RSS Feed
Jan 18

Too good to be true? Four new series for me to follow!

Posted on Monday, January 18, 2016 in TV series

When the series I was following on Swedish tv (not the streaming ones I watch online) stopped just before Christmas, I was convinced it would be a long time before there was anything else I could watch (again, on Swedish tv, fortunately we do still have the streaming series, though most of them will be American and not the British and European ones that we would so much like to see as well).

However, I was wrong. On an ordinary week I now have four different series to watch, and that’s not counting the Sherlock Christmas special that is coming up this month. At least that was lucky.

First of all, there’s a German series, called Deutschland 83, which seems very interesting. It’s about an East German soldier who is forced to relocate to West Germany and work as a spy. It’s set in the 1980’s which is one of my favorite decades so much of the music will be great and it’s sort of ‘historic’ now, so that too, adds to my interest in the series.

Then there’s Shetland, season 3. I had forgotten how short the seasons were, so I was a little surprised to find that we were already on season 3, but clearly it’s correct. I love the scenery and I also really like the episodes, because they’re just old-fashioned ‘real’ cop series. These days you get all that ‘whydunnit’ instead of ‘whodunnit’ and I really prefer the latter. That’s also why I love the historic cop series, because they focus on ordinary plots, instead of all that new stuff.

Finally, tonight there were two new series for me to follow. I’m amazed.

The first one is a Norwegian historic series about a group of resistance fighters who attack the heavy water plant at Rjukan in Nazi-occupied Norway. It’s a very interesting historic series that I’m really looking forward to following. Of course, that attack on Rjukan is very famous in Nordic history so I knew about it before, but I’d forgotten many of the details and we’re also getting a lot of the background, which is great.

Then right after the Norwegian series, Swedish tv has decided to air London Spy. I never thought we’d get to see that this soon after it was released in the UK. It’s a very interesting series too, especially for a slash fan like me, since it’s about two gay guys, well, actually, there’s an older gay man as well.

As someone who’s also into angst, I found this first episode very interesting though a bit surprising. My impression of men, regardless of sexual preference, is that they’re usually not that emotionally fragile and self-desctructive and rarely prone to self harm. But since this series is apparently written by a gay man, I guess he should know. Clearly I was wrong, just as I was wrong about Bob and Rose (about a gay man who falls in love with a straight woman). I also didn’t think that men were quite as likely to just talk, talk, talk instead of getting down to some – erm – action right away. I hope I haven’t spoiled this first episode for anyone intending to watch the series who hasn’t done so already.

Jul 31

Alternate titles for the same book are evil

Posted on Friday, July 31, 2015 in Literature, My life, Whining

Different titles for the same book (American and UK editions), are evil. This is the second time recently, I’ve accidentally ended up buying a book I already have. This time, it’s book 2 in the Obsidian Mirror/Chronoptika series, by Catherine Fisher. I already had The Box of Red Brocade and wrongly assumed that Slanted Worlds was book 3. Unfortunately, it’s still just book 2 and I could already have owned book 3. Also, apparently, it’s not a three but a four books series. How confusing. Or is it just me being stupid?

Feb 6

Josephine Tey’s mysteries

Posted on Friday, February 6, 2015 in Books, Mystery/Cop, Reviews

After reading Josephine Tey’s mysteries, I thought I’d post some of my thoughts about them.

First the positives:

They’re free.
They’re very well written in general.
They’re really good mysteries.
The minor characters are mostly nice and interesting.
To me, they’re historic, though I know the author wrote and published them in her ‘present’.

What I had a bit of trouble with:

In my opinion, the ‘sleuth’ Alan Grant, is a tiresome, annoying condescending pretentious snob. He’s terrfied of falling for some woman and ending up getting married.

In fact, most of the characters seem to be a bit bisexual, or maybe it’s just my fan fiction/slash-tainted mind that sees them that way, but that wasn’t meant to be a negative, it’s just connected to Grant’s fear of falling in love (and being lost to crime-solving). Actually, it feels quite modern.

