Norse Mythology: Before The Beginning, And After


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


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!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Title: Tiger Lily, Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson, Genre: Fantasy, Trigger warning: rape, abuse, suicide, Publication date: July 3rd 2012, Rating: starstarstarstar/5

7514925.jpgDark and twisted, this Peter Pan retelling is an absolutely pleasant read – for the first 200 pages or so. Tiger Lily lives with the Sky Eaters, one of the many tribes on the island of Neverland. In the wide forest, between different villages, live the dreaded Lost Boys lead by Peter Pan and his posse.

Tiger Lily, an outcast in her own village, finds refuge in Peter Pan’s burrow. She slowly falls in love with Peter Pan and is swept in the wilderness and adventurous life he leads. Told from the faerie Tinker Bell’s perspective, we see how love and friendship slowly turns sour, and how loss and grief can churn out venom out of the friendliest of souls. In a similar fashion we are exposed to how destructive colonialism and religious righteousness can be.

This book is not one I would recommend to anyone under the mental age of old. Heavy subjects are woven delicately between stories of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan’s love. The first sentences of the first chapter warn you appropriately:

This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win.

Tinker Bell is a mute faerie, like all faerie’s are. It was very interesting and also stressful to read from her point of view. No matter how much she tried to intervene, her inability to speak to the characters, left her to be more of a bystander. It was a perfect representation of how reader’s feel and as she was unnoticeably nudging and stinging Tiger Lily and Peter Pan to warn them of danger I felt my own chest rise in agitation and trying to warn them! I was turning into my dad yelling at football players on TV…

I won’t even attempt to dedicate a paragraph to how perfect the writing was, because I think this book is known for it’s writing style if nothing else. Anderson has a talent in deceiving you with her words into willingly break yourself open and allow her to rip your heart out. For almost the entirety of the book I thought that people had overhyped how sad the book was, because until page 200 it was quite upbeat. Even up until 270 it wasn’t that heartbreaking. But the last 30 pages were a real punch to the gut.

The plot was engaging, although lacking until the very end. Not much happened, I didn’t feel like there were any plot twists or that I had been taken through a journey. The book was more like a wave sweeping over you in slow motion until you’re under water and that’s when it speeds up. And I would have preferred if the characters introduced in the last 50 pages would have been present earlier. Basically, I felt the book was too short for me to get a full impression of the characters but appropriate for the plot that was introduced. It’s like being really thirsty and only having half a glass of water nearby.

I’ve been trying to decide between a 3-star and 4-star rating for this book. It is a very solid 3-star worthy book. But it ultimately gets a 4-star rating because of the beautiful quotes I will carry with me forever.

The Whole Thing Together

Title: The Whole Thing Together, Author: Ann Brashares, Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Trigger warning: divorce, major character death, Publication date: April 25th 2017, Rating: starstar/5

31123236.jpgAnn Brashares new book is set in the family summer beach house in the Hamptons. It once used to belong to Lila, that was married to Robert, who now owns the house. In the divorce they settled to share the house, on the condition to never be in it at the same time. Lila and Robert both remarry and have Ray (by Lila) and Sasha(by Robert). For lack of more rooms in the massive Hamptons villa, they are forced to share a room that is both theirs but never at the same time. Ray and Sasha also share a job and three older sisters from before the divorce – Emma, Quinn, and Mattie.

The complete separation changes when Emma becomes engaged and the sisters plan an engagement party in the house to be attended by both families. The road there isn’t pretty and it takes a lot from both Sasha, Ray, and the three sisters. It perfectly displayed how I believe my future wedding/engagement party will be. Although my parents aren’t that crazy, my stepparents are, and I couldn’t help but picture them as Robert and Lila.

The perspective of the divorce and families focus mainly on Sasha and Ray’s experience which I enjoyed a lot. It is so odd to see how much a divorce can effect the children that can come after and it has brought me closer to my sisters from my mum and dad.

The book deals with many themes simultaneously; family tension, adoption, and love. It shows every characters own perspectives on each of the themes resulting in a variety of opinions to be represented. Robert is originally from Bangladesh but was a war baby that was consequently adopted by a middle class white couple in America. How he views his adoption and family dynamic is wholly different from how his daughters see it. Quinn feels very in tune with her blood heritage and the struggle between being who you were raised and being what you look like is beautifully handled. As a child of immigrant parents that grew up in a Swedish environment I could partially identify. I felt “Swedish” and acted “Swedish” but I didn’t look it and weren’t treated in that way either. It’s a very interesting topic to explore further and was, in my opinion, appropriately handled.

