2018 · December · Reviews

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published in 2018 by Washington Square Press | Originally published in 2017 | 3.5 feathers

Summary

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is about a journalist called Monique who is slightly under-the-radar. She has an okay job at a magazine, but she hasn’t gotten her big scoop yet. That’s when Hollywood superstar Evelyn Hugo contacts the magazine Monique works for to give a unique interview – and she specifically asks for Monique.

Review

Here’s another member of the group of books that surprised me this year. I thought Evelyn Hugo was going to be slightly dense literary fiction, but turns out it wasn’t. The writing style was a lot lighter than I expected, so I flew through it. That was a very pleasant surprise.

My favourite parts were the beginning (because it surprised me by being different from what I expected) and the end (because of the *big reveal*). I actually thought that it was going to be one of my favourite reads of the year when I first started reading, but then the middle stooped a bit for me. I think that was mostly because we didn’t get to know Monique very well – Evelyn’s parts were very fleshed out, but Monique was essentially just a vessel to tell Evelyn’s story. She came across as a very unimportant character, even though she was supposed to be one of the main ones. That is probably my main complaint, that present-day parts of the story could have been developed a lot more. Part of that is also that Monique didn’t feel real to me, so her feelings or decisions always seemed to come from slightly out of the blue, because I as a reader didn’t know enough about her backstory or motivations in life to fully believe it or feel with her.

Evelyn, on the other hand, was a complex character and another favourite part of the book for me. I know some people dislike her after the twist in the end (like Monique does), but I can’t bring myself to. That is partly due to me not feeling connected to Monique, but it’s also because Evelyn could motivate her actions and in some way I can understand that she only did it to protect the people she loves.

Overall, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was an enjoyable read that surprised me, although the middle came across as slightly unbalanced and Monique felt a little underdeveloped.

2018 · November · Wrap-Ups

Wrap-up | November 2018

HOW WEIRD IS IT THAT IT’S DECEMBER?????? I know I say this every month, but what happened to November?? Anyway, December is one of my favourite months because Christmas is my favourite holiday, so I don’t really mind the cold ❤ . Here are all the books I read in November:

Pappan och Havet, by Tove Jansson
5 feathers

This was a reread for me, which I started in October and finished in early November. I was in the mood for something autumnal, so that’s why I decided to pick it up. What I loved about this especially is the fact that the island and the sea play such a big part in the story – it’s almost as if they’re characters themselves. The sea is very important to me, so Pappan och havet spoke to my heart.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, by J.K Rowling

I read the script in preparation for watching The Crimes of Grindelwald. I love the Fantastic Beasts film (it’s one of my favourites!), but I didn’t end up leaving a rating for the script. I find it difficult to rate scripts/plays as it is, and in this case I think I’m too biased to actually rate it ^.^’ . Some of the magic is lost in here, obviously, so I would definitely recommend watching the movie instead of reading the script!

Sent i november, by Tove Jansson
5 feathers

Here’s another reread, which I ended up loving! I wrote a review way back in the summer of 2016 when I first read it – which you can find here – and I still stand by what I said there. But I would like to add some thoughts about the characters. Tove is good at writing characters; each of them felt very distinct from each other, with their own lives and problems. This is a book that on some level is about ideas and admiring people so much that they, in the end, aren’t people anymore but some grand picture that they cannot possibly live up to. Please just go off and read this, but be prepared for some slightly depressing stuff ^.^’

The Crimes of Grindelwald: The Original Screenplay, by J.K Rowling
Reviews here and here

I didn’t rate this either, again because I feel biased from the film. And I basically only read it because I was in a daze from the film – because I couldn’t go watch it again right away, I had to read the script to bring some clarity to my thoughts!

Legendary, by Stephanie Garber
Three feathers | Review here

This was the last book I finished in November! I wasn’t expecting to love it, which I didn’t end up doing either. It was a quite average YA fantasy novel with not much to make it stand out, even though the idea is cool.

That was all! Have you guys read anything good this month?

