Norse Mythology:

Norse-Mythology-by-Neil-Gaiman-e1487486255635Norse Mythology is the most recent book by Neil Gaiman, published February 7, 2017. The book is a compilation of short Norse tales that chronicle some of the events in the Norse mythology. Gaiman bases the stories on various songs and other collections that is explained in detail in the foreword by the author himself.

The first few chapters encompass the backstory of the Norse gods; it begins with the story of the story of the world and goes on to map the relations between the different gods. For example, in contrast to popular belief, Loki shares a mother with Odin and is Thor’s uncle but they have a very leisure relationship. The reviews for the first few chapters can be read here, here, and here.

The following chapters are about how the different gods acquired their powers; how Odin popped his eye out to be able to see more, how Loki’s mischief plans win the gods their different special gifts like Thor’s hammer, and how the great wall surrounding Asgard was built.

The last chapters of the book are made of stories where the gods show their strength. The stories are about how mischievous Loki really is, how strong Thor really is, how power-hungry Odin really is, and how independent Freya really is. And the absolute last chapter is about Ragnarok and how the world will crumble and Heimdall will blow the Gjallerhorn to wake the sleeping gods and prepare them for one last war at Vigrid, the final battle field. Noble warriors, lead by Odin, will clash in the loudest clang of sword against sword with the evil dead of Loki.

In the end, Yggradsil will be the only remain of the Norse world and within it are Life and Life’s Yearning that will begin the world anew.

The stories were interesting and incredibly easy to follow and the chapters were set in a logical concession of each other. They were written in short parts that was incredibly smart since the stories were very dense with information and action. This “info-dump” is possibly Gaiman’s best talent especially with the different accounts and translations he was trying to incorporate into one story. Despite this, I do not necessarily think Gaiman’s writing fit the narration the stories deserved. Although the information was distributed evenly, the writing felt choppy and didn’t flow smoothly. I was expecting a narration closer to my kindergarten teacher when I was a child and she told me some of these stories. The lack of classical story-telling techniques almost took the magic and mystery out of the stories.

I hesitantly give it a 3-star writing; it is a great collection for new people interested in Norse Mythology but it lacked in being anything more than a future source of information.

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Norse Mythology: Before The Beginning, And After

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The beginning of the world started with nothing, two shapeless settings. To the north was the cold Niflheim with eleven rivers and to the south was Muspell. At the edge of Muspell stans Sutr, a non god before the gods, that guards his land and will not leave his post until Ragnarök comes and the big war begins. In between Miflheim and Muspell exists a void making up the “yawning gap”, there emerged the sexless Ymir that birthed a six-headed giant from it’s legs and a male and a female from under his arm.

This short chapter describes how the world according to the Norse Mythology was created. How Odin came to be the father of all. How Odin and his brothers Ve and Vili created a world within the skull of the father of giants Ymir, clouds from his brain, mountains from his bones, oceans from his blood that ultimately drowned all the giants except one.

Incredibly succinct, the chapter manages to give an overview over Norse mythology of the creation of the world we live in today and how it will one day end. These questions are generally cornerstones in every religion and it is interesting to see how similar some of these beliefs are to Abrahamic religions.

For example, it is believed that the three brothers Odin, Vili, and Ve created a man and a woman from clay that were called Ask and Embla. Anyone else find the resemblance to Adam and Eve? Similar to Muslims, Norsemen also believe that humans were made from clay.

They also believe in a great war that will come, Ragnarök, when the Sutr with the flaming sword will leave his post in Muspell, when Floki will assemble his monstrous children to fight the gods, and the world will reach the ultimate uproar.

The stories are told rather factually and I was expecting more story telling. My expectations were very different. But that is not to say I am disappointed, Gaiman’s writing is very simple that is very appropriate for such complicated mythology.

Norse Mythology: The Players

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman starts with a short chapter where it presents the three players: Odin, Thor, and Floki.

Here we learn about what their powers are and how they acquired them. Odin hung from a tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days and nine nights for his precious runes to be revealed to him. Floki, Odin’s half brother and NOT Thor’s as advertised by the Marvel series, has winged shoes and is the son of a giant. Odin and Floki’s mother is Nal, or needle, for her slim and sharp shape. Whilst Floki is said to have many monster offspring that will fight with him against the gods when Ragnarök finally comes, Odin has one son. Thor is the strongest god of them all with iron gloves to grasp his war hammer, Mjölnir. Around his waist he has Megingjor that is said to double Thor’s strength.

All in all, it is a good start. Although not all things were mentioned some things were hinted to be explored further on. I’m excited for the stories to begin!

