2018 · Currently Reading · September

Currently Reading | September 2018

It’s been so long since I wrote one of these posts! I guess I haven’t been reading that many books at once during the summer, but now I’ve found myself reading three at once ^.^’ . Anyway, I thought I would tell you guys about them!

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been in such an Oscar Wilde mood recently. I finished a collection of his short stories last week, and immediately went on to this one. So far, I’m enjoying it. I find it so interesting to read the conversations between Dorian and Lord Henry and their discussions on art and life, even though there have been some questionable views about women especially. I’m on around page 65 at the moment and would recommend!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

I actually started this one before Dorian Gray, but felt that I needed a break almost at once. I don’t know what it was, but it felt like one of those books that I will only be able to read in little chunks at a time. Maybe it has to do with Charlie, the main character – I still haven’t read very much, but I’m just so bothered somehow by his character? The back says that he’s supposed to be “intelligent”, but so far I don’t get those vibes from him. It just feels like there are things about the world that he doesn’t understand and that affects the reading since the book is entirely told through his letters. I’ll be back with more comprehensive thoughts once I’ve read a bit more!

The Toymakers, by Robert Dinsdale

This is my current audiobook, and I’m loving the atmosphere! It reminds me a bit of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, so we’ll see if The Toymakers lives up to that. Other than that, I don’t have very much to say; I’ve listened to about two hours of the audiobook, but that only amounts to around 60 pages in the actual book, so I don’t have very many thoughts yet.

2018 · August · Reviews

Book Review: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”, by Jenny Han

Published in 2014 by Scholastic | Three feathers

Summary:

Lara Jean has written love letters to all the five boys she has ever had a crush on, but she never intended to send them. One day, they get sent anyway, and she suddenly finds herself with a fake boyfriend and a lot of drama.

Review:

I kind of wish that I hadn’t seen the movie first, because it was super cute and I expected the book to be more of the same. I guess it was, to some extent, but it was also different enough for it to not be the same. For example, book Kavinsky is more of a douche than film Kavinsky, which I’m still mad about – I loved movie Kavinsky, but didn’t actually like book Kavinsky that much. Also, now that I’ve started book two, I’ve noticed that they have put the entirety of book one and a good chunk of book two into the film, which worked, but I was so confused when I finished the book – before starting book two – and the storyline wasn’t the same.

Lara Jean is so relatable, though. There were things she did that I feel the same about – for example, she doesn’t like driving because she’s not very good at it and is scared that she’ll get lost. I wouldn’t say that I’m that bad at driving, but it does trigger my anxiety when I have to drive somewhere I can’t find my way (I have a terrible sense of location ^.^’ ). And I loved Kitty! She’s such a little sister (trust me, I know – I have one), she felt very real and she’s just the best.

Overall (and I know that this is blasphemy), but as of right now, I think I liked the movie better. I am continuing on with the series though, so expect an update on that soon enough!

2018 · Lists

Books I’m looking forward to this autumn

I know I said in my last “books I’m looking forward to”-post that I was only going to do one of these this year, but I thought I’d do a shortened version here, with the ones I’m looking forward to the most this autumn/winter.

Vengeful, by V.E. Schwab
25th September

I read Vicious several years ago and liked it a lot, so when I found out there is going to be a sequel, I knew that I just have to read it. And it’s released so soon!

Muse of Nightmares, by Laini Taylor
2nd October

This is the sequel to Strange the Dreamer, which I read last year, and I’m so excited! I’ve liked everything I’ve read by this author so far, so I’m excited to be getting this one.

Bridge of Clay, by Markus Zusak
9th October

Bridge of Clay might be a bit of a hit or miss; I had to read The Book Thief twice before I actually started liking it, and I haven’t read anything else of Zusak’s. So we’ll see what happens with this one, but I’m intrigued nonetheless.

Queen of Air and Darkness, by Cassandra Clare
4th December

Considering how Lord of Shadows ended, I need to know how the story goes from here. And that’s pretty much the only reason I have for looking forward to this book ^.^’

2018 · August · Wrap-Ups

Wrap-Up | August 2018

I ended up having a really good reading month in August, and read a total of six books! I’m generally very happy with what I read, so here’s the full list:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee
Four feathers

Perhaps this wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, and for the most part I would probably have rated it a three feathers. However, it was a funny and entertaining read, which is what earned it that extra feather.

Traitor to the Throne, by Alwyn Hamilton
4.5 feathers | Review here

As you may have seen in my review and in my last wrap-up, this series surprised me with how much I ended up enjoying it. I like the characters, their friendship and their sass. I did like the desert setting of the first book better than the palace setting of this one, though.