I won’t go into any more about the negatives, because they’re very few and I did like the books. It’s obvious that they’re of far higher quality than most internet freebies.

Some of the books are standalones, others are part of a series about Alan Grant, apparently one of Scotland Yard’s finest (and he’d be the first to agree with that). As far as mystery solving talents go, I agree too. He is brilliant.

In one of the books, The Daughter of Time, Grant’s hospitalized and going stir crazy with boredom. With a little help from his best buddy (faghag?) actress Marta Hallam, he finds a historic mystery to solve. (“Did Richard III kill his little nephews?”). It’s probably the best of the books (or maybe The Singing Sands is or – actually I’m not sure – most of them are really good). The title isn’t explained in the book, so obviously Josephine Tey expected her readers to be as edcuated as she was. Is the meaning clear to most people? I didn’t know what it was referring to, until after quite a bit of research, I ended up finding the explanation in a review on Goodreads. The Daughter of Time, apparently, is Truth, rather than Duty. I’m sure that makes sense as far as history is concerned but I’m not sure if it helps with murder cases. Not in real life. Agatha Christie makes the same claim in The Mysterious Mr Quin (that murder cases can become easier to solve after some time has passed), and it certainly works in her book.

One of the books had a rather unusual (for the time) twist at the end, but I won’t go into that because I don’t want to spoil it for any future readers).

I must say Miss Pym Disposes is probably the one I like the least. It’s about a former teacher, turned best-selling author (a bit like Josephine Tey herself, apparently) who is invited to a girls’ school by an old friend from her own school days. She ends up staying much longer than she’d intended and finds herself fascinated by the students. This book is as well written as the others, but ultimately it ends up being about Miss Pym thinking she can make a life-or-death decision that affects many people and failing because she didn’t have all the facts and that pretty much ruins it at the end.

More than one of these books have been turned into movies and tv series. In fact, I seem to have seen at least one movie and one tv series, not knowing they were based on Josephine Tey’s books. I hardly remembered the movie (Young and Innocent) so that story wasn’t spoiled for me, but I turned out to remember more about the tv series (The Franchise Affair), so that book was pretty much spoiled for me, in the sense that I knew where it was heading right from the start. Strangely enough, that didn’t ruin the story for me, since it was fascinating to follow it anyway.

Jan 24

The Rune House by L J Hutton

Posted on Saturday, January 24, 2015 in Books, Fantasy, Reviews

I recently read The Rune House by L J Hutton. The book starts in 1574
when a strange house in the shape of a rune is built somewhere near the border between England and Wales. Strange and tragic events begin to occur near the house. In the present day two police officers begin to investigate an old case from one of the officers’ past. It leads them to the strange house where they begin to unravel the mystery connected to the building.

The book is quite well written (but as usual, these e-books would benefit from more proofreading.) Sometimes the plot gets a little too gruesome for my taste, but I see the necessity for it. I love this type of mysterious story. Another thing I’m rather fond of is sympathetic characters and a happy ending, both of which I get in this book. If you like fantasy, with a rather dark twist, then this might be a book for you.

It’s available on, among other places,, ( for those who live in the UK) and Smashwords.

Feb 11

Lark Rise to Candleford

Posted on Friday, February 11, 2011 in Historic, Reviews, TV series

Some time after I watched Cranford (see earlier review), I discovered another tv series set in nineteenth century Britain. In fact, it reminded me of Cranford, not merely because the two names Cranford/Candleford are similar. Like Cranford, this series is set in nineteenth century England (though roughly half a century later.)

The initial premise is smiliar too. A young woman, Laura Timmins, moves to live with an older woman – in this case her mother’s cousin, Dorcas Lane – to work in miss Lane’s post office, in a small town.

Again, like Cranford, this series is both funny and sad and most of all interesting. It too features a number of memorable characters, mainly female. In fact, that’s one of the few complaints I have. While there are.a few interesting male characters, the great majority are female.

