Books of August

Romanov 

Nadine Brandes

This book suffers from either an identity crisis or just a case of a really bad summary.  

When I borrowed the book I was expecting action, adventure, magic and not much historical accuracy. That was what the summary said, “But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.” (Goodreads) That sounds like action to me. But no, the first ⅔ ‘s of the book is what I assume a fairly historically accurate retelling of their time in exile. With very little magic, and no action. 

If they just would have written it, I would have had no problem with it. Historical accuracy is fun, and I would have found it interesting to learn more about the Romanovs if that had been advertised. But, since I was expecting fantasy and excitement, I just found it boring. 

Brandes also fails at assuming what people already know about the Romanovs and the revolution. My knowledge is limited to the movie Anastasia and a brief history lesson in connection to the World Wars. The book starts with the Romanovs already exiled and abdicated and explains nothing of what has happened before, or who the different actors are. Side note, I really dislike it when a book is written in English, but the characters are supposed to be from some other country and to show this, they at occasions say random words in their mother tongue, but for the most part just speak English. It is weird. 

That said, the last ⅓ was more of what I was expecting, magic and action. And once I got to it, I found the book quite enjoyable. Had it been advertised correctly I think that I would have liked the entirety.   

Six of Crows 

Leigh Bardugo

Whenever I read fantasy heist books I go through multiple stages. The first is always: Oh no, a fantasy heist book. The last one is always: Why don’t I read more fantasy heist books? I really should read more fantasy heist books.

I honestly have nothing to say about the book other than it was good and that the characters should have been older. The oldest of the main characters was eighteen, most of the others were seventeen, but one or two of them were even younger. Having young characters is often not a problem, but it becomes odd when all of them act like grownups. There was no fumbling teenagingness going on, no awkward romances, no uncertainties. They were all selfasured, well dressed, eloquent and did a lot of things you can’t imagine teenagers doing. Like killing people. It kind of made those scenes funny, I could not help but think that they were younger than me. 

Overall, great book, weird ages.    

Son of Neptune 

Rick Riordan 

The best part of reading this book was when I had to go home and ditched my friend’s Swedish copy and borrow my brother’s English copy. That ment that Riptide was once more called Riptide and not Tidvattensvåg, English is so much cooler. 

But for real. The Swedish translation is at times ridiculous. Books are just so much better in English. Fight me!

As always Riordan writes brilliantly and fun books enjoyable for the whole family. I can’t wait for the TV adaptation that I’ll pirate watch because I don’t like Disney.

Books of June

Persuasion

Jane Austen 

I have read my fair share of exes to lover stories, and I have never particularly enjoyed any of them. Jane Austen changed that.

Persuasion would have been a better read in the fall, there is a cosy, “sitting indoors in a nice thick sweater, while it rains outside” vibe to it. It is at times a melancholic story and at the same time you know that it will have a happy ending, making the whole read overall cosy. Like a bad weathered fall day; it looks gloomy, but you know that eventually the sun will shine again and that knowledge means that the weather can be enjoyed to the fullest.   

It is not only a book of lost love, of course there is a sense of humor in it. In fact it starts with a brutal roasting of the main characters’ father. Multiple pages telling us how his only personality trait is vanity. How could you not love Austen’s works? That is just one of many examples scattered thru the book, Austen’s wit should never be underestimated. 

The worst part of this book is that I now have unrealistic romantic expectations. If my future partner doesn’t write me a romantic letter telling me how they feel and that they will respect whatever choice I make, then what is the point? I would even settle for an email, or a really long text. There is so much feeling in words. I adore it.     

Pride and Prejudice is the classic Jane Austen, and it will always be loved by me. But I think that Persuasion is my new favourite. The tenderness and sense of humor of the book just really speaks to me. I look forward to reading while it rains.   

Renegades

Marissa Meyer

I have recently decided to give up on Marvels superhero movies. I am no longer interested in movies, that only is meant to make money for Disney. I’m glad to have found this book series as a reading replacement for any future Marvel movie. 

This book starts with a somewhat typical anti hero that  goes undercover to infiltrate the good guys. So I was scared that the protagonist would see the “error” of her way, betray her former allies and join the good guys. She didn’t. 

Meyer portrays both sides as both good and bad, as it tends to be with different sides of politics. So far it is up to the reader to choose with groups values they believe in. 

One thing that helps with that, is having dual p.o.v. One from the girl protagonist and one from the boy that has a large role, however not being a lead character (he doesn’t get too much page time).

This is a good example of how to write a good fighter. Meyer actually shows us how the protagonist defeats her enemies and in what way she is powerful. Meyer doesn’t just tell us that over and over again without actually showing it, making the reader question the abilities.   Yes, I’m still upset over Throne of Glass….. But back to Meyer’s writing. She shows us how Nova, the main character, is smart, inventive and a good fighter through the entire book. It makes the whole book, which centers around superheroes and villains, more credible.

Another thing I like with the book, is the setting. It takes place after a revolution that dismantled all governments, leaving the world in anarchy. After that there was another revolution between the anarchist and people that wanted to restart a government. In the beginning of Renegades, the world is a police/military dictatorship with constant talk of making it a democracy. The “good guys” rule and ironically don’t realise that the world they created has as many flaws as the anarchistic had. I don’t think that I have ever read a book that takes place after the revolution when the world is getting rebuilt. It was an interesting and (for me) unique storytelling way, one that I look forward to returning to.     

The Migration

Helen Marshall

Reading a story about a pandemic that only affects children in a world plagued by climate change induced storms, it was almost like reading the news. 

The concept was good, and for most of the book I was on the edge of my seat. But I felt like the ending was severely lacking and that ruined the book for me. Children all over the world are getting sick, eventually dying, and after their death they start transforming. All good so far. But I felt like we never got a good enough explanation of why they were changing. That made the main characters arcs ending extra weak. I never understood if transforming was a good thing or not, so I mostly felt confused. Honestly, I would have prefered if Marshall just would have gone with aliens.       

