2018 · March · Reviews

Book Review: “Fireworks”, by Katie Cotugno

Published in 2017 by Balzer + Bray | Two feathers

*Warning: This turned into a spoiler-filled rant review*


This is about two best friends, Dana and Olivia. Olivia has always been the center of attention, training her whole life to become a singer, with Dana cheering her on from the sidelines. One day Dana tags along as moral support to an audition to be in a girl band, but she ends up auditioning as well, and then both of them are chosen to be in the girl band.


I picked this up because I was in the mood for a quick, fun contemporary that didn’t require too much thinking, and that is exactly what I got! The chapter length especially was great (you guys know how much I like short chapters ^.^’). Also, I liked how much the book focused on friendship, even though that friendship wasn’t the best. For those reasons, I am very glad that I picked this book up.

However, I do have some issues with it, the main one being the friendship between Dana and Olivia. It came across as toxic and unhealthy; everything revolves around Olivia, and Dana is basically only around to be the sidekick that Olivia needs. It felt like the exact type of friendship that maybe would have worked when they were kids, but to me it was obvious from the get-go that they had probably outgrown each other and all that was needed was a new environment for the friendship to finally crack. What also plays into this is the fact that both of them began acting like shit towards each other the moment they step into the apartment with the rest of the group. That’s why I thought that the ending was realistic to some extent, even though it was sad. They just weren’t good for each other anymore.

The other major thing that bothered me was Olivia’s eating disorder; or rather, that literally everyone knows about it and not one single person does anything about it. Dana’s all like, “I won’t tell your mum as long as I can see you eating”. Then she catches Olivia throwing up, and still doesn’t do anything about it. I mean, they’re supposed to be best friends, and the best thing Dana could have done was to tell someone and help Olivia get professional help, even if that meant Olivia getting mad. It would have helped in the long run. Let’s not demonize getting help, people.

Related to that, why didn’t Dana do anything/care about her mother? I understand that it is difficult to deal with a parent who’s an alcoholic, but Dana didn’t even seem to worry that much about her mum. She barely thought about her when she was in Orlando, and then she just leaves for community college without a second thought. How can her mother be so insignificant??

Also, Dana is supposed to be this tough girl who “gives off a vibe” (p. 166, my cursive) and who isn’t easily intimidated. At least that’s what we’re told. What actually happens is that Dana comes across as insecure; she doesn’t have the best self esteem, and she repeatedly stutters, blushes and doesn’t know what to say. We’re told one thing, and then we’re shown the complete opposite. She gave off the opposite of that “bad-girl vibe” I think she was supposed to give off, which annoyed me to no end.

What also annoyed me is the fact that Dana made the group when she was so crap at singing, really works for her place there, and then just abandons the whole idea to go to community college instead. She discovers a passion for performing, and then vaguely decides to become a doctor which was her actual childhood dream all along. That struck me as weird.

Lastly, the 90s setting was cool, but there weren’t that many actual markers that showed that the book was set during the 90s. Sure, they were going to be in a girl band, they call each other on stationary phones and the general clothing style was 90s-inspired, but I would have loved if the author had gone for it even more. As it was, it might as well have been set in current-day Orlando and it wouldn’t have made a difference.

I’m done now. I thought I liked this book better than I did, but then I began writing this review and realised how many things I didn’t get along with. Kudos to you if you managed to get the whole way down here ^.^ .

2018 · March · Tags

I Love Spring Book Tag

I was tagged by Abigail over on What Makes a Good Book to do the “I Love Spring” book tag. It couldn’t have been more timely, because I was just thinking about what my next post was going to be. So here’s a tag post!

1. How is spring where you live?

Cold and wet, so far! It’s been snowing on and off for the past two weeks, and the snow only disappeared during the last few days. Hopefully the sun will come out soon, so that we can get better spring weather!

2. Most anticipated book this spring

You know, I don’t have that many books I’m looking forward to this spring. Not that I’ve done a lot of research, but there aren’t very many upcoming releases that have peaked my interest. Anyway, I would like to get my hands on a copy of Legendary by Stephanie Garber, which is out on the 29th of May, and Save the Date by Morgan Matson, which is out on the 5th of June (which is technically summer, but still ^.^’)

3. What book cover makes you think of spring?

Ooo, good question. But maybe this edition of Skuggan över stenbänken by Maria Gripe. I don’t know why, though, I think it’s because of the light and the shadow.

4. Where are you going to read this spring?

Probably where I usually read: in bed before going to sleep. But I think that I will make a point of going to the Botanical Gardens in the town where I study and sit there for a while, and I’ll probably go into our garden at home as well.

