Death, princesses, assassins | Short Reviews

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I really don’t see the so many impressed (4.36 average on goodsreads) reviewers side on this, because there’s an interesting premise behind this dystopian world, where Scythe’s have to choose who dies because everyone’s immortal. But it’s nothing … new? at the same time?
The ending was great and clever, I guess.
Everything up ’til that point were pretty expected, it all written with a certain coldness that fit the systematic view of death of the story, but also made it somewhat boring to read. And if you want to go philosophical – why not go deeply philosophical instead of just sometimes dropping questions on how this view of death changes this society? and then not going into any real debate?
Overall I’m not that impressed and found it quite boring, while certainly it being a well-composed book. Is this a side-effect of growing up reading Jostein Gaarder’s books? I’m truly curious about the fascination with this book.

The Selection (#1-3) by Kiera Cass

This YA royal series always sounded like something I didn’t want to read, from what I heard of a whiny main character in the competition to become the new princess. But then I was in the mood for something light-hearted and gave it a try. It’s so much more cut-throat than I expected. So fast-paced, but also well written and more and more feminist as it progresses, with the girls finally bonding together. I truly enjoyed seeing this actual reality TV series, much the Hunger Games vibes here, with its cute dresses turn into assassins attacking regularly and then our dear red-haired main character America getting her claws into power and turning the whole thing upside down. It’s any other revolution YA series packaged nicely so that younger girls would pick it up. It’s not perfect, this somewhat luke-warm romance is a huge part of it, but I enjoyed it.

Deadly Class Comics by Rick Remender vol. 1-9

I talked briefly about the TV series adaptation of Deadly Class in this post, and how it looks like dark academia teenage series with its boarding school, found-family trope and ‘assassins training’, then turns into an epic blood bath. Well, let me tell you – this comic series is so filled with blood and horror as it gets so much worse after where the one-season TV series cuts off. Definitely search up trigger warnings before getting into it. But it’s also so awesome. My thought-process reading this was something like;

Oh shit it’s so good!!! How the fuck do you kill people in that many different ways? Is it okay to like this? AHh I quickly sped through that part, I really don’t like seeing eye-balls outside of the body. I have to stop posting on tumblr about this now, people will think I’m crazy. Ok, I like it again now. You can’t really kill of all the characters and then expect us to care about the new ones you introduce with a brief backstory now, can you? Even if they’re interesting enough, fool me once, twice – you know how it goes.

Truly it became really boring around issue six, picked up again for a while and was truly boring when I came to the latest issue nine. But all credit to the creators, it was truly amazing work. Would suggest people to read the first few issues and then try the TV series, but you’re warned.

Anti-heroine & Action in the Cas Russell Series by S. L. Huang

The series so far (2020) consists of Zero Sum Game #1, Null Set #2, Critical Point #3

Pages: 336, 312 and 368

Genre: thriller/mystery type of book with some science fiction aspects, mostly in people with ‘superpowers’ (used for more bad than good)

It’s truly going into the pile (in my head) of favourite books.

Synopsis

For the first book as to not spoil anything;

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…
She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Rating out of five: five stars, four stars, four stars

I was looking for a character like Cas when I started this series, which I think is the clue to liking it. What you’re dealing with is mob/cartel level of action and bloodbath, where the side characters are everything from cops turned ‘personal investigators’ to trained assassins and sharpshooters. Not to mention the whole ‘evil organization’ thing going on, which turns out to actually have a whole epic scheme going on. The bad reviews I’ve seen has made me angry in that they’re mostly people who hate the cold calculated voice that Cas brings to this, but surely they’re warned that this isn’t some young adult book and that she’s grown up with this level of violence, even as the lack of knowledge of her background becomes a bigger and bigger plot point.

Cas is deadly, supernaturally so, with some question-marks at the end of that remark. The more science fiction and supervillains with powers parts comes through in the second and third book more, but I liked it. The math parts I expected to be bad from the synopsis, but they were an interesting part of her abilities, and plays a good role in the books. As the math lover I am, I would’ve wanted even more of it, but it’s like drizzled in there so that it can be ignored by those who would want to. It adds a bit of magic, almost.

The level of action, the mystery of Cas’ past, the level of gray area of morality (turning completely black at some points), the bad guys with a conscience – it all really made me love this series. The ‘superpowers’ are original, the writing funny in a dry way. It has everything I was looking for in a fast-paced, but exciting read. But then I do love the character of Rio as well, the emotionless being he seems to be. I mean who can’t be interested after a sentence like this –

“Ms. Russell,” said Dawna delicately, “I am not sure you are fully aware of Mr. Sonrio’s skills. His ability to be effective—it borders on the unrealistic. He has destroyed entire governments. Leveled armies. Found and obliterated terrorist cells the intelligence agencies of several continents were chasing their tails trying to pursue. He has altered the course of nations. A lone man.” Her voice was calm, factual, and very serious. Huh. So that was what Rio did in his spare time. I’d had no idea he was that impressive. I’m not going to lie: I was jealous.

