Some Strange Book Pet Peeves (Fantasy & YA)

I didn’t think I had book pet peeves, like I don’t care if books have dog-ears for the most part, but I’ve certainly collected some related to book plots over a period of time. Here’s that collection and I’m warning you that they are mostly personal, as in I know they’re not the most popular ones out there and people will disagree.

Fictional fandoms. I don’t know why this bother me so much, I think it’s something about there, in best case, being this entire subculture readers either don’t get access to and just have to live with imagining existing or have to wade through what I find to be unecessary amounts of facts for something that isn’t real. A good example of this is “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell, that spun this whole Simon Snow trilogy out of the fantasy series the main character is a part of the fandom of. Had I read the Simon Snow series before Fangirl, I might’ve thought different about it (not that it was published yet), but hence all details included in the book felt like a waste of time in a strange, unlogical way. It’s truly a weird pet peeve, I think, and I totally admit so. But it makes me dislike books I don’t think I normally would. The only exception I can think of is “I was born for this” by Alice Oseman, but I suspect that’s because the fandom there is based around a boyband that is a huge part of the story (and also very recognizable from the ‘real world’) and so the fandom and their culture is also very based in something and understandable without much background info.

Here’s a kind of specific and small one; what the magic is called in a fantasy/magical realism world. Most often I just hate the magic of the world being called something similiar like Magik, but the author/character insisting it’s not the same as magic, like they haven’t just changed the language. I’ve seen so many cases of this. But sure, do that if you’re creating magic with a couple conditions/limits, that’s just smart.

Fairytale retellings that doesn’t either make the story their own OR stay true to the feeling of the original material. Same problem with stories from mythologies. With making it their own, I mean things like a genderbent version, a modernized one or maybe a queer one. Like truly reworking the material, but with clear inspirations. I think my other critera, staying true to the ~vibe~ so to say, has more to do with my next point. But if you retell a fairytale, without changing much of the plot or characters, maybe just setting them in another setting, how are you going to tell a better story than the one honed through mouth-to-mouth retelling for far far longer than you’re working on it? Like what do the author even add, far too often? I’m all for an author daydreaming in this fairytale realm that’s already built up, but then have the basis of the fairytale realm and create your own story in there instead, which would’ve kept the feeling (maybe even keep short format) that brings the magic to the story, and have higher chance of telling a good one. Truth is, I’ve read my fair share of queer fairytale retellings where there’s a good romance, but everything else is boring/predictable still (side-eye at Ash by Malinda Lo). I would’ve just cut them out completely, but as with Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, any Riordan series or Circe by Madeline Miller it might be some of my favourite books as well.

Mythological creatures included in stories completely separated from any of the other parts of the mythology. Just to have a ‘cool’ lesser-known creature, without really taking into consideration what makes it cool or unique. Of course, at worst it could be some type of cultural appropriation, but that’s not really what I’m talking about as a ‘pet peeve’.

Including politics, but not really. As in not actually going into the politics or even spending time thinking about how a political system would work in their fictional world. Typical is (what I would call) YA book with princesses or kids of high-level politicians/diplomats, but I’ve also seen non-YA versions of this. “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuinston did it well in that the author kept its focus on certain topics and didn’t go too heavy into how policies was changed or what their parents did politically, but the limits and system was still set (even if very similiar to present day America) and you saw that in the story. I would’ve still wanted there to be more going into the politics, like I usually do, but it was a choice made rather than an obvious dodge. Like why even write a book around politics if you’re scared to interact with any part of it or do any research??

a bit of a reading slump | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

literally none.

Added to TBR:

  • Mona Lisa Smile by Deborah Chiel (dark academia)
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (fantasy, m/m relationship)
  • The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (classic from 1532, politics)
  • The Tradition by Jericho Brown (poetry, lgbt)
  • Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno (YA, magical realism, lgbt)
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (magical realism)
  • Strange Planet by Nathan W. Pyle (graphic novel)
  • The Once and Future King by T. H. White (fantasy, historical fiction)

Three things on my mind:

