What I’ve Been Reading Lately (April 2024)

Welcome to another round of “What I’ve Been Reading Lately” when I join other readers through Modern Mrs Darcy’s monthly QuickLit posts in sharing what we’ve been reading lately.

I love when an unanticipated common thread appears between reads. Sometimes it’s obvious very quickly; other times the common thread is more obscure. This month it was between two very different crime fiction reads, one I read for my Nordic Literature Reading Challenge and the other in anticipation of an author event at the LA Times Festival of Books last month. The settings and the unique cultural and historical aspects of these settings were so very different, a remote village in northern Sweden versus a diverse suburb in the American South, that at first I didn’t consider them similar at all. However, the two books shared some strong noir elements: flawed protagonists, brutal crimes, and an exploration of the darker sides of human nature. It was fun to mix up my Nordic Noir reading with some Southern Noir.

What have you been reading lately?

Yours Truly (Part of Your World, #2) by Abby Jimenez (2023) 🎧
Narrated by Kyla Garcia & Zachary Webber

Loved this story! I listened to it; the audiobook with the two narrators was excellent. This is the story of Brianna and Jacob, two ER doctors, whose lives cross as Briana’s divorce is finalizing and Jacob has moved to her hospital to get away from his ex who is now marrying his brother. Their first encounter is rocky, but a letter from Jacob resets everything. The characters are mature, thoughtful, and funny. They each have their own real issues affecting their take on their relationship. It was such a heartwarming story. I couldn’t wait to return to it after every listen. (Though book #2 in the series, it was totally fine to read as a standalone.) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Last Snow by Stina Jackson (2020) 📖
Translated from the Swedish by Susan Beard (2021)

As is often the case with Nordic Noir, the setting was bleak (remote village in northern Sweden) and the characters were flawed, in this case very flawed. There was nothing heartwarming or pleasant in this story, but it did have intriguing mystery and suspense that kept me reading. Liv lives with her domineering father and sullen 17-year old son. She is miserable and unable to leave. The father is hated by the community and believed to have a fortune hidden away at home. His death comes as no surprise to the community. It’s also the story of Liam who has a young child and is trying to break away from his controlling drug-dealing brother. There is unease and tension between everyone; anyone could have murdered the father. It took me a while to follow the jumps in the story and timeline at the beginning (the formatting and/or chapter titles could have been done better), but it soon settled for me. The ending was surprisingly satisfying. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman (2017) 🎧
Translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith (2018)
Narrated by Marin Ireland

I wasn’t the greatest fan of the first book in the series (Reading Lately, March 2018), but I enjoyed the ending enough to want to read the second in the series. Here I am 6 years later finally reading it! And I loved it. An omniscient narrator is telling the story of Beartown after its star hockey player has left town. Mia is trying to get on with her life after the sexual assault. The town’s beloved hockey club is struggling to survive and a new hockey coach is brought in to build a winning team. The town is very divided and there is a lot of tension and conflict, but there is also kindness, compassion, and hope. Can’t wait to read the final book in the series, Winners (but I must admit that the page count of 671 pages/21+ listening hours is a little intimidating).  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

All the Sinners Bleed by S. A. Cosby (2023) 📖

I was a great fan of Razorblade Tears (Reading Lately, June 2023) so I was quick to pick up his new title as well as buy a ticket to see him on a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books in April (an experience that didn’t disappoint!). In this story, readers follow Sheriff Crown, a former FBI agent and now first Black sheriff of his hometown in Virginia, as a shooting of a popular white teacher by a Black former student who is then killed by deputies opens up a whole sinister serial child killer mystery. It’s not for sensitive readers. At times, it was hard to keep track of all the characters, and occasionally, the writing was a little overdone, but overall a very engaging and riveting read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What have you been reading lately?

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Films and TV Series to Stream Now: Sweden

Welcome to my latest post of Scandinavian films and TV series to stream now while you’re staying safer at home. Here I feature films and TV shows from Sweden. Previously, I shared Films & TV Series to Stream Now: Norway. Stay tuned for Denmark.

Over the years, Sweden has won three Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film – The Virgin Spring (1960), Through the Glass Darkly (1961), and Fanny & Alexander (1983) – all of them directed by Ingmar Bergman and which can all be streamed now. See below for details.

