2017 · August · Reviews

Book Review: “Heartless”, by Marissa Meyer

Published in 2016 by Feiwel and Friends | 3.5 feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Review:

I liked Heartless a lot better than I thought I would. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite classics, and I was wondering whether it would actually live up to the whimsy. And though it did lack some of that whimsy, there were other aspects I think it did really well. It was a nice idea with a background story to the Queen of Hearts, and I liked most of the characters (especially Hatta). I also loved that Cath’s biggest hobby was baking, and that her dream was to open a bakery. There were also instances where Cath’s feeling of being trapped was almost tangible, and I felt with her in those moments.

However, the insta-love is real -.-‘ . It felt very weird that Cath ended up turning her back to Mary Ann when they had been best friends for their entire lives, only to become this crazy, blood-thirsty, “off with their heads”–queen because of Jest who she only just met. That’s what made me pull down the rating. I did give it 4 stars on Goodreads, but in reality, it is closer to a 3.5.

2017 · August · Reviews

Book Review: “The Wise Man’s Fear”, by Patrick Rothfuss

Published in 2011 by Gollancz | The Kingkille Chronicle, day 2 | Audiobook read by Rupert Degas | 3 feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.

So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view — a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man’s Fear, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King’s Road.

All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived…until Kvothe.

In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

Review:

This book was such a disappointment. I loved the first book, but The Wise Man’s Fear fell considerably short. Rothfuss spends way too much time describing relatively few large events, which grows tedious in the long run. A third, or even half, of the details and side quests could have been cut out and the book would have benefited from it. It wasn’t interesting enough to read/listen to every tiny little detail.

Rothfuss also puts a lot of trust in the reader, which to some extent is great, because I don’t like when books are over-explanatory or underestimates the reader’s capability to understand the story. Here, however, it goes too far in the other direction. It’s almost directed towards a reader in Kvothe’s world, and consequently assumes that you already know a lot about the world when it would actually have been helpful with a little more explanation. This is especially true when it comes to the legend of Kvothe – it would have been great to know about the legend before going into the backstory. The story thus comes across as inconsistent – it presents too much detail in most parts and too little detail in other parts. Both things make it difficult to see the significance all the events will have for the larger scheme of things.

In the “present-day” chapters, there’s a lot of talk about a war going on, but we don’t get very much detail about it. Also, at the end of this book, Kvothe is still around 16 in the backflashes, which is strange. It feels as if too much has happened to him for him to be that young.

What I did like about The Wise Man’s Fear is Kvothe as a character, because he’s clever and he knows it, but he still does some stupid shit. I also like Bast, because he’s so unpredictable. And I like the “present-day” parts better than the backflashes because that’s where you at least get glimpses of the present Kvothe and some background info about the world.

2017 · July · Uncategorized · Wrap-Ups

Wrap-Up | July

I had a very good reading month in July, and didn’t rate a single book under four stars. I also ended up finishing six books this month, which I’m very proud of.

Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
5 feathers
Review here

I loved this book, and the best thing was that I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. It was also unexpectedly funny, and Nina was my favourite character. I much prefer this to the original Grisha trilogy, although I never actually finished that series.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, by Benjamin Alire Sàenz
5 feathers
Review here

I loved this as well, and my favourite part was the focus on friendship and family. It was great to see that the main character had such a positive relationship to his dad. My main problem with this was, though, that there were some questions that were left unanswered that I would have liked to see answered, but other than that, this book was amazing <3.

Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen, by Tove Jansson
4 feathers

This was the very first Moomin book, and I’ve been wanting to read it just to be able to say that I’ve read all the Moomin chapter books. This particular one is out of print, though, but I found the audiobook version on Spotify and since it was less than an hour long, I listened to it on my way to and from work one day. I never wrote a full review because I didn’t think I had enough to say. I liked it a lot, though – it was a cute little book, and definitely worth the read it you like Moomin.

Unfiltered, by Lily Collins
4 feathers
Review here

Unfiltered was an easy and accessible read, almost to the point that I felt as if it was directed towards a slightly younger audience. But Collins seems to be a very positive person, and I still took away something from reading this book.

Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo
5 feathers
Review here

This definitely lived up to its predecessor, and I ended up loving this just as much as Six of Crows! I wasn’t expecting the ending to be quite so open and melancholy, but it actually suited the story. The duology will most definitely make my yearly favourites list <3.

Muminpappans memoarer, by Tove Jansson
4 feathers
Review here

The last book I finished in July was Muminpappans memoarer, yet another Moomin book. It was a little bit different than the other Moomin books I’ve read, and the characters came across as slightly different than they’ve seemed in the other books. I think the reason is that it’s told from Moominpappa’s perspective. I still liked it though.

2017 · July · Reviews

Book Review: “Muminpappans Memoarer”, by Tove Jansson

Published in 2014 by Rabén & Sjögren | Originally published in 1950/1968 | Four feathers

This has been translated into English as “Moominpappa’s Memoirs” or “The Exploits of Moominpappa”

Summary from Goodreads:

Before he had a family, before he met Moominmamma, Moominpappa led a life of adventure and intrigue. But he’s never told his story until now.
Now Moominpappa has a bad cold, and it’s the perfect time to remember his youthful endeavors and to ponder the Experiences which have made him the remarkable Moomin he is. As he reads each chapter aloud to Moomintroll, Snufkin, and Sniff, they, and we, learn of his triumphs and tribulations, and his momentous meetings with the Joxter, the Muddler, and a cast of other characters too incredible (especially Edward the Booble) to list here.