  • I’ve been more and more unsure about using goodreads. Like I’ve never used it much as a social media platform, only from time to time, but I have over 1400 books on there and it’s been great to catalogue books, especially as I’ve moved twice, left books behind in one house and used to use the library a lot. I tried out The Story Graph which is marketed as an alternative, even if in beta-version. It’s interesting & fun especially with their recommendations, I would recommend checking it out. But the biggest criteria I have for a similiar book platform is reliability and I don’t think I’m going to find a similiar enough platform that has that, for a while. I used to use a norwegian alternative, way way back, but there’s just so many books and I think that having a big community that adds these in for you is one of the great features that distinguish the different sites. Please let me know if there’s any cool alternatives to goodreads I should check out though!
  • I’m frustrated a lot, recently. My exams back in May was a struggle for multiple reasons that I’m tired of thinking about, but now it seems I might have outright failed one exam as well. This is a bit strange as I’m above the ‘fail’ percentage in most ways they could have marked it, as is a handful of my friends in the same situation, so we’ve all sent in our complaints. The thing I suspect happened is that more than usual got high grades (bc open-textbook exam and possibility to cheat by cooperation), and they changed the criteria for failing based on that without notifying us (which is strange as well). We’ll see when our complaints are processed, I guess. Still, it both gave me a renewed motivation to do better, but at the same time totally wrecked my self-esteem in a way I truly didn’t expect. Of course, a huge part of this is that my health isn’t getting that much better, even though I’ve had plenty of time to relax this summer break. We’ll see I guess.
  • I watched & cried over several movies, for once. I’m back in my home-‘village’ (it’s actually classified as village based on population number), in the house we took over from my late grandparents. And my grandmother was Sami, which has made me particularly interested in finally watching the prize-winning “Sami Blood” (2016) movie. It was as breath-taking and real as I expected, with the main character played by this amazing sami actress Lene Cecilia Sparrok, who really brought all the nuances into the story. It’s set in Sweden and isn’t my grandma’s story, but there’s many similiarities anyway. Being norwegian, I’ve learned of the horrible supression and racist policies put in place against Sami people, but we need movies like this to bring it to the attention to even more people. Let’s never forget the past enough to let it happen again.
  • I also watched the new USA gymnastics documentary; “Athlete A”. It highlighted the many ways Larry Nassar’s abuse was allowed to continue by people in charge, showing a culture at the olympic level with a high degree of various abuse being normalized, and how it all affected his victims. The last part features the more recent, high-profile Maggie Nichols, bringing up the question of if she lost her olympic chance because of reporting him. I wish all the best for her and all the other (there’s so many) victims, and overall it was a great documentary.

Good First Lines of Books

I want to preface this with how I think first lines don’t have as much to say when picking up a book as the first page, or first couple pages. But I’ve collected some I think are particularly good ones, setting the stage for the rest of the plot. I also just now found out that apparently I like when authors describe silence as something tangible??

“The assassins dropped into the palace grounds at midnight, four fleet shadows dark against the wall. The fall was high, the ground was hard; they made no more sound on impact than the pattering of rain.”

Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud

“It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.”

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

“The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal.”

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

“How does one describe Artemis Fowl? Various psychiatrists have tried and failed.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

“I am a fighter. To be a fighter, you have to be passionate. I have so much passion, it’s hard to hold it all in. That passion escapes as tears from my eyes, sweat from my pores, blood from my veins. So many people assume that I’m cold and callous, but the truth is you need a big heart to fight. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I have had it broken too. I can compete with broken toes or stitches in my foot. I can take a hit without batting an eyelash, but I will burst into tears if a sad song comes on the radio. I am vulnerable; that’s why I fight.”

My Fight Your Fight by Ronda Rousey

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we understood the gravity of our situation.”

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth—deep down, I always did.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Life is bullshit.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson  

It’s tempting to leave it at that, but the next couple lines are pretty great too;

Life is bullshit. Consider your life for a moment. Think about all those little rituals that sustain you throughout your day—from the moment you wake up until that last, lonely midnight hour when you guzzle a gallon of NyQuil to drown out the persistent voice in your head. The one that whispers you should give up, give in, that tomorrow won’t be better than today. Think about the absurdity of brushing your teeth, of arguing with your mother over the appropriateness of what you’re wearing to school, of homework, of grade-point averages and boyfriends and hot school lunches. And life. Think about the absurdity of life.

LGBT Ebooks on sale!

I already made this post for my book tumblr, so I thought why not take two minutes to post it here as well and just take it down when the sale disappears. I have no idea if it’s a coincidence that so many books are on sale for kindle on amazon right now, but probably everyone in charge of this has just gone “it’s the start of pride month” at the same time.

I found a handful of different lgbt (and a few other) kindle books I’ve wanted for a long time on sale on amazon today by accident, but it’s so easy to miss so what I do is just have a kindle wishlist of ebooks that are expensive (often because just released) and then just scroll through semi-regularly, because it will tell you the percentage the price dropped with. Also fuck amazon and authors should be paid a lot and all that, but I’m also a poor uni student (also without access to library bc of corona) so forgive me.

If you didn’t know; https://queerbooksforteens.com/ is an amazing service that tells you what kind of representation each queer book has.

