legs. For some God forsaken reason mosquitos love me. When me and my family went hiking in the north of Sweden I constantly got bitten while the rest of them got away with only a handful of bites between the three of them. I think that at one point, I had over thirty bites on my legs, it was hell. But I haven’t had a tick on me in years, so that’s something.     

After yoga pic. You can’t see but I’m wearing capri length yoga pants. The mosquitos could see 😦

Day six, Thursday 

I got waffles for breakfast, the day is complete.

Waffle!

This has been a really good morning. I’ve been reading in the sun and has finally finished my book. I enjoyed it, a lot. The oddest part of reading was when my Grandmother came to the window I was sitting below, and threw me a candy. She just walked away afterwards, didn’t say a thing.  

Picture taken from a more aesthetically pleasing part of the reading morning.

Grandma is bad influence. Today I committed my second break in, albeit to our own property, but still. It started yesterday with a vague plan on boating on the sea. That plan was somewhat broken when the boat was used by other family members, so instead we decided to have our Fika at the boathouse. But when we arrived, the door was locked from the inside, the boat using people had locked it. Luckily it is not that difficult to break in to. I had to wade out in the sea and then climb up the jetty. After that I simply had to walk up to the door and unlock it. In the end we took the other boat and had our Fika on an island nearby.         

Picnic by the sea

“Have you taken candy”, Grandmother asked. “No”, I say, while hiding another type of candy behind my back. Grandmother then throws me a candy. I now have two candies. 

I decided to go on a walk in order to take some photos, both of me and of the landscape. I basically just walked straight forward from the house, and when I was planning on turning around and walking back again I noticed that it looked like a small wally was up ahead not too far away. Of course I had to investigate. When I got closer I first thought it was a road, but further investigation revealed that it was an open field. I was kind of weirded out, felt like I was in a detective story and had accidently stumbled up on a drug trafficking place. When I got back I asked my Grandmother and Lars about it and apparently it is some kind of abandoned field. Not as fun and doesn’t explain why the grass was cut only to be left useless on the ground. Or perhaps I am just too bored and want something exciting to happen.   

Day seven, Friday

Today is my last day here, I’m gonna miss it.

I have now started packing and I can already tell that I’m going to need another bag. I should know by now, I always leave Grandmother with more than I arrived with.

So, my Grandmother runs a successful second hand shop in her garden and sometimes the neighbours (and others) give her their old stuff instead of throwing it away. This time a neighbour comes in with some of her old shoes, including a pair of barely worn white low tops Converse. And, they fit me! So now I have a new pair of Converse that can replace the ones that are almost falling apart. So good luck. 

Mother is finally here to pick me up. Grandmother was beginning to worry because lunch time had passed, I had to inform her that we sometimes eat lunch at 14.30 and that lunch time had in fact not passed. She was horrified.     

Goodbye for now Grandma, I’m going to miss you. But I’ll be back, I still plan to make Gatsby fond of the sea and I know the perfect place…