There were other smaller things that bothered me too. Like how the main character managed to steal her sisters’ corpse from the hospital. A sister that died from the pandemic and whose body was to be taken care of carefully. How could that hospital be so easy to break into? Especially given that it was one of the leading research centers. This brings me to the only thing that I liked about the book, the doctor. She was the only interesting character, doing morally bad things ordered by her boss. Eventually her morals got the better of her and she gave the protagonist some horrifying information about how the hospital was conducting some highly unethical experiments. If only Marshall would have made them the bad guys.    

Except for the doctor most of the book was forgettable, particularly after getting to the end. If you want to read about a pandemic, just read the news.

The Lost Hero

Rick Riordan 

I read Percy Jackson when I was ten, maybe? And I loved the series, I even reread it. The last book ends with a new prophecy and a promise of new books. Back then I did not think of Googling and therefore learned of the new series much later. Had I thought of using the internet, I would definitely have made my parents buy The Lost Hero. And I would have been so very disappointed, as Percy isn’t in it. Rick Riordan is brave, I’v give him that. 

Now that I’m older the lack of Percy didn’t affect me as it would have. Instead I think it was a good move on Riordans part. It forces the reader to accept and get to know the new characters and not just wait for the old favorites to appear. Beside adding new characters, Riordan also adds more diverse representation. The first five books were great, kids with ADHD and dyslexia, but most of them were white. With The Lost Hero Riordan introduces one Native American protagonist and one Hispanic protagonist.  

As usual Riordan excels in writing funny. I was reading the book, at my friends’ and I kept having to take a break and read the funniest lines out loud to her. It was impossible to read all of the fun lines out loud because I did not have time to read the entire book to her. That’s how fun it is. It is not just how he writes that is fun, it is all of the bonkers situations they find themself in that’s also amusing. 

I can’t believe that it took me at least eight years to read this book.  I will most likely read the rest of the series before the summer is over. (I can’t believe that I’ll have to borrow these books from my brother!)       

Ash Princess

Laura Sebastian

When I opened the book and the ruler was called “kaiser” (German word for emperor) I was sceptical, it got worse when Søren was introduced on page eight. Do you know how annoying it is to read and suddenly an å, ä or ö just pops up in a word and ruins the flow. My brain is in English mode and suddenly the word forces it to face Swedish, it is a jarring experience. It didn’t help that Søren is an old man’s name, the Søren in the book is supposed to be young. I’m glad that I managed to look beyond my scepticism because Ash Princess is really good.

Sebastian is really good at describing emotions, one of the protagonists’ old family members is killed in the beginning of the book. There was no real time to form an emotional connection to him, despite that, I felt sad over his death, that is how good of an author Sebastian is. 

On the topic of violence, I like how it is treated. The protagonist is the princess in a country colonised and controlled by a people inspired by Scandinavia and Germany and it doesn’t shy away from how awful colonisation was. The princess is treated terribly in the castle and her people are exploited. The colonisateurs use their culture as fashion statements, but look down on all indigenous people. I like that Sebastian didn’t shy away from showing violence, since she didn’t do the thing that some other authors do, when seeming to almost glorify or enjoy the violence. Good work Sebastian, you are a decent human being.   

There were of course some things that I didn’t like with the book, foremost: I hate love triangles. This one is one of the better love triangles, but still. There were some other small things as well, but nothing worth mentioning. Except, she included a random å in the word wås. I thought it was going to mean mås (a type of sea bird). But no, it is the name of the goddess of cats. That was possibly the funniest moment of the whole book.

My only other problem is why didn’t I borrow all of the books at the same time? Now I will have to wait until the next time I go to the library to read the rest. 

Eliza and Her Monsters

Francesca Zappia

When the main character laughed at something on her phone, her parents asked her what was so fun and she replied “nothing” I knew that this was going to be a good book.  

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I deliberately took three days to read it, because I didn’t want it to end. It is the first book about teenagers that I’ve read, that actually feels relatable. I recognize myself in so many things that Eliza do. Her internet habits are similar to mine, the generation gap between her parents and herself is described wonderfully and I see myself in her feelings. The only thing to complain about, is that sometimes the chat language they use is a bit off, but Zappia is not a teenager so I’ll forgive her for that. It is way better than what some older authors try to write.

The mental health representation is on point. Eliza suffers from anxiety and while I don’t, I can say that her panic attack was written very realistic, it was almost painful to read. I had to take a break and calm down after reading it. Don’t know if that is a good or bad grade.

Like I said before, the internet and the generation gap was really well written. Zappia perfectly described what it is like to be in a fandom, how we interact with other people on the net and how it all works. Things that older people just don’t get. Older people were represented by Eliza’s parents, and often reading their conversations felt like revisiting old conversations with my parents. Or, you know, just any rant by old people that complains about the internet.    

Online life is great, and this book gets it. 

I’m not sure if any book about teenagers is ever going to live up to this one, but then again, when my generation start getting books published, then the internet will be well described. Until then I will have to suffer thru books where it, at times, seems like the kids don’t even have a phone, let alone internet activity. Side note, I think I’m going to have to buy this book, it was so good.  

Books of June

Sant Falskt eller Mittemellan

Emma Frans

Frans is fun in a very grown up, normal working-adult way. What I’m trying to say is that most of her jokes revolve around things that are very typical for a normal, working commuter. People eating egg sandwiches next to you on the bus, children’s birthday parties etc. And I think it is very nice, that someone can use the small annoyances in everyday life, and turn it around and make it fun. In the same spirit, Frans knows how to make science fun and enjoyable to read. It was fun to read about her busting common myths, some more absurd than others. I believe this is a good book for introducing people into the scientific way of studying a topic. Frans writes clearly about how the different studies she refers to, are conducted and how that impacts the result that they show.  

