Category Archives: Young Adult

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

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

Book review: The Fault of Our Stars, written by John Green

Not long ago I read The Fault of Our Stars by John Green. This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, but it took me ages to get around to actually read it.

In many ways I enjoyed reading the book. It’s heart warming and sad at the same time, and you know from the very beginning that this is a story that can’t have a happy ending. I mean, with a character that has terminal cancer, it can’t be more obvious, right?

The only thing I didn’t like so much, was how religious it was. When i heard that john Green actually is a chaplain by training, it made perfect sense. Not being a Christian myself, I think the editor of his book could have asked hime to tone down on the religious aspect, as that would have made this a better book, in my very personal opinion. There were also a couple of insidents in the book I found a bit too “far out” to be realistic, without saying to much in case of spoiling the book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

That being said, I have no problem understanding why this was a big hit with the young adult audience. The book has been translated into several languages, and is adapted into a film (I must admit I actually liked the film better than the book – that doesn’t happen very often!) The book carries a certain grines of reality but also some hope. And you have a sweet little romantic love story as well.

All-in-all the book ended up being an “average read” for me, but would have no problem recommending it for a younger audience. I guess I’m not in the targeted audience anyway…


Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016


It’s Monday, what are you reading?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

They say it’s the golden age for Norwegian fantasy. I’m not sure it’s true, but more Norwegian fantasy has been published the last few years. I’m currently reading Bian Shen by Torbjørn Øverland Amundsen that was published a couple of years ago, and I’m enjoying it so far. It’s concept is different from anything I have read before, and I am curious on how it continues…

So, what are you currently reading?

EasterCon 2013: Eight Squared Con

At the end of March I headed to Bradford, in West Yorkshire, England. Though I have been to several conventions before (I was quite active with ShadowCon in Oslo at one point), this was my first outside Norway. Actually, it was my first outside Oslo, even though I haven’t lived in the capital for the four last years. I have been wanting to attend EasterCon for several years. I almost managed to get there last year, but then things didn’t quite worked out.

I arrived in Bradford on Thursday, and had a bit of a soft start before the convention actually started. Spent the evening with some people I knew already, as well as some new people who were introduced. There was Indian food in the centre of Bradford, which was good.

I headed to the Cedar Court Hotel, where the main event took place, a tad bit early on Friday. The registration opened before expected, and I managed to get my badge and a bag of information. As I couldn’t see anyone I knew around, I headed back to my hotel, where I relaxed, before heading down to Cedar Court for the opening ceremony.

Eight Squared Con was, as I said, my very first con outside of Oslo, and it was on a totally different scale from what I was used to. I admit it felt intimidating in the beginning, as I am an introvert by nature. Some people would probably not believe me, but it’s true, I feel very insecure among strangers, and am not the person to go up to a group of strangers and start chatting with them. As the days went by, I did warmed up a bit, and managed to talk to quite a few people.

I attended a few panels, and my favourite was “The Changing Portrayal of Gender and Sexuality in SF & Fantasy”, which more or less was about LGBTQI people in SFF literature. It was more like a discussion group than a panel, which I think worked very well. Another panel I found to be funny, was the “Superheroes on Film” one. I kind of like superheroes, you know…

All-in-all I had a great experience, and have even signed up for next year’s EasterCon! See you there?

Book Review: Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick

This book is, in short, a piece of art. There are two main characters in the book, and we follow each of their stories in two different ways: Ben, who recently lost his mother in an accident, we read about in the written part of the book, and Rose, the deaf girl, we follow in Brian Selznick’s beautiful illustrations.

In the beginning, the only thing the two characters seem to have in common is to have a different life. Ben lives with his aunt and uncle, and has to share bedroom with his cousin. Ben feels, in many ways, alienated from the rest of his family. He has only one ear that he can hear with, and has an interesting of collecting things, and for the stars.

One night Ben sees a light in his and his mother’s house, and goes over, to find one of his cousins wearing his mother’s clothes. This makes him angry and sad, and she apologies. Though she heads back to her parents’ house, he stays behind. Shortly after, a thunderstorms starts. He decides to stay a bit longer, in the hopes for the storm to ease, and he starts to go through some of his mother’s thing. He then finds something that gives him a clue on where to find his father, that he longs for, but has never known. One of the things he finds is a phone number, and he picks up the phone to try to give his dad a ring. As he does this, a lightning strikes, and he wakes up to find himself without the ability to hear at all. Even though Ben is now deaf, he refuses to give up on his father, now that he finally knows where to look, and on his own he sets out to try find him…

Rose is, as mentioned, deaf, and has been all her life. She scrapbooks everything she can find about a mysterious actress, and after a while she runs away from home to the big city to find her.

The two stories starts decades apart, but after a while they are woven into one. This is done in a wonderful way, and I must say I loved the book. The over 600 pages just flew, and the illustrations are so alive and vivid they tell more than a thousand words!

I also liked the fact that the main characters of the book can’t hear. Alas, there are not many books around with deaf people as the centre of the story. It’s interesting to see the world in a somewhat different perspective.

Though this probably would be seen as a children’s book, I have no problems recommending it to grown ups. The story has so many layers, and I’m sure we pick up things a kid probably will not. However, even though there might be elements kids miss out on, the story still works brilliantly. Maybe one of those books you could read together?