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Books of March

Turns out I do most of my reading on the bus or while waiting for school to start since I’m always there way to early. Due to the circumstances not to be named I have not been reading that much and everything I have read has been very lighthearted and easily read.    

The Bookshop on the Corner

Jenny Colgan


Bought this one on a sale because I wanted something really lighthearted to read during these trying times, it did not disappoint. This is exactly the type of book that should be read during a longer vacation or when forced to stay home due to a virus. But… Maybe it fits better to read it during a vacation, after reading it I really want to go to Scotland. Colgan knows how to describe the scottish highlands in an alluring way. A bit sad to read it when you aren’t allowed to leave your home, therefore stopping all plans to go to Scotland before they even could begin to form. Although the books was a lovely easygoing escape that I didn’t expect much from I can’t help but feel that it was somewhat rushed at times. Not in the overall plot, just certain sentences felt rough. I read the swedish version so I will never know if it how Colgan wrote or if it is the fault of the translator. I do wonder a lot about the title, first I just thought that the Swedish translation was bad but it really do say “on the Corner” despite the actual bookshop being in a van and not on a corner? Very confusing. Despite that it is a very cute book.

Ella Enchanted

Gail Carson Levine 

There is a movie based on this book starring Anne Hathaway that I have watched an embarrassing amount of times because I have terrible taste in movies and one of my favorite genres is anything based on Cinderella. The movie is nothing like the book, as it often is. Neither of them are bad, they just aren’t anything alike. The book is super duper cute, it is written for younger children, pre teens. It a heartwarming story about learning about consequences and standing up for yourself but most importantly, how important our own choices is, that no one should be allowed to take that freedom from us. Beside having some great life lessons it also has one of the cutest romances. Unlike the movie where the prince is arrogant, the book version is a complete gentleman (gentelboy) who only want the best for Ella. This is a book that I really wished that I had read when I was younger, but it still works for an older person.            

Kiss of the Royal 

Lindsey Duga

There are multiple reasons for why I liked this book. Firstly despite the lore being perhaps the most ridiculous one I have ever had the pleasure of reading it still felt well developed and thought through. Sure, having kisses be the catalyst for magic to work is a bit weird and having true love being the answer to all problems is maybe a bit cliche, but Duga makes it almost believable. And, you know, having true love being the solution to everything would be pretty nice right now. Secondly, I loved the character development. The relationships between the characters is good and really drives the story and the characters forward. I love the family bond between the main character and her page boy. I was in constant fear that the page would turn out to be in love with the main character and jealous of the love interest, a pitfall many authors fal in to (why do authors think that love triangles are fun?), luckily for me Duga avoided it. The only place where I truly think that Duga fails is in the romance, but now that I have written that out I realises that it may be due to the fact that the main character literally didn’t believe that love existed and there for made for a bad protagonist in that sense. When she finally accept that love is real the romance between the main characters is described fin. So, no the romance wasn’t bad. Lastly, unlike other authors, Duga chooses fantasy names that was not terrible or unpronounceable, although Lorena is a stupid name for a horse. In conclusion, this is yet another good escapism in a trying time.            

Salainis

I had learned already many of the Outland methods of communicating by forest notes rather than trust to the betraying, high-pitched human voice.

None of these was of more use to me than the call for refuge. If any Outlier wished to be private in his place, he raised that call, which all who were within hearing answered.

Then whoever was on his way from that placed hurried, and whoever was coming toward it stayed where he was until he had permission to move on.

Salainis

I had learned already many of the Outland methods of communicating by forest notes rather than trust to the betraying, high-pitched human voice.

None of these was of more use to me than the call for refuge. If any Outlier wished to be private in his place, he raised that call, which all who were within hearing answered.

Then whoever was on his way from that placed hurried, and whoever was coming toward it stayed where he was until he had permission to move on.

A week of distance studies

Thursday

This was our first day of homeschool, and it was weird. First lesson was chemistry, we all connected to a google meets meeting where our teacher laid out the ground rules and then we were off to watch a youtube video explaining the electron transport chain. It worked, but it was really odd. The most off putting thing, is that the teachers are still in school, so we can see the classroom in the background, but I know that I’m in my room.

