Review of “Kometen Kommer” by Tove Jansson

Title: Kometen Kommer (~Comet in Moominvalley)
Author: Tove Jansson
Series: Mumintrollen #2 (~The Moomins)
Narrator: Mark Levengood
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 3 hours 31 minutes
Published: 2007, Bonnier Audio (first published 1947)
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

When Moomintroll learns that a comet will be passing by, he and his friend Sniff travel to the Observatory on the Lonely Mountains to consult the Professors. Along the way, they have many adventures, but the greatest adventure of all awaits them when they learn that the comet is headed straight for their beloved Moominvalley.

MY REVIEW

The second book about the Moomins was about the comet that flies across the sky. I like how it actually deals with science and explains it in a simple way. Even if it is not described in detail. There are new characters introduced and once again, I’m sad to have listened and not having seen the illustrations. The Snork and Snork Maiden are similar trolls, but change colors. The Snork is so extremely blue it’s ridiculous. But I guess that’s how a children’s book should be written, in extremes to show a point. I honestly found it a bit annoying. And something else that’s annoying is Sniff, the small animal they found in the first book. I’m guessing he’s gonna be by Moomintroll’s side throughout the whole series. He is such an annoying baby. Maybe these stories are better to read myself instead of listening to when the narrator apparently is doing such a good job at reading out loud, haha!

I still very much enjoy the setting and storylines though. So it still gets a three.

Review of “Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen” by Tove Jansson

Title: Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen (~The Moomins and the Great Flood)
Author: Tove Jansson
Series: Mumintrollen #1 (~The Moomins)
Narrator: Mark Levengood
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 59 minutes
Published: 2007, Bonnier Audio (first published 1945)
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Moomins and the Great Flood was the original Moomin story, published in Finland in 1945. Moomin and his mother is searching for the lost father and experience dangers before the family happily reunites. Finally they come across a valley that is more beautiful than anything they had ever seen before.

MY REVIEW

This was an easy listen. Moomins originates from Finland and having Mark Levengood, Swedish-speaking Finn narrate this hour-long book was perfect. But I think it would have been better to actually read it myself to see the illustrations made by the author herself. It’s been so long since I saw any movies or TV-shows or whatever it was when I was a kid that I didn’t really remember how all the creatures looked like.

The story was short, fast-paced, and cute. A perfect listen while doing chores. But why did the Moomintroll’s father leave in the first place? Why did the Moomintroll’s mother not expect the dad to have built a house for the whole family? Questions perhaps a kid doesn’t even think about.

It was a cute story and it gets a four.

Review of “Ronja Rövardotter” by Astrid Lindgren

Title: Ronja Rövardotter (~Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter)
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Narrator: Astrid Lindgren
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 4 hours 59 minutes
Published: 2013, Astrid Lindgren Aktiebolag (first published 1981)
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

On the night Ronia was born, a thunderstorm raged over the mountain, but in Matt’s castle and among his band of robbers there was only joy — for Matt now had a spirited little black-haired daughter. Soon Ronia learns to dance and yell with the robbers, but it is alone in the forest that she feels truly at home.

Then one day Ronia meets Birk, the son of Matt’s arch-enemy. Soon after Ronia and Birk become friends the worst quarrel ever between the rivals bands erupts, and Ronia and Birk are right in the middle.

MY REVIEW

On my 30th birthday, a couple of weeks back, my mother told me that the reason I don’t remember these books, is because she actually never read them out loud to me. I know I was scared of everything growing up (some movies, like Gremlins, Scary Movie and The Princess Bride (which by the way isn’t even a scary movie) gave me nightmares for countless of years), but being scared of Astrid Lindgren’s children’s stories? I guess I do see it. There are some pretty badass antagonists in all of these books that I’ve listened to lately. I remember seeing the movies and yes, they were scary too. Vildvittror, ugh, they were the worst!

Since I saw the movie many times growing up, I did recognize it all while I was listening now and it is as good as I remembered. Now, I want to see the movie again. That will bring back many memories, for sure.

Astrid’s writing is as usual very colorful and I saw the whole story taking place in front of my inner eye. Maybe even more so because I saw the movie so many times. It was amazing! Astrid herself reading is incredible. I am so infinitely happy that she recorded all of her biggest books (maybe even all, I’m not sure?) to audio. She is not just an amazing author, she has a great storytelling voice and she definitely goes all in while reading her own words. 5 out of 5!