I have read her other book, Larmrapport, where she goes into much more detail about source criticism, and while that was a good and important read, that book can also be a bit dense at times, making for a long read. Sant Falskt eller Mittemellan was much easier to read, and could work as an introduction to the important skill that is source criticism. 

My only wish is that she would have ended each myth with a Sant, Falsk or Mittemellan printed in large bold letters. I think that would have been fun.        

I dina ögon (Saint Anything)

Sarah Dessen 

Saint Anything follows the same plot as most of Dessen’s books (all that I’ve read). Young teenage girl starts over again, at a new place, city, school or job. There she meets a group of friends that are all very colourful individuals. She learns nice life lessons and gets a boyfriend. In the end her mother either redeems herself or is never heard from again. Given the amount of bad mothers in Dessen’s books, my conclusion is that she and her mother don’t get along. 

I’ll admit, I bought this book because I knew exactly what to expect, and partly because this spring has been all about reliving my childhood. Dessen was a big part of my life when I was 13. This spring has been a very trying one. 

Of course not everything in these books are the same, I particularly liked Saint Anythings’ plot about the protagonist and her brother. It was interesting to read about her secondhand guilt and her very delusional mother. I do think that the mother changed very quickly. Kind of like Daenerys in the last season of Game of Thrones, there was way too little build up, leading to the transformation feeling out of character and not a natural development.  

My favorite part of this book was that the main character remains friends with her friends from before. Often in Dessen’s books the protagonist either does not have friends from before, or they are just awful. Having multiple friend groups made it seem more realistic to me.

Side note, the Swedish title makes little to no sense, I prefer the English.

Overall, I liked this Dessen as much as I liked the others. They are all solid teenage coming of age books. And if you just don’t read them all back to back the plot recycling isn’t a problem.    

Grey Sister 

Mark Lawrence

Given the previous book’s lack of plot I was a bit hesitant to read this one, and when the eighty or so first pages were a lot like Red Sister, not ploty, I kind of gave up on the book. Then I slept over at my best friend and brought the book with me. My friend sleeps way longer than me, so to cure the boredom, I started reading Grey Sister again. And to my surprise things and not just school happend. In fact, the book was so captivating that I read it all in a day. 

I liked the inclusion of another point of view, that of the Abbess of the convent. The protagonist, Nona, is a young woman who has very little knowledge of the politics in the world. And everyone knows that politics are important in fantasy books, so adding the Abbess makes for good explaining. She is also a fun and interesting character, so interesting that I wouldn’t mind a book just about how she came to be the Abbess. Some of it is told in Grey Sister, but it only increased my interest.

The character development in Grey Sister is well developed (I think that that was fun). I particularly like Zole’s development. In the first book she is kind of mean and a loner, but in Grey sister she becomes more friendly towards  Nona. Firstly settling on mutual respect, but eventually Zole considers Nona her friend, probably the first she ever had, and even breaks rules and former allegiances to help her. I’ve always loved loners making friends.     

Lawrence tries to build the foundations for a romance to be realised in the next book, but it does not really work. I find the crush to come out of nowhere, at least on her side, I can totally see him developing emotions, she is just that awesome. Since the romance hasn’t actually happened yet, I choose to believe that it will improve. I only wish that the crush would have been further explained. But given that that is my only major complaint of this book I would say that Lawrence has made a stellar improvement.         

Holy Sister

Mark Lawrence

I was right, the romance plot was bad. 

I liked how almost all of the characters in this series were females. It was refreshing to read all about females after reading book after book (and watching movie after movie) with a mostly male assembly. Honestly, I do not think that I’m able to name any of the male characters in the book, that is how insignificant they are. Or my ability to remember names is just that Bad.   

The best part of this series was how Nona, the protagonist, starts out as a small, independent, vengeful murderous child, angry at the world and craving revenge, and she was allowed to remain so. Of course she grows as a person, gets friends and learns to trust people, she even becomes caring. But she was still allowed to have her flaws, her anger and headstrongness. Lawrence didn’t turn her into some perfect human being who is strong, good looking smart and forgiving. I thought that was nice of him.     

So, let’s talk about the romance. It was barely in the book, it was under developed and unnecessary. My conspiracy theory; it was only in the book so that Lawrence would not have to write a gay relationship between the protagonist and her best friend. They would have been much better together.    

Final verdict: If you are willing to read the first, very boring book, then there are two standard fantasy books waiting for you. 

Phantom 

Leo Hunt

This book surprised me, in more ways than one. It is far from my first dystopian book, so when I read the summary I thought the plot was clear for me. The protagonist would find a mentor and depending on his age a fatherfigur or a boyfriend in Moth, the legendary hacker. Together they would bring the regim to an end. End the capitalism and bring justice to the poor. That’s more or less how this type of book tends to play out. Phantom was the exception. 

I liked how the protagonist was used by Moth to future his agenda, it was a refreshing take on the chosen trope. And I did like how she was taken in by the big bad, how we got to witness her perspective. It made her very sympathetic, and for a moment there, I wished that the big bad would take the protagonist under her wings and together they would have ruled the world. Sadly that makes for a bad message. 

And now I’m going to let you in on an embarrassing secret, before this I had only read three books with a homosexual main character. Given how many books I have read that number is probably statistically insignificant. Sadly there aren’t that many good fantasy books with LGBTQ+ main characters. Unfortunately I was unable to properly enjoy this romance given that it was severely underdeveloped. Seriously, they fell in love in less than two days. Talk about a case of insta love! I prefer a well developed romance that is at least somewhat realistic.     

