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.]

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Stå ut! av Mattias Edvardsson (3.5/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2014
Antal sidor: 189
Baksidan säger:
Nike är nästan osynlig i klassen, hon är en sån som är duktig men som ingen kommer ihåg. Hemma bryr sig föräldrarna bara om hur det går på proven. Liam är hennes totala motsats. Han skolkar, syns, tar plats i skolan. båda har sina bestämda roller - åtminstone på ytan. Ingen vet att Nike på kvällarna blir Nicole, tjejen med den fräcka bloggen. Och ingen vet att Liams mamma har cancer och att det känns viktigare än skolan. Klassföreståndaren Christer har sina egna problem att brottas med.

En gripande och trovärdig berättelse om att växa upp och ta sin plats i livet, berättat ur tre olika perspektiv.

Jag säger: Nike och Christers berättelser och röster kändes trovärdiga, medan Liam kändes som en fullständig kliché. Egentligen kan man väl säga att även Nikes berättelseark var lite banalt, men det var något med hennes sårbarhet som fick mig att bortse från det som jag visste skulle hända till slut.

Det som alltid händer när folk låtsas vara någon de inte är...

Romanen alternerar mellan de tres röster vilket gav tillfälle att se dels hur de såg på varandra, men även hur lite de egentligen visste om hu de verkligen var.

Och varför.

Egentligen är detta en ganska typisk ungdomsroman, men det är något med sättet handlingen presenteras som gör den lite mer speciell. Synd bara att omslaget är så fult. 

3.5 och jag läser gärna mer av Edvardsson i framtiden.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Vox by Nicholson Baker (2.5/5)

First published: 1998
Page count: 176
The back says: A man and a woman, strangers to each other, residents of distant cities, have both called an adult party line. Finding each other's voice attractive, they soon switch to a private, "one-to-one" connection. Their seduction-through-conversation begins hesitantly and then becomes erotic.

I say: This was a quick and pretty ok reed; nothing too risqué or even really interesting. The only reason I read it was because it had a blurb on the front that this was the novel Monica Lewinsky famously gave Bill Clinton.


Two strangers talk about themselves and their sex life and it was all rather meh, to be honest. I barely remember anything other than the man ordering some pantyhose for some woman at some point, and the woman sharing some fantasy about the men packing up the pantyhose.

2.5/5 because whatever it was, it wasn’t for me.

Friday, 24 June 2016

True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole by Sue Townsend (2/5)

First published: 1989
Page count: 163
The back says: Adrian Mole has grown up. At least that’s what it says on his passport. But living at home, clinging to his threadbare cuddly rabbit ‘Pinky’, working as a paper pusher for the DoE and pining for the love of his life Pandora has proved to him that adulthood isn’t quite what he hoped it would be. Still, intellectual poets can’t always have things their own way …

Included here are two other less well-known diarists: Sue Townsend and Margaret Hilda Roberts, a rather ambitious grocer’s daughter from Grantham.

I say: I don’t have much to say about this since I found it pretty lacklustre. Some of Adrian’s musings were a little bit humorous, but on the whole he’s a smug and boring person who thinks more of himself and his writing than there is.

Perhaps that’s his charm.

Why Sue Townsend and Margaret Hilda Roberts’ diaries were in there, I don’t even care to understand. They gave me nothing.

2/5 as the most redeeming factor was that it was short and required little effort other than rolling my eyes.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend (3/5)

First published: 1982
Page count: 272
The back says: Adrian Mole's first love, Pandora, has left him; a neighbour, Mr. Lucas, appears to be seducing his mother (and what does that mean for his father?); the BBC refuses to publish his poetry; and his dog swallowed the tree off the Christmas cake. "Why" indeed.

I say: I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. On the one hand I found some of Adrian’s musing mildly entertaining, but on the other hand he was utterly wearisome. I couldn’t understand why he did most of the things he did, and perhaps I am too old and far removed to enjoy it, because it did nothing for me. 

3/5 because it was well-written and even though I never laughed once I can see where others would find this level of humour entertaining.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Aldrig förlåt av Mårten Melin (2.5/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2014
Antal sidor: 7
Baksidan säger:
Anton har tagit över storasyster Lenas rum. Hon tycker inte om det. Hon är rastlös och orolig och går runt hemma i huset. 

Varför ligger hennes saker nedpackade i kartonger? Varför blir lillebror Anton så rädd när han ser henne? Och varför verkar hennes föräldrar inte ens lägga märke till henne längre? 

Utåt förefaller berättelsen vara en vanlig familjehistoria, men det finns något i bakgrunden som stör. Och det är klart - storasyster Lena är ju död... 

Boken är ett slags rysare och handlar om vad som kan hända när någon dör i en olycka där en anhörig är förövaren. Inte förrän i slutet nystas det upp vad som egentligen har hänt. 

En fantastiskt fängslande historia med ett mycket oväntat slut. Allt berättat på mindre än 20 sidor.

