2017 · June · Reviews

Book Review: “Strange the Dreamer”, by Laini Taylor

Published in 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton | Strange the Dreamer #1 | 4.5 feathers

(Happy Midsummer, everybody! 🙂 )

*This review contains spoilers*

Summary:

I think that the less you know about this book, the better. It’s about Lazlo Strange, an orphan who grew up in a monastery to become a junior librarian in the Great Library of Zosma. He has always been obsessed with the lost city of Weep – a city that used to be at the heart of civilisation, but suddenly people stopped coming out of the city, and whoever went in search of it would disappear and never come back. And one day, the real name of the city was erased from everybody’s minds. Now it is only known as Weep, a half-forgotten legend no one really believes in anymore.

Review:

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and it did not disappoint. I loved the idea of a lost city and a main character who is obsessed with researching said lost city. And Lazlo is such a cinnamon roll, I liked him so much <3.

I think that this was the first time ever I had a favourite chapter in a book – in this case it was the one titled “Another World”, when Sarai first visits Lazlo’s dream. Partly because it painted such a beautiful picture of Weep, even if that version of the city doesn’t exist anymore, but partly also because I loved the scene when Sarai walks up to Lazlo and outright stares at him before she realises that he can actually see her.

Laini Taylor is also good at making both sides of a conflict very complex. I found myself sympathising with both sides, and hoped that they could somehow find a middle ground. The only character I didn’t like was Minya, that evil little shit. There was a point towards the end when I felt a flicker of understanding towards her, but she lets herself be so blinded by her hate of humans that she becomes cruel, even to the people she’s trying to protect.

I am, however, sceptical to using dreams as a plot device. It works here, but I always feel as if the author disregards their magic system by letting dreams take up a huge space. I loved Sarai’s gift of being able to enter people’s dreams, but it felt too easy that she and Lazlo could actually talk to each other in the dream.

Also, though I liked the badass that Lazlo became in the end, I would have preferred if he stayed the dreamer with his head in the clouds. Sure, save Sarai all you want, but I wasn’t fully on board with his turning out to be Godspawn.

It did also get a bit insta-lovey, so it would have been nice if the romance had been a bit more slow.

Overall, though, I really liked this book, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

2017 · Films · June

Film Review: “The Man Who Knew Infinity”

Directed by Matt Brown | 2015 | 4.5 feathers

Summary:

“The Man Who Knew Infinity” is about a man who grew up in India without an education, but his math skills earn him a place at Cambridge in England where he helps revolutionise maths for ever.

Review:

This was one of the better films I’ve seen in a long time. It is well made with good actors, and it tells an inspirational true story. I think that my main “complaint” is that it felt very cramped time-wise. Ramanujan came to England in the beginning of WWI, but suddenly four years had passed and the war was over and he was returning to India. I definitely think that it would have benefited from developing the timeline a bit, and it wouldn’t have mattered if it was ten or fifteen minutes longer as long as the jump wasn’t as sudden. Overall, though, I very much enjoyed this, and it’s a pity cinemas here in Sweden didn’t pick it up.

2017 · June · Reviews

Book Review: “Lord of Shadows”, by Cassandra Clare

Published in 2017 by Simon & Schuster | The Dark Artifices #2 | Four feathers

Summary:

This is the second book in the Dark Artifices series, so I’m not going to go into any detail on the plot because of spoilers.

Review:

I have a weird relationship with the Shadowhunter books. I loved The Infernal Devices, but didn’t really like The Mortal Instruments that much, so I was a bit hesitant about reading Lady Midnight last year. Then I ended up enjoying it, so I was excited to pick Lord of Shadows up when it was released. And, generally, I liked it. My favourite characters were Kit and Ty, and I love them and their relationship so much <3. The book in general was actually pretty funny at times, which I hadn’t expected. There were these instances when I would actually giggle out loud, so that’s a big plus. Also, I did not see that ending coming! I had seen some vague reviews on Twitter before I started reading and I knew shit was about to go down, but what actually ended up happening was nothing like what I had imagined.

What I didn’t like as much , though, is that most of the “shocking” action took place in the last 15 or 20 pages and LoS is 700 pages long. So I was waiting for this huge thing that everyone had been talking about to happen, and then it didn’t until the very end. I know it was probably intentional to leave off at a cliffhanger, and it’s not like there’s no action in the rest of the book, but to me it seemed a bit off to wait with the huge tear-dump until the very end. As it was, I sat waiting for it, and expected it to show up maybe 50 or 100 pages before it actually happened.

Let’s talk about Julian. I do not trust him, and I’m not sure I like him that much. He would literally do anything for the people he loves, and he doesn’t care who else he hurts in the process. He actually scares me a little bit, and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens to him in the last book in the series.

That was everything I had to say about Lord of Shadows! I’m pretty proud that I managed to finish it in the time that I did, considering the size of it. Also, I know I said in a recent post that I was going to get back to my ordinary posting schedule over the summer, but I didn’t post anything on Tuesday this week – I’m working on getting back into it, so hopefully I’ll be fully back soon 🙂 .