Review:

This was a little bit different than the other Moomin books I’ve read. It’s not as melancholy, and the characters also felt slightly different than they usually are. I guess that because it’s told from Moominpappa’s perspective, Moomin, Snufkin, and Sniff come across more as kids than they usually do because that’s how he sees them, and that is probably the main reason why the characters seem different.

I love Moomin so much. All these absurd things happen, but the characters just shrug and go with it. I found myself giggling aloud several times throughout this novel, but I docked a feather because I think it lacked some of the depth that I’ve seen in other books in the series. If you want to ease yourself into Moomin, maybe this could be a good place to start. However, be aware of Moominpappa’s slightly annoying personality.

2017 · July · Reviews

Book Review: “Crooked Kingdom”, by Leigh Bardugo

Published in 2016 by Henry Holt and Company | Six of Crows #2 | Five feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Review:

I loved this just as much as I loved Six of Crows. I still like all the characters a lot, and it was nice to see how all the events played out and tied together. The ending was slightly melancholy and to some extent a little sad, which I wasn’t entirely expecting, but it suited the story and I actually quite liked the fact that it didn’t have an entirely happy ending.

If you like fantasy novels based around heists with a group of clever misfits as protagonists, I would definitely recommend this series. It’s one of my absolute favourites of this year *heart-eye emoji*.

2017 · July · Reviews

Book Review: “Unfiltered”, by Lily Collins

Published in 2017 by Harper | Four feathers

Summary:

This is an essay collection about self confidence and self love and finding your own voice.

Review:

Lily Collins seems to be a very positive person! That was literally my first thought after finishing this. Unfiltered was definitely worth the read, and it deals with important topics about not letting anyone else dictate your life. It was very accessible and easy to read, almost to the point that it was a little bit too colloquial. For example, there were some essays that contained annoyingly many exclamation marks. Maybe the book is directed at a slightly younger audience – I’m turning 22 in a couple of weeks, so I’m thinking that perhaps it was written more for high school students. It also got pretty cheesy at times.

That said, I am happy that I read it, and it’s definitely worth reading.

2017 · July · Reviews

Book Review: “The Inexplicable Logic of My Life”, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Published in 2017 by Clarion Books | Five feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

The first day of senior year:

Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

Review:

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know that I loved this author’s other book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and I’m happy to say that I liked this a lot as well! My first thought after finishing it was that it was beautiful <3. I think that if you like John Green’s books, you’ll probably like this one too. It has the same feel to it and it does occasionally come across as a teensy bit pretentious, but that’s part of what I like about John Green’s books as well, so I guess it wasn’t entirely unexpected that I should like this too. What I enjoyed the most was the focus on friendship and family – it was amazing to see good friendships and family relationships presented alongside the ones that weren’t as good. I think that focus is a bit lacking in young adult literature as a whole, so it was great seeing it here.

There were a few questions that were left unanswered, though. I wanted to know who Sal’s biological father was, and I wanted to know if he ended up going to Columbia. I see that those plot points would probably have made the story even longer, but it would have been nice to have seen them answered as well. Also, I understand that people might question whether it is possible for so much shit to happen to such a small group of people, but I think it was handled well here, and to me, it wasn’t a problem.

As you will have noticed, I loved this <3. Maybe it just made its way onto a favourites list! 🙂

2017 · June · Reviews

Book Review: “Six of Crows”, by Leigh Bardugo

Published in 2015 by Henry Holt & Company | Six of Crows #1 | Five feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

Review:

I loved this book so much! The best thing was that I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did – I never expect books to live up to the hype. But this one did, and I’m very glad that it did. It was also unexpectedly funny, and I really enjoyed the banter between the characters. Nina ended up being my favourite of the bunch.

*Spoilers ahead*

The only thing I thought about was whether they actually had tanks in the 1800s (as this book seems to be set in a fantasy version of the Victorian era). After googling, I gathered that it seems as if they had. I also found it a bit strange that they managed to drive this tank through a wall that was supposed to be impenetrable. It didn’t seem fully realistic to me, but that was also the biggest “complaint” I had.

*End of spoilers*

I have read the first book in the Grisha trilogy, which is Leigh Bardugo’s other series. Though I didn’t dislike it, I didn’t love it either – it was one of those meh books that didn’t intrigue me enough to make me want to read the rest of the series. Six of Crows was much better, so if you’re only going to read one series by her, read this one.

2017 · June · Reviews

Book Review: “American Gods”, by Neil Gaiman

Published in 2013 by Headline | Originally published in 2001 | Four feathers

Summary:

This is about Shadow Moon, who is released from prison a few days early because his wife passes away in a car accident. On his way home, Shadow meets Mr Wednesday and, since he has nowhere else to go, he agrees to be Wednesday’s bodyguard. Then Shadow finds himself pulled into a war between the old gods (i.e. from Norse/Egyptian mythology etc.) and the new gods (technology and media, etc.)

Review:

American Gods is a very strange book, so if you haven’t read anything by Neil Gaiman before, I wouldn’t recommend starting here. But if you have and liked it, you should definitely get around to this ASAP.

My favourite thing about this was the premise – I liked the idea of a war between old gods and new gods, and I also liked how much influence there was from Norse mythology especially. However, the chapters tended to be really long – some were close to 50 pages – and if there’s something I don’t like in books, it’s long chapters. They take forever to finish and it never feels as if you’re getting anywhere.

It was also occasionally super weird, so I don’t think that American Gods is a book for everybody. But if you like mythology-inspired fantasy and Gaiman’s writing, I would recommend this.