What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Goals (January 2024)

It’s a new year with new beginnings, and it’s been a fun, strong start! I’ve set some reading goals and recommitted myself to reading challenges. I continue to join Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit where I join other readers in sharing what we’ve been reading lately.

A highlight of 2023 was the diversity of books I read both in regards to author perspective and genre, so in 2024, I am once again participating in the #DiversityAcrossGenres reading challenge. This year I am tweaking the genres a little. I’ll be reading General Fiction (a catch-all for all fiction that may otherwise not be included in the challenge), Romance, Mystery/Thriller (instead of Thriller/Horror), Historical Fiction (instead of Sci-fi/Fantasy), and Nonfiction.

I am also traveling around the world again using the The Book GirlsBook Voyage: Read Around the World reading challenge as a framework. Their intent with the reading challenge is to travel from region to region together, but I will be jumping around as desired. My goal is to read more books set in countries I have not visited yet.

As for my Scandinavian/Nordic reading challenge, I am still thinking about the best way to proceed in 2024. When possible, I will certainly be reading Nordic books for the other challenges I am participating in, but I do want to plan a specific reading challenge as well to keep me focused throughout the year.

And finally, always a reading goal but really this year, is reading my own book shelf, especially unread Book of the Month selections. I’ve paused my membership until I’ve made greater process on that goal. I love exploring the new books every month, but I don’t normally get around to reading my selections in a timely manner. Once I clear some space on my unread shelf, I’ll start up again.

What have you been reading lately? Are any reading challenges on your horizon this year?

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (2022) 📖

There was something about this book that kept me from reading it for a long time — the supposed disconnect between cover and story, the mixed reviews, etc. I finally read it now when my sister and nieces gave it to me for Christmas for a read-along. I loved it and zipped through it in no time. I admired the main character – her quirkiness and all – and loved all the supporting characters, especially the dog. The setting of the early 1960s in STEM and TV was both interesting and frustrating. The ending was very satisfying. It was a fun read with depth which I wish I had read sooner. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Read My Own Shelf: Gifted

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (2015) 🎧
Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda

This was a book club selection which I was not thrilled about reading since fantasy is not my favorite genre and I have so many other books I want to read. But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I was not expecting the romance aspect of it; I thought it would be pure fantasy. I learned a new term, “romantasy.” I just let myself enjoy the ride. I did not question any world building. I appreciated the strong, independent, willful female protagonist. Listening to this book was a great escape and took me to a world I wouldn’t be surprised if I returned to when I needed another escape. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

American War by Omar El Akkad (2017) 📖

This was an interesting book. I can’t really decide how I liked it, but it intrigued and engaged me until the end. The book takes place in the near future, 50 years from now, when the second American Civil War breaks out. Political and geographical US borders have shifted. Besides the North and South being divided, Texas is part of Mexico and much of the coastal land, including all of Florida, is underwater. Oil is outlawed. It’s about Sarat, only 6 when the war begins, her father is killed, and she and her family are displaced to a refugee camp in the South. Over time, she is influenced by a mentor and plays a significant role in the war. And there’s a plague that affects the whole country (interesting after our own pandemic). This would make a great book club read to discuss with others. ⭐️⭐️⭐️(⭐️) Can’t quite decide 3 or 4!

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb (2022) 🎧
Narrated by J.D. Jackson

I loved this book. I listened to it. The narrator was excellent and there was even music included between parts of the book. Ray, a Black boy in love with playing the violin, did not get any support from his mother or his school to pursue his dream. Luckily for him, his grandmother saw his talent and believed in him, even giving him her grandfather’s old fiddle, which turned out to be a Stradivarius. What ensued was all sorts of drama and stress for Ray as he became an up-and-coming musician in a predominantly white field, most notably his violin getting stolen and held for ransom right before he was scheduled to compete at the most important competition of his life and in the world. I was immediately sucked into the mystery of who stole the violin and then the additional drama of who really owned the violin (Ray, his mother and her siblings, or the descendents of the slave owner who originally owned it). It was a great mix of coming-of-age, family drama, mystery, and history. I highly recommend it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • #DiversityAcrossGenres: Black / General Fiction or Mystery/Thriller
  • Read My Own Shelf: Little Free Library find

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 (January 2023)

Welcome to another round of Quick Lit where I join other readers in sharing what we’ve been reading lately. If it hadn’t been for a couple of middle grade books, it would not have been a very interesting start to the new year. I was so enthralled by an audiobook and on a mission to complete the 20 hours of listening before my loan expired that I focused solely on that. Instead of listening to one book and reading another, which is my usual reading tendency, I alternated between the audio version and the ebook so I could finish in time. The audiobook was such a fabulous listening experience that I wanted to listen to as much as possible before it expired, and I managed just in the knick of time. Then I squeezed in the two middle grade books before the end of the month.

Looking Ahead to 2023

I’m eager to kick off my goals for 2023 with my 2023 Nordic Literature Reading Challenge, and snuck in a read for it, but I also still have to finish the last book for my 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge, a book spanning decades. Almost there! In the meantime, I’ve been planning my Nordic TBR for 2023 and am excited for the year ahead.

My middle grade reads were inspired by a reading challenge that my elementary school hosts every winter in which students are encouraged to read certain books and vote for their favorite. Parents, faculty, and staff are invited to join, and I’m participating with the 6th grade booklist. All are genres I don’t normally read. Besides being middle grade books, they are a novel-in-verse (partly), a fantasy, and a graphic novel. This past month, I read the graphic novel and novel-in-verse. I’m currently reading the fantasy one.

What have you been reading lately?

Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland, #2) by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir 📖
(Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)

Iceland’s location and geography make for such a fascinating setting and are often a significant aspect of stories set there. That is certainly the case in this series which takes place outside of Reykjavik along the western coast. The author deftly incorporates changing weather and unique geographical features into the stories. I really enjoyed the first in the Forbidden Iceland series, The Creak on the Stairs. However, this second one didn’t quite do it for me. It began slowly and there were what I considered mundane and unnecessary details. Unfortunately, I was not attentive enough while reading, and the twist did not unfold for me in a satisfying way — more confusion than a-ha moment — and this frustrated me. Though I can certainly see how attentive reading could yield a satisfying, or even thrilling, reading experience so I haven’t written off the next in the series.

Dawnlands (The Fairmile Series, #3) by Philippa Gregory 🎧
(Narrated by Louise Brealey)

Once again, Philippa Gregory knocks it out of the ballpark. This installment takes place 15 years later in 1685 when England is on the brink of another civil war. We return to the lives of Alinor, her adult children and their families, her brother Ned who has returned from New England with a Native American, and Livia who continues to be as manipulative as ever. It’s a captivating read/listen with real history, including actual historical figures, and extremely engaging fictional characters. The colonial sugar plantations in Barbados play a significant role in this story, which I knew next to nothing about. There is more emphasis on royalty in this book which I was less interested in, but overall it was a fascinating continuation of Alinor’s family’s lives and a new generation is introduced as well. I look forward to the next installment when that arrives!

Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez & Gabriela Espstein 📖

This middle grade graphic novel is a modern day Breakfast Club story. A group of students seen by most as all the same, just five Spanish speaking kids, find themselves stuck together with nothing in common other than having to complete community service hours. I had mixed feelings about this one. I enjoyed getting to know the individual students and their personal stories and I liked how they came together to help someone. However, I was not a fan of how it was framed with the beginning and end as they were. I also didn’t like how the adults at the school were portrayed. I did, however, really appreciate the dual language aspect and liked reading the Spanish passages when they were offered. And the illustrations were fabulous.

  • Elementary School Winter Reading Challenge ✔️

The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling  📖

I’m so impressed with how the structure of the novel contributed to the plot. The story begins in regular prose as a daughter and father head out on a road trip to hike a canyon. They are getting over the death of the mother and find peace and safety in nature. Suddenly, a flash flood comes barreling through the canyon. At this point, the story switches to verse from the perspective of the daughter as her father is swept away with the gushing water after lifting her to safety. The story continues in verse as she perseveres fighting to survive and looking for her father. The verse isn’t all uniform but changes according to what’s going on in the story. A very impressive and engaging middle grade read.

  • Elementary School Winter Reading Challenge ✔️

What have you been reading lately?

If you’re interested in purchasing Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit my Scandinavian Ebook Deals page. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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 (July 2022) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

July was a fun reading month! I had time to read and each book was so different from the others. I caught up on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge which I had fallen behind on, and a reading challenge happening at work gave me the incentive I needed to read some middle grade and YA that had been on my TBR list for a while.

2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Update: In July, I finally completed June’s 1960s prompt with the Norwegian book Bare en mor, the fourth book in The Barrøy Chronicles by Roy Jacobsen, which takes place along the coast in northern Norway. This reading experience was even more meaningful since I was on vacation in the same area at the time of reading it. For July’s 1970s prompt, I read Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø which took place in Oslo. Details on both books can be found below.

I am unsure what to read for August’s 1980s prompt. Ideally, I would love to find a book by a Norwegian female author that takes place in the 1980s, but I’m having trouble finding titles. For details on the reading challenge and insight into the past, current, and next decades, along with a few reading ideas, visit 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

TBR List for WITMonth 2022

August is Women in Translation Month so this month I’m enjoying just that, women in translation, and I have many titles on my TBR list for the month. Normally, I focus on female authors outside of Scandinavia for WITmonth since I usually read many Scandinavian female authors throughout the year, but that has not been the case this year. I’m off to a great start with Reptile Memoirs: A Novel by Silje Ulstein translated from the Norwegian by Alison McCullough (listening to audiobook narrated by Julie Maisey) and The Last Wild Horses: A Novel by Maja Lunde translated from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley, which I’m alternating with the Norwegian version, Przewalskis hest.

What have you been reading lately?

“Bare en mor” (The Barrøy Chronicles, 4) by Roy Jacobsen

I loved the fourth and final book in Roy Jacobsen’s The Barrøy Chronicles series. I was sad to leave Ingrid’s world behind when it ended. Ingrid is a smart, independent, admirable woman born, raised, and living on a fictional remote island in northern Norway (south of Lofoten which is where we were visiting at the time of this reading). This final installment takes place when Ingrid is in her 50s and covers a time period of about 15 years. It’s been five years since she returned from her trip at the end of WWII seeking the father of her child in vain (book #3). The island is now alive with people, all ages, both immediate family and found family. The book chronicles their lives which includes the men leaving for winter fishing in Lofoten, a dangerous and risky endeavor, while the women stay home tending to the household. This may have been my favorite book of the series. (The English translation, Just a Mother translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, will be released in the US on March 7, 2023.)

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

I really enjoyed this reading experience. This is a middle grade book written in verse about Jude, a 12-year-old Muslim girl, who leaves Syria with her mother as unrest and violence escalate around the country and encroach upon their town by the sea. Leaving her father and older brother behind, they travel to Cincinnati to stay with family until it’s safe to return home again. Jude has to learn how to get along with her American cousin, navigate her new American school, make new friends, improve her English, and make sense of her place in this new world. It’s a moving and hopeful story of a brave, strong girl.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A book from my school’s reading list; A book that won a Newbery award (Medal or Honor book)

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

This graphic novel has been on my shelf for a while and this summer’s book bingo was the just the right nudge to finally read it. It’s an eye-opening look at Japanese internment in the US during World War II. George Takei recounts his childhood when he and his family were forced to leave their home in Los Angeles and spent the next few years in “relocation centers” around the country only due to their Japanese ancestry. I learned quite a bit from this book: the process of how it was carried out, what living conditions were like, and how Japanese-Americans had to make difficult choices along the way that made the experience even worse.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A graphic novel; A book from my school’s reading list