I liked how the book ended, I have always been a sucker for an open ending where revolution and betterness is strongly hinted at. There is something about knowing that things are going to get better that just does it for me. I don’t need the actual improvement, just knowing that it might happen is enough for me.  

There was one thing that I did not like about the book, and sadly it can’t be overlooked, the ableism. If you are going to compare people not having the common cyber implants to actual disabled people then you should try damn hard to say that it is fine, that people still are people even if they are disabled and not do what Hunt did. He basically called people with disabilities less worthy, and I can’t stand for that.  

Books of May

I have not been writing much. This spring has been stressful in more ways than I could possibly have imagen. But now that school is basically over I will have more time to write, and I’m looking forward to it.

Populärmusik från Vittula 

Mikael Niemi

This is another book that I read because of school, but this time I did a lot of research before choosing it. I asked my mother, I asked my father, and both of them told me that it was good, that it was a funny book. That, of course, gave me hope and confidence, that for once, I would read a good book from school.  I even asked my grandmother, I mentioned the book when talking with her on the phone, her opinion wasn’t great. She said it was unamusing and a bad read. That only made me more confident, if my grandmother disliked it and my parents liked it, it had to be good. I should never have doubted grandmother. The book was as far from fun as you can get. But at the same time I understand why my parents liked it. The humor was very immature, and so are my parents’.  In the first scene the protagonists’ lips get stuck on cold metal and he has to pour his own warm pee on them to escape. That I could forgive, but then they eat boogers. I feel disgusted just writing it.   

I understand that it was an important book when it came out, Meänkieli needs more and better representation in the media. And those parts were my favorites, the parts where Niemi describes the culture in which he grew up. It is as beautiful as it is brutal, featuring a macho culture that should terrify us all. Despite the horrendusnes there is a feeling of family pride in the book that makes the book almost charming. If only they would allow themself to feel prideful without alcohol. 

Niemis description of the landscape made it very clear that he loves his home. I hate going to the north of Sweden (childhood trauma: cold, mosquitoes and a road trip from hell), but Niemi somehow managed to describe it in such a way that I actually want to visit? That requires some serious talent.  

I could have liked this book, it brings up serious social issues and sheds light on a minority, everything needed for a contemporary book to appeal to me. If only the humor was less… sticky.

Red Sister

Mark Lawrence

I was hesitant before starting Red Sister. It is a book all about girls and women, written by a male. Men do not have the best track record when it comes to writing good female characters. I was kind of expecting to find some over sexualised and underdeveloped characters. I’m very glad that I was wrong. All of the characters got different personalities and motives. There was no sexualisation either, not even with the women who were in relationships with each other, in fact it was treated very well (and cute). Kudos to Lawrence for writing characters and not stereotypes.

I did have some problems with it still. For like the first forty or so pages I felt rather confused with what was happening. There were quite a lot of time jumps and mentions of prior events, making for a confusing start. It gets better as the book progresses, when more of the backstory is told, the beginning becomes clear. 

The nuns were cool. I feel like nuns in fantasy are either boring or healers, so having them be killers was much cooler. Despite the very cool setting and characters I think the plot was a bit weak. I spent much of the book wondering when something was going to happen and when it finally did it felt somewhat underwhelming. The book is basically split into two parts, and while both parts have a crescendo, it wasn’t a good build up to any of them. Most of the book was spent going to class, understandable given that the main character is like ten when the book starts. And while class was fun I can’t help but want the plot to have tied in better, not just appear at the end of the story.  

This book would have benefited from having a map in the beginning. There was a list of persons, types of magic and types of nuns, and that was very helpful because Red Sister is full of names. But a map would also have been nice. I think that the planet is round but there is so much ice coming from both poles that the livable area is just a band in the middle of the planet, called the corridor. But it took me quite some time to figure that out and a map would have helped immensely. Also, maps are cool.      

Overall, not the most magnificent book, mostly because it largely lacks a plot. Hopefully the sequel does it better. 

Book of April

The movie is the second worst movie I have ever seen, everyone thinks so, so don’t think that you can watch it instead of reading. Watching it will only lead to disappointment.

Eragon

Christopher Paolini

This was the first high fantasy I read, and the second long series after Harry Potter and now I have read it for the fifth time? ( I’ve read it so many times that I have lost count) so I will in no way be able to give a fair assessment of it. It is after all the book that really made me fall in love with fantasy. Surprisingly enough, it is not Harry Potter, while those books are good and will always have a special place in my heart, they aren’t Eragon. The thing that made Eragon so special is that it was really a totally different world, not just Britain with magic. Eragon takes place in a medieval alternative world where magic is present, dwarves are common and elfs are fantastic, there’s also dragons! While that may sound a lot like other high fantasy books (like Lord of the Rings) there are also other creatures that make it a bit more unique, like Urgals and Ra’zac. 

When I read it for the first time I had not yet seen Star Wars, nor did I know of the critique that Eragon had faced for being too similar to Star Wars. Now that I have seen it and now of the critique I can tell that they do have a lot in common (Eragon does it better) but from my vague memories from the next books I can tell you that they do differentiate. I also find Eragon’s story and growth more fulfilling than his Star Wars counterpart Luke. Even the side characters have more interesting storylines, all of them are phenomenal and interesting and different from one another. All of the females are different, have their own motivations and goals and are badass in their own ways.   

Despite no longer being eight years old, and having read a loooot more fantasy since then, I feel safe to say that the story still holds up. I can also tell you that my father read them when he was fourtyish so they don’t just work for a younger audience. This is the story with my favorite magic system (spellcasters actually has clear limits and get tired!), the story that made me fall in love with everything medieval and all things magic. This is the story that started my lifelong obsession with dragons and made forests fantastical. I have even kind of written fanfiction about it (in fifth grade, no one is ever going to be allowed to read it). This is the most defining book of my childhood and even now, ten years later it has the power to make me write a 550 words essay-like review, it is even structured like the essays we write in school (this was not intentional).  