 Social science was fun, my teacher wanted to see our pets, so most of them have now appeared in a meeting. Also, I ate lunch during this lesson, which felt odd but also really nice. Normally we have really late lunch so it was good to eat when I got hungry and not when I was starving.

 Math was also odd, we were actually connected the whole lesson, but our teacher muted his mic and if we had any questions we were to call him on his phone. Occasionally we could see him talking on it, but most of the time he just sat there. It was kind of tragic. 

Biology went surprisingly good, most of the time my teacher has a lot of problems with the technology, not his fault, but now when he didn’t have to struggle with a faulty connection between the computer and the projector things went smoothly. It also felt the most like a normal lesson, so that was a nice bonus. 

French lesson was bad. We were to do a listening exercise that turned out to be way too difficult, the questions were also very vague. If we had been in class we would have noticed that all of us were struggling and our teacher would come up with a new plan. Instead we were all panicking on our own, until someone said it in our class chat after about 45 minutes. In the end everything worked out fine, but it was really stressful for some time.

Pros: Having lie-ins, a lot of them. No travel time. The possibility to utilize the lunch break for something different than lunch. Also, being able to eat whenever.

Cons: No friends :(. Weird to be home all the time. No walking or free exercise, can you believe that I actually miss all of the stairs? Being able to eat whenever. Having a ridiculous amount of tabs open on the computer. 

Friday

I had a big breakthrough, I realised that my teachers can’t actually see what I’m doing unless I have my camera on. That led to me hand sewing during most of my lectures. It actually helps me learn, since I can’t focus unless I’m doing something with my hands and sometimes note taking isn’t possible. Although I can confess to getting so into it, that I only did one math question. It was a difficult one! I did actually start on another but then I got stuck and since I’m socially awkward and it only was a few minutes left of the lesson, I decided against calling my math teacher. That just felt so weird. Also, it worked out in the end, I’ve realised what I did wrong and will most likely be able to solve it the next lesson. I can also confess to not caring whether or not, my socialsience teacher saw me sewing, but I figured it wasn’t important what I was doing considering all we did was talk about when we were going to have the test. We moved it from Thursday evening to Wednesday morning, a big upgrade in my book considering I no longer sleep, but do enjoy my evenings. 

Pros: Sewing in class. Not having to spend an atrocious amount of time waiting for my bus.

Cons: Not being able to ask my math teacher a simple question. Not seeing my friends.

Monday

I start at eight on Mondays and usually have to get up at six, that was no longer a necessity. I did not leave bed until half past seven, some people in my class did not leave bed at all. My first lesson was French, and we are doing group projects. We did it all by Google Meets, my new normal. They have now seen my dog, and I accidently did some ASMR when trying to eat some very toasted bread.

 I also had English seminars, which had some extra difficulties, aka my friend’s wifi connection was really bad and she was therefore impossible to understand at times. That would never happen if we were allowed to be in school. 

My two science teachers have very different approaches to watching videos during class. We got to watch a fourteen minutes video during chemistry, she gave us half an hour to finish it and we were supposed to exit our video call. During biology we were not supposed to leave the call, just watch the video on a different tab. That meant that when my teacher thought that a sufficient amount of time had passed he started speaking again. A sufficient amount of time had Not passed, when he started speaking…. That process was repeated another time, his timing did not get better. 

After school the news that all our national tests are cancelled came. That now means that we get to live in even more uncertainty, not knowing what our school is going to do or when the test will be. Because we will need to be tested. Also, really looking forward to my next English lesson, all we have  been doing for the last weeks, and all planned for the weeks to come, is practice for the national test. I feel kind of sorry for my English teacher, all he’s been doing this term is changes in his plans, nothing has gone his way.              

Pros: Not having to get up at six. Eating breakfast during class. Continued with my sewing. Eating lunch in bed.

Cons: Having every lesson start with our teachers telling us how empty school is and how much they miss us, miss you too. Eating lunch in bed.