Extraordinary Adventures

Title: Extraordinary Adventures, Author: Daniel Wallace, Genre: Adult Fiction, Trigger warning: minor drugs and murder, Publication date: May 30th 2017, Rating: starstarstar/5


31451136.jpgEdsel’s quiet life turns upside down for the first time ever when he wins a two-night stay at Florida-resort! Despite the telephone operator denying any strings attached to the offer, there are two constraints that Edsel has to adhere to. The first is a time-restriction and the other is the obligation to find someone to accompany him. Edsel’s story is told in the form of a countdown in which he tries to wade through his incredibly uncluttered life to find someone. It is charming, humorous, and concise. Extraordinary Adventures is a very well written book for any type of reader.

Daniel Wallace, the author, presents Edsel in a very certain way in the prologue. He plants the image of an old and stubborn man on the phone, one of those people that will pick a fight with the operator, we all know the type. But as we move through the chapters, a very different character emerges. Edsel is a thirty-something -year-old office worker that isn’t very strong willed. He’s quirky and quiet but not a complete introvert. He’s kind of brave and that aspect isn’t presented as something surprising but as something natural. Therefore, I found a great inconsistency with how Edsel was portrayed and his actions. Furthermore, the contrast between Edsel in the prologue and the beginning of the book is very sharp and misleading. I liked Edsel, but the minor characters were written more consistently and therefore shone a bit brighter.

There are a few other characters and I appreciate Wallace for keeping the cast of characters the same throughout the book. I despise when characters are used once to prove a point and later discarded, in Extraordinary Adventures this was not the case. Just like in real life, characters don’t just disappear, they were present and prevalent throughout the story. *DJ Khaled* I like that!

You are sure to fly through it considering the short chapters. Wallace’s writing is easy to follow, the major quirk are the names he uses for his characters – Edsel Bronfman, Crouton, Thomas Edison – that may feel a bit too much but becomes an appropriate balance to the simple writing.

It’s a solid summer book. It’s not amazing or very introspective. It’s a pleasant 336 paged escape. That’s why it won’t get more than 3 stars from me. In its own category I would give it something closer to a 4-star rating. But as a whole, it’s a solid 3-star rating. (Please remember that I gave my fav series in the world The Raven Cycle a 3-star rating.)

The publication date is great since it’s very close to summer. I believe a lot of people will enjoy this as a beach- or pool-side read! I’m definitely getting a copy to throw at one of my friends on the beach.


FOR MORE OF WHAT I’VE READ THIS YEAR YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER, GOODREADS, AND TUMBLR. MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT THIS TWITTER THREAD OF BOOKS I HAVE READ IN 2016 AS GIFS

Book review: The Shock of The Fall

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Title: The Shock of The Fall

Author: Nathan Filer

Genre: Contemporary

Diversity: Mental health / Neurodiversity

Format: Physical paperback

ISBN13: 9780007491452

Rating: starstarstar


Goodreads blurb:

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

Debut novel about one man’s descent into mental illness, following the death of his brother in childhood. Filer is a mental health nurse with a unique and startling insight into mental illness, and this book highlights a much-neglected subject.


Review: (no spoilers)

I went into this book kind of blind, thinking it might be about a kid with some sort of mental health issue due to a family member passing. Something similar to A Monster Calls, despite having bought this before Patrick Ness’ book.

The story is more character driven, and the book states so itself in the end. “Nearly every thought I have is about me – this whole story has been all about me; the way I felt, what I thought, how I grieved.” It was very much about the main character Matt and about his life having the mental disease. We also get to meet his older brother Simon, that has Down’s Syndrome, that dies when Matt is really young. Personally, I thought it was a very honest and unproblematic representation of mental health. The disease, that I won’t reveal, is presented in a way that defies common stereotypical tropes but gives an understanding for why most afflicted people end up in the positions they’re in. There isn’t much more to the plot than that.

There was one main character and the only character we got a real insight to. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough for 307 pages of reading. We get fleeting moments of people, we learn their names sometimes, but then they go away and we are back to being alone with Matt. And that’s partially because Matt is just that, alone. I understand that the author just wanted to write a book that represents the reality of mentally ill people. The only interesting plot was introduced in the last few chapters and should have been made that the core of the story. We would have been taken on a journey for Matt to achieve a goal as well as learn much about him on the way.

The writing was appropriate for the story. It wasn’t flowery or eccentric, it sounded like a normal teenage voice. Some pages also have small quirky line-drawings and other sentences are spread out over a page. The font varies from the standard computer-typed font to a typing-machine font to hand-written letters. This variation is refreshing and I believe one of the things that makes up for the complete lack of plot. One massive thing I appreciated was that the author never really tried to write how/what Matt was thinking when he was having the mental issues he has. He rather explained them as ordinary observations that occur to the narrator that make perfect sense. And that’s exactly how it is for most mentally ill people, to them it is real and that was never doubted or contested in this book!