Apart from Laura, the main character, and her relative and boss, Dorcas Lane, there are their two neighbours, Pearl and Ruby Pratt who own a shop selling the latest fashion, sometimes all the way from Paris. They are perhaps not exactly pleasant, but interesting and have their secrets, some of which are exposed in season 2 (which is as far as I’ve watched).

One of my favorites is Queenie (who lives in the hamlet Lark Rise, that Laura comes from). Queenie is easily the most likeable character in the whole series. She’s a wise old woman, who keeps bees, grows herbs and vegetables in her garden and knows much about healing. Over the years she’s taken in children and raised them as her own. Sadly, Queenie was never able to have children of her own. She lives with her common law husband (later they marry, properly in church), Twister. Twister is a bit excentric, perhaps going senile. He’s a good man, but he leaves the responsibilities of running their household entirely to Queenie.

Another favorite is Minnie, a girl taken in by Dorcas Lane, to train as kitchen maid. Minnie is funny, charming and filled with wide-eyed curiosity about her new world. She listens attentively and picks up new, long words like ‘extra-ordinary’ and learns to use them. Minnie, like many of the other characters, has her own dark back story, but despite all that, she remains happy and outgoing.

Mailman Thomas Brown, strict Christian, comes across as rather rigid and cold, but hides a heart of gold under his strict exterior.

Finally, I’d like to mention James Dowland – another favorite of mine. He shows up early in season 2 and he and Dorcas Lane end up arguing about just about everything, but it’s obvious that they’re attracted to each other. I won’t go into what happens between them. I will only mention that he’s one of Queenie’s foster children, who’s left Lark Rise, gone to London and returned to his native Oxfordshire, having made a fortune. James too has his secrets, but again, I won’t spoil the series for those who haven’t seen it. There are plenty of other interesting characters, but I think this will do as an example. If you like historic series, I can definitely recommend it.

Feb 11

Desperate Romantics

Posted on Friday, February 11, 2011 in Historic, Reviews, TV series

Desperate Romantics is another tv series set in the nineteenth century. It’s about the so called PreRaphaelite Brotherhood – a group of artists and poets who decided to challenge the current ideals of beauty and launched a new painting style (among other things). In private, many of them led tumultuous lives. They drank, took drugs, were involved with prostitutes and had affairs with each other’s wives. The series is narrated by a friend of the artists – Fred Walters – (I’m not sure if this man existed in real life or is a convenient invention to tell the story).

There’s a lot of sex and drama, and a bit of history, especially art history, but my remaining impression is the sad situation faced by women in those days. They either had to lead sheltered, anemic, boring lives or risk losing their reputations and end up as prostitutes. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (from a family of famous artists and poets) seems to have been a sex addict, chasing prostitutes and barmaids, as well as his own models, some of which were prostitutes and barmaids, but he married a young milliner’s assistant, Elizabeth Siddal. She becomes Rossetti’s model, wants to become an artist like him, but is frustrated both by the lack of interest in her work and her husband’s constant infidelity, and later dies of a drug overdose. It’s pretty much all like that. You get to see a lot of Aidan Turner’s naked body, and believe me, I’m not complaining about that, but also all those women. It made me sad.

All the men, except John Millais, who had his own premarital problems, were more or less in love with the same women, but usually the charismatic Rossetti had the best luck with them. For years he had an affair with his friend and ‘brother’ William Morris’ wife, apparently with Morris’ full approval.

At the beginning of the series, the ‘brothers’ are trying to get the art establishment’s attention and eventually are able to gain the famous critic Ruskin’s approval. Ruskin is married to a frustrated young woman, Effie, but apparently he hasn’t consummated the marriage – he finds the female form unattractive. During the course of the series, it’s suggested that he might be a paedophile, but he strenuously denies the accusation. Perhaps he was what today would be termed ‘asexual’, but on the other hand, who would admit to being a paedophile? In the later part of the series, Ruskin goes everywhere with a young art student of his, a fourteen-year-old girl. Effie has the marriage annulled, after a humiliating physical examination to confirm the fact that she is still a virgin. Soon after, John Millais marries her. Apparently their marriage is both normal and happy and in the end they have eight children (but you don’t get to see that in the series). As far as I can tell, it deals with about ten years of the ‘brotherhood’s career.

