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 · 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 · 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.

2018 · February · Reviews

Book Review: “Bildhuggarens Dotter”, by Tove Jansson

Published in 1968 | Audiobook read by the author herself | Four feathers
There’s an English translation called “The Sculptor’s Daughter”


This is Tove Jansson’s autobiography, told in short story-like chapters that each deal with a different episode of her childhood.


Bildhuggarens Dotter was wonderful, just as all of Tove’s books are. What I have come to appreciate about her stories is especially the language and the characterization, and her ability to tell a story from the viewpoint of a child without it being influenced by an adult eye. I would love to be able to write like that.

However, I have come to the conclusion that listening to the audiobooks probably isn’t the best way to read Tove’s stories. I like that she narrates them herself (her accent in particular is lovely), but these stories need to be properly read. As a reader, you need to be able to go back and reread passages, and it would probably be good to have the possibility to take more of a break between chapters or stories to actually let whatever you just read sink in. Tove’s writing is best that way.

A passage from this book that has stuck with me is the fact that her family had a pet monkey when she was a kid. On the one hand, I’m not entirely surprised, but who has a pet monkey?? It is a pretty funny detail.

If you haven’t already, you should definitely read this as soon as possible, especially if you already have some prior knowledge of the author.

2018 · January · Wrap-Ups

Wrap-Up | January 2018

HOW is it February already?? I didn’t read that much in January; I actually only finished two books, but I am also in the middle of two other books, so I thought I’d do this wrap-up anyway.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Published in 2012 | Originally published in 1843 | Three feathers

I read this for class, because I have to write an essay on it, but I’ve wanted to read it for quite a while. However, it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. I like the story and the setting, but I find Dickens’ books really slow, so it felt like it took ages to read even though it is under 100 pages long. A Christmas Carol therefore ended up feeling pretty average.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli
Published in 2015 by Penguin | Five feathers

By contrast, I loved this one! The story was cute, and I liked how modern-day social medias were integrated into the story – for example, the school had a Tumblr page which felt more realistic than them using Facebook, for example. Overall, it made me really happy, and I ended up putting away school work for the day to finish reading this ^.^’

Those were the books I actually finished, but I am reading two other books as well:

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
Published in 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin | Originally published in 2015

I picked this up because I read Fangirl over Christmas and loved it. Nothing much has happened yet as I’m just over 100 pages in, but so far I’m liking this one too. I’ll be back with a better review once I’ve finished it! 🙂

Brott och straff (Crime and Punishment), by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Published in 2010 by Bonnier Pocket | Originally published in 1866

This one is so boring! I’ve been listening to it on audiobook, it’s almost 30 hours long, and so far I’ve listened to around 8 hours. It’s all angst and paranoia and I don’t care about these characters. Ugh. It’s for class, but we’ll see if I end up finishing it.

2017 · 2018 · December · Reviews

Book Review: “Fangirl”, by Rainbow Rowell

Published in 2013 by Pan Macmillan | Five feathers


This is about Cath, who starts college with her twin sister Wren. They’ve always been close, so Cath assumes that everything is going to continue the way it has always been: they’ll be roommates, they’ll attend class together, and Wren will continue helping Cath with her fan fiction. However, Wren wants the whole college experience with parties and boys. So Cath has to learn to deal with everything new in her life.


To begin with: I loved Fangirl! I’m always a bit skeptical towards hyped books, because in many cases I don’t love them as much as everyone else seems to do. But this one was great. I could relate so much to Cath and her anxiety, and I loved how the fandom aspects were incorporated into the story. It’s definitely up there with my favourite books of 2017.

What I didn’t get was the deal with Levi. Sure, he was okay, but everyone has been talking so much about Levi that I thought that he must be something special, but he wasn’t really? That is probably an unpopular opinion, but he didn’t stand out as a character to me.

Also, I would sometimes forget that the novel is written in the third person, and then I would be surprised when I suddenly realised that it isn’t. That’s not really a criticism, but it was something that occurred to me while reading.

Overall, I liked this a lot, and would definitely recommend it if you like contemporaries centered around fandoms with a relatable main character.

2017 · 2018 · December · Reviews

Book Review: “Turtles All the Way Down”, by John Green

Published in 2017 by Penguin | Four feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.


Turtles All the Way Down has been everywhere this past autumn and winter. Since I’ve read and enjoyed all of John Green’s other books in the past, I figured that I’d pick this one up as well and give it a go. And I liked it. In a sense, it is a very typical John Green book, both in terms of the writing style and the characters. The thing is, I know a lot of people who don’t like his books because of the overly intelligent teenagers, but I don’t mind that. Teenagers aren’t stupid, and he doesn’t dumb them down, which I like.