In conclusion, sure, it may be somewhat like Star Wars (Paolini was 16, give him some slack), but it is so good that it doesn’t matter. The entire thing is marvelous and everyone should read it. I should read it more often. 

PS. The movie is the second worst movie I have ever seen, everyone thinks so, so don’t think that you can watch it instead of reading. Watching it will only lead to disappointment. 

The Eldest 

Christopher Paolini

The sequel picks up three days after the end of Eragon with a rather weak beginning. I do not like how the disappearance of Murtagh is told, it feels rushed and unpolished. I understand that it is great for the plot, I just feel like Paolini should have rewritten it in a better, more impactful way. 

Beside the rather weak start The Eldest is very much a filler book. By that I mean that instead of focusing on bringing the plot forward, the focus is character development and world building. It is very much necessary in order for the next book in the series to work. After all, the only way to avoid the overpowered chosen one cliche is to have an ordinary chosen one study and get better. I do really like that Eragon isn’t super powerful in the beginning and even in the end he acknowledges that he still has a lot to learn. 

Eragon’s character develops in other ways as well. He goes from being ignorant to being more open minded and becoming way more strategic. He also learns from earlier mistakes and strives to rectify them. Orik, the dwarf has the least development out of the main characters, but I know that he gets more of it in the next book so I’m fine with it. On the other hand we learn a lot more about Arya, the elf. Mostly that she doesn’t approve of a boy 80 years younger than her falling in love with her. Honestly, girl I feel you. In the end Eragon’s uncomfortable crush hinders her book-development, but it will get better once he realises that the age gap is truly inappropriate.       

Despite being somewhat of a filler book there is action, in the way of Eragon’s cousin Roran. When I read the books the first time many years ago I did not like when the story’s point of view changed to him, he wasn’t the main character and there was no dragon with him. But now that I’m older I find that I actually look forward to Rorans chapters. He’s there to provide the action, a nice break from Eragon’s studies, and from the romance. All of his determination comes from his love for Katrina, and it is charming to read. 

I can’t decide if I think that the ending is weak in the same way as the beginning, or if I think that it is ok. I think that what bugs me about it, is partly that we have another shockingly quick death of a leader, like in the beginning. Another problem is that it feels a bit rushed from Eragon’s perspective, we get some POV from Nasuade (the leader of the rebels) that balances it out, but it still feels like it happened too quickly? I don’t know, something just feels off about it. Weirdly enough I don’t have any problems with the final battle between Eragon and the new Rider. (Major Spoiler: It is Murtagh).

First thing last, it bothers me that it is Thorn that is the dragon on the cover when he doesn’t appear until the last fifty pages when Glaedr appears way earlier. Instead he is on the cover of the next book? Thorn and Glaedr should switch places.     

One quick last thing: I love that Nasuada finances Varden (the rebels) by having the magicians make lace. It is possibly the best thing ever.       

Brisingr

Christopher Paolini

This is so far the most well paced book, it mixes action and other, more time consuming plot things in a much more cohesive way, then the previous books. I particularly love the beginning when Eragon, Shapira and Roran team up to revanges their uncle/father Garrow and to rescue Katrina.

Katrina and Roran are soulmates and they have a super cute relationship. I like that romance isn’t a great focus of this series, beside Eragon’s ill fated crush. But the romance that is featured, is well written and very sweet. Roran makes it hard for all the other men to look good, it is hard to measure up to a guy who literally moved an entire village worth of people and killed, who knows how many, people in order to save his love.

On the topic of killing, Paolini actually writes the killing and the war as traumatic for the characters. Roran always feels guilty afterwards and Eragon even suffers from PTSD. Often in fantasy books the characters just go thru the war without any lasting means from it (especially in “older” fantasy, think Harry Potter) so it is (and was) refreshing to see characters that face realistic consequences of war. 

This is the book when many questions are answered, for example how does Galbatorix have so much power. The answer is magical and therefore can’t be realistic, but in this world it feels believable. The dragons have an extra “heart” in their body, that can be spit out and then works as a source of power, also their consciousness lives on in it. Paolini foreshadows the answer a lot in the earlier books, such a way that younger me did not pick up on it (it is not too obvious) but nowadays me thinks it is clever. It is not just the power thing that is foreshadowed, and nowadays me really liked noticing all of the hints.  

Speaking of Galbatorix, this is the first book when he is actually kind of in. He possesses Murhag and does what he does best, kills Oromis and Glaedr, the dragon rider pair that escaped Galbatorix the first time and then acted as mentors to Eragon and Saphira. It is nice to finally be introduced to the main villain, but I quite like Paolini’s choice to not actually have him in it yet. It upholds his larger than life status.   

So far I think that this is my favorite out of the four, but we will see what happens after I read the final one.

Inheritance

Christopher Paolini

First of all, I read this in the beginning of May, but I wanted to review them all in the same post. Sorry about that. 

The first four hundred pages are fine, a lot of plot necessary things happen, mostly warfare. It is after the four hundred page mark when the fun really starts. Nasuada gets kidnapped and then we are at last introduced to Galbatorix in the first of many chapters from her pov. He is just as dreanges as you would expect a mass murdering conqueror to be. But at the same time he is charismatic, making for an interesting and scary villain. Murtagh gets more page time too, and a start of a redemption arc.   

Murtagh is an interesting character because he is not a real villain in a sense. He was forced to do most of the bad things he did by Galbatorix. So he doesn’t need redemption arc in the same way that other former villains do. Beside being forced to do most of the bad stuff he does, he also did his best at thwarting Galbatorix, both by letting Eragon go, but also by trying to tell him where his and Galbatorix power came from. Any way, his redemption is centered around trying to protect and save Nasuada from Galbatorix torture, and it is a redemption that works well in this story.