The only really likeable character in this series is John Millais, and I suspect that’s partly because he’s not really a main character. He was never the rebel the others were, and even from early in his career gained recognition by the art establishment.

The others, especially Rossetti, claim to understand women, but end up hurting their feelings, through lack of understanding of their situation. Ultimately all the women, except Effie, formerly Ruskin, later Millais, are more or less unhappy.

Feb 11


Posted on Friday, February 11, 2011 in Classics, Historic, Reviews, TV series

I’ve always liked historic series/movies/books and whenever there’s something like that on tv, I want to watch it. Cranford was no exception. The series was on a few years ago, and after it ended I read that there would be a ‘Christmas special’. I was hoping we’d get to see that too, but the Christmas of 2009 came and went and there was nothing like that. Fortunately, I had more luck last Christmas (2010). At least I assume it was the ‘Christmas special’ we got to watch.

At first I thought the tv adaption was focusing a little too much on (unintentional?) humour. Despite that, I found it interesting though rather sad. Some of the characters were really likeable, others less so, but still interesting and/or funny and definitely real and believable. Undoubtedly this was partly due to the cast. I’d especially like to mention Judi Dench, Julia McKenzie and Imelda Staunton, but the others too, famous or not so famous, did a great job.

Cranford is a little town in mid-nineteenth century England. It struggles with the changes their country is going through, not convinced that all change is for the better. For instance, railways are considered a threat. In the end, though, the people of Cranford find that nothing can stand in the way of ‘progress’ and perhaps they were wrong to try. The town is populated by a number of memorable people. Especially the women are described in detail.

At the beginning of the series, two elderly sisters, Misses Deborah and Matty Jenkyns, invite a young woman, Mary Smith, daughter of a friend of theirs, to come and live with them. You get to see Cranford and its inhabitants through her eyes. I suspect she’s the author’s alter ego. (I understand that Cranford is based on a series of books by a woman named Elizabeth Gaskell. I haven’t read them, but I think I might like to.)

Looking back on the series, my strongest impression is that it’s mostly about women who have never married, are widowed or whose prospects of marriage are poor, either because of lack of money or connections. Another theme seems to be the position of women in nineteenth century Britain.

May 9


Posted on Saturday, May 9, 2009 in Books, Movies, Mystery/Cop, Reviews

Since the (originally) Swedish Wallander mysteries have been successfully exported to the UK, I thought I’d put in my two cents’ on this topic. In an earlier post, I’ve already mentioned that they’re not quite my thing. What I would like to discuss is something else. In the UK reviewers are raving about Kenneth Branagh in Wallander. After seeing what seems to be season 1 of that, I must say I enjoyed it more than the Swedish version.

What I’m reacting to is just one thing that keeps being repeated over and over again, in the reviews, in the UK and even in the US. Sweden is gloomy. What? Ok, I’ll admit that the north, far away from Wallander’s Scania, could be described as gloomy, especially during the dark season, which, frankly, lasts almost all the year around. That’s the north, not Scania. If you went to Scania presumably you’d notice that much of Sweden is pretty ordinary. The scenery is beautiful. (I just had to mention that. After all, I live here. I like the scenery.) But let’s get this straight once and for all, Scanians are not gloomy. Not generally. Sure, anyone can get gloomy, especially if you work hard all day tracing killers and dealing with gruesome murders. Are the British sleuths any more cheerful?

This is how the rest of us Swedes (or Goths, as I am – and no, I’m not dressed in black, we’re called goths anyway and there’s a fascinating linguistic or semantic explanation to why there are so many goths worldwide, especially throughout history) view Scania and the Scanians:

They’re jolly, positive people. They love to eat and drink. Kind of, if you allow the metaphor or simile, like hobbits, though not as short and fat, well some might be, but then so can anyone. Scania is usually green and smiling, rather than gloomy, though personally I tend to agree that the area around Ystad might be described as gloomy, especially during the winter.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: