The Lessons by Naomi Alderman | Book Review

Genre: contemporary fiction, lgbt; gay & bi main characters, dark academia

Pages: 288


Hidden away in an Oxford back street is a crumbling Georgian mansion, unknown to any but the few who possess a key to its unassuming front gate. Its owner is the mercurial, charismatic Mark Winters, whose rackety trust-fund upbringing has left him as troubled and unpredictable as he is wildly promiscuous. Mark gathers around him an impressionable group of students: glamorous Emmanuella, who always has a new boyfriend in tow; Franny and Simon, best friends and occasional lovers; musician Jess, whose calm exterior hides passionate depths. And James, already damaged by Oxford and looking for a group to belong to. For a time they live in a charmed world of learning and parties and love affairs. But university is no grounding for adult life, and when, years later, tragedy strikes they are entirely unprepared. Universal in its themes of ambition, desire and betrayal, this spellbinding novel reflects the truth that the lessons life teaches often come too late.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: four

I was almost turned away from this book because it had bad reviews, but the synopsis sounded like the dark academia type of book I was looking for. And it’s a great dark academia book, with found family, an extremely wealthy young man in the middle of it who studies theology and a morale that the people that (by what were first seen as flaws) escaped this elitist university got the better end of the deal. And, of course, the characters experiencing (well-written) tragedies in their lives. It was the comparison to “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt that made me pick it up eventually. It’s impressive how much you can start with the same type of premise, but as a writer bring an entirely different feeling to the story. I don’t adore this book as much as I did “The Secret History”, but here the cast of characters has less of a mythology around them and more real and recognizable emotions, flaws and fears. There’s no great professor to rally around, quite the opposite as the protagonist James gets extremely little support, mostly reprimands, from his physics tutors. And the group as a whole isn’t quite pushed towards murder, but yet their personal tragedies hit me even harder.

Kendall smiled at me apologetically. I watched them go and wondered if he knew what he’d escaped, or if he still pined for the quads and rooms lined with ancient books. We always value things that are hard to get, regardless of their intrinsic worth.

The problem with this type of book is that it’s more a biography of a group of people’s lives than a plot, and so you have a so much better chance of liking it if that’s what you’re into. And also some reviews seem to dislike there being queer characters or how they’re portrayed, as it’s more yearning and dealing with a lot of religious homophobia. It is a dark book in that the characters in it are majorly morally flawed and that shows in their relationships, some turning abusive. James, for instance, is a swamp of a person, struggling with having any identity of his own. It’s fascinating to read the book through his perspective, because his opinion is shown to change as the people around him states theirs. It’s like his whole reality, value system and base of truth shifts, all the time.

This, this was the chance I’d waited for. Here, if I said the right things, I could enfold her into my life, and wrap myself in hers, in the Oxford life I had somehow missed. […] yes, just take me with you wherever you are going, I don’t need my life any more, I will take yours.

But James also has an impressive insight into what’s going on with the friendgroup, only his new girlfriend Jess beats him in that she more often seemingly knows what to do. And as the years passes, James finds his identity, but the daily life things, what he enjoys on his own, seems to still be affected by those around him. Or because of the skewed narrative, you could interpret it as James having a mental illness that shows in the start of university and every barricade of comfort he builds up from that point is to protect him from his own mind and its possibilities. It’s somewhat weird to watch James go from this ambitious physics student facing too much pressure and fall into this group of people of academically good people, yet he and Mark are the only two of them who loses that ambition. It does kind of point to the second alternative.

I did not eat much that weekend, I barely stirred from bed. It was clear to me that this was my natural condition; that without Jess I would return to the state in which she had found me – incapable, bleak, desperate. It was only late on Sunday night, when I heard her key in the door, when I saw her face, that the mood lifted, suddenly, all at once, as though it had never been.

Mark on his side comes into this book and friendgroup with a bunch of problems he already knows of, but has the charisma, the house, (the drugs) and the passion to keep them together. At least in the beginning. There’s a very specific tipping point at the very end of the book, in which he pursues teenagers, that everyone should be at the point where they hate who he had turned into. But there’s a weird slope to that point, in which he might seem narcissistic and manipulating, but he stays what the friendgroup expect, with certain few brighter and kinder moments. He is the cult-like personality they rally around.