At around five hundred pages into the book Eragon, Saphira and Glaedr travel to the abandoned riders island. The reason it’s abandoned? An elf made himself an atomic bomb and the whole place is full of radiation. I like how Paolini mixes magic and science, he does it in earlier books too, but not in such an explosive way. At this island they discover more “hearts”, some of the older dragons spit theirs up and they stashed them in a cave when they realized that Galbatorix was going to win the war. While laying in the cave they influenced a lot of the things happening, and thanks to that the book no longer suffers from random chosen one. Some other plot uncertainties are also explained.

Despite acquiring the help and power from the many “hearts” Galbatorix is still way more powerful. They all know this going into the final battle, but they go into it anyway, with hope as their last weapon. They lose badly, Eragon has no chance against Galbatorix, not with magic nor with swordplay. Galbatorix completely wipes the floor with him, something I like, it is realistic. Galbatorix takes over Eragon’s mind in order to get him to swear loyalty to him and the crown. While he does that, Eragon uses wordless magic to try and show Galbatorix all of the pain he has caused. It starts with just Eragon’s pain, but then the dragons join. Galbatorix gets so overwhelmed with pain that he kills himself. Essentially, they beat him with compassion. Quite a good way to defeat a madman.        

The last hundred pages are spent tying up loose ends, while doing it Eragon thinks and thinks and comes to the conclusion that the best place to raise the next generation of dragons is in a different place altogether. I agree with him, it makes the most sense, what I have a problem with is that he thinks that he’s never going to return again. And we are supposed to believe so too? All thanks to a prophecy from the first book. I refuse to believe it, he has a dragon, basically his personal flying taxi, it would be so easy to go back and visit. But no, he left to never return again. Stupid.   

I both liked and didn’t like what happened with Arya in the ending. She gets her own dragon, awesome. She becomes queen of the elves, stupid. I never got the impression that she would like to rule, or that she would be good at it, and also she is a dragon rider now, they are supposed to be impartial. Also, the elves are somewhat of a democracy, and I do not believe that these super old elves voted to make likely the youngest elf their new leader. 

Another thing that I liked about Aryas ending is that she did not end up in a relationship with Eragon. The ending makes it clear, that it will potentially happen in the future, and that I’m fine with. They seem to be good for each other, and during the books they have grown to respect and care for each other. Despite that it would have felt forced to have them end up together at the end of the series, beside the large age gap it would also have been diminishing to Aryas plotline.

Overall, a strong and good ending to the series that felt satisfying and tied up most loose ends. There are some mysteries left. Like Angela, but it is no bother and paves the way for future books in the same universe. It would be fun to see what an older and more experience Paolini would do. The third book remains my favorite.      

Disclaimer: I am aware of the fact that these reviews are very much influenced by my childhood love for them. Nevertheless I do believe that they are a perfect introduction to fantasy for young children, it is a solid fantasy story that isn’t too long or too complicated. Paolini was just 16 when Eragon was published and younger me thought that was really cool, he showed me that writing matters and everything is possible, even if I’m young.     

Books of March

Turns out I do most of my reading on the bus or while waiting for school to start since I’m always there way to early. Due to the circumstances not to be named I have not been reading that much and everything I have read has been very lighthearted and easily read.    

The Bookshop on the Corner

Jenny Colgan


Bought this one on a sale because I wanted something really lighthearted to read during these trying times, it did not disappoint. This is exactly the type of book that should be read during a longer vacation or when forced to stay home due to a virus. But… Maybe it fits better to read it during a vacation, after reading it I really want to go to Scotland. Colgan knows how to describe the scottish highlands in an alluring way. A bit sad to read it when you aren’t allowed to leave your home, therefore stopping all plans to go to Scotland before they even could begin to form. Although the books was a lovely easygoing escape that I didn’t expect much from I can’t help but feel that it was somewhat rushed at times. Not in the overall plot, just certain sentences felt rough. I read the swedish version so I will never know if it how Colgan wrote or if it is the fault of the translator. I do wonder a lot about the title, first I just thought that the Swedish translation was bad but it really do say “on the Corner” despite the actual bookshop being in a van and not on a corner? Very confusing. Despite that it is a very cute book.

Ella Enchanted

Gail Carson Levine 

There is a movie based on this book starring Anne Hathaway that I have watched an embarrassing amount of times because I have terrible taste in movies and one of my favorite genres is anything based on Cinderella. The movie is nothing like the book, as it often is. Neither of them are bad, they just aren’t anything alike. The book is super duper cute, it is written for younger children, pre teens. It a heartwarming story about learning about consequences and standing up for yourself but most importantly, how important our own choices is, that no one should be allowed to take that freedom from us. Beside having some great life lessons it also has one of the cutest romances. Unlike the movie where the prince is arrogant, the book version is a complete gentleman (gentelboy) who only want the best for Ella. This is a book that I really wished that I had read when I was younger, but it still works for an older person.            

Kiss of the Royal 

Lindsey Duga

There are multiple reasons for why I liked this book. Firstly despite the lore being perhaps the most ridiculous one I have ever had the pleasure of reading it still felt well developed and thought through. Sure, having kisses be the catalyst for magic to work is a bit weird and having true love being the answer to all problems is maybe a bit cliche, but Duga makes it almost believable. And, you know, having true love being the solution to everything would be pretty nice right now. Secondly, I loved the character development. The relationships between the characters is good and really drives the story and the characters forward. I love the family bond between the main character and her page boy. I was in constant fear that the page would turn out to be in love with the main character and jealous of the love interest, a pitfall many authors fal in to (why do authors think that love triangles are fun?), luckily for me Duga avoided it. The only place where I truly think that Duga fails is in the romance, but now that I have written that out I realises that it may be due to the fact that the main character literally didn’t believe that love existed and there for made for a bad protagonist in that sense. When she finally accept that love is real the romance between the main characters is described fin. So, no the romance wasn’t bad. Lastly, unlike other authors, Duga chooses fantasy names that was not terrible or unpronounceable, although Lorena is a stupid name for a horse. In conclusion, this is yet another good escapism in a trying time.            