2017 · June · Reviews

Book Review: “Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy”, by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman

Published in 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books | 3.8 feathers

*This review contains spoilers*

Summary:

This is a short story collection set after the events of City of Heavenly Fire, in which Simon goes to the Shadowhunter Academy to become a Shadowhunter and regain his memories.

 

Review:

If you’re wondering about the weird rating, it’s because I rated each short story individually and the overall rating is an average of each individual rating.

Overall, I thought this collection was a bit all over the place. There were some stories that I either loved (the one about James Herondale <3) or liked a lot, but sometimes it felt as if the authors were trying a bit too hard. In some of the stories, the characters seemed slightly ridiculed. It was so obvious that they were supposed to be funny, but instead it came across as forced and fell flat. You could also tell how Izzy was testing them in The Evil We Love, again due to the characterization – Izzy just felt so off that it became obvious that something wasn’t entirely right.

There’s also the story set in the London Institute, where Jessie ends up saving them from the demon, where I found it a bit weird that a demon actually got into the Institute. And how the h**l do you hide people, however small, in chimneys?

Then there were instances where I fell in love with the characters, especially in Nothing but Shadows about James Herondale. I could relate to him so much, and it spoke to my literature-student heart how his ability to become a shadow was so symbolic of him feeling lonely. It was definitely my favourite story in the entire collection <3.

At times it was also pretty obvious that these stories were published individually before they were published as a bind-up, because they would occasionally be a bit over-explanatory and mention/explain something that just happened in the previous story. This seemed slightly unnecessary – I see why it was done, as it would have been easy to forget plot points if it had been a while since you read the last story, but perhaps those passages could have been edited to make this run more smoothly as a collection.

To wrap this all up, I thought I’d show you my individual ratings:
Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy (Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan) – 3 feathers
The Lost Herondale (Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman) – 4 feathers
The Whitechapel Fiend (Cassandra Clare & Maureen Johnson) – 3.5 feathers
Nothing but Shadows (Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan) – 5 feathers
The Evil We Love (Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman) – 3 feathers
Pale Kings and Princes (Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman) – 4 feathers
Bitter of Tongue (Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan) – 4 feathers
The Fiery Trial (Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson) – 4 stars
Born to Endless Night (Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan) – 3.5 feathers
Angels Twice Descending (Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman) – 4 feathers

2017 · Currently Reading · June

Currently Reading | June 2017

I was going to do a May Wrap-Up video and upload it to YouTube, but I haven’t had the opportunity to film lately and I also realised that I didn’t finish a single book in May, so there’s that. Instead, I decided to do a new Currently Reading-post with all the books I’m in the middle of and hoping to finish this month.

  • American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know that I started this around two months ago because I wanted to watch the TV show. Then Amazon wouldn’t let me because apparently it’s only available outside of the UK if you’re a UK resident on holiday even though they said it would be available all around the world. So I fell out of reading the book and I’m still only like a fourth of the way through it, but I am determined to finish it.

  • Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

I started this way back as well, just after its release, and I still haven’t finished it either. I have read around a third of it and I have enjoyed what I’ve read very much, but school got in the way. I will probably finish this before I finish American Gods, as this was (is?) one of my most anticipated books of the year.

  • The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss

This is more or less the only book I’ve been consistently reading for the past few weeks, as it is my current audiobook. It’s so easy to just plug in my headphones and start listening when I’m doing other things, so that’s probably why I’ve been more consistent in “reading” this lately. I’m liking it a lot so far, mainly because of Kvothe as a character. I’m thinking about writing a discussion post on this entire series once I’m finished, because there’s so much to say about it from a literary perspective. It might be a while until that’s up, though, as I’m only halfway through this so far and the audiobook is 42 hours long ^.^’

  • Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman

I picked this up on a whim the other day because I suddenly really felt like reading it and now I’m almost finished. I love that feeling when a book grabs you and pulls you in, and it’s been a while since that happened. This will probably be the one of the physical books that I finish first.

  • Lord of Shadows, by Cassandra Clare

I haven’t actually started this yet, but I plan on starting it as soon as possible. I’ve been trying to avoid spoilers, but from what I’ve been able to glean from cryptic tweets, it seems as if shit is about to go down. So I’m excited to dive in, and will hopefully get around to doing so soon!

That was everything for today. I will hopefully be able to go back to my ordinary posting schedule from now on, which I am really happy about 😀 !

2017 · June

I’m Back!

I’ve been pretty quiet on here for the last couple of weeks. I’ve had a lot to do for class with two exams and finalizing my BA project so the blog had to take a step back for a while, but now I’m officially on summer holiday so I’ll be reading more for fun and I’ll also have more time for my blog. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me from now on! I have so many ideas for posts and YouTube videos that I can’t wait to put up, so hopefully I can get around to that soon. My May wrap-up will probably be up first some time next week, so look forward to that 🙂

That was really everything I wanted to say. I just wanted to check in and say hi 🙂 .

2016 · June · Reviews

Book Review: “Since You’ve Been Gone”, by Morgan Matson

Published in 2014 by Audible Audio | Physical book published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster | 4.5 stars

Does anyone else mentally start singing the Kelly Clarkson song when you hear the title?