I really appreciated the ending, where James and Jess gets to sit down and have a final talk about what went on between them. It differs this book from the similar books I’ve read. Because Jess gives James the final push out of his comfort, into Mark’s arms to take care of him, but didn’t realize the disastrous consequences. And as she’d made every right decision towards their friendgroup until that point, it only fit that she was the one to right her mistake by reminding James of his worth at the end.

Is it accurate to studying physics? Not to the average student. But the average student doesn’t find a rich friend to move into a basically castle with. James describes having been a smart kid who didn’t have to try hard up until this point and now is struggling to create study habits, which is accurate for a certain type of person. The weird competition between students at the beginning that turns into hauling each other over the finish line as the workload increases might be exaggerated, but not unaccurate. The scene where the professor laughed at the idea of doing the next weeks tasks without having done the the past ones, yet won’t give extensions seems a bit too accurate to a certain type of personality. The pre-exam scenes in themselves should come with their own warnings of accuracy as they hit a bit too close to home.

The Eleven Books I Never Seem to Finish (Part Two)

I’ve got a currently-reading shelf on goodreads that always contains too many books that I picked up and never really finished or stopped reading. And then I made a post all about my excuses and what I liked or didn’t like about them, which got way to long and this is the second part of that. Here’s part one.

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

When I started reading the book: September 2019

Have I picked it up since? No

I listened to Edward Snowden’s voice in the audiobook go through every aspect of how he turned out a whistle-blower, about mass surveillance, how intelligence agencies work, how his experiences has made him into an expert the last six years. It’s about growing up online, morality and that’s how far I got. I think I found some pieces truly interesting, but was a bit bored by the background of the person that is Edward Snowden (it is part memoir after all) just because I’m less interested in that than what he thinks about the digital now and future. Which I’m sure he would’ve gotten to eventually.

Why am I not reading it? I don’t quite know? But it’s that type of book that you want to dive into and do your own research as well, and it’s a bit thought and time consuming, which I’m not up for right now.

Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku

When I started reading the book: December 2019

Have I picked it up since? No

I truly can’t say much about this book as I got 50 pages into a 300 page book and hadn’t made up my mind quite. It’s supposed to be about the science needed to mmake impossible things like death rays or force fields or invisibility cloaks real.

Why am I not reading it? I don’t know why I never got back to it

A collection of norwegian debut poems

When I started reading the book: February 2020

Have I picked it up since? No

Here I am trying to become a better person by reading more norwegian – my first language – which I haven’t done much of the last decade and only because of being forced to through high school.

Why am I not reading it? have you ever borrowed a book from the library and then … left town leaving it there? It’s somewhat of a pain to have to extend the return date for half a year (blaming corona again). I would just get a new copy of this one, the problem being that it’s a bit difficult to get my hands on. Poetry and ebooks aren’t always a thing, I’ve recently come to learn.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

When I started reading the book: February 2020

Have I picked it up since? No

I read Ocean’s poetry and felt a strong need to read his newer fiction as well. It’s as strikingly beautiful and vulnerable, but I picked it up at a highly-anxious time and found that it wasn’t the mindset I wanted to be in reading this book. It’s synopsis explains it truly well actually; “Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.”

Why am I not reading it? too powerful in its pain and violence in a time where I unfortunately wasn’t up for that

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept by Elizabeth Smart

When I started reading the book: March 2020

Have I picked it up since? No

I truly am mad about not finishing this book because it’s only 128 pages. It’s not that complex, to be real, even if it is a good story. And I was about to finish it in one sitting, as I was literally sitting on the floor in front of the oven waiting for my food to cook. And into the empty kitchen comes one of the many people I live with and comments on it in a way that left a bad taste in my mouth. As if I was sitting there crossed-legged and disheveled reading an old book for the quirky ~aesthetic~ of it, even though no one else was there. I don’t even know now why it made me so suddenly furious, but it was a generally bad time for me, on the verge of deciding whether to leave town because of corona and being very sick from migraines. Simply put, if commenting on what someone is reading, don’t be an asshole about it.

It is a pretty cute, worn edicition though, I picked it up form an Edinburgh used book shop extremely cheap.

Why am I not reading it? I can still feel the ghost of the fury I felt every time I try to finish it

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

When I started reading the book: June 2020

Have I picked it up since? Yes

Why am I not reading it? Each summer I seem to bring with me one ‘heavy’ physical book absolutely everywhere, and never get to it until my patience runs out and I just sit down and get through it, finding myself enjoying it a lot. I think this is this years book, as I do truly like Woolf’s writing, even if her style is what makes this particular book ‘heavy’, while last year it was the physics of ‘Six Easy Pieces’ by Richard Feynman.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston | Book Review

It’s the cutest enemies to lovers story ever!! With royals! Or gay royal and bisexual son of president! American & british culture intertwined at its very best.

Genre: contemporary, lgbt: m/m romance

Pages: 420 pages


What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of the family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to ben? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? , how will history remember you?

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five stars!

I’m just going to gush about how much I liked this book, tbh. I read it so fast and felt like I overdosed on cuteness.

The characters really bring this story, with its political intrigue, making out in the white house and private security trying to catch up with these stupid college-age and not very discreet adults. The sneaking around, the enemies to lovers trope forced on by pretending to be friends after making quite the scandal by their feud, it’s just all great. There’s romantic correspondence in the form of emails, talking about everything from popculture (so well-done as well) to the prince talking about his probably gay princes and king relatives of the past and how they didn’t have cameras following them around.

I didn’t think the main character being bisexual instead of gay would mean this much to me, but it really showed me how it isn’t a thing in most queer books I read, or at least not done in such a good way. There is something different to the questioning of someone who is bisexual, and how Alex briefly has to consider whether he could fall in love with a girl and not have this thing hanging over his very promising political career that he’s worked so hard for. It showcases how his and Henry’s experiences is similar, but also so very different. And then we also get such good and too relatable quotes like (I’ve definitely come to this conclusion more than once myself): “Straight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves that they’re straight”.

My only problem with this book was how I really wanted them to go deeper on the politics game, but I realize that’s not what this book was and would’ve made it less mainstream. So *shrug*.

Feelings while reading this book: i might’ve cried a bit, but i felt all the feelings, and love it so so much. the writing was so satisfying. such a feel-good queer novel while also having so much conflict.

I need more cute enemies to lovers books right now, with all the political intrigue I can get, preferably queer ones. Please send all your recommendations.

I found the worst book as I tried to purge my TBR

Back in June I took a look at my too long list of books I wanted to read, with 432 books, and then I took a look at the single last postponed exam I had that held me back from doing anything other productive – and I decided that time was short and I would pick up books I wasn’t sure about and quickly stop reading them with no guilt if they weren’t working. As to make it both unfair and fair way – my goal was to read one to three chapters of a book and make a decision if it’s worth investing the time in it for me. It went better than expected, as I found the worst and best book of this year. Probably.

And the worst book is Sweet Evil. Just – christian paranormal with extremely bad writing and damaging viewpoints and morals. Why – how – why does this have to be a thing I now have to worry about is infecting my TBR now? Any YA demon-angel book I’m giving suspicious glares, like a bloodhound trying to sniff out hidden unfeministic christian propaganda.

Books I DNF’ed

Defiance by C. J. Redwine

Remove. Been on my TBR for four years. Part of trilogy. YA dystopia.

Why: I’m not often in the mood for dystopias anymore, the writing was just ok and all reviews by people I follow says it’s more YA romance than action, despite its dark cover. The main turn-off was the protagonist starts off in the book being handed over to another guardian, obviously with little rights and not allowed to say much on her own. With the context it all didn’t seem like it would be for me.

Fighting for Flight by J.B. Salsbury

Remove. NA romance. Part of a seven book series. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why: I was 48% in before I gave up, it just didn’t get better at all. Why was this even on my TBR? Probably because I read a similar fighter tense romance that I liked around that time. I can’t bring myself to care for these characters & when *slight spoiler* the mechanic girl protagonist is again taken interest in by her famous pimp dad the story became annoyingly surreal. Also there’s A TON of putting other girls down for being “too slutty” and I want to write a whole post on this because that’s something that just makes me go “ohh fuck you” and that I’ve seen too much of.

He motions to the dark- haired girl with gigantic breasts shoved into a tiny top. Won’t have to worry about her sinking in the pool. 

Fighting for Flight by J. B. Salsbury

Outrun the wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Remove. YA standalone. Been on my TBR for a year.

Why: Chapter three and I’m not feeling it. We started out the book with a fight scene no one was invested in, then switched pov for a scene to create some mystery with a cousin/kidnapper. The writing isn’t for me.

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Remove. Stopped reading after I felt my eyes burning at the virgin talk. Been on my TBR for four years. I got to chapter eight.

Why: HOW does this get so good reviews? This book is SO VERY christian paranormal where the virgin «not-like-other-girls» girl finds out she’s nephilim, meets a demon and SO MUCH cringy dialogue. Her own thoughts are so weird to follow. It’s so much worse than Twilight and the parts I’ve read of Fifty Shades of Gray. THE PROTAGONIST IS KILLED IF SHE CONTINUES TO BE A VIRGIN? WHAT KIND OF AWFUL DAMAGING SHIT IS THIS? Find your propaganda to not stray from the lord’s path and not do drugs or hook up with handsome biker-demon/nephilim-boys elsewhere.

A sixteen-year-old Neph virgin! How do you expect to be a bad influence to humans if you aren’t behaving badly yourself? I assume you at least partake in substances with your peers?

The Demon Dad of Handsome-Nephilim-Crush to the Protagonist

The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong

Remove. YA Paranormal. Been on my TBR for four years. Got to chapter five.

Why: I’m just not interested in this one, not that it necessarily seem like a bad book. Maybe I’ve read enough books with girls who can see ghosts and are claimed to be insane? The writing isn’t luring me in and also books or anything set in a psychiatric ward isn’t usually for me.

Wicked lovely by Melissa Marr

Remove. Been on my TBR half a year. I got 20% into the book.

Why: Nothing is happening. Nothing. How slow can a book be, especially at the beginning? That’s all I have to say, really, which makes it better than some of the others here, haha.

Books I Continued

(Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

KEEP! This is what I’m talking about! Standalone YA fantasy. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why I’m continuing reading it: the moment I read a couple pages I was so drawn in and intrigued by where the story was going. Halfway the mystery is still kept up, the writing allows for just the right amount of confusion, secrets and tension. I’ve never seen amnesia, self-made through drugs or not, written in a better way! So excited for this!

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Continue reading. YA paranormal. Part of trilogy. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why: a mysterious professor that needs help, the protagonist a misfit among her witch family as she has no powers and they keep reminding her. I was sold after the 2nd chapter, ending with the protagonist hitting a child with a teddybear as he used his powers to keep it from a toddler, which seemed like a regular occurence in this strange family. The writing is good with a lot of feeling shown in between the lines.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Continue reading. YA Fantasy. Been on my TBR for maybe a couple months (I don’t really know how long). Currently eight chapters into it.

Why: It started out a bit original and hopeful, but then again nothing happened as we fell down the hole of human and elf is travelling to a elven court and just talking with each other. Aside from that, the author definitely got talent and while the book feels very unfinished, it also have a few interesting parts so far.


I really enjoyed this, besides the really bad books I ran into. I think (Don’t you) Forget About Me is going to be a favourite read this year! In general the concept just felt so effective and brought less guilt than usual of DNF’ing books or saying they’re just not for me anymore. Hopefully I’ll do this again, even though it required more than the usual review. It felt good to be more ruthless about my “maybe” reads if it also meant giving them a chance I wouldn’t otherwise have.

Never Let Me Go | Audiobook Review

I really had hope of liking this book, but it just did not work out at all.

Pages: 288

Genre: Contemporary, (a bit of sci-fi dystopia so small it shouldn’t be mentioned in fear of getting your hopes up)


Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

The audiobook

Made by Faber & Faber Audio. The narrator was great, slipping you right into that british boarding school with lots of descriptive language. Hearing it out loud does make my annoyances with the writing more prominent as the book progressed. The voice given to the boy Tommy was so annoying and douchey as well, and made it subconsciously hard to like him. Took me a while to figure that one out. It’s a good audiobook, if you would prefer that.

My thoughts

three out of five stars

This was promoted to me as with an dystopian vibe, or at least set in an alternate reality where things are pretty similar to ours, but not quite. At the very least – that there would be mystery! WRONG. It’s as british boarding school children without parents and a few questions that I’ve ever gotten, but without the curiousity to figure out the answers because they all have a great time generally. And then it moves over to other settings as they grow up, but mostly it’s not that different from like a very good orphanage program. I feel tricked, and almost gave it two stars just out of that.

My thoughts about one hour into this book:

I often think that books should come with a “how it will make you feel”, as it’s just as or more important than the synopsis. The beginning of this book was pure mimring about the past, someone telling a story of how things once was with a mystery of why attached to it. And that was perfect for my mood. It was spring break, which for Norway means everyone that is able to is at cabins at the mountain and I was sitting outside just beneath them, the first week of real sun and warmth allowing it. I had time, even for a slow-paced book.

Me halfway into the book:

I’m desperate for this pace to get quicker, someone tell me if any mystery or society-critical questions is coming up at all. I’m so bored.

Me after finishing the book:

It just never delivered.

There’s lots of reviews I saw that was like “oh no, don’t read reviews it might spoil the mystery!” WHAT MYSTERY? This is not the book for anyone who have read fantasy or sci-fi.


Or even watched Orphan Black. That is one tv series that takes the concept this plot completely misses to act out. This is one of the books that thinks it’s smart, without really coming up with any critical questions or message about society. The writing of the plot had one goal – to leave out as much as possible – so that it would have enough secrets to be interpreted as a mystery. And the “kids” get to ask all their questions at the end to their former teachers, about everything that’s kept from the characters and more so the reader, and it just isn’t satisfying or revealing at all. Overall, I liked the actual writing, although I don’t think it’s everyone’s taste as the main character is really observant and telling the story like a fake memoir.

The beginning is lovely, but then the plot never unfolds with the message it claims to have and the “mystery” doesn’t hold up.

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

Pages: 370

Genre: contemporary mystery, set in a college


On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent. 

Audiobook review

The narrator is good, except for how he’s trying to do the female voices. Every heard one narrator dub tv series? It’s hilariously bad. Also there’s a lot of characters in the friend-group to meet all at once at the beginning, so I actually picked up the text version the second chapter and went back to really understand who each of them is, because there’s no good separator in the audiobook (except for bad female voices). I would recommend physically reading this one, I was packing for a trip and wanted to get throught it.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three

I picked this book up because of its college/university setting and saw it recommended for those who liked “The secret history” by Donna Tartt. That book is much better than this one, in a lot of ways. They both do have a “dark academia” vibe – which I recently learned was a thing and I love it. I wanted to give it an extra star for that alone, but then I saw that ending and thought hell no, I was bored through too many parts of this book.

I’m happy I read the book, because it had its entertaining points as the characters uncover dark things about the others and themselves. It’s very centered on the characters and who’s friends and enemies as they all attend the same class. So it’s dark and dramatic, which also comes through in the greek plays they perform. The theater parts were very nice details, going through the whole book and giving it more texture and depth. You can see how the characters are pushed to excell and that they know that themselves, before they start to unravel from guilt. Still, I didn’t feel the characters was given enough space to show how supposedly three-dimensional they was. Instead the author seemed to make them do things out of character, playing on “well, you don’t know when they’re acting or not” which sure is an explanation, but doesn’t help on feeling that connection for the reader.

I both loved and hated the writing at points. On one hand it has some really pretty lines, like “Dense forest surrounded it on all sides except one, the north shore, where the trees were thinner and a strip of sandy white beach shimmered like diamond dust in the moonlight.” On the other hand, so much annoyed me. Mostly the author’s choices, like the ending or having Richard be described as a person everyone hated, which then made us miss out on later feeling sorry for him. The characters in this book doesn’t feel like villains because there were no sense of feeling sorry for Richard, because his character was so violent. The bolder choice would’ve been to make him sympathic. I just felt like a lot of depth was missing, there were hilariously little moral dilemmas for the reader watching this play out. I get that it’s part thriller and part mystery, but as I didn’t think who killed him was such a big mystery, a more cohesive and focused history or plot would’ve been better.

What I felt reading this book: mostly entertained and intrigued, annoyed at writing choices. And I was laughing at myself for chosing to read this hours before a weekend of partying with classmates. It was a nice weeked, but I did think of this book as we were driving into the snow-filled forest.

SPOILERY Review: An Absolutely Remakable Thing by Hank Green

So I wrote another spoiler-free review here, where I gave the book five out of five stars. I’ve never made two parts reviews, but I really want to geek out over this book honestly.

So I just listened to an interview by Hank where he said the book was born out around a lot of individual scenes and trying to write a story around them, especially the grape jelly scene. Did he mean Carl making a person turn into grape jelly? Jeez. That’s a great way to start writing a book, and makes my ideas feel a bit more valid.

Anyway, here’s a lot of moments I liked:

  • “You’re a digital girl, April, in a digital world. We all know how to perform.” Already on page 10 I realized that Hank Green’s real life thoughts and concerns would slip through into the book in form of Andy’s bluntness.
  • Maya. All of Maya’s parts. That girl is awesome.
  • When “Don’t Stop Me Now” was first mentioned was when I realized I would have a lot of songs stuck in my brain reading this book. The wikipedia puzzle was creative.
  •  “So here’s a really stupid thing about the world: The trick to looking cool is not caring whether you look cool. So the moment you achieve perfect coolness is simultaneously the moment that you actually, completely don’t care.” I need more time to consider the degree of truth to that. I have a few friends that have become models, they’re also the people that look cool in everyday normal and weird circumstances. They do also seem to care very much. But I get what April’s thinking.
  • April ruining every relationship and “isolating yourself from the love of other humans because of deep, subconscious fears that you are unable to recognize even exist.” and still realizing it. I’ve seen a lot of readers say that they didn’t like her as a person, while many also saying she’s a great character, but I have to disagree. A girl that can fuck up this much and still be aware of it. I had to consider it, but I definitely like her. The internal monologue lists are great and fit with the direct writing style really well, btw.
  • Here’s the first moment I adored: Maya’s no-bullshit reaction when April is purposely distancing herself from her. That “oh, fuck you, April” moment. Wouldn’t have thought of it so highly if I realized we wouldn’t see much of Maya for a while thought. Just wanted her to stick up for herself.
  • The mom’s point of how the dreams could’ve changed people more than they think. That would’ve been a different book if it went down that path, but it really stuck with me and my suspicion for the rest of the book.
  • April feeling burned out and going on “temporary fuel” with cool things happening until the growing hate for Peter became that long-burning fuel and motivation. It’s so dangerous, but I understand too well what she’s doing.
  • Second moment I adored: Miranda taking on the role as CEO of a tech start-up. The idea of the start-up was amazing, with everyone collaborating online on this dream and puzzle they all was given and had equal access to and could prove themselves against. But reading about Miranda, who April had described as pretty shy and smart until then, taking on such a leader role made me appreciate them both. And realize how unreliable April’s narrative is.
  • “One plus of the Dream was that if I stayed in it all night and didn’t wake up, I’d stay out of my nightmares.” OOoff, that hit me.
  • Was concerned for a bit there if Hank Green was going to write a lesbian sex scene and how much I would laugh out loud and cringe at it. The solution seemed like the most Hank thing to do and I laughed anyway.
  • All the pages with messages of what people in power can do faced with uncertainty and ignorance. Of groups moving towards the poles and becoming more radical, and how that happens.
  • When Carl was revealed to be sentient and understand April I was excited. When he didn’t want to be taken pictures of I died laughing for some reason. I just like the surrealness of things like robot hands running around, saving people like superheroes.
  • April’s description – without emotions at the most intense moments. Like she can show frustration talking about “minor” daily life issues, but when she was stabbed she’s describing her scream as awful enough that they had to cut it out of the tape and goes on to describe the mic. The switch happened regularly, really brought out different sides in her.
  • April’s perspective is really interesting because I didn’t realize just how big of a star she’d become before the president told her how it would be a joy to watch her big future.
  • Seeing your own faults and behaviour through other’s eyes suck and it’s part of why April is running from Maya I guess. Relatable.
  • “Call Me Maybe” started playing, I squealed with glee and horror. I love the pop teen songs in this. My heart. They sound so omnious too.
  • I was aware she would die, she says so early on in the book. p.16’s “That night was probably the best night’s sleep I had until after I died.” Which hints that there was a thing after she died as well, so I kept my hopes up
  • Ok, my love for Maya was strengthened by the fact that she had to go on a pilgrimage after April’s accident. And even more Andy staying. Aahh, I really liked these characters.