2018 · November · Reviews

Legendary, by Stephanie Garber

Published in 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton | 3 feathers

As this is the second book in a series, there will be spoilers

Summary from Goodreads:
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

Review:

The reason why I rated this three feathers is mainly that it came across as a fairly average YA fantasy novel. I liked the writing and the idea of Caraval, but apart from that there wasn’t much that made the book stand out to me.

To a large extent, there were good ideas behind this that didn’t entirely succeed. Caraval is supposed to be this magical game, but the book wasn’t immersive enough. There was too much tell and too little show – I couldn’t picture myself as being there. On top of that, the game was hidden behind the romantic aspects of the story. We barely even got to see the other contestants, and Scarlett – who was the main character of the first book in the series – had a very small role. Overall, the romance could have been toned down in favour of bringing out the game more, because the idea is good. I also guessed the identity of Legend fairly early on, which was almost disappointing in its obviousness.

On that note, the entire game was built for Tella. Since she was the one who had the ring that would open her mother’s vault, she was the only one who had any reasonable chance of winning. No one else could get hold of the deck. Had she decided that she didn’t wan’t to get it, nobody would have won. That defeats the entire purpose of the game, and also removes any stakes. It would have added more momentum if there had been more competition for Tella – that someone with ill intentions would have had the possibility to get the deck as well, and would have made the game that Caraval actually is more important. And she didn’t even have to make her own sacrifice to get into the vault – a certain someone did that for her.

Finally, I felt that the entire ordeal with the Fates came out of basically nowhere. Fair enough, it’s been a year and a half since I read Caraval, but the Fates should have had a larger role already in there, because now their importance was suddenly blown up and I can’t remember them being of any importance in the previous book.

Three feathers isn’t a bad rating. It just means that Legendary was a fairly average YA fantasy novel that had some problems consistency and plot. I will probably read the last book in the series, but it won’t be a priority.

2018 · November · Reviews

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, pt. 2

I’m writing this because I finished the script the other day. I still stand by everything I said in my review of the film, these are just some extra comments I wanted to add after reading the script. There will be spoilers here as well!

The main thing I would like to add is that some details were clarified in the script, especially regarding character names that we didn’t get to know in the film. For example, we get to know that the baby that was supposedly Credence was with his aunt on the boat when Leta picked him up.

On that note, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t believe the backstory about Credence. Firstly, he cannot be a Dumbledore – that just feels like a cliffhanger and something Grindelwald would say to manipulate Credence. Also, there’s a 25-year gap between the boat accident and the “now” of the story where we don’t know what happened. There’s such a big chunk of the story that we don’t know, so there’s definitely something that’s being left out here.

That was it for now! I have so many thoughts about this movie, and it’s almost difficult to wrap your head around it all ^.^’

2018 · Films · November · Reviews

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I went to the cinema to watch The Crimes of Grindelwald yesterday, and I have a lot of thoughts about it! So I thought I would write some form of review about it. This might not be very coherent because I’m basing it on a list I wrote this morning where I tried to collect my thoughts, but there will be spoilers, so beware ;).

The things I liked
Newt is the best. He is such a precious cinnamon roll Hufflepuff, and he is definitely one of my favourite main characters at the moment. I also loved his relationship to his creatures. Speaking of, the Niffler is the best ❤ . And how cool is it that Newt literally has an enormous cellar where his creatures live?? It was especially funny how Bunty (or whatever her name was who helped Newt with the creatures) had such an obvious crush on him ,^.^, .

I completely forgot that Nicolas Flamel was going to be in this film. I was so confused when he suddenly showed up in the safe house – my immediate thought was “who is this spooky old man?”. I only realised who he was when he presented himself as an alchemist. They actually did a very good job on his appearance, because he definitely looked like he had been alive for 300 years.

They also hinted at Dumbledore’s and Grindelwald’s past. It wasn’t explicitly stated that they might have had a romantic relationship, but there were clear hints towards it. That definitely opens up for some developments to their backstory in the remaining parts of the series – there are going to be three more movies, so it’s not like it’s been completely ruled out.

