Reading Vlog for Mid Month Book Bash, January 2024

For the fist Mid Month Book Bash of 2024, I read the book Skogen : om trær folk og 25 000 andre arter, by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson. The Mid Month Book Bash (MMBB for short) takes place Friday to Monday the second weekend of the month, and was started by Doris from all D books on YouTube. The purpose for MMBB is to get the reading going, end even though I don’t feel like I really need it, it’s fun to take part. Here’s my MMBB vlog for January 2024:

I’m going to India!

People who know me know that I have been dreaming of going to India for a very long time. For years, I’ve been saving money for a trip. Originally the plan was to arrange everything myself, and travel by myself, but as things are now, I don’t feel safe enough to do so. While I still will be travelling without anyone I know, I will be travelling with others – on an arrange trip by Vilja Reiser, a travel agency that do organised tours for women.

We’ll be leaving Norway 17 October 2024, and arrive in New Delhi the next day. The plan is to rest before lunch, and then head to see India Gate, the parliament building, and Rashtrapati Bhawan. On the 19th we head to Jaipur, and then on the 21st we are to visit the Ranthambore national park. We head to Agra on the 23rd, one of the most visited cities in India, and home to Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Taj Mahal is our stop the next morning, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it! On 25 October we will be in Varanasi, where we will attend a Ganga Aarti ceremony by the river Ganges at night. In the morning the next day there will be a boat trip on the river to watch the sunrise. Then on the 27th we head back to Norway.

I have taken three weeks off work for this trip, so that I have time to prepare, as well as get over the jet lag. Needless to say, I’m very excited to go!

Have you ever been to India? When did you go, and what did you see?

Photo of Taj Mahal, with a row of trees and a pool in front.

Taj Mahal
Image by يسرا توكل from Pixabay

Three LGBTQIAP+ middle grade books I love (November 2023)

First of all: Representation matters. I think it’s very important for kids to read books where they can see themselves, no matter what age. I’m really happy there are now more middle grade books with more diversity around, and I’ll hopefully get around to read more at some point. That being said, in this blog post I will recommend three English language middlegrade books with LGBTQIAP+ representation. (There definitivle exist some Norwegian ones, but there could have been more).

Too Bright to See, by Kyle Lukoff

This books tells the story of Bug, a kid who lives in a haunted house, and tries to understand a message a ghost is trying to send. Even though it may sound a bit scary, it wasn’t scary at all, but really cute. I don’t really want to give too much away, as it could spoil the reading experience.

Alice Austen Lived Here, by Alex Gino

We meet Sam, who is very in touch with their own queer identity. They’re nonbinary, and their best friend, TJ, is nonbinary too. Sam’s family accepts them for who they are, they still need to do chores, do their homework, and try not to antagonize their teachers too much. Showing the teacher respect can be hard, especially when it comes to their hostory teacher. Their teacher seems to believe that only Dead Straight Cis White Men are responsible for history. So when Sam’s home borough of Staten Island opens up a contest for a new statue, Sam finds the perfect non-DSCWM subject: photographer Alice Austen, whose house has been turned into a museum, and who lived with a female partner for decades. It doesn’t take long before the project becomes more than just winning the contest. Sam discovers a rich queer history, one that they’re a part of: A queer history that no longer needs to be quiet, as long as there are kids like Sam and TJ to stand up for it.

This is truly a feel good read, with lots of diversity.

The Witch Boy, by Molly Knox Ostertag

Aster is 13 years old, and in his family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. If you dare to cross that line, you will be exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted. To top that off, he’s really fascinated by witchery. When something is threatening Aster’s family, he knows he can help – by using witchcraft. By the help by a new, and very non-magical friend, he is encouraged to practise his skills, and must find the courage to save his family.

This is a a sweet graphic novel, and the first in a series. I still haven’t gotten around to read more that the first.

A layout with three pictures. The picture in the middle show some rainbow flags on a table, the photo to the left an e-reader, a lit candle, and a cup of coffee, and the picture to the right a book, and parts of a doughnut.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2023

Cook Book Review: Crock Pot Essentials 101 Recipes to Make with Your Slow Cooker, written by Anne Schaeffer

I had just bought a CrockPot Express second hand, and I was browsing through Netgalley’s offers on “read it now” cookbooks for slow cookers. It didn’t take long before I found the book Crock Pot Essentials 101 Recipes to Make with Your Slow Cooker, by Anne Schaeffer, and decided to give it a go. This is clearly not a vegan cookbook, but I thought that there might be recipes I could “veganise”. As I’ve mentioned before, I mainly use cookbooks for inspiration, and I thought that I could at least learn something about how to use my new device.

A tablet laying flat on top of a shawl, showing a tablet with the cover of the cookbook.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2023

The beginning of the book started with how to calculate measurements. Fair enough, but not something I care too much about on a day to day basis. There were also a couple of pages on food safety, but after skimming through, I quickly saw it mainly concerned meat (yet another reason for eating plants?).

The book is really quite organised. It has sections for different recipes. It even has one for “meals for two”, which I thought was quite neat. The first section of the book is the section for soups and stews, which I think is a good choice. The slow cooker is perfect for these kinds of recipes! Also, in-between the main recipes there are recipes called “Delicious Due”, that contains recipes with side dishes or similar that goes well with the main dish.

There are a few recipes that are marked “vegetarian”, but I found at least one recipe that was marked incorrectly: It was a chicken soup recipe. I think this must have been a glitch, though, and I hope that this is corrected in the final version of the book. There was also supposed to be an index at the end of the book, but that seems not to have been included in this ARC.

A picture illustrating a chicken soup recipe being labelled as "vegetarian".
Classic Chicken Noodle Soup being marked as “vegetarian”.

I found quite a few recipes I think can be easily veganised, or that inspire me to make something vegan that similar. This book worked well, even for me who have never used a slow cooker before in my life.

Cook Book Review: Vegan Vietnamese – Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Enjoy Every Day, written by Helen Le

The cover of a cookbook. I can’t deny it: I’m a sucker for vegan Vietnamese food. Actually, one of my favourite take-away restaurants is Eat Happy Vegan here in Oslo, Norway. When Netgalley offered the cookbook Vegan Vietnamese – Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Enjoy Every Day, written by Helen Le, to review, I was not hard to ask. I had no knowledge of Helen Le before seeing the book on Netgalley, and had no knowledge of who she was or what she did.

I quickly learned that Helen Le is the creator of a popular Vietnamese cooking channel on YouTube called Helen’s Recipes. So before even looking at the recipes I wanted to check out her channel. It turned out that her channel is not at all vegan, and she’s not a vegan herself. This normally turns me a bit sceptical towards someone’s cookbook, but I decided to check it out with an open mind.

I use cookbooks mainly for inspiration, and hardly ever follow recipes. Though the book was nice enough looking, I never felt like any of the recipes pushed me to cook anything. I kept thinking “I should probably find a recipe and make something like it”, but I never did. Also, in my opinion, it was quite clear that it was made by a meat eater. It had lots of potential, but for me it didn’t make the right fit. I’m sure others, especially meat eaters looking into cutting down on their meat, will find it helpful. It for sure has it’s audience, I’m unfortunately not among them.

Book Review: The Weaver and the Witch King, written by Genevieve Gornichec

[AD – gifted product]

Earlier this year I read The Witch’s Heart, written by Genevieve Gornichec,and fell head over heels in love with it. When I was asked if I wanted an ARC, of course I was all «Yes, please!» I was quite excited when it arrived, to say the least. The book is published today, 25 July 2023.

The book The Weaver and the Witch King leaning against the trunk of a tree
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2023

The Weaver and the Witch King is historical fantasy, and it’s based on the Viking age in Norway with a (heavy) sprinkle of magic. The two main characters are Oddny, a quiet woman who lives a peaceful life devoted to healing others, and Gunnhild, the witch who ran away as child because she wanted to learn magic and who want power. They have know each other since childhood, and they were very young when they took a blood oath.

One day Viking raiders attack Oddny’s family’s farm. They kill her mother, Yrsa, and kidnaps her sister, Signy. Oddny barely escapes, just saved by a bird who attacks her kidnapper. The bird is no other than Gunnhild in bird’s form. True to her childhood oath to Oddny and Signy, she and Oddny sets out on a journey in the hopes to save the kidnapped sister.

As a Norwegian, it’s always interesting to see if an author is able to do our proud history justice, and I must say I think Gornichec absolutely does so. There’s clear that she’s done her research. An example of this is the story about King Harald, who was madly in love with Gyda and wanted to marry her. She said that she would only do so if Harald could collect all of Norway into one kingdom. He set out to do this, and never cut his hair nor beard before he was done, and Gyda accepted the offer of marriage. This is mentioned in the book, as well as the fact he was known to bed women wherever he went. (Which resulted in most Norwegians being a descendant of King Harald, yours truly included).

You can’t help but fall in love with the characters of the book, even though they’re far from perfect. They seem very realistic and human.

I think the book is very well written, and I absolutely loved reading the story, and am hoping Genevieve Gornichec will not stop writing books based on the Vikings and their myths.

Graphic Novel Review: Paper Planes, by Jennie Wood (writer), Dozerdraws (artist), and Micah Myers (lettering)

I was given this digital copy of «Paper Planes», by Jennie Wood (writer), Dozerdraws (artist), and Micah Myers (lettering), from NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review.

A tablet with the cover picture of Paper Plans is laying flat on a table with a white table cloth. Over it is a grey shawl, and over at the right corner is a paper plane. To the left is a white candle on a silver candle stand.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2023

Leighton and Dylan are best friends, and spend all their time together. After an incident, they have to spend the summer at a camp for troubled youth, and they both need to get a positive evaluation at the end not to be sent to an «alternative high school». They both try to figure out who they really are, and they need to explore their friendship.

This was such a lovely story to read. I loved the illustrations, and how Dozerdraws has used different colouring to display different aspects of time. I also enjoyed the diversity of characters, and I can mention that Dylan is non-binary, and Leighton is ace.

This was my second read for the Trans Rights Readathon. The graphic novel is due to be published 16 May 2023.