Hero at the Fall, by Alwyn Hamilton
Four feathers

Hero at the Fall didn’t pull me in as quickly as the other two books in the series did, but I think that that might have something to do with me moving back home after spending the summer working in the village where we have our cottage. Anyway, I don’t have very much to say about this one that I haven’t already said about the other two, except that I’m still torn up about Sam ❤ .

Safe Haven, by Nicholas Sparks
Four feathers

I was in the mood for a contemporary and Safe Haven has been standing on my shelf for several years, so I decided to pick it up. It wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, but I can’t pin down exactly what it is that made me not enjoy it as much as I thought. I guess I was in the mood for something lighter, but I knew going in that this wasn’t going to be super fluffy; I’ve watched the movie twice. There was just something about it that left me wanting a bit more.

The Girl You Left Behind, by Jojo Moyes
Three feathers | Review here

This was another one of those contemporaries that I found myself a little bit disappointed in. In this case, it was because I had expected more of a love story and then this entire court process around the painting got in the way. The court thing could have been toned down in favour of the love story. The parts I enjoyed the most were the flashbacks to WWI France and the bit where Liv and Paul had just met.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han
Three feathers | Review to come

The problem here is that I watched the movie first, and the movie has condensed the entirety of book one + a good chunk of book two, so I kind of wish I’d read the books first because I ended up being disappointed when things where missing from the book. Also, I loved film Kavinsky, but he’s much more of a douche in the book and I didn’t like him at all as much. Lara Jean was so relatable, though, especially in how she doesn’t like to drive ^.^’

That’s it, guys! I probably won’t have as much time to read in September since classes start on Monday, but I will do my very best since I’m in such a flow right now.

2018 · August · Reviews

Book Review: “The Girl You Left Behind”, by Jojo Moyes

I read the Swedish translation, titled “Sophies historia”, published in 2014 by Printz Publishing | Originally published in 2012

Summary from Goodreads:

France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.

Review:

I didn’t really know what to expect from this. I started it on a whim because I was back home for a couple of days, finished my last book and didn’t feel like reading the extra one I’d brought with me, so I borrowed it from my mum. And I ended up enjoying it.

What pulled the rating down for me was that I expected it to be more of (or at least a different type of) love story. My favourite part was the one in the beginning of part II, where Liv and Paul have just met and are starting their relationship. Then the entire court thing happens and their relationship is abruptly broken off. I personally would have liked it to be more of a romance novel, because that was what I expected it to be. The entire court part mainly felt in the way, and could have been shortened.

I think I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story the most. It was interesting to read about Sophies life in German-occupied France, and I liked seeing how the past was connected to the present through the painting. It was also nice to see a book that was at least partly set during WWI for a change.

2018 · August · Reviews

Book Review: “Traitor to the Throne”, by Alwyn Hamilton

Published in 2017 by Faber & Faber | 4.5 feathers

*Since this is the second book in a series, this review contains some spoilers*

Summary from Goodreads:

Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince’s message has spread across the desert – and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.

Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl’s instinct for survival. For the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper’s nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive… But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani’s past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.

Review:

I’m still so surprised by how much I’m enjoying these books, but I can’t really pin down exactly what it is that makes me enjoy them so much. It’s something about the desert setting and the characters. I was glad to discover that Amani’s sass was still there, and I loved reading about her friendship with Shazad.

That said, I didn’t enjoy the palace setting quite as much as I enjoyed the desert one. I missed the sand and the voyage of the first book. Also, I can’t decide how I feel about the Djinni actually being a part of the main plot, as opposed to being part of the in-story legends; I sort of liked it better when they still had their status as semi-legendary beings. Plus, there were some unnecessary repetitions, but it might just be that I noticed it because I’ve been reading the series back-to-back.

Overall, however, this was just as fun a read as the first book. I’m now about a fourth of the way through the last book in the series and I’m still completely hooked.

2018 · August · July · Reviews

Book Review: “Rebel of the Sands”, by Alwyn Hamilton

Published in 2016 by Faber & Faber | Five feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three.  She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

Review:

Rebel of the Sands took me by surprise. I’d been eyeing it for a while because of the pretty cover, but never ended up getting it because I for some reason didn’t think it would be for me. Then I was given it as a birthday present last year. After that, it took me another year until I actually picked it up. And now I don’t know why I didn’t read it sooner.

The setting is what I loved the most. It takes place in a Middle-Eastern-inspired desert, with the mythology that comes with it. There are Djinni made of fire and horses built of sand. It was so immersive, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it. The only thing that bothered me slightly is the fact that the word “God” is used for the deity; it felt a slight bit off when the religion otherwise seemed to take its inspiration from Islam.