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

This is a young adult novel that’s been on my TBR list for a while. It’s the story of Julia, daughter of Mexican immigrants, who has other plans than being the perfect Mexican daughter. She wants to leave town after graduation and go to college. At the same time, she’s dealing with the sudden death of her older sister who had been the perfect Mexican daughter, staying close to home once she was done with high school. It’s written in the first person perspective of Julia. Julia has a strong, at times brusque and confrontational personality, which I wasn’t a fan of. However, at the same time, she’s a voracious reader and a writer, so her language was at times very impressive. It was an interesting combination.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A book with a Hispanic or Latina main character

Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon by Tucker Malarkey (Narrated by Cassandra Campbell)

I wasn’t thrilled when this nonfiction book was picked as our book club read, but I knew it would be good for me to read beyond my comfort zone. It turned out to be a five-star read for me. It was a surprisingly fascinating and engaging read about Guido Rahr and his passionate, lifelong mission to save the world’s wild salmon by protecting their rivers. In particular, I really enjoyed learning about his childhood and young adulthood, his travels all over the world to explore the natural world, and his passion and persistence for his work. A bonus was learning so much about salmon, a fascinating fish. I have a totally new understanding of and respect for wild salmon.

Blood on Snow (Blood on Snow, #1) by Jo Nesbø
(Translated from the Norwegian by Neil Smith)

Norwegian author Jo Nesbø is best known for his Harry Hole crime fiction series, of which I’ve read two. One, The Snowman, I really enjoyed, but the other, The Bat, not so much, so I was curious about some of his other non-Harry Hole work. Blood on Snow is a standalone book and not a typical crime fiction novel but more of a “crime fiction adjacent” one. It is Nordic Noir in the sense that it takes place in a bleak setting (dark, cold days during wintertime in Oslo), the plot includes brutal crimes, and the protagonist is troubled. However, the protagonist is not a police detective but instead the fixer of a crime boss and the story is from his perspective. Even though he kills for a living, he has a conscience, in particular with regards to the treatment of women. Despite having dyslexia, he enjoys reading and writing. It’s an interesting take on crime fiction which I enjoyed and I would consider reading the companion book in the series, Midnight Sun (mostly because it takes place in northern Norway which intrigues me).

What have you been reading lately?

If you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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 (January 2022) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

It was a surprisingly strong reading start to 2022 and even more surprising was the fact that most of my reads were Nordic books (Icelandic and Norwegian). The high number of books is due to binge reading/listening to the last 2 books in an engrossing crime fiction trilogy as well as reading a short novel and a middle grade book. Future months are not likely to be this full of books.

The 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge is underway. I’m currently reading the first book for the challenge, Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen’s The Unseen, a book I’ve had both in original language and in English on my shelf for a while (2022 Reading Intentions, read off my shelf!). This book takes place in the time period 1910s and 1920s and chronicles the life of a family living on a remote island in Northern Norway, a life very tied to geography and weather. For details on the reading challenge and insight into this time period along with a few reading ideas, visit 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

What have you been reading lately?

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
(Narrated by Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber)

I love historical fiction that opens my eyes to a period of time or an event that I have little to no knowledge of, and this book did just that in a big way. The book is based on a real-life scandal in the Memphis, Tennessee, area in which poor children were kidnapped and sold to wealthy families (1920s-1950). Just the thought of that is unbelievable and then seeing it from the perspective of a child experiencing it was heartbreaking. The structure of the book was unique. The story jumped between 1939 when 12-year-old Rill and her younger siblings were kidnapped to the present when a successful daughter returns home to help with her father’s illness and begins to dig into her family’s history. I followed both storylines with equal interest and engagement eager to find out the connection. A 5-star listen and read for me. (I generally listened to it but had to have the ebook available too so I could read in the evening.)

The Island (Hidden Iceland/Hulda Series, #2) by Ragnar Jónasson
(Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)
(Narrated by Angela Redman)

After finishing the first book in the Hidden Iceland trilogy last month, I decided to jump on the second book. The ending of the first book was a cliff hanger and the cover of the second book was too enticing to postpone. The structure of the series is unique in that it is in reverse chronological order. In this book, we learn more about investigator Hulda’s past and follow her as she investigates a murder that takes place on the island pictured on the cover. If you’re fascinated by Iceland’s geography, this book is for you. You are immersed in the setting.

The Mist (Hidden Iceland/Hulda Series, #3) by Ragnar Jónasson
(Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)
(Narrated by Angela Redman)

I just decided to binge read/listen to this trilogy while I was at it, and I have no regrets. Iceland’s geography continues to play a significant role in the story, and I am fascinated by it. I will keep Ragnar Jónasson on my list of authors to return to, but I will take a break from his crime fiction for the time being. There are other Icelandic crime authors I’d also like to read. I’d like to return to Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Children’s House series and try Eva Bjorg Ægisdóttir’s The Creak on the Stairs (Forbidden Iceland Book 1).

Because Venus Crossed an Alpine Violet on the Day that I Was Born by Mona Høvring (Translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson and Rachel Rankin)

I was drawn to the cover (stunning fjord) and title (so odd and unique) of this one. However, when I started reading, there was a disconnect because I had thought the setting would be spring or summer time in a mountain village. Instead it was winter, and every time there was a reference to snow and cold, I was thrown a little. Minor detail in the grand scheme of things, but still an issue for me. It’s a short novel about two sisters in their early twenties who go to a mountain hotel to reconnect. Growing up they had been very close but then the older one abruptly left home to marry and ended up at a sanatorium after a nervous breakdown. This is their opportunity to find the relationship they had when they were young, but circumstances arise making it hard. It had a dreamlike quality and the writing/translation was lovely. A very enjoyable book! (But the title is still a mystery to me.)