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson | Book Review

Pages: 352

Genre: young adult fantasy, norse mythology

Synopsis

Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Rating out of five: three stars

I picked this book up because it was set in Norway (my country) and, most importantly, it dealt with norse mythology, as the Valkyrie is female creatures that choose which warriors die or live in battle.

The way I found some of the plot-structure lacking reminded me of fairytale retellings that bases themselves too much about pointing out characters the reader knows and letting what you know or don’t know about these write most of their character, instead of actually setting the feeling and motives themself. Which meant that I thought a lot of the norse mythology parts were missing in this book, strange for a book that’s supposedly all about the valkyrie. None of the gods have motives, or a personality that fit with their norse mythology stories. They don’t act the way they do in the ‘historical’ stories. Which is okay if that’s an obvious choice made in the book, but it didn’t seem to be. The main character even pointed to history when trying to learn about them. It was more about trying to fit these gods into the ‘bad guy’, ‘helper’ and ‘savior’ roles already made, which hurt my head a bit.

It’s a good coming-of-age story, but pretty basic except for the god-stuff. Falling in love with your brother’s friend is a well-used, great plotline. But trying to write something epic and a YA story in 350 pages, without using any space in the beginning to flesh out the characters, it was bound to have faults.

The ending was impressive in comparison to the rest, but overall it didn’t pull itself together enough for me. The norwegian setting parts of this book were more on-point, which I appreciated, it’s obvious the author has some familiarity.

TV recs & more queer books | Bi-Weekly Update

Alternative title; it’s all worse and better at the same time. the irony.

Three things on my mind:

  • So .. my life right now just consists of math, more math, a tiny breakdown where I speak my grievances out loud, to mostly empty air and the occassional puzzled family members walking by, along with playing the mobile version of pocket camp, because I can’t afford a switch. Next week it’s going to be the same, if you replace math with physics. Ahh, this was not how I imagined the second semester of my first year doing a physics bachelor to be, but oh well. Right now it’s wolframalpha all the way.
  • So the situation is less than ideal (also see; bad internet – have to buy 4G when exams, physical health w/ chronic illness worse) and only two of my five exams is done, yet I’ve felt so much better the last three weeks than I have since the beginning of march. Who knows? Nothing much has changed, other than I also now have exams, but it’s a clear goal in front of me to deal with even though my body is in uproar.
  • Things to watch; Outer Banks on Netflix is a great tv series to binge, with a cast of morally grey characters, and some really aesthetic good scenes as well. The Goldfinch movie adaptation got really bad reviews when it came out last year, but I finally watched it (I LOOVE the book) and it wasn’t bad! Actually to the point where I would recommend it, if you go in with quite low expectation. It has the usual problems of a movie trying to fit a big and complex book (so many different settings, spanning over multiple years) into a two hour movie. But the moments it included, it included well. I especially love both the young and the adult Boris.

Also for quarantine feelings;

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • I’ve been listening to first “War on Peace” by Ronan Farrow, as I thought I could fall asleep to his voice narrating the strange world of diplomacy and the importance of it; turns out diplomacy in Afghanistan is quite interesting and the book absolutely fantastic overall. I really enjoyed 11 hours of that to have a break from maths, it was magical.
  • And then I started the audiobook version of “Catch and Kill” by Farrow afterwards, taking care to listen during daylight as it’s the most upsetting story about not only the wave of sexual assaults that was brought into light with the ‘MeeToo wave’, the most focus being on Farrow’s reporting of Harvey Weinstein, but how he wasn’t allowed to publish the story and kept from pursuing it for so many months. It was quite the journey, and I felt so much for each of the victims as we get to hear more about what it took for them to decide to come forward. Ahh, I’ll have to write its own post after I’m done with these exams, because more people need to read this book in particular.
  • I might have cleansed my head after all that by reading the three first books in the very YA “The Selection” series by Kiera Cass. It’s so cheesy, but what made me continue was how it was more ‘The Hunger Games’ vibe than I expected.

Added to TBR:

  • Felix ever after by Kacen Callender (young adult, lgbt: trans mc)
  • The program by Suzanne Young (young adult, dystopia)
  • The last true poets of the sea by Julia Drake (young adult, lgbt)
  • The mermaid, the witch, and the sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (fantasy, lgbt: sapphic romance)
  • Clap when you land by Elizabeth Acevedo(young adult, lgbt): I’ve read & liked “The poet X”
  • The good girl’s guide to murder (mystery): recommended by the author Maureen Johnson on twitter or something
  • Sawkill girls by Claire Legrand (horror-ish, lgbt: f/f romance I think)
  • If I was your girl by Meredith Russo (young adult, lgbt: trans mc)
  • No matter the wreckage by Sarah Kay (poetry)

Exciting Book Releases Summer 2020

Summer might not be the same, but the book releases are? Hopefully? I made a similiar post for Spring 2020, which cut off in April and is why May suddenly became considered summer by accident.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Release date: 5. May

Why I want to read it: I was impressed by the writing of Acevedo when I read ‘The Poet X’

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Release date: 5. May

Why I want to read it: I’m really interested in reading more young adult books with trans main character, tbh. And it seems to have been received so well by other book blogs!