Although great it was very short, there were a lot of characters that were underdeveloped. I wanted to see more of the sisters and learn more about the family issue. You can guess the reason for the divorce but it is never explained and it didn’t offer any other information. The family dynamic also took a while to understand and I’m still not sure how they split up the time at the beach house.

Now to the juicy stuff. Nah, I’m not spoiler warning this shit because despite being such a great work of YA Contemporary it still get’s a 2 star rating from me because of the fucking incest. What went through Brashare’s mind? Is she a child of divorce? My sisters, although not blood related and rarely in contact, are still SISTERS! It did my head in to no end… I’m so disappointed by this mess that ruined the book. If Robert couldn’t stand Quinn getting a nose ring, I cannot imagine how he would react to this. I really hope he whoops both their asses…

Thank you to Netgalley for my free copy!

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.


Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Caraval follows two sisters, Scarlet and Donatella, invited as special guests to a historic and mythical magic show called Caraval. In a turn of events they find themselves to be pawns rather than players and the audience they’re among are not always who they say they are.

Stephanie Garber’s debut is a fast-paced 400+ page novel that you will easily fly through in one or two sittings. It took me two days to finish and absolutely fall in love with! Every chapter leaves you wanting more and the book does nothing short of deliver.

This book might have my favourite world-building of all time. Albeit, the world in Caraval is not very different from our own, there are some distinct differences. The introduction of different aspects of the world were so seamlessly done it almost felt natural. The subtlety in her detailed retelling of her vision of this magical place, Caraval, is what makes the world so perfect to me. Garber’s writing makes for a great YA novel that readers both young and old can appreciate.

Caraval, the actual show, is performed on a very peculiar island almost reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. There are clocks that work different and the contestants are only allowed to compete from sundown to sunup. One thing that confused me a lot was the time-management. It is quite clever that they are only allowed to be out during the dark because that’s how secrets to most magic tricks are hidden. But the execution could have been a bit more fine-tuned. The characters seemed to get very little or no sleep at all and breakfasts and lunches and dinners overlapped each other. Some other inconsistency that bothered me was the sudden obsession with buttons that was not introduced to the reader earlier. Or, if it was, not enough for me to pick up on their importance.

The characters were complex and mysterious, they make you physically curve into the book because of how tangible they are. Scarlett and Donatella make for a great sibling dynamic; they love each other very much and have gone through a lot but they are very different. Their relationship is, I think, very easy to identify with if you have a sibling or a very close friend. It’s very interesting to see how they grew up in the exact same harsh environment and came out as polar opposites, I believe it sparks a very important discussion on how environment is not the only thing that shapes a human. Maybe, I’m just reading into things but I thought that was fascinating to focus more on.

Another great character I haven’t mentioned but is the key-protagonist in the story is Legend, the magician and direction or Caraval. He is almost never seen and there are no chapters that revolve around his current state, we learn a bit about his past but find out little else. The mystery and intrigue built around him is phenomenal and the lack of reveal in the first book is what will make readers pick up the second installation.

What truly solidified my love for Caraval, the book, the show, the world, was how realistic Garber wrote the relationship between Julian and Scarlett. Julian is the one that takes Scarlett and Donatella to the island on which Caravl is set. Without spoiling anything, Julian is my baby cinnamon roll that I will die for and haunt. He is also the one that remains with Scarlett as she looks for her kidnapped sister. If you haven’t guessed by the beginning of this paragraph, I ship them as fuck!

Scarlett’s quest to find her sister is never put on the back-burner for a stupid and unrealistic love story to unfold. The book is about sisterly love and one girl’s desperate attempt to get her sister and best-friend back. Garber writes her characters sensibly with just a dash of crazy, like we were all made. Falling in love, having feelings, never depreciates or incapacitates the women in the story. That is something rarely seen in the YA Fantasy world, unfortunately. When will the “girl falls in love, girls becomes incapable of continuing her quest” trope fucking die!

I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series and I am so happy to have broken my first new years resolution of not starting unfinished book series! For the next book I hope we see more of Julian and Scarlett’s relationship but also more of Legend, the mystic magician behind the show!