#SlothyWorldReads2022: Book from the country you’re from (Norway)

Our Own Little Paradise by Marianne Kaurin (Middle Grade)
(Translated from the Norwegian by Olivia Lasky)

I came across this Norwegian middle grade book in translation at Netgalley and couldn’t resist since I was familiar with the author, was drawn to the cover, and liked the premise. On the last day of 6th grade when Nora’s classmates share all sorts of foreign vacation plans for the summer, Nora ends up lying about an upcoming trip to the tropics. However, she is outed by a new boy in class who lives in her apartment complex. The summer spirals into much more than she ever expected in so many ways. It was a very enjoyable and heartwarming book about a 12-year-old’s desire to fit in and make friends with the added difficulty and pressure of social media and socio-economic differences, and there were many examples of Norwegian culture present, my favorite being the summertime shrimp.

Thanks to Netgalley and Arctis Books for an advance copy of this! It will be released on April 12, 2022.

Dálvi: Six Years in the Arctic Tundra by Laura Galloway
(Narrated by Laura Lefkow)

I’m not usually drawn to memoirs, but the cover and premise of this one intrigued me. A woman from Indiana finds she shares some DNA with the Sámi people, the indigenous people of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and plans a trip to visit the area. This first visit eventually leads to a 6-years-long stay there. The memoir is an absorbing account of her time in Sápmi interspersed with reflections on her childhood and early adult life in the US. It provides a fascinating, unique look at the modern culture of the Sámi and their relationship with outsiders. I was captivated by this book. Going to the Scandinavian Arctic is now even higher on my bucket list.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Arctic & Antarctic

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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 (December 2021) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update 

I finished the 2021 reading year on a high note, and thinking back, it’s been a very good reading year – many good books in a variety of genres from diverse authors in many different settings.

Mid-year I discovered The Book Girls’ Book Voyage: Read Around the World reading challenge and completed it with books I had already read during the year and continued on my own schedule for the rest of the year. It’s an impressive selection of books I’ve read, if I may say so myself; click here to see the map with completed reads. One area remains, Arctic & Antarctic, which I plan to complete in January with a book that takes place in the Scandinavian Arctic area.

I also completed my Scandinavian Reading Challenge by the end of year unlike other years when I’ve had to wrap up some reads in the first month of the new year. Of the 12 books I read for the challenge, half were by non-Norwegian authors, which I was pleased to see, but only three were in Norwegian, a number I would like to increase in the next year.

Speaking of my next Scandinavian Reading Challenge, it will be a little different in 2022. Instead of creating my own prompts for the challenge, I will be participating in The Book Girls’ Decades Reading Challenge and reading Scandinavian plus potentially Icelandic and Finnish books to complete those prompts. Stay tuned for more information on that.

How’s your reading year been, and what have you been reading lately?

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

This was a spontaneous read that was nowhere near my TBR list, but I was immediately drawn to the cover and the premise: a mother and teenage stepdaughter’s journey to discover what’s going on when their husband/father suddenly disappears leaving only a mysterious note. The question of whether we can ever truly know the people we love the most is an intriguing one. I enjoyed the evolving relationship between the stepdaughter and mother. It was a fun read that took me from the houseboats of Sausalito, CA, to the university town of Austin, Texas.


The Tenant (Kørner and Werner #1) by Katrine Engberg
(Translated from the Danish by Tara Chace)

Katrine Engberg is a Danish crime writer, a new-to-me Scandinavian author whom I learned about from Abby at Crime by the Book, a great fan of Nordic Noir. I definitely enjoyed the setting of Copenhagen during summer time, and the crime and ensuing investigation were intriguing. However, I was not a fan of the pair of male and female investigators. They just did not seem like good partners. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the writing and/or the translation was not as smooth as I had expected. There were unnecessary sexual descriptions and subplots. At times some translated words seemed more vulgar than they needed to be and this turned me off. Upon checking a Norwegian version of the book, it seems this may be a translation issue?

🇩🇰 Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021: A book by a new-to-me Scandinavian author

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

This was an unread Book of the Month selection that my book club chose to read, and it made for a very good discussion. It’s an unusual reading experience, a suspenseful, slow burn with nothing really happening, just the characters going about their business as something unknown and mysterious is happening in the background. A family with teenage kids rents a house for a week’s vacation on Long Island, NY, but their stay is interrupted when an older couple arrives after a blackout has hit New York City. With no TV, Internet, or cell service, they try to figure out what’s happening. It’s a book that leaves the reader with many questions, many of which stay unanswered. It’s a great one for book clubs because everyone will have different opinions on the writing style, characters, and plot.

📚 #unreadBOTMchallenge

The Darkness (Hidden Iceland/Hulda Series, #1) by Ragnar Jónasson
(Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)

This best-selling Icelandic crime author has been on my radar for a long time thanks, once again, to Abby at Crime by the Book. I didn’t know whether to start with his debut crime series, Dark Iceland, or this newer one, Hidden Iceland. I ended up just selecting what was available immediately. A traditional police procedural, it was a very captivating read. I liked the main character Hulda Hermannsdóttir, a 64-year-old detective forced into early retirement, who takes on one last case, a cold case about a dead female Russian asylum seeker. I liked the setting, Iceland during spring time with glimpses of winter time. I learned after finishing the book that this trilogy is in reverse chronological order. Knowing this and with the ending as it was, I’m eager to continue the series sooner rather than later.

🇮🇸 Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021: A book set in a Nordic country you would like to visit or revisit

Winter Stories by Ingvild H. Rishøi
(Translated from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley)

I don’t normally read short stories, but at a virtual event with Norwegian authors, this particular author was mentioned as a must-read and I was drawn to the serene winter cover, so I decided I’d save it as a winter read. It’s a collection of three long short stories, all of which take place during winter time in Norway and are about vulnerable people (a young single mother, an ex-convict, and a teenager) trying to do their best for the young children in their lives, but with difficulty. The author does a compelling job of exploring their struggles, and in every story there’s an unexpected stranger whose compassion makes a significant difference. A five-star read for me.