Jag säger: Superkort och, i min mening, inte alls någon rysare. Man förstår ju direkt att Lena inte vill Anton något ont. Kanske frågan är varför hon kommit tillbaka och enbart Anton kan se henne...

Berättelsen känns mer som en katalysator för vidare diskussion kring det som hänt Lena, och det i sig är ju en bra sak.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Me & Mr J by Rachel McIntyre (4.5/5)

First published: 2015
Page count: 313
The back says: Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.

Lara's life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.

And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings... can he?

I say: I read this in one sitting and loved most of it. It was amazingly riveting and although I could see a lot of things coming, there seemed to be a twist around each bend that made me question the outcome.

The synopsis mentions the horrifying bullying that Lara is put through, but I was in no way even close to prepared for how intense it was. I grew up before social media, so the way these kids were using it to spread the bullying to everyone in school was beyond my emotional grasp.

Yes, kids are cruel, but to that extent? 

When it comes to Mr J and Lara, the way their relationship unfolded seemed plausible. However, this is where my adult brain kicks in and on the one hand felt troubled by Mr J reciprocating Lara’s emotions, and on the other hand understanding why Lara would do anything to get him.

Which leads us to that terrible ending...

I don’t want to call it insulting, but it felt abrupt and moralising. Perhaps this is where McIntyre was taking the story all along, however I wish it had been handled a little bit different.

Lara’s voice seemed authentic, and even though it was at times distressing taking part in her life, this is a book that I would recommend to any teen in my life. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Jag blundar tills jag finns av Marie Björk (3.5/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2014
Antal sidor: 132
Baksidan säger:
Sandra drömmer om ett liv bortom Sörbyskolan och utan en pappa som förstör. Musiken och idolen Patti Smith räddar henne - med hörlurarna på hörs det inte om någon skriker och bråkar. En gång hade hon en bästis som förstod allt, Sara. Men Sara flyttade och Sandra vågar inte tro på att ensamheten ska försvinna. Det gäller bara att härda ut, tills hon har gått ut nian och hela livet kan börja. Men så kommer Cassandra, och allting förändras. In i Sandras liv kommer fester, killar och det där som absolut aldrig någonsin får hända. Men som ändå händer.

Jag blundar tills jag finns handlar om att skydda sig mot en pappa som dricker, om att förlora vänskap och hitta kärlek, utforska sin sexualitet och att handskas med det allra värsta. Boken väjer inte för mörkret, men är samtidigt full av hopp och mod.

Jag säger: Det känns som att Sandra går igenom allt som kan hända i tonåren på bara ett år – med lite annat som egentligen aldrig borde hända i någon ålder.

Bästisen flyttar, och en ny försöker fylla den tomma platsen. Eller rättare sagt, Sandra försöker fylla ut platsen med en ny person, Cassandra. Fester, killar och konsekvenserna av alkohol, allt medan hon försöker undvika en alkoholiserad pappa och en mamma som blundar för det hela.

Jag gillade Sandra. Det är sällan jag inte stör mig på en tonåring, men för mig kändes det som att Sandra hela tiden det bästa hon kunde och klara av.

Boken var snabbläst och skriven på ett trovärdigt sätt, även om jag inte vill tro att vissa situationer verkligen kan förekomma.  

3.5/5 och jag läser gärna mer av Björk i framtiden.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Point Omega by Don DeLillo (3.5/5)

First published: 2010
Page count: 148
The back says: Richard Elster, a retired secret war adviser, has retreated to a forlorn house in the desert, ‘somewhere south of nowhere’. But his planned isolation is interrupted when he is joined by a young filmmaker intent on documenting his experience in a one-take film. The two men sit on the deck, drinking and talking. Weeks go by. And then Elster’s daughter Jessie visits. When a devastating event follows, all the men’s talk, the accumulated meaning of conversation and isolation, is thrown into question.

Written in hypnotic prose, this substantial novel is both a metaphysical meditation and a deeply unsettling mystery, from which one thing emerges: loss, fierce and incomprehensible.

I say: I’m not quite sure how to review this because although the majority of me thinks it was amazing, a small part of me is wondering whether I’m just in love with the way the story is told, rather than the story itself. Things happen, but their significance is only magnified by the fact that nothing really does happen.

Words fail me.

A man watches and installation of Psycho that has been slowed down so that the entire film plays over 24 hours at the museum. His thoughts about the film and time, as well as the people who come and go while he’s watching, were both interesting and at first confusing. We then switch to Elster and Jim out in the desert talking about life and time, and it’s philosophical in a way that I love. When Jessie enters I feel confused. What is her part in all this? Why has she been introduced? And this is where I feel as though thing happen, nothing happens at all.

The event that is spoken of in the synopsis in a sense a non-event; a plot device.

This is where my disappointment lies.

Disregarding that, the prose is beautiful and spellbinding. It flows seamlessly from one fragment to another, only interrupted by occasional conversation. I wanted to stop and ponder all that was being presented, but couldn’t because the language was pushing me forward; urging me to just let it run its course.

And I did.

But was sadly disappointed by the story itself.

3.5/5, and I will be re-reading this in the future.