Tusday                                             

I finally faced timed one of my friends, during class but still. Do you know how ridiculously much easier it is to do French if you have someone to talk to, someone to share ideas and knowledge with. We did more in half an hour this morning than I did during the entire class last Thursday. 

English class was very fun. That was irony. Due to the decision to cancel our national tests the entire lesson was spent planning for futures that might happen. No one knows if the school will have some kind of school wide test, no one knows if we even will be allowed back to school after Easter break when the tests are supposed to happen. I hate living in uncertainty. At least my teacher promised us that we no longer can lower our grades with the tests, only improve them. Honestly, that was really helpful and took a lot of pressure of my back. I only have one criteria that I truly want to improve, so I can now place all of my attention there. Fun side not, one of my classmates used some typical slang in the chat and my teacher, who isn’t that much older than us, was very confused. It was wild. Does older people not know what yeet means?   

Swedish was really nice, we are writing a speech and I wrote something that I was really proud of. Really makes me remember why I enjoy writing in the first place. Sadly that argument was way more serious than my others, that and a positive comment from my teacher really makes me want to make the rest of the speech mach in seriousness. So I guess I’m rewriting it all. I have until Friday, it will be fine.                  

My physic teacher took a different approach than the rest and uploaded a video where he was talking through a video. It was fine, the sound was off sometimes, but over all the lesson was great. The only problem was that I usually works really closely with one of my friend during physics, she always makes the lessons extra fun and I really missed her today.

Despite being at home we managed to have a PE lesson, it was odd. We had to talk a walk and send screenshots of a steep counter to my teacher to prove that we really went out. Walking around where I live is perhaps the most boring thing I have ever been forced to do in school. It’s possible to take around two thousand steps and then it becomes way too repetitive, or I get so deep in to the forest so I become paranoid and think every sound is a bear, or worse, a moose. My teacher made us take five thousand steps. To cure the boredom I went back home and took the dog with me for the last two thousand. It helped somewhat, but instead of walking in the forest we walked on an open field and it was windy. I have not yet recovered from the wind induced coldness and fear I may be developing a cool. It could also just be symptoms of wearing my classeys to long, I don’t understand how people survive without contacts.              

Pros: I vacuumed my floor during a break. I wrote something really fenomenal. I’ve been drinking a lot of water. My cold hands made my father scream. 

Cons: No physic friend:(. Forced walking in unfavourable conditions.   

Although this was technically not a week of school I think this have been the longest I have ever written, so hopefully I will be excused. This has been a nice way for me to work thru the changes in my life, so I will probably continue with it and you will all get more than one week of distance studies described. I expect the texts to shorten when this is no longer new and confusing.

Until next time

Johanna

Wash your hands

I did not want to write this, but apparently it is rather hard to not write about something that is suddenly affecting every part of my life. 

I was in Stockholm when the news of the first confirmed case of corona in Sweden hit. Back then I told a acquaintance that there was no need to panic, that it was only one and that it would soon blow over. I was super wrong. Now all they talk about on the news is the new disease and every time my phone chimes I expect it to be told that the schools are closing and that the government are putting us all in isolation. They should close the schools just so that we no longer have to walk around in tense expectation and nervous uncertainty. I’m tired of having no clue what is going to happen to me in the immediate future. I’m tired of having to plan for to outcomes. I’m tired of getting messages of potential plans and status quo updates of what is happening with the school. But most of all I’m tired of hearing the word “corona” everywhere I go.        

My school cafeteria no longer allows the students to take their food themself, the personal server us instead. Today was the first day implementing this, it was a catastrophe. To be fair to the personal I have to mention that beside being their first day it was most likely also their most busy day. Beside the normal monday queues there was a scheduled breaking test for all second graders adding to the line. Anyway, I stood in line for ten minutes and moved almost  a meter. In the end we had to drop out of the queue and go to the local grocery store to buy lunch in order to make it to the test in time. I ate garlic bread for lunch.