When it comes to Turtles, it had a very good representation of OCD. As someone who lives with the same type of mental illness, it was cool reading about someone on the same level of crazy as me ^.^. However, we are put into Aza’s head and we’re not let out when she gets stuck in one of her thought spirals, which means that we go into those spirals with her. That is what docked a star on the rating for me, because though the representation is good, it was also slightly difficult to read. The portrayal of the thought spirals were almost too good, if that makes sense. I guess it should be mentioned as well that the summary is not entirely representative of the plot. The book is about finding the billionaire, but it’s more about Aza’s OCD.

Also, I was not expecting that ending! I don’t know what I was expecting, and it makes sense in retrospect, but I didn’t fully see it coming.

To wrap things up a little, I would recommend this if you like John Green’s books or generally like the sound of this one in particular and would like to read a book with a good representation of mental health issues.

2017 · 2018 · December · Reviews

Book Review: “Sommarboken”, by Tove Jansson

Published in 1972 by Albert Bonniers Förlag | Audiobook read by the author herself | Five feathers
There’s an English translation called “The Summer Book”, published by Sort Of Books in 2003

“Sommarboken” is the story about a little girl called Sophia and her grandmother, and it follows the duo’s summer adventures on an island in the Finnish archipelago.


Finally it’s time for my long overdue review of Sommarboken! Especially considering that I finished it about a month ago ^.^’ . I can begin by saying that I loved this book so much! It reminded me a lot about Moomin in the catastrophic themes, the grandmother had clear streaks of Snufkin, and it had the same subtle humour. It’s a great place to start if you’ve read Moomin and would like to try out something else by Tove.

There is no real, overarching story; instead, it is an episodic story where each chapter is about a different thing. I liked that, but it was slightly difficult to get an idea of the time frame. It might have to do with the audiobook, though, and that I wasn’t always paying as much attention as I might have if I had read it as a physical book.

Speaking of, I adored the audiobook! The author read it herself, and as she was from Finland, she had a lovely accent. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the Finnish accent that I find so calming. All you Swedish-speakers out there will know what I mean.

In short, this book was great! As I mentioned earlier, I think you would like this if you have read Moomin and would like to try some of Tove’s adult stuff, because it’s such a Tove book that you’ll instantly feel at home.

2017 · December · Wrap-Ups

Wrap-Up | December 2017

I read quite a lot in December, so I’m just going to jump right in! There will not be any long reviews or deep thoughts on any of these books – some I didn’t have enough to say about, and some will be getting full reviews very soon.

“A Room of One’s Own”, by Virginia Woolf
Three feathers
I found this pretty slow, and it felt like it took forever to read. I do appreciate it for its importance, though.

“Sommarboken”, by Tove Jansson
Five feathers
This was the first of Tove’s adult books I read, and I loved it so much! It was very typical of her writing/story style, and there were certainly some references to Moomin. There will be a full review of this up some time soon.

“Vitsvit”, by Athena Farrokhzad
No rating
I didn’t rate this because I honestly don’t know what I think about it and now it’s been a few weeks since I finished it.

“Turtles All the Way Down”, by John Green
Four feathers
I have very ambivalent feelings towards this book. It was a typical John Green-book, I did not expect the ending, and the ocd representation was great. The thing is that that representation was almost too good if that makes sense, it was good on the verge of being triggering. There will be a full review of this as well at some point in the near future, where I’ll elaborate a bit more on my thoughts.

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, by Joanna Bolouri
Three feathers
This was okay, it was a good book to bring to the beach as it wasn’t too deep. There was a lot of swearing, though, so keep that in mind ^.^’

“Fangirl”, by Rainbow Rowell
Five feathers
I loved this ❤ . Cath was so relatable as well! I actually liked it so much that I immediately ordered Carry On, which I’m currently impatiently waiting for to arrive in the mail.

“Citizen: An American poem”, by Claudia Rankine
Three feathers
This deals with some important topics, especially race and racism, in a cool format.

“Minnet av vatten”, by Emmi Itäranta
Three feathers
This was just okay. There was no real plot and no real ending, and there was little explanation as to how society became what it is in this novel.

“Natten som föregick denna dag”, by Johanne Lykke Holm
One feather
I think that this might be my very first one-feather rating! I originally rated it two feathers, but at the moment, I can’t remember any of the plot. So be it that I skim-read it, but it says a lot that nothing in this book stuck with me, even though it’s only been around a week since I finished it.