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.

2017 · Favourites · Wrap-Ups

My Top 5 Favourite Books of the Year So Far

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of June! I haven’t read that much during the first half of the year, so I’m a bit behind on my reading challenge, but I’m hoping to fix that during the summer 🙂 . Anyway, here’s my annual list of the top five books I’ve read during the first half of the year. Usually, I don’t include rereads, but I’m going to do so now because I’ve reread a couple of books this year that I ended up liking more the second time around. And, as per usual, this list is in no particular order.

  • To the Bright Edge of the World, by Eowyn Ivey

I read this at the very beginning of the year, and liked it a lot. I especially liked the format – it’s told through letters and diary entries –  and I also liked reading about Alaska. It felt as if I got to explore it alongside the characters. If you want to know more of my thoughts on it, you can find my review here.

  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I first read this around three years ago, but I didn’t really see what was so special about it. Then I reread it for class earlier this year and loved it! It helped a lot to discuss it in class, because now I have a more full picture of all the little details. This is now one of my favourite classics, and if you want to know more of what I thought about it, you can find my review here.

  • Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

I especially liked the humour in this, and how the gods would continually mess up and then ended up having to clean up after themselves. This is a very accessible retelling of the myths, so I would definitely recommend checking it out. My full review can be found here.

  • The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

I don’t think I like this as much now as I did when I first finished reading it, but I still like it better than the second book in the series. The narrator of the audiobook was great, and I liked Kvothe as a character because he’s smart and he knows it, but he also does some stupid shit sometimes. It had a lot of what I want from high fantasy novels. You can find my review here.

  • Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

I liked this book so much, and Lazlo is such a sweet character! This is possibly the first time I have ended up having a favourite chapter in a book. Laini Taylor is also good at making both sides of a conflict complex with their own motives – that’s something I appreciated about the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy as well. My review can be found here if you want to check it out 🙂 .

That was everything for today’s post! You can find last year’s half-year favourites-post here if you want to see which books I listed there. I hope y’all are having a nice summer so far – which are your favourite books that you’ve read so far this year?

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 😀 !