Author Archives: Hidden in a Book

Book Review: Caraval, written by Stephanie Garber

We all know tha phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Well, that doesn’t only mean the dull looking books, but the pretty looking ones too. Caraval by Stephanie Garber is a good example of a book that is really pretty on the outside, but on the inside it’s both problematic and not particularely good. I picked up Caraval from the library, because there had been so much hype about it on Instagram. Sometimes I think a book being a hype might be a warning sign, but with the book’s consept, which I actually like, I thought it at least had some potential.

One of the first things I reacted to while reading the book was how women were portraied. To be honest, I find it highly problematic that we’re supposed to dependant on a man to be free and happy. Other than that, the characters are fairly flat, and there’s no real charachter devolopment. And the characters were in general annoying, especially the main character, Scarlett. At several occations did I feel like shaking her, because she acted just plain stupid. And often in those situations she was saved by a man, namely Julian. Julian was another character I really didn’t like, as there was absolutely no depth to him, plus he was fairly predictable. So, yes, in general the characters were just too flat, and too annoying.

It being a fantasy book, I would also expect more about the world building. After having read the book, I know just a little more about the world than I did when I started. There’s magic, yes, but other than that, there’s not much description. Even though there’s a map of Caraval on the inside of the book, I never got the impression from how the world look like when I read it, that resembled the map on the inside. The map gave me assosiations to Venice, while reading the book, there was no such resemblance. At all.

This was actually the sort of book I normally would have put away, but for once I finished it just so that I could write a review on it. An over-hyped book like this needs to be taken out into the light and be shown as what they are not as good as the hype tells you it is. Another thing is, that I haven’t gone into here, was the abusive father of the main character and her sister. So consider this to be a trigger warning for that.

If I am to say anything good about the book, it’s its writing style. The language flowed fairly well, and I never felt that it was an obstacle, so that’s a good thing. I hope that the next book in the series (though I’m not likely to read it) will be less problematic, though I honestly don’t think it will be…

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Book Review: Binti, written by Nnedi Okorafor

When I first heard about Binti, a novella written by Nnedi Okorafor, it intrigued me, even though I didn’t really know much about it. Since this is such a short book, it’s a quick read, and even I managed to read it in one day.

This is the story about Binti, the very first of her people to be accepted into the Oomza University, which is the best university in the galaxy. The Himba people, which she is one of, hardly ever leave their home country, so accepting her place is a huge step for her. On her way to Oomza, the space craft she’s travelling on is attacked by the Meduse, and they kill everyone except for the pilot and Binti. The Meduse have been wronged by the Oomza University, and they’re angry… Will she sirvive the trip? And will the Meduse go to war with Oomza or not?

This was such an interesting read. I loved how communication and lack of knowledge about other people not like our own are such central themes here. I also enjoyed how influenced the book is by Nigerian culture and language. It really does give the story something extra for a westerner line myself. It is a well written and exciting book, and I hope to read the next book in the series in not too long! And maybe other books by the author too?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017

The Diverse Reading Challenge

Lately I have been discussing diverse books with my friend Kevin, whom I first “met” on Instagram. We both agree there are not enough diverse books out there, and that we as readers need to show we care and actually want more diversity in literature! With that as inspiration, I decided that I wanted to host a diverse reading challenge.

I want this to be as easy and flexible as possible, so I am not setting a time limit. Nor am I setting a start date – people should be able to start whenever they want. All you need to do is to fulfill each point on the list. You can read the books in whatever order you wish.

I would love it if you posted your list of books as you read them as a comment here, or if you post them on your own blog or Instagram, that’s even better! If you post them on your blog, it would make my day if you link back to this post!

  • Book by a transgendered author
  • Book by a bisexual or pansexual author
  • Book by a gay author
  • Book by a Zimbabwean author
  • Book by a Scandinavian author
  • Book by a Japanese author
  • Book by a Indian author
  • Book set in Brazil
  • Book set in Indonesia
  • Book set in Russia
  • Book set in Iceland
  • Book set in Iran
  • Book with a genderfluid main character
  • Book with a lesbian main character
  • Book with a main character with an immigrant background (first or second generation)
  • Book with a main character who suffer from mental illness
  • Book with a character in a wheelchair
  • Book with a blind character
  • Book with a deaf character
  • Book with a character who has ME
  • Feminist non-fiction book
  • LGBTQ+ non-fiction book
  • Non-fiction book on an Asian country (not a travel guide book)
  • Non-fiction book on a Nordic country (not a travel guide book)
  • Non-fiction book on an Indigenous people and/or their culture

I could have made this a lot longer, but that would made the challenge a lot harder. I hope lots of people will parttake!

Are you game?


Photo: Hidden in a Book © 201

A selection of some diverse books.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2017


Elin’s Chana Masala

I simply love Indian food, and chickpeas are among my favourite ingredients. One of my favourite dishes is chana masala, and here’s my super simple recipe. It is, of course, 100 % plant based, vegan, and gluten free. This recipe is meant for two persons, so if you’re four, make a double portion.