The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Release date: 5. May

Why I want to read it: I mean, that title. I’m promised sapphic pirates, so I’m on-board, even if it hasn’t been getting the best ratings so far.

This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling #2

My review of These witches don’t burn (book one)

Release date: 19. May

Why I want to read it: The first book in the series gave me all the queer witches it promised!

The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson

Release date: 2. June

Why I want to read it: I have a hit or miss record with Hutchinson’s books, but I really like him as an author. Also this gay book with the son of a democrat and son of a republican falling in love is being compared to the other gay president/royal book ‘Red, White and Royal Blue’ that I truly loved.

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Release date: 9. June

Why I want to read it: Oseman is one of my fav authors, I’ve read so many of her other books! And really excited to read what seems like a very personal book, with an asexual-aromantic main character. I’ve seen Oseman seemingly struggle while writing this book, and crossing my fingers it was worth it and turned out like she wanted it to.

Honorary Mention:

I wondered whether to mention Midnight Sun, the 5th long-awaited book in the Twilight series by Stepenie Meyer. ‘I’m never going to read this thing’ I thought, but then I remembered the big chance I’m going to meet one of my childhood friends this summer, where we both were sooo into Twilight growing up. And if so, I have to buy and bring with me this book, there’s no way to avoid it. We have to bash it together. For old times sake.

Also funfact; when the movies came out and also the non-readers of the friendgroup got their eyes up for it, everyone was very into one character, except me. ‘Like Edward was better than Jacob as a love interest in the books, I guess. Why does she even have to be with one of these guys?’, was kind of the vibe. But of course – I just really liked Kristen Stewart/Bella Swan the whole time, without realizing. And that’s on #bisexuality, with a major leaning towards girls.

Introverts Graphic Novels | Short Reviews

Are you in a reading rut? Bored in quarantine? Need memes to send to your friends about being bored in quarantine? Maybe even something to send to friends as a nudge towards staring into the darkness of depression, but not in a way that’s too concerning, but maybe they’ll check up on you more? Okay, that last one was too specific, and most likely the best thing is to just be honest with friends and all that, but it might have been what this post was born from. Anyway! Here’s some good graphic novels aimed at introverted people and perfect now that we all were forced to be more introverted during quarantine.

Emotions Explained with Buff Dudes by Andrew Tsyaston

I know this comic writer as Shen Comix on instagram, where you get a sneak-peak of what types of comics this whole collection is about. But it was my favourite of these ones for many reasons, it was both very cute illustration style, most relatable to me and it had worked well as a collection, without having the different comics be to similiar!

I’ll give it 5/5 stars. Definitely something I will pick up again and again when I need a pick-me-up. Funny comics explaining the weird happenings in life. “Life be like dat” in graphic novel form, if that makes sense.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

I like and relate to this girl’s introverted ft. bookworms story, with an interesting illustration style. I’m not that big of a fan of something leaning so heavily into being ‘introverted’ to the point where it seems less of a personality and more of an anxiety thing, but I’m not going to get into a discussion on that. It doesn’t really stand out among these others, except by trying a bit too hard to be relatable in every aspect. 3/5 stars.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

This is also a comic series that has lived on the internet as long as I can recall, without me realizing that it’s one person behind this style. Here’s the blog it was born from! It’s just so smartly written, and matched my humor great. It doesn’t shy away from the memoir/darker aspects dealing with depression especially, without overpowering the humor or taking away from anything, a balance which I really respect. The drawing style makes it feel like anyone could do this, but it takes real talent and craft to be this good. 5/5 stars.

There Is No Right Way to Meditate by Yumi Sakugawa

It’s not life-changing or very profound or even very helpful. But it is interesting to look at, a reminder and cute. Maybe being a reminder of what meditation can do for you is enough for me to deem this graphic novel practical in these times with its short colorful guides of genuine tips to practice peace among other such lists. Favourite parts were illustrations of anxiety as a rock, just laying on you. 4/5 stars.

Honorable mentions

Other graphic novels that I’ve read that is similiar to these ones are “I think I am in friend love with you” also by Yumi Sakugawa, and Sarah’s Scribbles vol. 1, 2 & 3. All of my reviews on them are linked. I almost forgot the amazing “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” by Jonny Sun!

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my tumblr & twitter

Also I’m doing mentally good for the first week in about two months. It’s a relief. Hope you are all safe!