The things I didn’t like
The film is set around six months after the first one, and I do feel like that time gap was slightly too obvious. I was a little confused by how much that had happened between the characters – Tina and Newt left off at a really good place in the last movie, and now they weren’t as close anymore. The reason was explained, but it did come across as a slightly too big gap. It was too obvious that there was information that we as viewers haven’t been there to take part of.

The second thing I didn’t like that much was that it felt like a middle movie. There’s not one specific thing that makes me think that, it’s more of a general feeling that The Crimes of Grindelwald is building up a foundation for the rest of the series, with several revelations that are going to be important further on.

The things that blew my mind
Queenie joined the dark side!!! Considering that Tina is an auror and working for MACUSA and the fact that Queenie herself is dating a muggle, I didn’t think that would be a thing that would ever happen. She does not deserve Jacob after this. Couldn’t they just have moved to the UK if they wanted to get married/be together, because they have less strict laws against muggle-wizard/witch relationships? It seemed a little excessive for Queenie to actually take that step.

Credence also joined Grindelwald, but that didn’t surprise me as much. He only wants to find his place in the world, and this was a relatively easy way for him to do so. He has been raised in an abusive environment and isn’t used to accepting friendship or love that doesn’t have malicious intent. So to me Credence’s decision made more sense than Queenie’s, but I still would have wanted both to stay with Newt and co.

I have a hard time accepting the fact that Credence is a Dumbledore. We got Leta’s backstory about Credence, but the baby that she picked up on the boat that is supposedly Credence was just a random baby – how would she know that it wasn’t just a muggle? And are we 100% sure that the baby was Credence? I am waiting with excitement for the next installment.

The verdict
On the whole, I really enjoyed The Crimes of Grindelwald. I felt dazed all the way home for the theatre, not sure how to interpret everything that I just watched. To be honest, it’s now been around 15 hours since the film ended and I still feel blown away ^.^’ . Now I just want to watch it again, knowing what happens, so that I can process it better. I will say though that it was a lot darker than the first one – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is one of those movies I’ll watch when I’m feeling down to lighten the mood, while The Crimes of Grindelwald is a definite step away from that, so I don’t like them in the same way. However, it was epic and I must say that I did end up loving it!

2018 · Children's Literature · Favourites

Some of My Favourite Childhood Books

I can’t remember if I’ve done this before, but I’m doing it anyway! I have been wanting to do a series focused around children’s literature for a while, and I’ve just now started to figure out how I want to do it. I can’t promise how often these posts will be out, but see this as a bit of an introduction to where I’m coming from!

Junie B. Jones, by Barbara Park

My family lived in Singapore when I was a kid, and that’s the reason why I discovered the Junie B. Jones series, because I’ve never seen them around in Sweden. They’re about a little girl called Junie B. and her adventures at kindergarten. There are books in which she starts first grade as well, but I mainly read the kindergarten ones. I guess I must have been around five or six when I first started them, and read them up until we moved back home when I was eight. As far as I can remember, they were really funny. Especially to someone like me, who read them when I was the same age as the main character.

Sune, by Sören Olsson och Anders Jacobsson

This is a Swedish series that I read a little bit later – I started when I was around eight, and read them up until I was ten or eleven. I guess they’re similar to the Junie B. books, but for a slightly older audience, so it was a natural continuation from there. The series is about a ten-year-old boy called Sune and his dysfunctional family that gets up to all sorts of random adventures. These are super popular in Sweden, and the authors are still writing new books! Plus they’ve been turned into several films and TV series.

Books about animals

I’m going to talk about these as a category rather than mentioning individual books, because I can’t really remember that many specific titles even though I do know that I read a bunch of books on this topic. From when I was 8 or 9 up until I was 11 or 12, I was super interested in animals (I wanted to be a vet or someone who takes care of dolphins ^.^’), so naturally I read books about that.