Review of “Mio, min Mio” by Astrid Lindgren

Title: Mio, min Mio (Mio, My Son)
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Narrator: Astrid Lindgren
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 3 hours 34 minutes
Published: 2013, Astrid Lindgren Aktiebolag (first published 1954)
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

With help from a genie, young Karl Anders Nilsson travels by day and night, beyond the stars, to reach Farawayland. There, his father the King, who has been searching for him for nine long years, tells him his true name is Mio, and lavishes upon him the loving attention he never received from his foster parents back in Stockholm. Mio learns of a prophecy that has been foretold for thousand of years. With his best friend Pompoo, and his horse with the golden mane, Miramis, he must travel into the darkness of Outer Land to battle the cruel Sir Kato.

MY REVIEW

I don’t think I’ve ever read Mio, min Mio. And it is supposed to be one of Astrid Lindgren’s best works! I think I have to agree.

It’s fast-paced, it’s easy to follow along, the story is captivating, and it is surprisingly dark. Not as dark as Brothers Lionheart, but there’s the Dead Forest, the super evil villain who kidnaps children. There’s beautiful sceneries and even if I never saw the movie, I could still see it all before my inner eye.

The absolute best part about it though is that I listened to Astrid herself reading it. She does it so enthusiastically! I’m sure reading it myself is great too, but hearing her voice, knowing exactly what feelings she wants to evoke in the reader, it’s absolutely amazing! Highly recommend listening to her narration. 5 out of 5!

Review of “Bröderna Lejonhjärta” by Astrid Lindgren

Title: Bröderna Lejonhjärta (The Brothers Lionheart)
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Narrator: Astrid Lindgren
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 5 hours 18 minutes
Published: 2013, Astrid Lindgren Aktiebolag (first published 1973)
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Brothers Lionheart (Swedish: Bröderna Lejonhjärta) is a children’s fantasy novel written by Astrid Lindgren. It was published in the autumn of 1973 and has been translated into 46 languages. Many of its themes are unusually dark and heavy for the children’s book genre. Disease, death, tyranny, betrayal and rebellion are some of the dark themes that permeate the story. The lighter themes of the book involve platonic love, loyalty, hope, courage and pacifism.

The two main characters are two brothers; the older Jonatan and the younger Karl. The two brothers’ surname was originally Lion, but they are generally known as Lionheart. Karl’s nickname is Skorpan (Rusky) since Jonatan likes these typical Swedish toasts or crusts.

In Nangijala, a land in “the campfires and storytelling days”, the brothers experience adventures. Together with a resistance group they lead the struggle against the evil Tengil, who rules with the aid of the fearsome fire-breathing dragon, Katla.

 

MY REVIEW

I would like to say that I grew up with Astrid Lindgren’s works. But after reading this, I’m not sure I can say that anymore. Maybe I grew up with the movies more so than with the books? Did my mom read these to me when I was too young to remember? It doesn’t really matter but in one way I’m glad I didn’t remember. Because it was like I read this classic for the very first time, I had no idea what would happen and was surprised just 20 minutes in. I didn’t even remember that the whole story starts with the two brothers dying. That’s not really a spoiler, so I don’t feel bad about writing it.

It’s the first of Lindgren’s works that I’ve read, well listened to I suppose, and more will there be. Hearing her book, with her has the narrator, was amazing! I don’t think I would have seen it all before my inner eye as clearly as I did when she read it. The different voices, the singing, the anxiousness she got aced completely in the right scenes! Goosebumps!

For a children’s fantasy book, it was very dark. Death, oppression, terrible monsters. I do remember the movie being scary. Now I thought it was sad as well. Especially the ending. It was a brutal ending! I had to google what happened next, and apparently she wrote an open letter to a Swedish newspaper a year after it was released telling everyone about the ending and how it continued in the land of Nangilima. It was a happy ending! If you want spoilers, you can read about it on the Swedish Wikipedia page.

I haven’t really read any children’s books in my adult life and at first I thought it was very simple. As it should be. Still all the environments and pictures flooded throughout the whole story. Things happened all the time, it was fast-paced and had lots of events. I can compare this experience with reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I had no idea it was a screenplay but even without the descriptions, I could clearly see what was going on. The brain is fascinating.