There’s a sequel coming being currently written, which I didn’t know going into it. The ending was very open, but I had no problem with it. If there was no sequel, I would’ve taken my immediate theory of  April being uploaded to a computer-mind of sorts. That she still lives, but outside of a body. I don’t know if there’s evidence of that yet as I haven’t read theories. Also I’m not sure that she’s completely herself towards the end. I feel there might’ve been a shift, of Carl taking more control or sharing more with her or maybe just more a natural “losing herself”, but haven’t looked too much into it yet.

I loved it: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green | Review

Pages: 350

Genre: contemporary, sci-fi


The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five


SPOILER-FREE, i’ve written an entire post filled with spoilers *here*.

I managed to have no expectations going into this book even though I’ve watched vlogbrothers for years. I really really liked this book. Whatever concerns I had of it being a bad choice to have the main characters be a young adult, was completely erased without a couple ten pages. I was drawn into this book extremely quickly and it has become one of this year’s favourites.

It’s a great mix of sci-fi elements put into our real world, with massive robots showing up all over. This book is also about the story of fame told through the eyes of one building her career on a viral hit of “discovering” these robots, which she calls Carl, and putting it on youtube. There’s also critical thoughts around society and community as everyone tries to figure out the mystery behind these robots and cooperate with varying degrees of success to unlock their riddles. It mirrors my concerns about what fame might do, how it changes one’s values and interactions when millions of people are interested in following a person. There’s a unique realness Hank brings into it, being in that world himself and surely having seen friends struggle with these questions.

The writing is very-straight forward and clear, it’s the storytelling that’s mostly the focus. April’s voice seems very true to me, a nineteen year old girl. I liked that she was bisexual in the way that it was one of many traits she had. I’ve watched a lot of youtube. But I’ve always had this line where I realize that everyone’s real people, with insecurities and talents. The internet makes so many forget that, somehow. This book still made me question the cycle of internet celebrities (fuck the name influencers, honestly) posting instagrams to gain attentions and followers and it so easily turning into a vicious cycle of preying on people’s insecurities or paying attention to destructive behavior. On social media, every crisis can gain you a bigger following, and this book has plenty of commentary on that.

I do like all the characters, Maya above everyone else because she’s badass and also sees April as a real person. Miranda the scientist was really fantastic as well. Andy, April’s partner (in crime fame) was the voice of reason sometimes, with a much needed caution. I liked April, which I wouldn’t had if I knew her in real life. She’s a great character, because she’s dimentional and you get to see her thought process changing. Like how can you not like a girl that can fuck up this much and still be self-aware about it. The internal monologue lists are great and fit with the direct writing style really well.

I just loved a lot of parts, but it’s so easy to spoil this book, which is why I for the first time split the spoilers up into a seperate post. It’s absolutely worth a read (or three honestly), I don’t think you will regret it!

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman | Review

Pages: 400

Genre: young adult contemporary, lgbt

The norwegian cover.