In the case of Sweden, I found it interesting that I had not seen many of the movies and TV shows listed, but I had read many of the books upon which they were based. I enjoyed the books (I even consider them among my favorite Scandinavian reads) but I am often hesitant to see movies that are based on books I’ve read and enjoyed. But maybe that will change during this coronavirus self-quarantine time.

As I mentioned in my previous post, for streaming options, you have, of course, the usual suspects – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and more – but don’t forget that you may have free streaming options available from your public library through hoopla and kanopy as well. These two services offer plenty of free foreign and domestic films and TV shows at no charge.

Please note that availability of films and TV shows on these streaming platforms may change at any time.

* Movies/TV series with one asterisk are ones I’ve watched but don’t necessarily recommend unless you’re up for something a bit out of the ordinary.

** Movies/TV series with double asterisks are ones I’ve enjoyed and recommend, assuming you’re in the mood for that genre.

Films from Sweden

A Man Called Ove

  • Director: Hannes Holm (2016)
  • Based on book by Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
  • Genre: Drama, Comedy
  • Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, 2016
  • Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video (Sundance Now)

As It Is in Heaven

  • Director: Kay Pollak (2004)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Starring: Michael Nyqvist
  • Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, 2004
  • Where to Watch: hoopla

Becoming Astrid

  • Director: Pernille Fischer Christensen (2018)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video (included with Prime)

* Border

Britt-Marie Was Here

Fanny & Alexander

  • Director: Ingmar Bergman (1982)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Language Film, 1983
  • Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

Force Majeure

** The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy #1)

** The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium Trilogy #2)

** The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium Trilogy #3)

Sami Blood

  • Director: Amanda Kernell (2017)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Where to Watch: hoopla

Simon and the Oaks

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The 101-Year-Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared

  • Director: Felix Herngren & Måns Herngren (2016)
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Where to Watch: Netflix

* The Square

  • Director: Ruben Ostlund (2018)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, 2018
  • Where to Watch: hoopla, Amazon Prime Video



The Virgin Spring

  • Director: Ingmar Bergman (1960)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Language Film, 1960
  • Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video



Through a Glass Darkly

  • Director: Ingmar Bergman (1961)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Language Film, 1962
  • Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video



TV Series


Wallander: The Original Episodes

Wallander: Season 2

Wallander: Season 3


Which films and TV shows have you seen and recommend? Do you have others to add to the list? Share in the comments or email me. I’d love to hear.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update: March 2018

I’m continuing my quest to complete three reading challenges this year: my own Scandinavian Reading Challenge, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge, and The Reading Women’s Reading Women Challenge. Having these reading challenges provides me with more focus when deciding what to read next. They also force me to choose books outside my normal reading habits. I also enjoy the challenge of finding books that fulfill tasks in more than one challenge at a time. And just for the fun of it, I’m seeing how many of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge tasks I can complete, too.

If you haven’t already checked out my 2018 Scandinavian Reading Challenge, I invite you to do so here. It’s not too late to join!

And once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. This month I’m covering the last two months. Winter Break in February helped me catch up on my reading.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Once I got through the first part — felt there was a little too much description and detail — and the storyline went to China and I learned more about the mother’s situation, I was hooked. Keeping track of the two narratives, one in first person and the other in third person, both switching between past and present, was a little tough, so it wasn’t an easy read. But in the end, it was a read I really enjoyed. There were a lot of issues to ponder – illegal immigration from Asia, undocumented workers, interracial adoption, for-profit prisons, just to name a few. The book club discussion was very good. We had strong differing opinions about the mother.

Reading Challenges:

  • Reading Women Challenge—a book with an immigrant or refugee viewpoint character
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy—a book by an author of a different race, ethnicity or religion than your own
  • ReadHarder—a book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)

God’s Mercy by Kerstin Ekman (Translated from Swedish by Linda Schenck)

What intrigued my Scandinavian Book Club the most about God’s Mercy was the reference to the indigenous Sami people in the book’s description. The book is about a young Swedish midwife who in 1916 moves from a university town to a remote rural area of Sweden close to the Norwegian border in anticipation of being with her secret fiancé. Things do not turn out the way she anticipated. I thought it was a very interesting look at life in this community of Swedes, Samis, and Norwegians (descriptive and complete). However, it was a tough read. There were three narratives that jumped around in time and place. It was hard to keep track of all the people and their families without taking notes. The book left me with some unanswered questions, but that’s understandable considering it’s the first in a trilogy. (My understanding is that the other books in the trilogy have not been translated yet.)