5. Find a cover with a sun on it!

This was really difficult, but Magnolia by Maria Dahvana Headly has a sunset on the cover. Does that count? ^.^’

6. What are your favourite spring reads?

I don’t think my reading changes that much depending on season, but I guess I tend to pick up more cutesy contemporaries during the spring and summer. A favourite is Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson!

7. Find a book with a ton of different colours on it

This was also a tad difficult, but And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini is kind of colourful, right?

2018 · Currently Reading · March

Currently Reading | March 2017

It’s been a while since I wrote a currently-reading-post, so I thought it was time to do another one! At the moment, I’m reading three books.

The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker

I just started this the other day, and it’s my current book for fun. I haven’t gotten very far yet, because I’ve been focusing on reading for class. However, as soon as I started reading it, I knew I would like it. Two chapters in, it is atmospheric and feels like a fairy tale retelling. Super excited about this one so far!

Gösta Berlings saga, by Selma Lagerlöf

This was supposed to be finished for class today, but I only read 100 out of 443 pages ^.^’ . It is a lot better than I thought it would be, though, so I think I will actually finish it. So far, it is kind of slow, but especially talking about it in class today made me want to see how everything wraps up. Hopefully, I will get to the end before the year is over ,^.^, .

La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman

I am listening to this on audiobook, because recently I was in such a mood to pick it up. Google said you could read it without reading the original His Dark Materials trilogy as it functions as a separate thing, but so far I think it helps that I have read Northern Lights previously. Perhaps not in terms of understanding the world, but there are details I think would be slight spoilers, at least for the first book. So be aware of that if you haven’t read His Dark Materials, I am enjoying this so far, so will definitely finish it.

That was all I had to talk about today! I am hoping to get back into doing these kinds of posts, as a mid-month reading update instead of tbrs or “part one wrap-ups”.

2018 · Discussions · March

About Not Finishing Books

If you’re following me on Goodreads, you’ve probably seen that I’ve been reading The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I got around a third of the way through before I decided to put it away. There are several different reasons for that, which I won’t go into detail about here. I might do a spoilery rant review of it on Goodreads, and then talk about it more in my March wrap-up.

Anyway, it made me want to write this post. When it comes to books I have to read for class, I’m super strict (or super lazy ^.^’) about the books we read. If I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. If I’m not interested in it, there is a chance that I won’t even start it. However, I’m not as strict with the books I read for fun. Usually, I will power through no matter what. And I always end up feeling bad on the rare occasions when I decide to dnf a book.

Then I started The Invasion of the Tearling, and thought that, sure, it was okay, but there were also things that made me not like it. Eventually, I found myself more and more irritated about those things I didn’t like, and I have better things to do with my time than being annoyed by a super slow book. So I decided to stop reading it, but that also makes me feel really bad. Like, what am I doing wrong?

What I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t have to feel bad about putting away a book. My Swedish teacher in high school used to say that if a book isn’t good after 50 pages, put it away and start something new, and I’ve always thought that sounded really great. So I’m going to get better at implementing that in my life. If I don’t get along with a book, that’s fine. It just means that that book wasn’t for me. There are other people out there who will like the book a lot better, and that’s great. But I don’t have to feel bad about not liking it.

I guess that you guys who read my blog like reading too, so what do you think? Do you put away books you don’t like, or do you power through them? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

2018 · February · Wrap-Ups

Wrap-Up | February 2018

I ended up reading a lot of books in February, which I’m really proud of! Since I only read two books in January, I thought that would keep up this month as well, but I read seven things instead. Also, I liked everything I read a lot as well, which I’m very happy about.

Bildhuggarens Dotter, by Tove Jansson
4 feathers | Review here

This was wonderful, as always with Tove’s books. It’s a book of short stories about her childhood, and she is very good at capturing the child’s point of view. However, I do wish that I’d physically read it instead of listening to the audiobook, because it feels like one of those books that need to sink in.

Trollkarlens hatt, by Tove Jansson
4 feathers | Review here

I guess I was in a Tove mood at the beginning of February ^.^’ . But I don’t mind, I like her stuff a lot and ended up enjoying this one as well! As I wrote in my review, I found it funny and clever, but I was surprised by how different it was from the later books in the series. Once I’ve read the Moomin short story collection, I will probably start over from the beginning and read the entire series from start to finish in one go, just to see the development.

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
3.5 feathers | Review here

I’m a bit undecided on what I think of Carry On. I found the first 150 pages on the slow side, and Simon came across as whiny and over-obsessive. Plus, I couldn’t tell if the book was trying to be a parody or not. However, the story picked up after part one ended, and Baz’s parts were my favourites.

Fröken Julie, by August Strindberg
3 feathers

This is a classic, famous play in Sweden, which I read for class. It was alright, there were some details I didn’t pick up on, but I’ve always found it difficult to read plays because they’re not really meant to be read. Also, it might be that I wasn’t entirely paying attention.