Also I would love to know how you find out as a reader when books on your TBR are on sale! I tried the bookbub service for a while, but it seems to have gotten worse and I’m giving up on that soon.

Books on sale (most I have yet to read, but really want to); 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward: 

Not queer, but I just heard about it. It’s written by black author and about a poor african-american family struggling after hurricane Katrina, has magical realism elements it seems. 

Heartstopper vol. 1 by Alice Oseman: fav of mine! queer boys, m/m relationship

The darkest part of the forest by Holly Black: love this book, only a gay side character

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault:

Lgbt fantasy with aromantic asexual characters and ownvoices for that, and I think basically the whole cast of characters are queer

Let’s Talk about Love by Claire Kann: biromantic asexual black main character, ownvoices

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: ownvoices, transgender woman as main character

TV recs & more queer books | Bi-Weekly Update

Alternative title; it’s all worse and better at the same time. the irony.

Three things on my mind:

  • So .. my life right now just consists of math, more math, a tiny breakdown where I speak my grievances out loud, to mostly empty air and the occassional puzzled family members walking by, along with playing the mobile version of pocket camp, because I can’t afford a switch. Next week it’s going to be the same, if you replace math with physics. Ahh, this was not how I imagined the second semester of my first year doing a physics bachelor to be, but oh well. Right now it’s wolframalpha all the way.
  • So the situation is less than ideal (also see; bad internet – have to buy 4G when exams, physical health w/ chronic illness worse) and only two of my five exams is done, yet I’ve felt so much better the last three weeks than I have since the beginning of march. Who knows? Nothing much has changed, other than I also now have exams, but it’s a clear goal in front of me to deal with even though my body is in uproar.
  • Things to watch; Outer Banks on Netflix is a great tv series to binge, with a cast of morally grey characters, and some really aesthetic good scenes as well. The Goldfinch movie adaptation got really bad reviews when it came out last year, but I finally watched it (I LOOVE the book) and it wasn’t bad! Actually to the point where I would recommend it, if you go in with quite low expectation. It has the usual problems of a movie trying to fit a big and complex book (so many different settings, spanning over multiple years) into a two hour movie. But the moments it included, it included well. I especially love both the young and the adult Boris.

Also for quarantine feelings;

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • I’ve been listening to first “War on Peace” by Ronan Farrow, as I thought I could fall asleep to his voice narrating the strange world of diplomacy and the importance of it; turns out diplomacy in Afghanistan is quite interesting and the book absolutely fantastic overall. I really enjoyed 11 hours of that to have a break from maths, it was magical.
  • And then I started the audiobook version of “Catch and Kill” by Farrow afterwards, taking care to listen during daylight as it’s the most upsetting story about not only the wave of sexual assaults that was brought into light with the ‘MeeToo wave’, the most focus being on Farrow’s reporting of Harvey Weinstein, but how he wasn’t allowed to publish the story and kept from pursuing it for so many months. It was quite the journey, and I felt so much for each of the victims as we get to hear more about what it took for them to decide to come forward. Ahh, I’ll have to write its own post after I’m done with these exams, because more people need to read this book in particular.
  • I might have cleansed my head after all that by reading the three first books in the very YA “The Selection” series by Kiera Cass. It’s so cheesy, but what made me continue was how it was more ‘The Hunger Games’ vibe than I expected.

Added to TBR:

  • Felix ever after by Kacen Callender (young adult, lgbt: trans mc)
  • The program by Suzanne Young (young adult, dystopia)
  • The last true poets of the sea by Julia Drake (young adult, lgbt)
  • The mermaid, the witch, and the sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (fantasy, lgbt: sapphic romance)
  • Clap when you land by Elizabeth Acevedo(young adult, lgbt): I’ve read & liked “The poet X”
  • The good girl’s guide to murder (mystery): recommended by the author Maureen Johnson on twitter or something
  • Sawkill girls by Claire Legrand (horror-ish, lgbt: f/f romance I think)
  • If I was your girl by Meredith Russo (young adult, lgbt: trans mc)
  • No matter the wreckage by Sarah Kay (poetry)

let’s hate everything for a little while | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • By grand central station I sat down and wept by Elizabeth Smart
  • An unquiet mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
  • When we collided by Emery Lord
  • The midnight lie by Marie Rutkoski

Added to TBR:

  • It’s kind of a funny story by Ned Vizzini (mental illness, tw: suicidal mc)
  • The shadows between us by Tricia Levenseller (new YA fantasy release that I’ve seen a lot of praise about): also has a female mc that is trying to marry and then kill the current kind, wooo drama)
  • City of ghosts by Victoria Schwab (middle grade or YA fantasy/paranormal): set in Edinburgh and especially Mary’s Close which was my highlight of my trip there!
  • When we were magic by Sarah Gailey (new YA lgbt witch fantasy): it promises queer witch girls and a good friendgroup.
  • The story of more by Hope Jahren (science book about climate change): the author already proved she could write with the fantastic Lab Girl, so I’m really looking forward to this book
  • Catch and kill by Ronan Farrow (nonfiction; about sexual predators): I didn’t know Ronan Farrow was the journalist behind publishing the Weinstein case before recently

Three things on my mind:

  • I’m not doing good in the middle of this. I wasn’t doing good going into it. Just got in touch with therapist again after radio silence since I left the city three weeks ago, so that’s good. I might’ve also gotten corona? Or it could’ve been any awful infection or worsening of any condition I had, but I was so incredibly ill for a bit over a week. I’m currently taking it one hour at a time, trying to not force myself to see this as extra time I should use to be productive, because there’s an epidemic out there and everything is difficult for everyone. Stay safe.
  • Our exams is still on; but from home and most of our grades are changed from A-F to pass/not pass. It’s so incredibly difficult to do things, but the external university stress at least brings some degree of familiarity. It’s funny how this whole year I’ve been like “as long as university stress is my without-a-doubt biggest source of stress, I’m going to be able to do this”. I was thinking about personal mental and physical health, as well as family trouble, but well shit, who would’ve counted on a epidemic. It’s also funny how before this really went downhill, I was convinced something big was coming and that the future months looked like a dark hole and why bother planning for anything. I talked about it with my therapist, I was like “what kind of depressive anxiety is this” and then it turned out to be real.
  • Two youtube recommendations; the amazing Conan Gray dropped an album, and Hank Green conveys a connection I’d been pondering on – how his (and mine) crohn’s diagnosis and this corona outbreak changing the ordinary carries a similar feeling

Spring TBR!

I didn’t think I would create a TBR because who knows when I’d get time to read because of university. And then it all went to hell and I need more structure in my life so here we gooo – a Spring TBR it is.

  • By grand central station I sat down and wept by Elizabeth Smart
  • The stranger by Albert Camus
  • All the lonely people by David Owen
  • The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • On earth we’re briefly gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Permanent record by Edward Snowden
  • To the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • Notes from underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The incendiaries by R. O. Kwon
  • Red, white and royal blue by Casey McQuiston
  • The serpent king by Jeff Zentner
  • Catch and kill by Ronan Farrow
  • So far so good by Ursula Le Guin
  • Hermosa and Tesoro by Yesika Salgado
  • The bell jar by Sylvia Plath

(Pre-corona times) wine trip | Bi-Weekly Update

Hey, this post was created a couple weeks ago actually, and I somehow never posted it. So I’m going to create a newer one, with all this corona stuff really impacting my life as it does many right now, but enjoy this light-hearted one hahha. Also my france/germany trip was before outbreaks happened in the area.

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • The stranger by Albert Camus (currently reading)
  • On earth we’re briefly gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (currently reading)
  • Night sky with exit wounds by Ocean Vuong
  • Felicity by Mary Oliver
  • Soft science by Franny Choi
  • Ordinary beast by Nicole Sealey
  • Corazón by Yesika Salgado
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord

Added to TBR:

  • Loveless by Alice Oseman (ace! character! and fantastic author)
  • Red, white & royal blue by Casey McQuinston (gay royal romance)
  • Akata witch by Nnedi Okorafor (YA fantasy)
  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (magical realism & mental illness; fractured sense of self, set in Nigeria)
  • How to make a wish by Ashley Herring Blake (YA f/f romance)
  • Crier’s war by Nina Varela (queer fantasy; i’m promised f/f romance, bisexual and lesbians and enemies to lover trope)
  • Come to the rocks by Christin Haws (mermaids with f/f romance)
  • Storm in a teacup by Helen Czerski (science! physics! this could be very good or very bad)
  • Tesoro by Yesika Salgado (poetry)

Three things on my mind:

  • I’m still doing this physics first year of university thing, funny enough. Is it crazy that I thought I would fail before now? It’s not going great overall, but I really like the physics and uni and friends part. One reason it’s not going great overall; I’ve been sick. A bit of a physical illness. But mostly, looking back, my productivity has been greatly damaged by mental illness as well, leading to general inconsistency. Ah yes, I was also diagnosed with a mental illness this week. Which I didn’t think would happen? But it made sense and oh well, it’s going to take some time to get used to having a label on my troubles.