Reading Challenges:

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin)

Once again, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s recommendations of audiobooks that enhance your reading experience didn’t disappoint! The book opens in 1791 in Virginia and is about a young orphaned Irish girl who is raised as an indentured servant and lives with the slaves in the plantation’s kitchen house. I was drawn in the moment I started listening and became very invested in the characters, especially the female ones. There are two narratives, each read by a different voice. One voice is Lavinia, the orphaned girl, and the other is Belle, her mother figure, the half-white illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner. It’s not a light read. There’s a lot of brutality towards the slaves. But at the same time, there’s great love, caring, and warmth among the slaves and Lavinia. The book is heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.

Reading Challenges:

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

I picked this book because I needed a change from all the historical fiction and heavy reads I had read recently, and what better way to do that than with a superhero fantasy book, a genre I never read (#ReadingWomenChallenge!). Also, Leigh Bardugo was a YA author I was curious about. I appreciated and enjoyed the strong and independent female character of Diana, the diverse cast of characters, the female empowerment and friendship, and Bardugo’s writing, but this specific genre just isn’t for me.

Reading Challenges:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Translated from Swedish by Neil Smith)

I’m a Fredrik Backman fan, but this book was not like his others I had read (My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and A Man Called Ove). It’s much more serious and philosophical. It’s about how a small, rural town deals with a sexual assault by its star hockey player. To begin with, I was very uncomfortable reading it. I was disgusted by the actions and attitude of so many people (the bullying, the locker room talk and behavior, racism, classism, and sexism) and I felt like a bystander as I just continued reading along. Finally, more characters started standing up for what was right and I began to enjoy the book more. The ending was very satisfying. It was a great book for our book club meeting. The sequel Us Against You comes out this June 5.

Reading Challenges:

Currently reading and next on my list…


I’m currently listening to Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan read by Heather Lind, Norbert Leo Butz, and Vincent Piazza. The audiobook was recommended by Los Angeles Times as an audiobook not to be missed. I’ve never liked the cover so it fulfills the category “a book with a cover you hate” for Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge.

While my Scandinavian Book Club is reading The Sound of Language by Amulya Malladi which I’ve already read, I’m reading The Copenhagen Affair by the same author. For my Scandinavian Reading Challenge it fulfills the category “a Scandinavian or Scandinavia-themed book whose cover piqued your interest,” but it could also fulfill the category “a book set somewhere in Scandinavia you would like to visit (or revisit).”

Next up to read will be Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman for my local book club. It coincidentally fulfills the category of “a book nominated for an award in 2018” for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge.

What have you been reading lately?


Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: August 2017

Once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. It’s been two months since I last shared what I’ve been reading, and it’s been vacation time with plane rides and down time, so I’ve had a chance to read quite a few titles. Luckily, all of them were worth finishing this time.

Did you know that August is Women in Translation Month? I just learned that this month. I seized the opportunity to add some female authors in translation to my reading list. Continue reading

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: June 2017

I’m joining Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. It’s been two months since I last shared what I’ve been reading lately so I’ve had a chance to accumulate a few titles. Continue reading

My Favorite Books of 2016

I’m getting back into my reading groove. I was proud of my 14 books in 2015, but it turns out I read more than twice that in 2016, 33 to be precise. A few factors influenced the increase in books read. First of all, my renewed interest in reading the previous year caused me to want to read even more, and I was constantly adding to my what-to-read-next list and always had a book ready when I finished the last one. Secondly, I finally tried audiobooks, which definitely helped add books to my completed list. It was great to have an audiobook available for runs, walks, and drives. I often found myself walking or running a little extra just to finish the chapter, and I didn’t mind if there was a little bit of traffic. And lastly, being a member of two book clubs is definitely an incentive to read.

I read many very good books last year, but there were only three books that earned the top rating of five stars, books I thought were “amazing” (description used by Goodreads): The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, and Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. These are books whose stories absorbed me and have stuck with me. I’ve recommended them without hesitation to friends and family and even given them as gifts. In the following list, I also included some other books that I really enjoyed, two of which are Scandinavian. Continue reading