What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…

She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five


I loved this book, it’s going to be one of this year favourites and be reread many times. It made a bold choice, like Oseman seem to do, in placing the book in this decade and referencing movies and popculture. It also brings out very time-defining characteristics like questioning sexuality through research, celebrities, rise of podcasts, internet and fandoms. Most of all this book is about wanting to be heard, to be seen for who you are. Which is easier with the help and support of friends.

the characters & writing

None of the characters are always in the right, which is always interesting. The main character Frances tries her best, I would say, but at one point she realizes she hasn’t been paying enough attention to the people around her and their struggles. The writing seems very honest, it’s very straight forward as well. Carys, the bestfriend, is going through shit and Frances tells that story in between the right-now action of Frances and Carys’ brother Aled starting to get along and find shared interests (like the podcast). Frances believes that she made a mistake, which partly led to Carys disapperance, and trying to not make a smiliar mistake again  colors the rest of the book. The friendship between Frances and Cary is strange and reletable, Frances admits that she hated Cary for having it all figured out, but loved her for being so perfect.

the podcast universe city

I wasn’t so sure about the podcast part of this book before reading it. I love podcasts, but in general at some point writers could’ve just made the podcast in real life and not have us read it every awkward break or info dump. This book is centered around the podcast in that Frances and Aled finds each other through the making and fandom of it, both things done really well. There’s a chapter where they are having fun outside camping and makes what Aled considers the worst episode ever, but it was all so visually told and really brought out a certain feeling in the book.


Feelings reading this book: interest in where the podcast was going, glee over Frances becoming more comfortable, relatable af moments and strong hate for Aled and Cary’s mother.



my fav moments

  • Frances discussing being bi and relationships of the Universe City podcast and Aled saying the world might be a bit tired of boy-girl relationships anyway. Them geeking out in general and allowing themselves to be “weird” aka being very passionate about things and fandom.
  • Going to save Aled from university. Also his mom was truly awful in one of the probably worst ways physiologically, because so many outside the house thought she was great. Reading Aled scream after going over to his mother to figure things out made my skin crawl.

Finally, I hated Cary when they all met her. I was certain she didn’t want to be found, but the way she reacted … She had worked out a pretty okay life for herself considering she escaped to the city with barely anything, though. She’d tried to leave her past behind, which I can understand. My immediate hate came from having a little brother though, but she didn’t have a perspective to mind to predict how her brother would be treated when she left. There’s a lot taken up in this book and I appreciated it.


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Review

Genre: contemporary young adult, lgbt

Pages: 325



Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:


“So here’s the thing: Simon means “the one who hears” and Spier means “the one who watches.” Which means I was basically destined to be nosy.”

It’s the best coming out story I’ve read, I think, and this is from a person who tries to avoid them. And it’s a book with so much more than that as well, with a main character with questions that everyone can see themselves in. It’s a young adult book that’s actually relatable to teenagers, not just filled with abbreviations like lmfao and things that seem like a parody of youth culture (on that thought – will tide pods every make it into a ya book?).


“But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”

Parts made me feel lonely along with the main character. Overall it has incredibly clever and witty writing. I loved the themes that comes up, especially Simon feeling like he was “not allowed to change”, as a person it’s easy to label your identity or have others do so to a fault, where you think you are the same as your interest or your habits, which you now can’t change. Identity is a weird concept in general, and this book put just how weird it is into words.


“He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to. I mean, I just had to know him.”

The romance was pretty lovely as well, though the friendships takes more place in this book, along with the mystery of finding out who Blue is. I just love that there’s published more gay books all the time, especially cute ones along with all the angst. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie adaption soon.


more favourite quotes

But Creekwood’s zero tolerance bullying policy is enforced about as strictly as the freaking dress code.

In this moment, all I want is for things to feel like Christmas again. I want it to feel how it used to feel.

“I didn’t know you drink coffee.” Okay, this. She does this every freaking time. Both of them. They put me in a box, and every time I try to nudge the lid open, they slam it back down. It’s like nothing about me is allowed to change. “Well, I do.”

Nothing is worse than the secret humiliation of being insulted by proxy.