Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Räfvhonan - Anna Laestadius Larsson

Though I did already know about Marie Antoinette's former lover Swedish Von Fersen's death by lynching by a Stockholm mob, and the accession to the throne by Napoleon's Field Marshal Bernadotte, the 18th and early 19th centuries remain something of a blind spot in my history education.

Thanks to Laestadius Larsson's smooth yet well-informed trilogy (of which I have only read parts two and three) I now also know the why and the how of the aforementioned events. 
Plus a bit more.

Excellent holiday-read.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mitt Liv Som Gift - Anna Mannheimer

When one of Sweden's funniest now living people (though I'll confess I'm probably rather ignorant in the field) publishes her collected thoughts on married life, I reckon the result can only be smart and hilarious.
As indeed it was.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Self / Less - T. Singh 2015

I'm not quite 100% sure I think twisted plotlines, science and hunky actors necessarily make for good thrillers, but I reckon this one was fairly OK. 
If you are into this sort of thing.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Istanbul - Orhan Pamuk

This was an original and well-wrought autobiography, gracefully presenting the Nobel-prize winning author in a parallel with his hometown, richly illustrated by a great number of black and white photos of the city and of the Pamuk family.

I learnt a lot about the Turkish capital - admittedly, my knowledge was shamefully limited to begin with - and definitely enjoyed Pamuk's effortlessly elegant style.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tammy - B. Falcone 2014

Melissa McCarthy is back on the road again, this time with ever exquisite Susan Sarandon as her sidekick / alcoholic grandmother.

It's as pleasant and harmless as ever, penned by McCarthy and hubby / director Ben Falcone; an hour and a half well spent, if it's mindless entertainment you are after.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pottungen - Anna Laestadius Larsson

In 1792, the assassination of Swedish monarch Gustav III, a.k.a the Theatre King, was followed by the plotting and scheming usually caused by the sudden demise of a ruler and an heir too young to reign. 

Laestadius's novel (number two in a trilogy) follows three women, two at court and one among the lesser people = New Social History galore.

The Enlightenment is a sadly under-used period in literature, it seems to me. 
At any rate, it is definitely not my personal favourite, though that may well be due to a lack of taste in all that hideous rococo furniture, patronizing literature and art of the period.
And yet, this was an interesting read; the French revolutionary ideas made their way up north, and wreaked havoc in the void brought about by the King's death. 

Laestadius is a devoted feminist, bless her, which certainly does the book no harm.
She is also a hardworking journalist, and as such has conducted some painstaking research before writing.

As a bonus, her writing style is more elegant and less straight to the point than most journalists'. 
Good one, though no Nobel Prize material.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pride - M. Warchus 2014

A feat indeed, to broach such various and technically grim subjects as the 1984 coal miners' strike, gay activism, Margaret Thatcher, Aids, unionism and events-based-on-a-true-story - and still manage to turn them all into the most heartwarming and sweet of all feelgood films of recent years.
A feat of a typically British kind, I'll say.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ghostbusters - P. Feig 2016

Somewhere I read that Melissa McCarthy has an extremely dedicated fanbase.
If yours truly am anything at all to go by, that is probably very accurate : Nothing in the world save the combo McCarthy / Feig (Wiig is an additional bonus) could have made actually pay tickets to see this remake, which was even more like the original film than I had anticipated.

To have an opinion on the film itself, therefore, is easy-peasy : If you enjoyed the first film, you will most likely enjoy this. It's the same.

PS though : I cannot wait to see what kind of people will become of today's young girls and boys, after a childhood where female action heroes are an actual fact! 
In my day, Nancy Drew was pretty much as wild as it got...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Zootopia - Howard & Moore, 2016

No starry-eyed princess, no coming-of-age story, no cute sidekick - but what to my mind amounts to the first proper detective story in the Pixar/Disney/Dreamworks history (No, Basil Mouse does not count).
Just like in 'Inside Out', more or less obvious parallels to contemporary society abound and make for excellent conversation starters with junior viewers (and others). 'Zootopia', however, has funnier dialogue!

Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed this, despite my recent and acute allergy to animated kids' films. 


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Total Recall - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Thankfully, Schwarzenegger has had the sense and humility to accept help with the writing of these mémoirs.  As a result, this is entertaining, well-penned and clear; skillfully presenting him as precisely the hardworking, determined professional he sets himself  out to be.

The book falls into three rather distinct parts, just like his life :
First, he is an unheard-of Austrian bodybuilder, arriving in America with little else than an unpronounceable last name.
Then come his Hollywood years as a larger-than-life action movie star. (My favourite part)
It finishes with an account of his mandates as governor of California. This last part ends in 2010, and felt more like self-promotion than anything else, as he probably still nourished political ambitions at the time.

All in all, it was a diverting read - albeit not as witty as the title - with just enough inside information and namedropping to make it worth at least 400 of the 600 pages.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan

I quit after a dozen chapters. Harry Potter-inspired to the brink of shamelessness.
Plus, dreadful (Swedish) translation.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Still Brazy - YG

Conceivably, YG himself would not approve of this comparison, but in point of fact I do find parallels between his music and Meghan Trainor's. 

At least, I do when I compare him to the other rap artists currently sharing space in my ipod : Finely tuned, well-wrought (British) Skepta and unequivocal, straight-to-the point (admittedly a bit outdated) 2Pac. 
Indeed, to my mind, YG, 2Pac and Trainor all share this typically American uncomplicated-ness; sometimes wrongly taken for simplicity, oftentimes quite endearing.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Stil podcast

Susanne Ljung is a fantastically insightful and discerning journalist, and so I suspect whichever subject she explored would be made interesting. 

Sadly - for me who very much preferred her as a rock critic in the 1990s - she specializes in fashion; in a large sense, fortunately. Subjects treated include Prince, Instagram, the Black Panthers, dogs, Rolex and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

As it happens, fashion even in a large sense is none of my pet peeves. 

Still, in combination with the subdued voices and absence of music this podcast is perfect when I lie sleepless at night. I have yet to finish a whole one-hour episode before falling asleep. Beats tossing and turning anytime.