🇳🇴 Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021: A Nordic book you chose for the cover AND A Nordic book in genre you don’t normally read

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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 & September 2021): #WITmonth

I devoted August along with September to reading women in translation (#WITmonth) from outside Scandinavia, thus unfortunately making little progress on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge these last couple of months. This year’s #WITmonth selections brought me all over the world — Basque Country in Spain, Gulf of Finland, Moroccan countryside, working class neighborhood in Thailand, and the former Soviet republic of Georgia — through the eyes of female authors intimately familiar with their regions. Their perspectives provided a deeper look at the history and culture of these countries, many of which I have little knowledge of.

What have you been reading lately?

The Silence of the White City (Trilogy of the White City #1) by Eva García Sáenz 🇪🇸📖 (Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor)

I loved how this crime fiction novel transported me to Basque Country in northern Spain. A police inspector and his partner are assigned to investigate a series of brutal, ritualistic murders that resemble ones from 20 years ago. However, the perpetrator of those murders is still behind bars. Is he involved from within or has he been wrongly imprisoned? The storyline was complex and layered, jumping back and forth in time, and incorporated elements of the region’s traditions and mythology, resulting in a very engaging read. I’m eager to read book 2 in the series!


Book Voyage: Read Around the World: Western Europe (Spain)

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson 🇫🇮📖
(Translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal)

This was a very enjoyable book, a perfect quiet, summer read. It’s a series of vignettes about a very young girl and her elderly grandmother during summer time on a remote island in the Gulf of Finland. Their relationship is very sweet. The girl is at times temperamental and demanding, but the grandmother is always understanding and straightforward, at times playful and creative. They discuss and handle topics ranging from the inconsequential to the very significant. The island and nature play equally important roles in the story as the girl and her grandmother. Sometimes this is exactly the type of book you need.

I felt a special connection to the book because I grew up spending summers on an island along the eastern coast of Norway, not as remote as this one, but somewhat rustic. Reading this book brought back many warm memories from my island summers as a child.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World: Book Set on an Island (Finland)

In the Country of Others: A Novel by Leïla Slimani 🇲🇦📖
(Translated from the French by Sam Taylor)

This is the story of French woman Mathilde who falls in love with Amine, a Moroccan soldier fighting for France in World War II. They marry, move to an inherited farm in Morocco, and raise a family during the time when colonial Morocco is fighting for independence from France. Mathilda struggles with their isolated life on the rocky farm in a tough climate. Also, raising two interracial children is not easy in a community where she is not accepted fully by anyone. The story weaves seamlessly between the different characters’ perspectives making this a compelling look at colonial Morocco in the 1950s. This appears to be the first in a planned trilogy, and I look forward to seeing how Mathilda’s life and those of her children evolve in the future.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World: Africa (Morocco)

The Last Exiles: A Novel by Ann Shin 🇰🇵📖

This novel was a departure from my books by women in translation these last two months, but I was inspired by an upcoming author chat on Instagram hosted by @owlslittlelibrary. The story of a young university couple from very different backgrounds and their defection from North Korea to China was an intriguing one. I appreciated the insight into brokers, the black market, human trafficking, and the general plight of illegal immigrants in China. However, I felt the love story between the couple didn’t warrant the woman’s actions, and I felt their journeys were too easy and quick. Their experiences in China, however, were more descriptive and plausible, and that aspect of the book made a great impression on me.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World: North Asia (North Korea)

Bright by Duanwad Pimwana 🇹🇭📖
(Translated from the Thai by Mui Poopoksakul)

This book has been on my TBR for #WITmonth for a couple of years now, and I’m so glad I finally checked it off. It reminded me a bit of Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book that I recently read in that it also is a series of vignettes about a young child and their experiences with people around them. In this case, five-year-old Kampol, or Boy as he’s known to those around him, is abandoned by his parents outside their run-down apartment building in their working class neighborhood in Thailand. The community steps up and takes turns housing and feeding him. The reader meet all sorts of characters, young and old, who help Boy overcome his abandonment and sadness. It’s a heartwarming book that gives intriguing glimpses into the lives of a Thai working class neighborhood.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World: South Asia (Thailand)

The Eighth Life (for Brilka) by Nino Haratischvili
(Translated from the German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin)
(Narrated by Tavia Gilbert)

I’m a little over half way through the book but that is the equivalent of about 2 books! This is a long one, 944 pages or 41 hours of listening, but it’s extremely engrossing and I’m always eager to return to it. I’m grateful that hoopla offers the audiobook because then I can just keep reborrowing it until I’m done. It’s the story of a Georgian family, in particular its women, beginning in the early 1900s. We get an insider’s view of the tumultuous history of Russian Empire/Union of Soviet Socialist Republics/Russia. Niza, born in 1974, is telling the family’s story to her niece Brilka starting with their great grandmother Stasia. If long books or audiobooks are your thing, I highly recommend this one even though I’m not done yet.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World: Eastern Europe & Russia

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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 (July 2021)

I’m back with my monthly round-up of what I’ve been reading lately inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s monthly Quick Lit where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. All the books didn’t quite hit the mark for me last month, but the variety in both setting and genre kept it interesting.

As I write and post this, I’m enjoying books in translation by women outside of Scandinavia for August’s Women in Translation Month. I’ve got my stack of options (see my Instagram post, if you’re curious) and will read what appeals to me when I’ve finished a book. In the background of my reads, I’m listening to the 40-hour long The Eighth Life (For Brilka) by Georgian author Nino Haratischvili, translated from the German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin and narrated by Tavia Gilbert. I am engrossed in this multigenerational family saga that begins at the start of the 20th century and takes place mostly in Georgia and Russia. So far a great story and fabulous narration of tumultuous history through the eyes of women.