Books of February

I’m so happy it’s March now.       

Throne of Glass 

Sarah J Maas

Some people watch bad movies, I read bad YA books. This was one of them. The best part of this book is that the main character Celaena Sardothien is eighteen. During those eighteen years she has had a family that was murdered, been taken in by a master assassin and trained to become one herself. She then killed enough people to be considered the most notorious assassin in the land before she was seventeen, because at that age she was caught and sentenced to a nazistyle workcamp, where she managed to survive a whole year before the crown prince of the very same nation needed her help and orchestrated her release, under the condition that she would work for him, the only setback is that she has to compete for it. Sounds believable, right? The worst part of the book is the very obvious love triangle happening between Celaena, the prince and the captain of the guards. I hate love triangles. 

I would also like to point out, that the bad guys don’t just have nazistyle workcamps, there are more references. They even did the whole book burning thing, something that Celaena finds very upsetting. Also, they killed of magic-users.   

The book is in no way a spectacularly good read, rather the opposite, spectacularly bad. Will I read the rest of them? Of course, can’t let the nazi win! Also, I got to find out how much more of an “ I’m not like other girls”- girl Celaena is. So far she is an assassin that doesn’t like corsets and isn’t wapid, but she could always be more special! 

Also, please do comment if you know how to pronounce Celaena Sardothiens’ name, all suggestions are welcome. 

The Traitor’s Ruin 

Erin Beaty

I need to take back a statement I made, apparently I did not forget about the Traitor’s Kiss that I reviewed during autumn. The ridiculousness that was Throne of Glass made me long for a book not quite as ridiculous, but my failure to finish Gulliver’s Travels made me not want to read a classic (I promise I will finish it eventually). So therefore I read The Traitor’s Ruin. Beaty has evolved as an author, it is first notable when the main character no longer hates skirts. Her “I’m not like other girls”-factor has lessened! Another nice touch is the fact that the queen likes needlework and is still a badass person. 

The funniest part of this book, beside the name Ethelreldregon*, is that Beaty used the same plot that was in The traitor’s kiss, but in reverse. Instead of him thinking she was dead, she thought that he was dead. This could point to bad writing skills, but it works for the story and makes the book funnier. Beside being good for plot reasons, it also helps the two main characters understand each other better, which I think is enough reason to forgive Beaty for the repetines. 

This is a book series that I actually enjoy, and would recommend to people looking for some fun fantasy books.   

*Beaty is very much aware of the fact that the name is ridiculous, unlike other authors.

The Traitor’s Kingdom 

Erin Beaty

I did not waste any time before reading the sequel to The Traitors’ Ruin and the last part in the series. It was probably the worst book in the trilogy. It was in no way actually bad, I just expected more than relationship problems that felt like character undevelopment. My main complaint with the relationships is that it would all have been fixed if they had just talked more with each other. Instead we were left with upset emotions and awkward silence.    

I got to say, I’m very confused over the titles of the books. To my knowledge the main character is in no way a traitor, in the first book she is even the one that is “betrayed” and that wasn’t even a proper betrayal. For this specific book, she forgets to consider her friends’ feelings, but that isn’t traitory. And it really should be kingdoms, not kingdom considering the fact that multiple kingdoms are at stake.

I did like the plot twist in the end, I didn’t see it coming. Perhaps it would have been easier to predict if the character had gotten more page-time. I was also a bit confused over all of the characters involved in the story, some of them were familiar from earlier books, but it felt weird and confusing to have so many new characters introduced and mixed with the earlier ones.      

All of that being said, I still liked the plot and the way the story ended. I also really appreciate how the main character worked thru her imposters syndrome and how she in the end was completely confident in herself and her abilities. I also like how the main character now likes skirts and dresses, she is no longer an “I’m not like other girls”-girl, something that I believe also shows a lot of growth from Beaty.

Books of January

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I, of course, had to start off the twenties reading the perhaps most famous book set in that time period (20ies). Because, as I learned, during my winter break I have become predictable. 

I found the green light to be confusing. Not the metaphor, but the actual green light. I don’t think that they had green light bulbs in the twenties, so how did they achieve a light like that? The only thing I can think of, is having oxidized copper in the lamp screen but that seems a bit too complicated. Also, who names a place where rich people live, West and East Egg? Gatsby was an agreeable character, his optimism was inspiring although it at times was more delusional than admirable. It’s interesting how a book about a lonely and sad man gets turned into an excuse to party. Side note, the latest movie adaptation has a serious lack of jazz-music.             

The Kingdom of Copper

S.A Chakraborty

I went and bought it right after finishing The City of Brass, Review Here . I waited a couple of weeks before reading it, in order to not get the books mixed up. I did not expect the five year time jump, but it certainly made sense. I find Ali’s new powers rather confusing, but so does all of the characters, hopefully answers will be provided in the next book. This book tackles segregation and racism in an admirable way. But what I enjoy most, is the ongoing debate on whether to let past misdeeds affect future beneficial deeds. It is after all a rather important topic, should you prevent something good from happening just because the site was used for evil in the past? In addition to Chakraborty taking on morality, I immensely enjoy her take on magic, her worldbuilding is intricate and believable. Chakraborty is a master of cliffhangers, among many other things, which is very frustrating. I want the next book now! Sadly I will have to wait a few months.           