Title: Caraval, Author: Stephanie Garber, Genre: YA Fantasy, Trigger warning: Abuse and manipulation, Publication date: 31 Jan 2017, Rating: starstarstarstar/5

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: How to Mend a Broken Heart


Title: How to Mend a Broken Heart

Author: Anna Mansell

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction

Diversity: Mental health /

Format: eARC

Publication date: 01 Mar 2017

Goodreads blurb:

Life is good for nurse Kat. That is until the man she intended to marry legs it, she’s unexpectedly promoted to a position with too much responsibility, and a patient arrives on her ward under strange circumstances.

Susan is a mystery. She refuses to speak or interact with anyone, she’s obsessed with a book of fairy tales, and the only name in her diary is that of Rhys – a plumber she barely knows.

Down-to-earth Rhys is trying to get his life back on track after the death of his beloved brother. His mum is his priority, and she needs him as much as he needs her. Or at least she did, until she starts disappearing, leaving him to find comfort in the form of his brother’s girlfriend.

Complicated is an understatement.

As the lives of these three lost strangers intertwine, will they find a way to lay ghosts past, present and future to rest? And when the chance comes to mend their broken hearts, will they be brave enough to take it?

Disclaimer: ARC Copy provided by NetGalley for an unbiased review

Review: (without spoilers)

The best thing about this book is the lack of bullshit (read: page fillers) before the story really starts. That’s the first thing I liked about this book; the prologue and first chapter started out incredibly strong and set the tone for the rest of the book and the author did not disappoint. There was rarely a chapter that wasn’t integral for our understanding of the story that was unfolding before us. The author really stuck to the most important rule to write a successful book: kill you darlings.

Although the book does branch out a bit to introduce us to side-characters that have nothing to do with the core story(Michelle, Lou, and James will always hold a dear place in my heart), it still feels important. Like, getting to know more about the people in their lives will make us understand why they behave the way they do. I felt like this was incredibly important because otherwise I would be incredibly bitter over Kat and Rhys’ behaviour.

The book is written from the points of view of the three main characters; Susan, Kat, and Rhys. Despite first person being my absolutely least favourite writing style, this book didn’t seem to annoy me. I attribute this largely to the author’s flair for bending the English language to her will; write a non-bullshit story in a non-bullshit sort of way. The writing was simple and appropriate for the heavy themes that transpire within the tales of these three lives.

Within a few pages we find out about Rhys’ brother David that has committed suicide not long ago. Rhys also has a mother that has started vanishing without a trace, and now he’s been tangled into the life of Susan. Despite all this doom that looms over Rhys he manages to be an incredibly enigmatic character that seems to put his foot in his mouth every time he speaks. I found him incredibly funny, although a bit too growly (mate stop growling at nothing all the time).

Kat is a hot mess. She’s the one of the youngest acting ward sister at Sheffield Hospital where Susan is admitted and takes her job very seriously that is completely torpedoed by the shenanigans that Rhys and Susan rope her into. Her professionalism is further deteriorated by the flirty consultant Mark, her best friend and bride-to-be Lou, and the slithering snake Daniel that is also the ex-boyfriend that broke her heart.

Susan is one of many patients in the ward where Kat works, but she is very significant in the way that she refuses to speak. Although there are no medical indications for her lack of speech she seems unwilling to communicate with anyone. Except to Rhys by writing him a note to collect a fairy tale book for her that sets off an incredibly complicated and cathartic journey for all the characters involved. In a beautiful turn of events(or shit storm if Kat were to write this review) Rhys, Kat, and Susan’s lives become intertwined in an unforgettable tale of loss, love, and forgiveness.

Some issues I did have with the book was how some themes were presented; mainly adoption and depression. Somehow I felt like giving a child up for adoption was demonised, especially by Rhys. Although, I understand why he has the right to feel like that, the notion was never challenged. Adoption is a very tough and brave thing to go through; it is very sad but there are so many different underlying reasons for adoption and THAT should be demonised instead. Yes, yes, the book kind of tried to put the blame on something else but I still felt like it would be a bit insensitive if an adopted person read it.

Up until the end I felt like the author showed perfect respect for the topic of depression and her indirect way of addressing it. I don’t know if it was just easier to round up the story, but it felt like depression was made so simple and given such an abrupt end. “Something that was missing has been found, now everyone is happy, see!” No, depression and committing suicide is not that simple. This is coming from my work at the psychiatric ward, my medical education, and my psychiatry rotation. I just wish the author would have included a bit more in the end towards the importance of rehabilitation and medication. They are widely stigmatised in society and therefore many patients choose to leave both their rehabilitation and go off their medications. We need to normalise these things in our society and the best way is through our literature. That’s why I do expect author’s to be mindful of this and include it in their works.