What have you been reading lately?

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid 🇺🇸📖

This was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid story. I was intrigued by the local setting of Malibu in the 1980s, and it seemed like the perfect summer read. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. I definitely enjoyed the first half. This is when the Riva family is introduced by alternating between the past when June and Mick meet and begin their family (starting in the 1950s) and the present (1983) when the Riva siblings are about to host the annual not-to-be-missed celebrity end-of-summer party. The mother and siblings did not have an easy life with the famous musician father absent for years. I enjoyed seeing how they persevered and supported each other. The second half which featured the party appealed to me much less. There was too much alcohol, drugs, sex, and out of control behavior. It got to be too much for me.

Sølvveien (The Silver Road) by Stina Jackson 🇸🇪📖
(Translated from the Swedish to the Norwegian by Inge Ulrik Gundersen)

(This book is available in English translation by Susan Beard.) It’s billed as crime fiction (won Best Swedish Crime Novel, 2018), but I felt it was more a story of loss and grief due to crime. It’s a dual narrative set in a remote and isolated part of northern Sweden which plays a significant role in the story. Lelle’s 17-year-old daughter disappeared 3 years ago. His marriage dissolved, and he is being torn apart from the inside. He has obsessively spent summer nights driving The Silver Road, where his daughter disappeared, looking for her in abandoned and hidden areas. Meanwhile, teenager Meja and her dysfunctional mother have moved to the area to live with a man the mother had met online. Over time Lelle’s and Meja’s paths cross. It was a very engaging read with main characters I cared about. The ending, however, was somewhat predictable in my opinion, but the visit to this community in northern Sweden was worth it. Stina Jackson’s next book, The Last Snow, is already on my TBR.

Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021: A prize-winning Scandinavian book (Best Swedish Crime Novel, 2018; and Glass Key Award, 2019) OR A book by a new-to-you Scandinavian author

Her Dark Lies by J. T. Ellison 🇺🇸🇮🇹🎧
(Narrated by Brittany Pressley)

This is the story of a high-profile destination wedding that goes totally awry. Bad weather, dead bodies, and a ruined wedding dress are just a few obstacles before up-and-coming artist Claire and wealthy, handsome, and charming Jack can marry on rocky Isle Isola off the coast of Italy. It was a fun listen. I liked the unique setting, a secluded island with history and mystery. The rotating perspectives, including one that I was unsure about until later in the story, made the story even more intriguing and suspenseful.


A Woman Is No Man: A Novel by Etaf Rum 🇺🇸🇵🇸🎧📖
(Narrated by Ariana Delawari, Dahlia Salem, Susan Nezami)

Just last month I read Salt Houses by Palestinian-American author Hala Alyan, and  A Woman Is No Man by another Palestinian-American writer was an interesting companion read/listen. While Salt Houses revolved around a Palestinian family that remained in the Middle East, this book focused on a Palestinian family that immigrated to Brooklyn, New York. It was a disturbing and heartbreaking story of three generations of Palestinian women in America whose lives were dictated by the patriarchal beliefs of the homeland. The story alternated between Fareeda, the matriarch, who emigrated from Palestine as a young mother; Isra who was brought over at the age of 17 as the wife of Fareeda’s eldest son; and Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter born in Brooklyn. While an important story to hear, this particular story seemed very one-dimensional. All was very negative and repetitive in regards to men and women’s status in this community.

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.


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 (April 2021)

Lately, it turns out I’ve been varying my reads by setting. In March, I visited South Korea, Norway, and the USA through my books. In April, I returned to the USA and also visited the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. I usually read and listen to more than one book at a time so different settings help keep the books’ characters and plots from blending. And with the pandemic still interrupting international travel, it’s a great way to escape to another world.

Where have you traveled lately in your reading?

🇺🇸 🎧 Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Narrated by Jennifer Garner)

This is the book I wish I could have read back in 2017 when I made a pledge to understand our country’s political outcome. But Tightrope wasn’t published until January 2020. At first I wasn’t interested in this book because I thought it just focused on a small group of people in one small, rural area of the U.S., but it actually explores issues and personal stories all over the U.S. It’s an eye-opening book sharing at times shocking and disturbing scenarios about “the other America”. But intertwined are stories of hope about organizations and people making a difference and providing hope. A shoutout to my mother who read it and told me it was a must-read book, and many thanks to my book club for joining me in reading it.

🇬🇧 📖 I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

This was my very first Book of the Month pick back in 2016, and I finally read it now. Why did I wait? I really enjoyed it. I stayed up too late reading and was eager to return home from work so I could continue reading. The alternating perspectives and storylines were extremely engaging. The twists were very well done. It’s about Jenna whose life in Bristol, England, turns upside down after a tragic hit-and-run accident. She escapes to a small cottage along the coast in Wales, but she is haunted by the past which makes it difficult to move forward. At the same time, detectives back in England try to get to the bottom of the accident. I highly recommend this psychological thriller. I look forward to reading more by Clare Mackintosh, but don’t know where to continue so feel free to recommend!

🇳🇱 📖 Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

This book intrigued me because it was an immigrant story with a twist. It was about a Chinese immigrant family in America, but the oldest daughter, Sylvie, had been raised in the Netherlands until she was nine years old and then reunited with her parents and younger sister in New York City. When the grandmother in the Netherlands is dying, Sylvie returns to the Netherlands only to disappear without a word. Her sister travels to try to find her. It alternated between the perspectives of the sister and the mother in the present and Sylvie a month before she disappeared. I really enjoyed the setting in the Netherlands and the slow unraveling of the family secrets as the story progressed. Unfortunately, I guessed the biggest secret before it was revealed but I still enjoyed the ride.