Less than twelve hours after I wrote this they decided to close the schools leaving me with the dilemma about what to do with this text. I have decided to keep the paragraphs above and just add my new thoughts and feelings. Distant studies will be weird, but I have been mentally preparing for days and think that I will manages. The most important thing is to not forget to go outside and exercise, so I will work a lot on that. How knows, maybe this isolation is what I need to start riding again. I have also stocked up on fabrics and art materials so I should good to go for a while.

Speaking of stores, my dad went grocery shopping yesterday and they were out of potatoes. This means that I will go a week without potatoes! That has never before happened to me. Generally I’m not even that much of a potatoes fan, but something about being denied it really upsets me. I will never take you for granted again.

My swedish teacher made me aware of the fact that disease dystopias will probably be the next big thing in literatur (and films?) and I’m sad. I don’t particularly like dystopias to begin with, and those about diseases are just terrible. I have only read one good disease based book, Conversion, and it was certainly not a dystopia. 

On a similar topic, how many people do you think will become so interested in viruses and the immune system after this so that the choses to make that their field of study? Quite a lot, is my guess. I’m happy to have chosen not to study any more biology after this so that I won’t have to try and make my namn known in a sea of qualified persons. 

Viruses, however, are kind of cool, they aren’t even living things and yet they manages to paralyze whole societies. Their destructive power is off the charts. A lump of RNA1 that takes over your cells and make them reproduce2 for you. How did that even become a thing. Some of them don’t even have proper membranes3

This is where I leave you, 

Until next time, remember to wash your hand.

1. Covid-19 has RNA, but there are viruses with DNA as well.    

2. Reproduce is perhaps not the most correct word, but my first language is Swedish, that includes science terms.  

3. Covid-19 has one, that is why soap is a good protection, it repels the lipids in the membrane causing it to open up and the virus “dies” (Technically they can’t die, since they never lived in the first place.)  

Sources on this is a mix of things learned in class and things read on reliable sites on the internet, please do look up more trustworthy sources than me if you want to get the best facts.  

Hopefully interesting rambling

I have apparently developed writers block, a first for me, jippi(what is the correct way to say jippi in English?)! Therefore this jumble may be what you get to read today, congratulation, it may be a complete waste of time. But I read somewhere that the best way to cure writer’s block is to just write, and beside it is kind of nice to just write down exactly what is on my mind. 

Fun fact; due to learning French I always want to add an extra E at the end of my words, even in English, it is very frustrating. It has also rendered me unable to write the word positive in any language on the first try, unless I spend an abnormal amount of time considering exactly how it is spelled. Another bilingual fun fact, in English the norm is to have le, in Swedish it is more normal to have el in a word, that is now something that I mess up in Swedish but not in English. Also, the capitalization in English is really weird.

Apparently that is something that I often get wrong in my texts for school. When I had my development talk with my English teacher he told me that, and then I was going to reply something and started saying “Capitalization…” and then I trailed off because I hadn’t finished my thought. And then he explained capitalization to me, something that I am very well aware of what is is! It was a strange experience, but to be fair towards my teacher I think that he was just confused about me sounding confused, I like to think that he knows that I’m a proficient English speaker, even tho my spelling is abysmal (I had to look up how to spell it:)). I also like to think that I have the best vocabulary out of all my classmates, it would be a shame if all of my reading didn’t pay off.

I am not sure if this exercise has cured my writers block yet, although I feel better. It could be that the quality of my work is worsened by the late hour. After ten on a Tuesday is perhaps not the best time to write. But I have been so busy in school lately that that I have not gotten the time to write. Most of my teachers wanted to be nice and lay their big test before easter so that we wouldn’t have to have all of them at the same time in late spring. Turns out, that if all of the teachers try to be nice it backfires. So now all of the students are super stressed in Marche instead of May, but we are still stressed. Nice thought, bad execution. 

I could of course stop study and live on the hope of schools getting closed due to the virus before any of the test happens. Sadly, I’m way too much of a control freak for that to be a working plan. 

Viruses are fascinating, they aren’t even considered living beings, and they still manages to destroy so much. I have always been interested in viruses and diseases, but living during what could potentially become a pandemic makes it more horrific than interesting. I hope that school doesn’t close, it would be really inconvenient. 