Stay with me

Ayọbámi Adébáyọ

Partly due to not wanting to remain predictable, I read this book. The other part was because my mother’s book club was reading it and I wanted to join them in a discussion. Despite my initial reservations (that it was a book for older women) I found that I liked it. It was far out of my comfort zone and I found little in the story to relate to. At times I found the main character embarrassing, because the things that she did in order to try and get pregnant was to much for me, had I ever been interested in having children, then perhaps I wouldn’t have felt like that. The interesting thing, is that there were actually two main characters, although I’m unsure if they got an equal amount of page time. Anyhow, I truly felt like this was the woman’s book, and that her husband was just there to move her story forward. He was too me, something I had to put up with while reading. Still, Adébáyọ wrote in such a way that I just had to continue reading, it takes a lot of skills to make something unfamiliar captivating. While I still do not feel able to relate to any of the themes in the story, I feel like I left the book with a greater understanding of other people than before beginning, and isn’t that the point of reading?          

Turning darkness into light  

Marie Brennan 

This is the stand-alone sequel to the wonderful series “The memories of lady Trent” which combined two of my favourite subjects, natural science and dragons. Brennan’s book series makes me want to be a 19-century scholar who makes marvelous scientific discoveries and helps shatter the glass ceiling while finding my academic soulmate. Since time travel is impossible I will instead settle for becoming a scientist with an immense interest in history. A scientist for a partner would also be nice. In “Turning darkness into light” we no longer follow lady Trent and her natural science, instead we follow her granddaughter Audrey, who is an archeologist, also one of my favourite subjects. The book is just as awesome as it’s predecessors. But instead of just tackling sexism, this book also criticizes xenophobia, something that’s always good to criticise. I hope that this sequel is also turned into a series, I truly adore Brennan’s writing.

Book of November, kind of

Ghost Story 

Jim Butcher

This book did interesting things to the main character. I missed some of the typical snarkiness that I associate with Harry, but I also understand why it had to go away, it isn’t easy being dead. On that not, it was quite refreshable reading a story when he couldn’t just go barging in and blowing things up. Instead he had time to reflect on the fact that the bad guys are indeed people, not just bad guys. Him having to rediscover how to use magic was an intriguing storyline, I couldn’t help getting frustrated with him when nothing worked. I also liked all the flashbacks the book contains, much had been hinted at beforehands, so it was nice to get the full story of his past.

The story was a bit confusing. A lot of new elements were added that were a bit difficult to keep up with. There was also a return of a main baddie that I had no memory of. I feel like these books could use a recap in the beginning.   

The ending was not surprising given the fact that there is like two more books already published, and at least one more to come. That said, I still want to know how it plays out in the next one. There was after all some surprising parts.    

I have somehow only read one book this month. I blame school, second year November is brutal. So much homework and test, December is not looking any better. Also, terrible lightning on the bus home which makes it difficult to read. For next month, I plan to have read at least to classics and a fantasy book. Wish me luck! 

Ha, so far December has not been any better, so this thing maneges to be both 2, 9 and 12 days late. My winter break begins in one week and before that I have to major assignments to turn in, one book report and two laboratory test. Beside all of that I also have a voluntary assignment to turn in with a turn in date after the break starts, don’t know how my teacher thought there. Any way, what I’m trying to say is that I’m sorry for taking forever and I hopefully promise regular updates from now on, I already have next week’s text written (it is one of the assignments, it has correct APA referens and all of that fun stuff). 

Books of October

The Falcon Throne

Karen Miller

This was not a good book. It was a lot like Game of Thrones. A lot of intrigues and back stabbing, also a lot of treating women badly. The biggest difference is that, after the mistreatment, the woman gets to tell us why the thing that just happened to her was bad. I feel like it would have been easier if they just weren’t mistreated in the first place. When writing a fantasy novel you get to choose everything in the story, there is no reason to be so misogynist. I don’t understand why Miller chose to have the age of consent for marriage at just 14 years, that is kind of pedofilic. At least, that didn’t actually happen in the story, a small blessing.  

Also, it is a bit old and boring to read about a man that feels betrayed by his family, when in reality he is just a big bigoted asshole. The family was well within right to exclude him.       

Seeker

Veronica Rossi

This one was not as funny as the first one, and that’s a shame considering the humor was the only thing that made the first book good. The reason this book wasn’t as funny as the first one, was that it was split between two point of views. We still get Gideons p o v and he is still hilarious. But we also have to read from Daryns p o v and she is just boring.

The book also suffers from having an extremely boring and slightly confusing plot. I think that the main problem is that the book feels a bit rushed, and therefore a bit unnecessary Rossi could easily had made the first book a standalone, there was no need for a lackluster sequel.

Changes

Jim Butcher 

This book gave me somewhat of an identity crisis, when I realised that I started reading this series five years ago. For some reason I kind of took a break after the last book. So it had been about a year since I last read something by Butcher, and let me tell you, I didn’t realise how much I had missed him. Harry Dresden is one of the most dramatic and sarcastic book characters ever, and it makes for an entertaining read. I was a bit unsure before starting, because of Susan Reapers. Of all the side characters she is the only one I don’t like, but it all worked out in the end. 

The endings cliffhanger didn’t surprise me, because I had accidentally spoiled it to myself ages ago. Still, it was annoying that Harry and Murphy didn’t get to hook up. I’m looking forward to see how things get resolved in the next book. This time I’m not going to wait a year to read the next book .       

From Unseen Fire

Cass Morris 

For some reason I had a real hard time getting the hang of the roman names. This made it somewhat hard to enjoy the book, but that was in no way the authors fault. She did, in fact, write a really good book. I loved how historically accurate it was, while still being a fantasy book. I have always loved a book that blends truth and mystery. I would like to know the difference in magic, does it really just depend on the god you worship, and if so, can you change the magic you practice when changing religion? Maybe that will be answered in the next book. What Morris  really excels at; is describing realistic and lively relationships, that you can’t help but love. If I read the next one it would be for the characters, not the plot.