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Currently, there are several ebooks available for $0.99. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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 (October & November 2020) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

October was a slow reading month so I saved my two reads from that month to share this month. It’s been a very varied period of reading and listening: two children’s books about the Sámi Indigenous peoples of Northern Europe, an LA-based contemporary novel, two historical fiction both coincidentally about a village woman and a man of faith not from the community (luckily different settings, one England in the mid-1600s and the other Norway in 1880), and finally a contemporary crime fiction set in Oslo.

I still have a couple of categories on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge to cross off. Currently, I’m reading a Scandinavian classic, Sigrid Undset’s third book in the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. Still to read are a book by or about refugees to Scandinavia (planning Sara Omar’s Skyggedanseren translated from the Danish to the Norwegian) and a Scandinavian book with a film or TV adaptation (haven’t decided yet). Would love to hear about any Scandinavian/Nordic books you’ve read!

What have you been reading lately?

Samer by Sigbjørn Skåden, Illustrated by Ketil Selnes

This is a Norwegian children’s book for ages 9-12 that I discovered when researching Sámi culture and history for a special event I was helping plan at the elementary school where I work. (Special thanks to my mother who helped make it possible for me to read it here in the US!) It’s written by a Sámi author and is even available in the Sámi language. My knowledge of Sámi history was very limited. Reading this book was enlightening and provided a good basis on Sámi history and issues. However, I still have much to learn. Too bad it’s not available in English as it would be a good introduction to Sámi culture and history for English language readers.

Reading Challenges:

Children of the Northlights by Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

This was another book I added to my reading list for my school project. It has been on my bookshelf for a long time and was a delight to finally read. First published in 1935, it was written after extensive visits by the authors to the land of the Sámi in the early 1930s. Interestingly, this newer edition published in 2012 includes a note in the beginning noting the authors’ use of the term “Lapp” which is now considered derogatory. The story follows Sámi siblings Lise and Lasse as they go about their daily lives during winter time. I especially enjoyed reading about their relationship with their reindeer and seeing all the pictures featuring Sámi daily life during winter. I question whether Sámi children’s school experience was as pleasant as depicted in the story since the book covers a time period when Sámi were forced to become and learn Norwegian (per an official Norwegianization policy).

Reading Challenges:

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
(Narrated by Greta Jung)

I was drawn to this book because it was a contemporary immigrant story that takes place in Los Angeles with a family mystery to boot. It’s about Margot who returns to her childhood home in Koreatown only to discover that her mother, Mina Lee, is dead in the apartment. In the process of trying to find out the true cause of death, Margot learns about her mother’s difficult past. There’s a dual timeline: Margot in 2014 when she discovers her dead mother and 1987 when her mother arrived in Los Angeles as an undocumented immigrant from Korea. I started this book as an audiobook but switched to ebook. I felt the narrator did not do justice to the characters. I enjoyed Margot’s and Mina Lee’s stories, and I got a kick out of the setting being here in Los Angeles where the characters visited familiar places, in particular Santa Monica Pier in both timelines, but the narrator’s rendition of the characters grated on me. Finishing the book by reading it made a big difference. I recommend this book but suggest you read it instead of listening to it.

Reading Challenges:

Tidelands (The Fairmile Series, #1) by Philippa Gregory
(Narrated by Louise Brealey)

This was a book club pick that I wasn’t overly thrilled to read. I love historical fiction, but England in the 1600s didn’t really interest me as much as other times and places, or at least so I thought. It turned out I loved this book. It was not about royalty as I had assumed it would be. Rather, it was about an ordinary person, Alinor, a poor woman whose husband had left her and their two kids to fend for themselves in a remote village. The story takes places during England’s Civil War in 1648, and religious and political history (Royalists vs. Parliamentarians and Catholicism vs. Protestantism) play a role but not in a way that requires any background knowledge. I got so wrapped up in Alinor’s life and the hardship and judging she had to endure. I admired her strength, perseverance, and independence. The whole book club group enjoyed this book so much that we selected book number two in the series, Dark Tides, for our next read. The audiobook was an excellent listen.

Reading Challenges:

Death Deserved (Alexander Blix & Emma Ramm #1) by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger
(Translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce)

Jørn Lier Horst is a favorite Norwegian crime fiction author with his William Wisting series, but Thomas Enger is new to me. Their joint project intrigued me. I always enjoy returning to my native Oslo through books, and this story really took advantage of Oslo and the surrounding areas as the setting. The main characters, veteran police office Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm, were smart and likeable, and the plot was very engaging with a satisfying end. I look forward to the next installment in the series, Smoke Screen, coming out later this month.

Reading Challenges:

The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting
(Translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin)

I loved Lars Mytting’s The Sixteen Trees of the Somme so The Bell in the Lake, the first book in his new trilogy, was high on my TBR list. When it was released in English during the pandemic, I had the chance to listen in on a  virtual chat between the author and translator and became even more enthusiastic about it.

The story takes place in the 1880s in the valley of Gudbrandsdalen in central Norway (also the setting of Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter). It’s about a young village woman who is torn between two outsiders in the community, the new priest who’s selling the village’s stave church to Germany and the German artist/architect who’s come to draw the church so it can be resurrected properly once it arrives in Germany.

I had mixed feelings about the book, much of it having to do with wanting and expecting to love it. I did love the setting and the historical aspect of the story. Getting a glimpse of life in Norway in the 1880s was intriguing, and stave churches have always interested me. Mytting’s descriptive writing really enhanced those aspects. However, I had trouble getting into the story itself. It was a little slow to get going, and at times the dialogue was a bit cumbersome. The dialogue was written in an old Norwegian dialect and it was also translated into an old English dialect. Another issue I had was not totally understanding the chemistry between the characters. Despite this, however, I am very eager to read the second book in the series, Hekneveven. It jumps ahead to the early 1900s and continues the legacy of the stave church, its bells, and descendants of the first book. It came out in Norway in October 2020 to great acclaim. The English translation’s release date is TBD.