I really have to sleep now, so this is the end to my ramblings, thanks to sticking with me for so long. I apologize for all of the unnecessary commas in this text, my mother has not had a chance to read thru and correct all of my mistakes. Shout out to her for making my writing readable!

Goodnight

(Did you know that the French doesn’t have a word for “good morning”, it is seriously disturbing)

Books of February

I’m so happy it’s March now.       

Throne of Glass 

Sarah J Maas

Some people watch bad movies, I read bad YA books. This was one of them. The best part of this book is that the main character Celaena Sardothien is eighteen. During those eighteen years she has had a family that was murdered, been taken in by a master assassin and trained to become one herself. She then killed enough people to be considered the most notorious assassin in the land before she was seventeen, because at that age she was caught and sentenced to a nazistyle workcamp, where she managed to survive a whole year before the crown prince of the very same nation needed her help and orchestrated her release, under the condition that she would work for him, the only setback is that she has to compete for it. Sounds believable, right? The worst part of the book is the very obvious love triangle happening between Celaena, the prince and the captain of the guards. I hate love triangles. 

I would also like to point out, that the bad guys don’t just have nazistyle workcamps, there are more references. They even did the whole book burning thing, something that Celaena finds very upsetting. Also, they killed of magic-users.   

The book is in no way a spectacularly good read, rather the opposite, spectacularly bad. Will I read the rest of them? Of course, can’t let the nazi win! Also, I got to find out how much more of an “ I’m not like other girls”- girl Celaena is. So far she is an assassin that doesn’t like corsets and isn’t wapid, but she could always be more special! 

Also, please do comment if you know how to pronounce Celaena Sardothiens’ name, all suggestions are welcome. 

The Traitor’s Ruin 

Erin Beaty

I need to take back a statement I made, apparently I did not forget about the Traitor’s Kiss that I reviewed during autumn. The ridiculousness that was Throne of Glass made me long for a book not quite as ridiculous, but my failure to finish Gulliver’s Travels made me not want to read a classic (I promise I will finish it eventually). So therefore I read The Traitor’s Ruin. Beaty has evolved as an author, it is first notable when the main character no longer hates skirts. Her “I’m not like other girls”-factor has lessened! Another nice touch is the fact that the queen likes needlework and is still a badass person. 

The funniest part of this book, beside the name Ethelreldregon*, is that Beaty used the same plot that was in The traitor’s kiss, but in reverse. Instead of him thinking she was dead, she thought that he was dead. This could point to bad writing skills, but it works for the story and makes the book funnier. Beside being good for plot reasons, it also helps the two main characters understand each other better, which I think is enough reason to forgive Beaty for the repetines. 

This is a book series that I actually enjoy, and would recommend to people looking for some fun fantasy books.   

*Beaty is very much aware of the fact that the name is ridiculous, unlike other authors.

The Traitor’s Kingdom 

Erin Beaty

I did not waste any time before reading the sequel to The Traitors’ Ruin and the last part in the series. It was probably the worst book in the trilogy. It was in no way actually bad, I just expected more than relationship problems that felt like character undevelopment. My main complaint with the relationships is that it would all have been fixed if they had just talked more with each other. Instead we were left with upset emotions and awkward silence.    

I got to say, I’m very confused over the titles of the books. To my knowledge the main character is in no way a traitor, in the first book she is even the one that is “betrayed” and that wasn’t even a proper betrayal. For this specific book, she forgets to consider her friends’ feelings, but that isn’t traitory. And it really should be kingdoms, not kingdom considering the fact that multiple kingdoms are at stake.

I did like the plot twist in the end, I didn’t see it coming. Perhaps it would have been easier to predict if the character had gotten more page-time. I was also a bit confused over all of the characters involved in the story, some of them were familiar from earlier books, but it felt weird and confusing to have so many new characters introduced and mixed with the earlier ones.      

All of that being said, I still liked the plot and the way the story ended. I also really appreciate how the main character worked thru her imposters syndrome and how she in the end was completely confident in herself and her abilities. I also like how the main character now likes skirts and dresses, she is no longer an “I’m not like other girls”-girl, something that I believe also shows a lot of growth from Beaty.