Amani was actually funny; there were several instances when I found myself smiling at some comment she’d make. Also, she did some stupid shit, but she also had the brains to reflect on the smartness of her decisions, which I found refreshing.

In other words, Rebel of the Sands is one of my new favourites of the year. I’m so glad I read it.

2018 · July · Wrap-Ups

Wrap-Up | July 2018

Here’s my slightly belated July wrap-up! I know I said I was going to start posting more regularly on here over the summer, but I have felt so uninspired lately and haven’t really known where to go with the blog, so the posting has been lacking a bit. Anyway, here’s what I read in July!

Björnstad, by Fredrik Backman
Five feathers

I was so surprised by how much I liked this book. I was in the mood for this type of book when I picked it up, but I never thought I would like it this much. One of the best books I’ve read so far this year! Also, if you liked this one, there’s a book called När hundarna kommer written by Jessica Schiefauer that has similar themes and a similar feel.

Save the Date, by Morgan Matson
Four feathers

This one was so cute! Also, it was actually funny. The main character’s family is super random, and it is almost difficult to believe that so many things can go wrong during the same wedding. It was the perfect summer contemporary.

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night, by Jen Campbell
Three feathers

I was almost a little disappointed when I finished this. It felt like the type of book I would normally like, and there were stories that I liked a lot (like the script the book is named after), but overall it didn’t blow me away.

Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton
Five feathers

Here’s another book I wasn’t expecting to like quite as much as I did! My friend gifted it to me for my birthday last year, but I didn’t get around to reading it until now. And I loved it! It’s such an immersive world, and the setting pulls you straight in. There will be a full review of this coming your way soon enough 🙂 .

I’m happy with my reading in July, as I managed to finish four books, most of which I liked. Hope the flow continues into August!

2018 · June · Reviews

Book Review: “The Loney”, by Andrew Michael Hurley

Published in 2016 by John Murray | Originally published in 2014 | 3.5 feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

If it had another name, I never knew, but the locals called it the Loney – that strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune where Hanny and I went every Easter time with Mummer, Farther, Mr and Mrs Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the parish priest.

It was impossible to truly know the place. It changed with each influx and retreat, and the neap tides would reveal the skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious currents. No one ever went near the water. No one apart from us, that is.

I suppose I always knew that what happened there wouldn’t stay hidden for ever, no matter how much I wanted it to. No matter how hard I tried to forget …

Review:

What I liked the most about The Loney was the gothic atmosphere and the fact that the main character was slightly unreliable. He seemed very aware of exactly how he was sequencing the narrative – for example, he would say things like “at last you should know […]”, as if intentionally leaving that information out. I also enjoyed how the author delved into the strict religious community that the boys grew up in – that’s always been something I’ve found interesting to read about.

The one thing that bothered me, though, was the fact that there were slightly strange horror elements woven into what was otherwise mainly a thriller. By “slightly strange” I mean that they didn’t entirely fit in with the rest of the storyline. For most of the novel, for example, Hanny didn’t speak and seemed to have an autism-spectrum diagnosis. However, by the end of the novel, he was miraculously “healed”. This had something to do with a baby with claws and other non-human body parts. Personally, I felt like those elements could have been left out, leaving The Loney as a pure thriller.

In summary, the horror elements could have been left out for the benefit of the thriller elements, but I do see why it won the Costa Book Award. A fun fact is that it’s set in Lancashire, which is where I lived when I studied abroad!

2018 · June · Wrap-Ups

Wrap-Up | June 2018

I only read two books in the month of June; definitely not as much as I would have liked, but I’ve moved house and started working, so I’ve had a lot going on. Anyhow, here’s what I read in June!

All the Crooked Saints, by Maggie Stiefvater
3.5 feathers

This one was released almost a year ago, and I saw people haul it, but since then no one has really talked about it, which I found slightly weird because a lot of people love The Raven Cycle. I wasn’t that big of a fan, but decided to pick this up anyway since the library had a copy. It was a little difficult to get into, so it took me a while to read. However, I did like the language and the magical realism aspects.

The Loney, by Andrew Michael Hurley
4 feathers

It took me three weeks to finish The Loney, but I don’t mind all that much. It was exactly the type of book I was in the mood for. I liked the gothic atmosphere and the fact that the main character was slightly unreliable. Perhaps I should have read it at a slightly faster pace to properly remember all the details, but that doesn’t bother me all that much. Also, the horror aspects didn’t seamlessly fit in – I find that it would have been better if it had been a pure thriller. There will be a full review for this, so keep an eye out for that!