  • I was in France!! And Germany!! Drinking wine!! With this physics & maths wine club I’m in. I became a real wine enthusiast on one (1) trip, and two wine tastings. I also might’ve smiled too wide at the table when the last and most fancy wine expert basically GURGLED his wine, like in parodies. AND MY BOYFRIEND, GERMAN-SPEAKING, HAD TO TRANSLATE THIS GUY SAYING IN A STERN VOICE “THIS MIGHT SEEM STRANGE, AS THE YOUNG WOMAN IS LAUGHING, BUT IT HELPS TO -” (insert expand surface and tastebuds and all that explanation). I was too many glasses of wine in and too entertained to be embarassed, but it was embarassing. And beautiful – the whole trip. The most embarassing moment, for who I’m not sure, happened while we were all learning about making wine, from someone who had more humor. My best friend said what I itched to say, but decided not to; “oh we make wine too”, pointing to the leader of the group. And he had to swifly try, and fail, to explain is that our university wine club’s wine is not made from grapes picked carefully and hundreds of year’s of expertise; but y taking basically grape juice, adding yeast and trying to get a high alcohol percentage. I smiled the whole rest of the tour, while the wine expert repeatedly turned to our leader and spoke to him like he knew the process, waiting for the moment we were alone and my best friend to get yelled at. It was all I hoped for. Lesson learned; don’t expect a bunch of physics & math students to take the social cue in any situation.

  • So the trick to read more books again is to take a flight to France/Germany (it was the border, so we were both places), as well as be just sick in general and forced to relax aka read.

Authors on Social Media | Top Ten Tuesday

I follow around 270 people on twitter; mostly authors, science people, book blogs, some celebrities and not to forget the amazing animal videos accounts.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl to bring bookish friends together. A new topic is posted each week.

Reviews are linked (as always)!

Maggie Stiefvater is the queen of everything in life

  • Author of The raven cycle, Call down the hawk, The scorpio races and just generally see the life through a magical lense and a love for her car
  • Recently deleted her tumblr and I understand but am still in mourning. By recently it was july.

Alice Oseman

Jonny Sun

Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Vlogbrothers even before authors; Hank & John Green

I’m following the Green brothers on all social media, so I’m not even going to link anything. I’m currently listening to Hank Green’s podcast “Delete This” with his wife Katherine literally about how he uses twitter. They’ve been on social media long enough to reflect on how they share their thoughts as creators across different types of media.

Maureen Johnson

It took a while from reading Maureen Johnson’s books as a teen to connecting her to the same person as the Maureen that was friends with Hank & John Green and occassionally joined in on videos. She’s been here a while, she knows her stuff and is really interesting.

Hope Jahren

She’s the author of one of my all-time favourite books, Lab Girl! It’s part memoir even as a science book and her twitter really continues those small insights into her daily life and thoughts. I wouldn’t have known so quickly about her new release, coming in march; The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here without her having a twitter presence and promoting it. She also lives in the same country as me, Norway, and really gets the culture:

Neil Gaiman

  • Author of Norse mythology, Coraline, American gods, The graveyard book, etc etc.
  • Twitter
  • The best parts of Neil Gaiman on twitter is what Amanda Palmer posts.

As a honorable mention, I’m going to just throw out there that I really dislike how Jay Kristoff uses social media in particular. For someone who easily block people and don’t want to be annoyed at stupid things aka don’t usually catch up on book twitter drama, he’s a good example of an author that just needs to think more about what the fuck he’s doing on social media. Have some impulse control.

Exciting Book Releases Spring 2020

The Hand of the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

Release date: 21. January

Why I want to read it: this series is just great, and I love Maureen Johnson’s writing in general

Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland

Release date: 4. February

Why I want to read it: The first book Dread Nation was such an interesting mix of historical setting, diversity, kickass armed girls and zombies.

Heartstopper vol. 3 by Alice Oseman

Release date: 6. February

Why I want to read it: Heartstopper vol. 1 and 2 was so so great and I need more of this cute gay love

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

Release date: 3. March

Why I want to read it: queer friendgroup of witches. that’s what I know and it’s definitely enough to get me interested.

Imagine Me (Shatter Me #6)

Release date: 31. March

Why I want to read it: I don’t really? I have nr. 5, Defy Me, 3 out of five stars after having loved the whole series. But it is the finale, so I’m going to hope for the best.

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

Release date: 7. April

Why I want to read it: I like this kind of fantasy, or at least I liked Wicked Saints, but I’m nervous to how well this sequel to a debut novel is going to hold up. Seems like a tough job.

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Release date: 30. April

Why I want to read it: Oseman is a great author, and I’m really looking forward to this + the main character is asexual.