I can’t wait to listen to more of her books. I think I will go on with Mio, Min Mio (Mio, My Son). The Brothers Lionheart gets a solid 5!

Review of “The Universe in Your Hand” by Christophe Galfard

Title: The Universe in Your Hand: A Journey Through Space, Time, and Beyond
Author: Christophe Galfard
Narrator: Anton Körberg, Swedish
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: 11 hours 32 minutes
Published: 2016, Volante
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Quantum physics, black holes, string theory, the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, parallel universes: even if we are interested in these fundamental concepts of our world, their language is the language of math. Which means that despite our best intentions of finally grasping, say, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, most of us are quickly brought up short by a snarl of nasty equations or an incomprehensible graph.

Christophe Galfard’s mission in life is to spread modern scientific ideas to the general public in entertaining ways. Using his considerable skills as a brilliant theoretical physicist and successful young adult author, The Universe in Your Hand employs the immediacy of simple, direct language to show us, not explain to us, the theories that underpin everything we know about our universe. To understand what happens to a dying star, we are asked to picture ourselves floating in space in front of it. To get acquainted with the quantum world, we are shrunk to the size of an atom and then taken on a journey. Employing everyday similes and metaphors, addressing the reader directly, and writing stories rather than equations renders these astoundingly complex ideas in an immediate and visceral way.

 

MY REVIEW

First, I want to say that I listened to this in Swedish, narrated by Anton Körberg, and he did it absolutely brilliantly. Second, this book was brilliant. An excellent combination and I do recommend everyone to read it. Yes, everyone! Even people who think they don’t “know physics”. You get a deeper understanding of our universe and the theories of today that explain our world, what it consists of and how it works. It does so in an easy and very entertaining way with only one formula presented and I bet a big majority of this world’s population have at least heard it, I would like to think so at least: E=m*c².

The most special thing about this book that separates it from all the other books on astrophysics I’ve listened to lately is the perspective it’s written in. It’s written in a second person perspective. I don’t think I’ve ever even read a book written in that way before. The super cool thing about that, is that the author puts you in the center and describes the universe from your perspective. You get to see planets and galaxies and the ridiculous size of our expanding universe just to be shrunk to your “mini you” to enable you to look at atoms and quarks and strings and everything.

I think Galfard’s intention of writing in second person perspective is to make it easy for everyone to understand when you picture yourself in the middle of it all. He succeeds. I loved being on that beach in the beginning of the book, only to fly out in the universe and observe everything. But I have to admit that I once again zoned out a bit when he started describing quantum physics. No, zoned out is the wrong word. It was harder for me to imagine what was going on. I couldn’t visualize it as easily because I don’t have any understanding of quantum physics. And it seems like no one does. Was it Einstein who said that if you said you understood it, you really didn’t?

To sum it up, it is a visualizing book about astrophysics and Galfard explains it… No, shows it to you in a simple way. I absolutely loved it! There’s also humor and it’s easy to relate to the things he uses as examples, like the old aunt in Australia who always gives you vases.

I highly recommend you to read it. Or if you’re Swedish, listen to it with Anton Körberg narrating. It’s only available on Storytel in Swedish unfortunately. But it was worth signing up for a month listening to it, haha! Easily the highest grade: 5!

 

Review of “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Title: Rich Dad Poor Dad
Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki
Series: Rich Dad #1
Genre: Nonfiction, finance
Length: 6 hours 9 minutes
Published: 2012, Brilliance Audio
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

In Rich Dad Poor Dad, the #1 Personal Finance book of all time, Robert Kiyosaki shares the story of his two dad: his real father, whom he calls his ‘poor dad,’ and the father of his best friend, the man who became his mentor and his ‘rich dad.’ One man was well educated and an employee all his life, the other’s education was “street smarts” over traditional classroom education and he took the path of entrepreneurship…a road that led him to become one of the wealthiest men in Hawaii. Robert’s poor dad struggled financially all his life, and these two dads—these very different points of view of money, investing, and employment—shaped Robert’s thinking about money.

Robert has challenged and changed the way tens of millions of people, around the world, think about money and investing and he has become a global advocate for financial education and the path to financial freedom. Rich Dad Poor Dad (and the Rich Dad series it spawned) has sold over 36 million copies in English and translated editions around the world.