Nancy Drew, by Carolyn Keene

The fact that I started reading this series should be largely credited to my mum; she had read them when she was a kid, and thought that I would like them too. So when I was around ten or eleven, we found all of her old ones that she had saved. I read them, and later started my own collection by asking for new books for Christmas or my birthday. Basically the only reason I stopped reading them was because it started getting difficult to find new ones that I hadn’t read yet – if people tried buying me new Nancy Drew-books, chances were that I had already read it ,^.^,

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini

This is the book that got me into fantasy in the first place! As you can probably tell, I hadn’t really read fantasy before this point. At least I can’t think of any specific fantasy books off the top of my head that I read before this, except for Harry Potter (which I obviously loved). I can’t say that I would love it as much if I reread it now, as the last book came out when I was 16 and I was so bored by it – I basically just forced myself through it to get to know how it ended. But I loved it when I was 11/12, and it still holds a special place in my heart.

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

I debated whether to put this on the list or not, but since I’m talking about some of my favourite books that I read before high school and I read this when I was 14, I felt that I had to mention it. I guess everyone had their Twilight phase, and mine was during the summer between seventh and eighth grade which was when I binge read the entire series ^.^’ .

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling

I almost didn’t put this on here because it’s so obvious, but here it is. My grandma gave be the first two books as a birthday present when I was eight, and then the last book was released the day before my twelfth birthday. As everyone else my age, I spent a part of my childhood with Harry at Hogwarts!

There you have it! As you can tell, I’ve focused on some books I loved from when I learned to read when I was five up until I was about to start high school. Hope you enjoyed!

2018 · October · Wrap-Ups

Wrap-Up | October 2018

I almost wrote “September” in the title of this post, before I realised that it is actually October that is coming to an end. October has been amazing here, we had summer temperatures up until just a couple of weeks ago, before autumn properly started. Anyway! I didn’t read as much this month as I did in September, which is largely due to the fact that we’re having a grammar module at uni right now and it’s been taking up a lot of my energy. I did end up managing three books at least, so here they are:

The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli
– Three feathers | Review here

I expected to love this, because so many people I follow online do and Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was lovely. Instead, I found Molly (the main character) so annoying, because her only goal in life was to get a boyfriend. She didn’t seem to have anything else she wanted to accomplish, and that seemed a tad unrealistic. Let’s just say that I’m not as excited to read Leah on the Off-beat now as I was before I read Upside.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers, by Max Porter
– No rating –

This was one of my first forays into poetry on my own, which I’m oddly proud of?? I didn’t leave a rating, because I don’t feel as if I’ve read enough poetry to know how to rate it yet, but I did enjoy Grief. It was interesting to see how the crow interacts with and sometimes even melds with the characters.

En helt vanlig familj, by Mattias Edvardsson
– Four feathers –

I went to a crime event at my local bookstore with my mum in October, and Edvardsson was one of the authors who spoke there. I don’t read much crime otherwise, but decided to pick this up to challenge myself to read something different. And it was exactly what I needed! I flew through it in a matter of days, and I thought the concept was interesting. It’s about a 19-year-old girl who is arrested for murder, and the story is told in three parts, from the perspectives of the dad, the daughter and the mum. It’s being translated into English, so I would recommend reading it once it’s out! (Unless you understand Swedish of course, in which case it’s already available) .

2018 · October · Reviews

Book Review: “The Upside of Unrequited”, by Becky Albertalli

Published in 2017 by Penguin | Three feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly is always careful. Better to be careful than be hurt

But when Cassie gets a new girlfriend who comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick, everything changes. Will is funny, flirtatious, and basically the perfect first boyfriend.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid, the awkward Tolkien superfan, she could never fall for … right?

A heart-warming and hilarious story about growing up and learning to be comfortable in your own skin.

Review:

I read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda back in January and really liked it, so naturally I had high hopes for The Upside of Unrequited as well. However, sadly enough, I did not end up enjoying it nearly as much.

To begin with, I found it difficult to get into. It wasn’t until I got closer to the end that the story actually started picking up. It might have to do with the fact that I found Molly so incredibly annoying – her entire character was built around the fact that she wanted a boyfriend, and it was the only thing she ever thought about. It did start grating on my nerves after a while, because it was basically her main characteristic.

So, The Upside of Unrequited did end up disappointing me a bit. I do appreciate the fact that there was so much diversity in it. It was nice to see that in such a popular YA novel. But that was also the one of the only things that stood out as something I liked about the book.