I don’t think this would be the first book on my mind to recommend to someone but I do believe that it deserves recognition for how it portrayed mentally diverse people as well as how their inner monologue really sounds like. Having personal experience with mentally ill relatives/friends I believe this was a fair depiction.


Discussion: (with spoilers)

So, if you’ve gotten to this point and you haven’t read the book then close your eyes!

The first few pages I definitely thought that the mental illness was Simon’s Down’s Syndrome and was kind of upset because it is not a mental illness. But then I thought it might be about Matt’s grief depression and later on his mother’s Munchausen-by-proxy and lastly bipolar disorder before it said Schizophrenia.

In one bit he says, “I’m mental patient, not an idiot,” which really resonated with me as a medical student. It is very important to see people as more than their diseases, because they are more. Just like we are more than the pathologies we carry around, and everyone does, no one is completely healthy.

It made me think of something my bipolar friend once said, “You have a doctor’s gaze, you don’t see all of me,” and I have to argue against that. I think we, anyone in the medical profession, see people more than one disease. When I look at someone, when I’m doing a mock exam of a patient, I try to see everything. A patient that presents with a simple cold may also have mental health issues or a malignant disease or problems at home or anything else. Your mental health is as much a part of what the doctor sees as everything else.

But what that quote really did was remind me that not all people with a specific disease have to present all the symptoms or to the same extent. That’s called partial penetrance in genetics.

Schizophrenic people are usually thought of as drug addicted and homeless. This book did not follow that trope although it did give an insight to how that could become a possibility. When a schizophrenic person is in a state their grasp of reality becomes very real, even rent and cleaning become abnormal tasks. Usually it is not during a schizophrenic episode that a person starts using drugs but the opposite, whilst a person is using drugs their schizophrenia is elicited. With a loss of reality and a drug dependence it is hard to continue making money and maintain a home. This also depends on the type of schizophrenia and treatment plan.

Treatment is important. Matt says as much himself. He will let them in, he will take his tablets, he will also relapse and not take any medications, but then he will let them in. To relapse is not a failure, it is proof that you once got better and that you can do it again.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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Tragic, sad, and extremely captivating. Despite a lacking plot and subpar writing, it had that inexplicable thing that makes it a public favourite! I completely understand the appeal.

The Girl on the Train, Rachel, is a divorcée with her wedding ring still on. And every day her train makes a stop in front of a beautiful suburban neighbourhood so close to the tracks she can see into each of the perfect couple’s houses. It’s not very hard for her to imagine the inside of the homes since she used to know one of them very intimately. But it was two years since she lived there and now it’s inhabited by her ex-husband and his ex-mistress, current wife, and their little daughter. One day, she sees something out of the ordinary that she cannot remember. Deemed an unreliable witness, Rachel cannot shy away from her obligation to find out the truth of what she saw.

Wrongly described as the next Gone Girl, it still manages to engage you in the same way as Gillian Flynn writing. The “major plot twist” was easily predicted and not in a good way. Some books are meant to be figured out before the end of the book, but this book seemed to try to surprise you with the end and it didn’t manage to do that. The plot was more morose than suspensful and if it had been advertised as such I believe it would have gained my interest more. My absolute pet peeve is when something is advertised as one thing but ends up being another (*cough* *cough* those tragic Ransom Riggs books).

The characters were probably the strongest attribute of the book. We got to read the stories from three different POVs and in different timelines. I believe the author was able to excellently catch the essence of the characters in her writing. Although I had a problem with how daft Anna(the ex-mistress, current wife) sounded. She sounded like an absolute airhead although her actions were of a very intelligent and neurotic individual. I couldn’t wait for Rachel’s chapters, I just loved her as a character and despite not being an alcoholic or a depressed divorcée, there was something very realistic about her and it was very easy to empathise with her. For more on the third POV, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

It wasn’t a very inclusive book, there weren’t that many poc or lgtbqai+ characters. But the one that was, the muslim-Balkan therapist, was very well represented. There is one instance where he is accused of absurd things due to his religious background and I was fuming at that point due to the reckless stereotyping. But then, BUT THEN, the author puts the blame of the rumours on the press. And I loved that so much! Because stereotyping and racialising is widely perpetuated by media but no one has ever had the balls to expose them. I think this was a very well constructed criticism of media today.

As I mention above several times, I did not like the writing. As a book written in first person it’s not as bad as it could have been but it’s not amazing either. (Major spoiler: I HATE HATE HATE books written in first person.) It’s just good, a flatline of a prose, nothing more exciting.

Overall it was a solid book with a lot of potential for a film adaptation. Although Rachel is fat and Emily Blunt is thinner than a shaved stick. Anyways… Fat-erasure isn’t new. I don’t have much more to say about the book except that I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a quick read.

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