If you didn’t until now, you’re welcome 😉

Summary:

Emily has been best friends with Sloane ever since they accidentally ran into each other two years ago. Then one day, Sloane disappears without a trace. Her house is empty. She doesn’t answer her phone. She didn’t even leave a note. Until a list shows up in the mail two weeks after Sloane’s disappearance, with 13 things for Emily to do. So Emily decides to do every single thing on the list, because it might get Sloane back.

Review:

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. And I’m not entirely sure why. The thing is though, that this is a very cosy contemporary book. It’s perfect for summer.

I think that part of that surprise might have to do with the fact that I listened to this on audiobook, and the audiobook was great. Many people might have a problem with the narrator as her voice might come across as a bit self-important. However, I think she was perfect, and it is probably a contributing factor to why I liked Since You’ve Been Gone so much.

Another thing is that the back cover pretty much spoils the entire story. The description on the back is literally what you get. Then again, you get to follow Emily as she winds her way between the various things on the list, how she ends up doing everything and what the connection between each listed thing is.

Since You’ve Been Gone is slightly reminiscent of John Green’s Paper Towns, which I read last summer and liked a lot as well. I didn’t even make the connection until I described the former to my sister, and she said “oh, it almost sounds a little like Paper Towns!”. She definitely has a point. The storylines of both books are different, and Since You’ve Been Gone doesn’t have the pretentiousness that tend to be part of John Green’s books, but it has more to do with the feel of the story.

This turned into a very long review. I didn’t know I had that much to say. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

2016 · June · Reviews

Book Review: “Farlig Midsommar”, by Tove Jansson

Published in 2015 by Rabén & Sjögren | First published in 1954 | Mumintrollen #5 | Five Feathers
Translated into English as “Moominsummer Madness”

Summary from the back of my (Swedish) edition (my own translation, because I liked it so much):

Did you know that hattifatteners come from seeds, and that you have to sow them during the midsummer night? And did you know that it is dangerous to whistle in the theatre?

This is the story about what happens during the magical month of June, the same year as the fire-breathing mountain moved and Moomintroll’s mom made her most beautiful bark-boat. The entire Moomin valley was flooded and a theatre came floating along… and the Moomin family was brought into a midsummer night’s adventure filled with magic and surprises.

Review:

During the past year, I have become increasingly fond of the Moomin books. This was the third one I read, and so far I think it’s my favourite. I bought it almost a year ago, but have been saving it for the midsummer weekend to be in the right mood for it. It worked. This was such a wonderful book.

There are some absurd themes to this, which I really enjoyed. For example, the Moomin family’s house is flooded, but they just shrug and go with it. Then they find a floating theatre and randomly move in.

Another aspect I loved about this is the fact that there are several layers to it, which makes it possible for everyone to enjoy it. It can be read as a mystical story about midsummer, but it is also possible to see metaphors and similes in it. This means that both children and adults can enjoy it, so it’s a book (series) that you can have with you for a long time.

That said, I don’t think this is something for everyone. But I loved it and thought that it is a wonderful book.

2016 · June · Wrap-Ups

Top 5 Favourite Books So Far This Year

So.
It’s June 30th.
I feel as if I sat here a year ago wondering where the year had gone, and now I’m there again. I wanted to make one of these lists, even though I haven’t read that much for fun this year. However, there are some books that I read for class that I really liked, so I might include some of them too.

(This list is in no particular order).

1. The Arrival, by Shaun Tan
This is one of those books that I read for class, though I would probably have picked it up on my own sooner or later as our teacher spoke very highly about it. It’s a graphic novel (picture book?) without words about a man who moves to a new country to make a better life for himself and his family. It’s a beautiful book, which says a lot about immigration and other important things.
Read it.

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This is about Ari, who can’t swim and who isn’t good with words and who struggles with himself. It is also about Dante, who is the opposite of all those things. They become friends over learning how to swim. This book is wonderful. I wish it had existed when I was 15.

3. Night of Cake and Puppets, by Laini Taylor
This is the companion novella to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series that I read last year, and it follows the first date of Zuzana and Mik. This is a cute love story, and that is why I like it.

4. Since You’ve Been Gone, by Morgan Matson
I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did. It’s a contemporary about Emily whose best friend Sloane disappears, leaving only a list with things for Em to do in her wake. Just as Night of Cake and Puppets, it is a cute love story which is perfect for summer. Also, I really liked the narrator of the audiobook.

(I might write a review for this).

5.  Farlig Midsommar, by Tove Jansson
I bought this almost a year ago, but I have been saving it to be able to read it over midsummer to be in the right mood for it. What I particularly liked about it was that all these weird things happen, and the Moomins just shrug and go with it. Even if their house was just flooded and they have to live on a floating theatre.

I could have put Markus Zuzak’s The Book Thief or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling on here, but they were both rereads. And though I really liked them both, Harry Potter is such a given favourite that I didn’t want it to take up space from other books, and I didn’t like The Book Thief as much the first time around.

So there you have it. My top 5 so far this year and the first post on my rebooted book blog.