Monday, 31 October 2016

Let it snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle (3/5)

First published: 2013
Page count: 368
The back says: An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today's bestselling authors - John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle - bring all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

I say: In The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson, Jubilee is forced on a train to her grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve. Just before reaching Gracetown the train gets stuck due to storm and Jubilee ventures out into a Waffle House where she meets Stuart who invites her back to his house for Christmas.

John Green’s A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle chronicles three friends’ desperate attempt to make it through the snow to the Waffle House.

And in The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle, Addie tries to get over her broken heart and help her friend get a teacup pig.

I kind of enjoyed The Jubilee Express and read that in one sitting. Although Jubilee was a tad annoying in the beginning, once Stuart was introduced to the story, it grew on me. Johnson’s writing was witty at time and the story flowed along nicely.

The reason I wasn’t so keen on the second story is that I found the trio annoying. I had to put the book down about halfway through because I couldn’t stand them. They were meant to be funny and charming, I’m sure, but it all came across too forceful, and inauthentic, which is sad because I usually like Green’s writing.

The final story was the worst of them all due to a combination of an annoying protagonist and rather meh writing. I don’t mind stories about redemption, but this was so implausible it bordered on ridiculous.

The stories intertwined nicely enough, but in the end I was left feeling nothing.

3/5 mainly because of the first story. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Glasblåsarns barn/ The Glassblower’s Children av Maria Gripe (4/5)

First published: 1964
Page count: 150
The back says: Albert the Glassblower and Sofia are the loving parents of little Klas and Klara. Albert makes the most beautiful glass bowls and vases (unfortunately they are so impractical that no one will buy them), while Sofia supports the family by working in the fields. Every year Albert goes to the fair to try to sell his wares, and sometimes Sofia and the children go too. At the fair the family meets Flutter Mildweather, a weaver of magical rugs that foretell the future, and Klas and Klara come the attention of the splendid Lord and Lady of All Wishes Town, who have everything they want except for one thing: children.

I say: I read this in the original Swedish, but since it has been translated into English, I’ll review it in that language.

Technically this should be a re-read, but I haven’t read this since I was a child, and only remember the plot from the amazing film.

One thing that I found both amazing and frustrating with the telling of this story is the amount of foreboding. Even though I already knew exactly what was going to happen, the narrator’s constant comments about the way the characters behaved or what they said, got on my nerves as an adult, but also made me remember how exciting it was a child. The telling of the story is magical and beautiful, and I love the old-timey Swedish language.

Although there are a lot of plot holes, it still works because of the sentiment of it all.

4/5 because of the language that makes it feel more like a fairy tale than a novel. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Vill ha dig så illa av Gunnar Ardelius (3/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2014
Antal sidor: 204
Baksidan säger: Skolan är slut och en mörk hemlighet har lagt sig som ett kvävande täcke över sommaren. Gänget från gymnasier hänger kvar i stan, alla utom Channa som är försvunnen. Vart har hon tagit vägen? Och vad var det egentligen som hände den där iskalla nyårsnatten?

Jag säger: Sex vänner försöker klura ut vad de ska göra med sina liv och med varandra efter gymnasiet. Channa har försvunnit, men skriver brev om sitt nya liv till en av dem. De andra har både planer som de följer, och känslor som de inte riktigt vet hur de ska hantera.

En helt vanlig ungdomsroman, helt enkelt.

Varje kapitel återberättas av en av de sex. Det är korta kapitel som bara ger en liten glimt in i just den personens liv, och jag vet inte riktigt om jag gillar det. Det känns osammanhängande och abrupt. Jag får aldrig något grepp om vilka de här människorna är, och det känns hela tiden som att Ardelius vill övertyga mig att om jag bara läser vidare för att få reda på vad som hände på nyårsnatten, så kommer allt bli klart.

Men det blir det inte.       

Kanske är det jag som inte fattar, men när jag läst klart inser jag att jag inte riktigt bryr mig.

Och det är synd.

3/5 och jag läser gärna något annat av Ardelius; då gärna skrivet på annat sätt.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Run Rabbit Run by Barbara Mitchellhill (2/5)

First published: 2011
Page count: 221
The back says: When Lizzie’s dad refuses to fight in the Second World War, the police come looking to arrest him. Desperate to stay together, Lizzie and her brother Freddie go on the run with him, hiding from the police in idyllic Whiteway. But when their past catches up with them, they’re forced to leave and it becomes more and more difficult to stay together as a family. Will they be able to? And will they ever find a place, like Whiteway, where they will be safe again?

I say: I didn’t like this.

Perhaps it wasn’t Mitchelhill’s intention, but the underlying preachy tone of it all put me off it. Having said that, it was educational and I appreciated the note clarifying that Whiteway is a real place.

It was a quick read and although I tried, I couldn’t find any real interest in Lizzie and her family, so 2/5.

Monday, 17 October 2016

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura (3/5)

First published: 2009
Original title: 掏摸
Original language: Japanese
Translation to English by: Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates, 2012

Page count: 211
The back says: The thief is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo's crowds, stealing wallets from strangers, so smoothly sometimes he doesn't even remember the snatch. To him, people are a blur: a sea of nameless faces from whom he chooses his victims. He has no family, no friends, no connections... 

But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when Ishikawa, his first partner, reappears and offers him a job he can't refuse. It's easy: tie up an old rich man, steal the contents of his safe. No one gets hurt. Only, the day after the job's done, the thief learns that the old man was a prominent politician. And after the robbery he was brutally murdered. Now, the thief is caught in a tangle from which even he might not be able to escape.

I say: This was a short and easy read that I’m not quite sure if I enjoyed. Parts of the story interested me, while others caused confusion. I understand that the flashbacks were there to tell his story, but what did his ex-girlfriend have to do with anything? All memories of her seemed superfluous. And if they were there to showcase some form of humanity in him, they failed.

The same goes for the boy.

It was all just so contrived.

I must admit that I lost interest in the story about halfway through, and when the consequences of the robbery appeared I read merely for the sake of finishing. Which is kind of a shame because I was enjoying Nakamura’s sparse prose.

3/5 because having finished I’m left with nothing more than a meh.

[Aside: there were two spelling mistakes in the book and that annoyed me more than it really should.]