I don’t want kids, please stop questioning it

I was around thirteen when I realised I don’t want kids. This I understood, as I could barely stand being around people my own age, and not at all being around kids younger than me. This has followed me thru my whole childhood. It has made it somewhat difficult to make friends, but I’ve managed. It also meant that me and my little brother did not have a good relationship. We were both equally mean towards each other. It’s only now, after he turned eleven, that we have started to be able to hang out, without trying to kill or seriously maim each other. My parents are not used to this new development in our relationship and therefore they still try to medel when we jokingly trade insults. 

My dislike for children, even when I was a child myself, made it very clear to me that any child that I would theoretically have, would not be a happy child, possibly even a neglected child. But more importantly to me, I would not be a happy mother. I crave a certain freedom that would be impossible to maintain with kids. I don’t ever want to be that responsible for some little thing that can’t do a thing for itself. This, as I have learned recently, applies to both children and dogs. Apparently, taking care of something helpless, causes me a great deal of stress that takes hours to recover from. Therefore it’s only logical that I don’t have kids. 

This has proven to be difficult for adults to understand. 

A nice bonus picture of the dog that causes me a great deal of stress

Sporadically the topic is raised, and I always make it very clear that I don’t ever want kids of my own. I’m happy to be a cool aunt, I am even looking forward to it. Still, grown ups tend to say one out of two things: either “Of course you don’t want children now, you are only 17” or “Children are delightful, how can you not want them?”. For the second alternative I could explain the reasons listed above, and the first alternative  is a very valid question. I’m only 17, my opinions could change when I grow older. I don’t think they will, but it could happen. The point is, that both alternatives undermines my judgment. Sure, I’m 17, but my opinions are still valid and shouldn’t be questioned.      

Another thing that I have found to be a misconception, is that my disinterest in kids means that I don’t want a family. That is not true. I want a loving partner, and I want to be a hella cool aunt that my future nieces and nephews can rely on. This includes both the children that my brother may have, but also those of my best friend. The somewhat ironic thing is that she’s completely willing to have the kid on her own, while I’m sure I want a partner. I think that the main problem is that people, specifically adults, are so stuck in their ways about how a family should look. And also sexsism. If I was a guy then, I believe, adults wouldn’t try and convince me the same way they do now.

I spent three years of my life just surviving and not living, it’s still affecting me.

My mental health wasn’t the best between the age of 13 and 16, due to several reasons. Now that I’m once more feeling good, I have to relearn how to live, it’s not going that well. Turns out it’s difficult getting out of the habits you had before. I learn every weekend that I actually have energy to spend time with real living humans and not just cats, that means that I theoretically could hang out with friends. But I don’t, simply because I’m still stuck in the same routines. But, like with many other things I’m getting better. I fully believe that eventually I will know that I have the energy to do all I want to do. Until then I will continue to push my boundaries one friend or museum visit at a time.            

Do you know how weird it is to step off the bus on a Friday afternoon and realise that you are actually feeling good? And then realise that just having that feeling is weird? Hopefully you don’t, if you do recognize yourself feel free to contact me, if you need to share. Sometimes I think about how bad I was feeling during that period, and then I get sad for the past me. I’m mourning the time when I was as good as dead. I don’t think that I accomplished anything during those three years, besides schoolwork. That is three years worth of unspent potential, three years of only barely managing to do what was expected of me, three years of not doing anything for myself. And that is just so fucking tragic.

The weirdest thing is that I’m mostly fine now, except for when I’m sad for past me, also when I’m feeling particularly upset over where I live. I do of course still have bad days, days when all I want to do is curl up in my bed and cry myself to sleep. But most of the time when I’m feeling sad it’s due to the past, not the present. It’s not surprising, just because I’m no longer “sick” doesn’t mean that I’m fully recovered, and honestly I don’t think that I’m ever going to be recovered. Those three years are now like a scar, they will always be with me and on occasion it will be bothersome. But bad days are just that; days. They will pass and then I will feel good again. Until then I may cry some, for the 13 year old me that didn’t know that it would get a lot better.