Ingredients
1 can tinned cickpeas (ca 500 g)
4 tablespoon rapeseed (or sunflower) oil
2-3 cm piece of fresh ginger
1 red or yellow onion
1 fresh chilli
2-3 tomatoes
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
Finely chopped, fresh coriander (to taste)

How to
Pour the brine of the cickpeas into a cup or a small bowl (to be used later).
Peel the onion and the ginger, and cut the onion into two halves. Cut off the stem of the chilli.
Put the onion, ginger, and the chilli into a foodprocessor, and run until it’s all finely chopped.
Heat the oil in a pot. Pour the onion, ginger and chilli into the pot, and fry on a medium heat until the onion is golden.
Cut the tomatoes (use the foodprocessor), por them into the pot, and bring to a boil. Add garam masala and salt, and let this simmer for a few minutes.
Add the chickpeas, stil well, and bring to a boil. Let this simmer for a few minutes.
At the brine of the chickpeas, stir, and bring to a boil. Let this simmer for 30 – 45 minutes. Stir it every now and then, so it doesn’t burn.
Add the lime juice and the coriander, and simmer for 1 – 2 minutes.

I recommend serving this dish with rice.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2010

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2010

#AmWriting

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is somthing I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I’m finally doing it. I have been wanting to for a very long time, but work tents to eat it up, so to say.

So, what’s different this year, you might ask. Well, I have been mad enough to take four weeks off work. Unpaid. Simply to write. So, that’s what I’m doing. Come 30 November, I will have a novel of 50 000 words. I’m well on my way, but there’s still a lot to do.

I am currently trying to write 2 000 – 3 000 words every day. This leaves space for bad days. Like last Wednesday, when the day was filled with bad news, a migrain attack, and some other blahness. I managed only 500 or so words. Fortunately, I had had a couple of other days with about 3 000 words, so it was okay. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. It’s just as well to write more on good days.

Are YOU doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

September Challenge – how did it go?

As I wrote earlier, I set myself a challenge to read more books in Norwegian. So, how did my challenge go? How many books in Norwegian did I manage to read?

1. Hålke, written by Helene Uri

I was fortunate enough to win a ARC of Helene Uri’s new book, Hålke. It was published early in September, and is a book on an elderly couple who early in January don’t get to leave their flat due to it being icy outside. With only a little food to get by on, and the coffee running out, we get to know this elderly people. What’s their marriage built on? Why do they still keep together after over 40 years, in spite of unfaithfulness (her) and violence (him)? It was a really interesting read, and I really enjoyed it.

2. Odinsbarn, written by Siri Pettersen

This was actually a reread. I first read Odinsbarn (meaning Odin’s Child in English) shortly after it came out, and it’s the first book in the Ravneringene (meaning “The Raven Rings”) trilogy. I love this trilogy, and thought Odinsbarn was even better the second time around.

3. Et norsk hus, written by Vigdis Hjorth

This was my first book Vigdis Hjorth, and I borrowed it from the library’s ebook app. I enjoyed reading about this middle aged textile artist who rented out a part of her house to a Polish family and the conflict between them. And even though this lady is a weird woman with many faults, I grew to love her… I am definitely going to read more books by her!

4. Forbannet, written by Tonje Tornes

This was the second book in the Kire series, and it has been a while since I read hulder, the first book in the series. I am loving this series, and I liked the second book even more than the first – it’s darker and there’s more magic! I can’t wait for the third book, even though I have no idea when it will be published.

So, I ended up with four Norwegian books in September, which wasn’t so bad. I also read On Writing by Stephen King, which is also a very good read. I think my conclusion is that this challenge was good for me, even though one of the books was a reread. I will try to read even more Norwegian books, and am hoping to get some more read this year.

Did you succeed with your September challenge?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

I finished Et norsk hus, written by Vigdis Hjorth yesterday, on the plane back from Oslo. I had a nice week end with the boyfriend, even though I wasn’t feeling too well. The plan was to run the 10 km run during the Oslo Marathon, but I wasn’t well enough to participate.

I am kind of reading Dronningens løfte, but I can’t seem to focus, so I have decided to put it aside for now, and read Forbannet, which is the second book in the Kire series written by Tonje Tornes. I enjoyed Hulder, the first book in the series. I have a signed copy of both books in the series, so they’re not leaving the house. I have borrowed the ebook version from the library ebook app eBokBib, which makes it easier for me to read.

What are YOU currently reading?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

Travelling east…

People who know me, know that I am vegan. I have been fully vegan since January, and I haven’t eaten meat for over 20 years. Though things have gotten a lot better, especially the last couple of years, travelling can still turn out to be a challenge. Especially at Norwegian airports.

One of the airports I travel from the most is Stavanger airport. I often go there right after work, and pretty much every time I wish there was a place at the airport where I, as a vegan, could get a hot meal.

To be honest, I don’t get why they can’t have, for example, a simple pasta dish with a simple tomato sauce of tomatoes and herbs. I would have been thrilled! It’s easy and cheap to make, and I think even kids would be happy to eat it… There’s so many people travelling, I am sure many would buy it, vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike.

Os there something that bothers you when you’re at an airport?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

Busy airport…
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016