2018 · Reviews · September

Wrap-Up | September 2018

September ended up being a very good reading month as well! I read eight books in total, two more than last month. Which is strange, because last month I had two weeks completely off, while I had class for the entirety of September ^.^’ . Anyway, here are the books:

P.S. I Still Love You, by Jenny Han
– 4 feathers | Review here

Technically, I read most of this in August, but I finished it in September, so that’s why it’s on here. I liked it better than book 1, and I definitely think Kavinsky’s better in here. I was still confused, however, because the movie is the entirety of book 1 and a considerable chunk of this one?? Though I loved the movie, I still kind of wish that I’d read the books first.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean, by Jenny Han
– Four feathers | Review here 

This was definitely my favorite book in the series! Finally, the story had arrived at the place where I wanted it to be all along, with all the cuteness between Lara Jean and Peter. I just wish we had gotten it sooner.

Vi mot er, by Fredrik Backman
– 4.5 feathers –

I read the first book in this series, Björnstad/Beartown, during the summer and liked it a lot more than I thought it would, so I ordered the second one. I was almost equally surprised by Vi mot er, because I never thought they would become some of the best books I’d read this year.

The Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde
– Four feathers –

The edition I have actually contains Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and The Sphynx Without a Secret as well as The Centerville Ghost, and I liked all three. I have previously read  the play Salomé by Wilde, and I’m surprised to say that people were right in the fact that Wilde has humour. There were some funny bits in here that I found myself genuinely smiling at.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
– 4.5 feathers –

A new favourite classic! It’s so strange that I have been able to study literature at uni for four years, and no one has even bothered to put this on a required reading list?? There’s so much to discuss and I feel like I would have a lot to say on the subject and now I don’t even know anyone else who has read it. That makes me sad, because it’s a truly intriguing book.

Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare
– Five feathers | Review to come –

I’ve missed these characters so much! For those of you who don’t know, The Infernal Devices has been one of my favourite series since I was in high school. However, I haven’t read the books since the first time, and it’s been five and a half years since the last book was released. Recently, I just ended up being in such a mood to reread the entire series, and I can happily report that I still love it as much as I did the first time around! Clockwork Angel had its funny moments, and I adore the characters — plus, they’re readers ❤ !

Clockwork Prince, by Cassandra Clare
– Five feathers | Review to come –

I don’t have very much to add to this that I didn’t say about either of the other two books. But I think it says a lot about my relationship with these books that I wasn’t meaning to finish it when I did; I was reading a bit before going to sleep, just to finish the chapter, but when I put the book away I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I picked it back up and finished it, at 12:30 in the morning ^.^’

Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare
– Five feathers | Review to come –

My poor heart! I finished this on the last day of September, with 250 pages left. I wasn’t intending on reading all day; I have two assignments due this week that it would have been good to work on, but Clockwork Princess swept me away. Suddenly I was sitting on my bed at 2:30 p.m., realizing that I was hungry and that I had been reading for a couple of hours straight. Then I finished it and it broke my heart, as I knew it would. I was a sobbing, shaking mess by the end of it, and I’m so glad that it still holds up as one of my favourite books of all time.

2018 · Reviews · September

Book Review: “Always and Forever, Lara Jean”, by Jenny Han

Published in 2017 by Scholastic UK | Four feathers

*Since this is the third book in a series, my review might contain spoilers*

Summary from Goodreads:

And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Review:

This was definitely my favourite in the series! Finally it had more of that cutesy feel that the movie had, that I had sort of been missing in the other two books. Kitty is still my favourite character; she always knows what to say, and she definitely knows how to play everyone. She’s the best. I started liking Chris more in here as well; my favourite part was when she took Lara Jean on a road trip to North Carolina after Lara Jean got into UNC.

Also, I finally felt that I liked Kavinsky throughout the entire book. With Gen out of the way, it was just Lara Jean and Peter, and their relationship is all I’ve wanted to read about.

This is one of those series that definitely get better with each book, so even if you weren’t that into the other two books, I think you should give this a chance.