Reading Challenges:

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a day or so. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone. My most recent read, Death Deserved, and many other recent books I’ve enjoyed are currently on sale for $0.99 (as of the publication of this post).

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 2020) & #WITMonth

August Was Women in Translation Month!

I spent much of July planning my stack for August’s Women in Translation Month, a yearly monthlong initiative to promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. Since I tend to read many Scandinavian female authors throughout the year, I usually focus on female writers from other parts of the world for this event. Originally, my TBR pile for August included Chilean, Mauritian-French, Franco-Moroccan, Thai, and Japanese authors. However, my reading took unexpected turns when special author experiences presented themselves, so it wasn’t just female authors from far away lands this month as planned.

Here are my latest reads and listens. What have you been reading lately?

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

I had been meaning to read this for a long time. It was my Book of the Month selection in October 2016! After reading author Nic Stone’s article, “Don’t Just Read About Racism—Read Stories About Black People Living,” in Cosmopolitan (June 2020), I decided there was no time like the present to read it and I convinced my book club to join me. Also, I wanted to join LA Times’ Book Club with Brit Bennett on August 25 which added an extra incentive to read it sooner rather than later. It didn’t disappoint. The story takes place in a contemporary, tight-knit Black community in Oceanside, California, and is about a decision that 17-year-old Nadia makes in her senior year of high school before she heads off to college. It’s about how that decision affects her and those around her in the years to come. We follow not only Nadia as she becomes an adult, but also her high school boyfriend and best friend. The title is spot on. The book features mothers of all kinds – missing mothers, present mothers, stand-in mothers, wannabe mothers, and a Greek chorus of mothers, the last of which I thought added an interesting layer to the story.

Reading Challenges:

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
(Narrated by  Cassandra Campbell, Jenna Lamia)

This was another unread BOTM pick that jumped to the top of TBR pile in August when I learned that I would have the opportunity to hear the author participate in a virtual event (Creating Conversations with Literary Women). I read and listened to this one – both were excellent experiences. The story takes place in West Texas oil field country in the mid-1970s. It explores the aftermath of a brutal attack on a 14-year-old Mexican-American girl by a white boy through the perspectives of seven women in the community. The women range in age from 10 to 70s and have such unique and engaging personalities. It explores inner conflict as well as outer conflict in regards to the crime committed and how it’s handled by the community. It features women’s courage and strength. I highly recommend this book. This was a 5-star book for me.

Reading Challenges:

The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán
(Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes)

This was my first read for Women in Translation Month. It appeared on my radar last year at this time when it was released in English (originally published in Chile in 2014). I’ve been wanting to read more literature from South America so I thought this would be a good choice. Unfortunately, this book was not for me. I did appreciate getting a glimpse of Chile’s history, in this case Pinochet’s dictatorship and its legacy, but that was about it. The story of the three childhood friends who go on a road trip to retrieve the body of one friend’s mother who was being repatriated to Chile but ended up in the neighboring country instead due to volcanic ash disrupting air traffic in Santiago was uninteresting. It didn’t help that half the story was told through one character’s stream of consciousness that made little sense. I am in the minority regarding my opinion of this book, though, because it was shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize.

Reading Challenges:

The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani
(Translated from the French by Sam Taylor)

This was another book for Women in Translation Month that’s been on my radar for a while, and unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations either. It’s a murder mystery that starts with the ending. We know the “who” and “how” right from the beginning (and it’s horrible) but not the “why” so the author takes us back in time to get to know the family and the nanny. Why did this supposed perfect nanny kill the two young children? It’s billed as a psychological thriller. I was engaged and enjoyed the development of the story, but the ending was unsatisfying and disappointing.

Reading Challenges:

Alt er mitt by Ruth Lillegraven
(Written in Norwegian but to be released in English in March 2021 as Everything Is Mine translated by Diane Oatley)

I had not done my research on this book, and I’m glad I hadn’t. If I had, I may not have read it and missed out on a fun reading experience. It turned out that half the book was written in New Norwegian, and historically I have avoided such books and read them in translation later. This book is about a couple, Clara and Haavard, who seem to have a perfect marriage. The story is told in alternating perspectives mostly from them. Clara is from Western Norway and speaks New Norwegian, and Haavard is from Oslo and speaks standard Norwegian. Luckily, their two different “languages” wasn’t a problem for me and I thought it a clever way to add a distinction between the characters. When I read it, I also did not know it was the first in a planned trilogy. Initially, I was very disappointed in the ending, but then I listened in on an Instagram event with the author and learned of the planned trilogy. I immediately changed my opinion of the book, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment. English readers, look out for the release of the English translation next year!

Reading Challenges:

Tropic of Violence by Nathacha Appanah
(Translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachen)

This book took me to a place in the world I’ve never been in my reading life – Department of Mayotte, a French island in the Indian Ocean between Mozambique and Madagascar. When Marie suddenly dies, her 14-year-old adopted son Moïse is left to fend for himself. He ends up involved with a gang in the largest slum on the island. The book explores hard issues – illegal immigration, poverty, race, class, youth gangs, and violence – through the perspectives of not only Marie and Moïse, but also the gang leader, a police officer, and an aid worker. This was a tough read, not a feel good book at all, but definitely an eye-opening and thought-provoking reading experience about a new-to-me part of the world, exactly why I like participating in Women in Translation Month.

Reading Challenges:

Before I leave you, I want to make sure readers interested in Nordic literature (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland) are aware of the many virtual bookish events, such as author talks, panel discussions, and book club meetings, now available to a wider audience. See my post Virtual Scandinavian Events for Fall 2020 for details!

What have you been reading lately? Did you read any women in translation in August?

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.