Tomtemaskinen, by Sven Nordqvist
4 feathers

Another real classic, this time more recent and in the children’s department. I reread it for my BA essay in kidlit and liked it a lot ❤ .

Et dukkehjem, by Henrik Ibsen
4 feathers

Here’s another classic play! This was my first foray into Ibsen’s own writing, but we watched a really weird spinoff of this in high school so I didn’t really know what to expect. But it was a lot better than I thought it would be, so I was happily surprised!

Räddad, by Alfhild Agrell
3.5 feathers

I think we were supposed to read this because it’s a response to Ibsen’s play. It was interesting to see the intertexts, so I’m somehow glad I read it.

That was everything I read in February! I am currently reading a few books as well, but I think I’ll write a separate post about those so this post won’t be too long 🙂 . So keep a lookout for that, I will probably have it up some time next week!

2018 · February · Lists

Books I would like to get at the sale

Every year at the end of February, there’s a huge book sale in Sweden. You can always get a hold of cheap books and I always end up buying stuff ^.^’ . This year, however, I’m going to try to limit my book buying a bit, so I’ve gone through the catalogues a bit more beforehand to see if there’s anything I would like to get. Obviously there was, and since the sale starts today, here they are!

“Grace”, by Anthony Doerr

I read All the Lights We Cannot See a few years ago and liked it a lot, so I would like to read more by the author. Grace was recently translated to Swedish, and that’s the edition that’s on sale. I would prefer to read it in English, but since it just around £7 for a really pretty hardcover, I don’t mind getting it in Swedish.

“Björnstad”, by Fredrik Backman

This author wrote a book called A Man Called Ove a few years ago, and ever since he has become quite famous in Sweden. I haven’t read any of his books before but this one does intrigue me, so when I saw that it was on sale I knew I would like to get it.

“En droppe midnatt”, by Jason Diakité

The author of this book is a famous singer in Sweden, and though I’ve never really listened to his music, it’s been difficult to avoid it. En droppe midnatt is partly an autobiography, but partly also a biography about his family’s past. It seems really important and it would be an interesting read, so I’m getting this!

I will probably end up getting more than these three, but these are the ones I’d like to pick up first.

2018 · February · Reviews

Book Review: “Carry On”, by Rainbow Rowell

Published in 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin | Originally published in 2015 | Fangirl 1.5 | 3.5 feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.


Carry On started off on the slow side; during the first part (around the first 150 pages or so), I had a hard time getting into the story. I also found Simon slightly annoying and over-obsessive – it wasn’t that clear why he was so obsessed with finding Baz. At that point, it still seemed like the two hated each other.

At times, it was difficult to tell whether this was supposed to be a parody or a tribute to the fantasy genre and the “chosen one” trope. For one, the spells were ridiculous. Also, it’s so obviously a fan fiction on Harry Potter. But Rainbow Rowell states in the author’s note that it’s her take on the “chosen one” story, so I’m just really confused as to how I should view this book. Is it fan fiction? Is it a parody? Is it its own thing?

On a positive note, Baz is now on my list of favourite characters. As soon as part two started and Baz was introduced, the story picked up immensely. I also enjoyed reading from Baz’s perspective the most. Once I got past those initial 150 pages, I ended up finishing the book in three days. I only lowered the rating from four feathers because I couldn’t really get into it at first.

If you have read Fangirl and enjoyed it, I think you would enjoy Carry On as well.

2018 · February · Reviews

Book Review: “Trollkarlens Hatt”, by Tove Jansson

Published in 2017 by Rabén & Sjögren / Originally published in 1948/1968 / The Moomins #3 / Four feathers


On a spring day, Moomintroll, Sniff and Snufkin find a mysterious top hat on the top of a mountain. Turns out that it’s the Hobgoblin’s hat, that turns anything and Everything you put in it into something else. Naturally, adventures ensue!


If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I am a big fan of Tove Jansson. Therefore, you probably won’t be surprised by the fact that I ended up enjoying this one quite a lot. It was funny and clever, and I found myself giggling various times throughout the novel.

However, I do find that I prefer the later books to the earlier ones. From Moominland Midwinter onwards, the books become more melancholy and introspective, which I like. Not that I dislike the earlier ones, obviously not, but I like the direction the later ones take better.

Also, it ended up surprising me, because there are parts that are noticeably different from the second half of the series. For example, they’re not that afraid of the Groke – instead, she’s much smaller than she is later on, and they actually end up talking to her, which came across as slightly strange to me considering how scared they are of her later. I will probably end up rereading the entire series in the right order at some point in the future, just to get the timeline right.

Anyway, I liked this a lot. If you’re into Tove Jansson and haven’t read this yet, you definitely should.