Rich Dad Poor Dad will…
• explode the myth that you need to earn a high income to become rich
• challenge the belief that your house is an asset
• show parents why they can’t rely on the school system to teach their kids about money
• define, once and for all, an asset and a liability
• explain the difference between good debt and bad debt
• teach you to see the world of money from different perspectives
• discuss the shift in mindset that can put you on the road to financial freedom

 

MY REVIEW

I am one of those people that Robert Kiyosaki frowns upon who says that I have no interest in money. I’ve grown up thinking it doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t get yourself into debt. This April, in the middle of the Covid-19 crash of the market, I bought my first few stocks. I love numbers. So why have I never thought that money interested me? Honestly, it still doesn’t. Even if it is fun to watch the numbers change and my savings increase more rapidly than if I had them on a zero interest account. But money is not all, there are other things I value in life as well and I don’t want to spend my valuable free time working to get wealthy.

This book was however very inspirational. He lists the lessons his rich dad taught him at a young age in the beginning of the book and ends the book with a list of actions to take. I am very inexperienced and felt that that list did me next to no good. I don’t know what I should do.

He is mostly a real estate investor and he keeps saying that you don’t need money to make money, as long as you have financial intelligence. But even his example of a man who bought a house to rent and only paid the down payment of 7 900 USD, is so far away for me. For him, with millions of dollars working for him, that might not be much, but for me it is.

It would be great to be out of the rat race one day, but I don’t feel like this was the book to help me get there. But like I said, it was inspirational and I will take a few things with me as I invest more and more on the stock market (the real estate market in Sweden right now is completely out of the question, it’s insane!!):

  • You can beat the laziness that blocks your way with a little greed, but only a little.
  • Kiyosaki’s definitions of assets and liabilities
    • Assets generates money
    • Liabilities takes money

It is a book full of motivation and reminded me a lot of Omgiven av Motgångar by Thomas Erikson. It is not super well written (there are so many adverbs in it, why are there so many adverbs in a self help book on personal finance?! He did definitely not read Stephen King’s On Writing), but the message is loud and clear. No one likes losing money and the goal should not be to not lose money, but to gain money.

I will give this book a 3. It was short and inspirational and worth my time reading. I hope it will bring me some joy in the form of some kind of wealth sometime in the future.

Review of “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari

Title: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: 15 hours 17 minutes
Published: 2017, HarperAudio
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens.

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power … and our future.

 

MY REVIEW

When I was younger, history was not something that always appealed to me. I understood that we had to know the past to not make the same mistakes again and all of that. All I wanted (and perhaps still want?) is to leave reality and explore other worlds. But I’ve come to realize that the past is another world. And that is now super clear to me after listening to this book by Yuval Noah Harari.

I’ve heard people talking about Sapiens and the follow-up Homo Deus and at least this first one, did not disappoint. The title really gives the content justice, it is a brief summary, but I also feel like it covered so much. There’s a lot of information an author can squeeze into 15 hours of audiobook. And I guess that I learned more about our history than most people who are interested in history did. It was interesting.

The book covered a lot, from the agricultural revolution, to the introduction of the stock market, slavery, wars, exploration, colonies, capitalism, religion, and at the end he discussed happiness and a small introduction to our future (which Homo Deus covers). I haven’t finished the Science of Well-Being class yet, but I recognized everything he had to say on the matter and it was a good ending to the book. Are people today more happy than the peasants in the middle ages?

There was so much said in this book that I can’t get into details. It feels like I’m just rambling. The narrator was great! The book was great. It was provocative and made me agree with the author: we have gone in the wrong direction. I kind of feel bad for being a human, even if I specifically am not to be held accountable by all the horrible things our kind has done to bring us to where we are now. Sapiens gets a strong 4, I highly recommend it.

One last thing that I think everyone should take to heart, is something he says in the beginning of the book. Per definition, anything that is possible is natural. Biology enables, culture forbids.

Review of “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking

Title: A Brief History of Time
Author: Stephen Hawking
Genre: Science, Nonfiction
Length: 5 hours 46 minutes
Published: 2012, Phoenix Books (originally published 1988)
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Stephen Hawking is one of the world’s leading cosmologists and is widely regarded as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein. Although he has been widely published within his specialized field, A Brief History of Time is the first work he has written for the non-mathematical layman. In it he explores the outer reaches of our knowledge of astrophysics and the nature of time and the universe. The result is a revelation: a book that not only serves as an introduction to today’s most important theories on the cosmos but affords a unique opportunity to experience one of the most imaginative and influential thinkers of our age.

Confined to a wheelchair for the last twenty years by a motor-neurone disease, Professor Hawking is best known for his work on black holes. But here he turns his mind to the biggest question of all: the search for a unified theory that combines general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Always in the clearest, most accessible terms, Stephen Hawking reviews the great theories of the cosmos. From Galileo and Newton to Einstein and Poincaré, and then moves on into deepest space for the greatest intellectual adventure of all. Could time run backwards? Will a “no boundary” universe replace the big bang theory? What happens in a universe with eleven dimensions? These are just some of the questions considered with devastating lucidity and brilliance in A Brief History of Time, a work that is bound to become a classic of its kind.

 

MY REVIEW

I feel that my grade for this book is not fair. But the truth is that I did not connect with the narrator (and no, it’s not THE Michael Jackson). I have never zoned out so easily during an audiobook before. It might be because of the narrator or because I’ve had so much else to think about the past week. In either case, I will reread this at one point. I feel that this book has so much more to give me than what I got.

It’s been more than 30 years since it was originally published and there has happened a lot since then. But nothing is outdated and it still feels very relevant.

I really like that Hawking involves god in all of this. I’m not a believer myself, but I do like that he as a scientist at least tries to see where such a person possibly could fit in our cosmos.

I have now listened to his first and last scientific book and both are without any formulas or mathematics in it which is great! The universe is complicated as it is. And many ideas and theories are far beyond my reach of understanding. But at least now I’m aware of some theories that I can read more about now.

I believe that the grade should be at least one more than 3.5. But my gut tells me 3.5 right now and I always go with it.

Review of “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan

Title: Cosmos – A Personal Voyage
Author: Carl Sagan
Genre: Science, Nonfiction
Length: 14 hours 31 minutes
Published: 2017, Brilliance Audio
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Cosmos has 13 heavily illustrated chapters, corresponding to the 13 episodes of the Cosmos television series. In the book, Sagan explores 15 billion years of cosmic evolution and the development of science and civilization. Cosmos traces the origins of knowledge and the scientific method, mixing science and philosophy, and speculates to the future of science. The book also discusses the underlying premises of science by providing biographical anecdotes about many prominent scientists throughout history, placing their contributions into the broader context of the development of modern science.

The book covers a broad range of topics, comprising Sagan’s reflections on anthropological, cosmological, biological, historical, and astronomical matters from antiquity to contemporary times. Sagan reiterates his position on extraterrestrial life—that the magnitude of the universe permits the existence of thousands of alien civilizations, but no credible evidence exists to demonstrate that such life has ever visited earth.

 

MY REVIEW

Sometimes I regret listening to books on astrophysics because that means I miss out on all the pictures. And I do feel that I’m not always following so I’m sure I missed a lot of good points made in this book.

First published in 1980, this book still feels very up-to-date, 40 years later. It is funny listening to Sagan talking about the US and USSR though, haha! But when it comes to the cosmos, not much changes except new discoveries. The ancient history is the same and always will be the same.

I haven’t seen the TV show, but I will now that I’ve finished the book. I think a lot of things will make more sense and it will make me remember hearing things that I probably unconsciously soaked in.

What surprised me a bit was that this was not a book strictly about planets, galaxies, and astrophysics. There was so much history in it, about communication, war, human nature. History that we need to understand in order to move forward. How will we be able to understand a possible message from an alien civilization? Who will speak for Earth when that happens? Us humans who have mass destruction weapon and kill each other for nothing?

Sagan stir up many questions. Much like Stephen Hawking does in his books. Both authors almost feel philosophical sometimes. Maybe they are? In the ancient times, the scholars were everything apparently.

After reading this, I am starting to feel the lust to listen to history books. I’m certain I would enjoy them as much!

It was a rather long book, but interesting and it makes me want to know more. I love that all of these authors that I’ve listened to lately have spurred my scientific interest again. It’s been dormant for many years. No more. Cosmos gets a strong four.