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

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.

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.

Short reviews from quarantine: young adult

I’m just going to be doing these laid back short reviews for a while I think, because I’ve got time, but not nearly enough energy hahha. Hope everyone is doing well, feel free to just chat with me in comments or on twitter regardless if we’ve talked before! I promise I won’t be quick to answer, but I would love to.

These short reviews in particular are books I read a while back, but only had collected a couple sentences about.

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black

I truly loved The Cruel Prince. I kind of enjoyed/tolerated The Wicked King. I really didn’t care for The Queen of Nothing. My feelings reading this book; I love Jude Duarte so much, but this is just filled with expected turns and lacking plot. I really wanted to like it, but I just feel like Jude’s character is going constantly one step forward and two backwards in terms of how bold she is or how much of a villain/hero she is supposed to be. Make her darker or give her some good reasons, I don’t know. 2/5 stars.

I wasn’t planning on reading this book anytime soon, but at the beginning of the year, this book was on a free-for-all bookshelf in my hostel in Edinburgh, calling to me.

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious #2) by Maureen Johnson

I loved Truly Devious as well. It’s a good enough sequel, following the same type of mystery boarding-school vibe as the first one. You certainly get further in the story, especially about the old mystery at the school the main character is trying to solve. But it was also lacking the freshness and felt a bit repetitive. I’m still excited to read the third book, but a bit less hopeful I guess. 4/5 stars!

Funfact: reading the first book I definitely appreciated how all the different characters was the best at their skill. Especially Janelle’s character and how creative and stereotypical engineer-mind she had. But since then I’ve met and currently live with someone who’s the guy’s version of her and I definitely realized so while reading this. I can never say my wild plans out loud anymore, because suddenly they go from theoretical to “ahh actually, if we do it this way” … and me facepalming.

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

I was going to write a longer review, but my copy is far far away from me and then also my notes in it. Yes, I do write in my books, especially if they are pocket books.

There were lots of small things I loved in this book, but it was very much the interactions between characters I already loved from The Raven Cycle. Stiefvater has said that you could read this series as a stand-alone, but I’m not sure I agree. Call Down the Hawk didn’t feel as coherent as a book, and for me it floated on knowing the history of these characters. Like Ronan interacting with Adam’s new college friends and their too-complex card game, especially as Adam is trying to urge him to remain calm. Knowing more about how dreaming magic worked was really cool. And another upside is that I find it hard to imagine someone not falling in love with Ronan or Adam at first sight. In general I’m glad this book exist, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Dreamer trilogy! 4/5 stars.

“Do you understand? For you, reality is not an external condition. For you, reality is a decision.”

Call down the hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

Exciting Book Releases Spring 2020

The Hand of the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

Release date: 21. January

Why I want to read it: this series is just great, and I love Maureen Johnson’s writing in general

Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland

Release date: 4. February

Why I want to read it: The first book Dread Nation was such an interesting mix of historical setting, diversity, kickass armed girls and zombies.

Heartstopper vol. 3 by Alice Oseman

Release date: 6. February

Why I want to read it: Heartstopper vol. 1 and 2 was so so great and I need more of this cute gay love

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

Release date: 3. March

Why I want to read it: queer friendgroup of witches. that’s what I know and it’s definitely enough to get me interested.

Imagine Me (Shatter Me #6)

Release date: 31. March

Why I want to read it: I don’t really? I have nr. 5, Defy Me, 3 out of five stars after having loved the whole series. But it is the finale, so I’m going to hope for the best.

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

Release date: 7. April

Why I want to read it: I like this kind of fantasy, or at least I liked Wicked Saints, but I’m nervous to how well this sequel to a debut novel is going to hold up. Seems like a tough job.

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Release date: 30. April

Why I want to read it: Oseman is a great author, and I’m really looking forward to this + the main character is asexual.

Rereading All For The Game Series by Nora Sakavic

The Foxhole Court – The Raven King – The King’s Men

What do you do when you’ve got five exams looming over you? Reread 1225 pages, divided over three books and two days. Yeah, I’m not a person to have many regrets, but that doesn’t mean it was a good idea.

I love this book series so much! And not everyone does. It’s a book series that people seemingly more often either love or hate.

There’s a few things you have to suspend your belief over to enjoy these books (which are clearer to me now that I’ve read it more than three times); one of the guys, Andrew, is on medicines that doesn’t make sense. Also the sport – exy – is made up. Which is great because you don’t need to know anything about it! It’s self-published and a bit rough around the edges as a book, but also that’s part of what makes it so great.

TW for rape. I’ve seen this book compared to the Captive Prince trilogy by C. S. Pacat, but I’ve read both and think that comparison is complete bullshit. Captive Prince was violent if a whole different way and full of excuses for that violence. The only thing similiar is how actions in the first book of both series are looked at differently after finishing the third book. Which is a good reason to reread it!

The characters are what I love most about this series. It’s a group of misfits being forced to cooperate and in the process forming a family, a type of book I’m a sucker for. I like the second and third book better than the first one, just because Neil is developing into putting his trust in a few people and you also see how close they’ve become. I’m also posting my first review of the foxhole court; written in 2016, but it still portrays my feelings rereading it.

Neil Josten

I still relate too much to this main character. I mean, Andrew is interesting in a way that I’ve found all characters like him. After this book I read Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater, where Ronan Lynch is another character with tendency to be scary that I love. But Neil hits me still in a different way, where he has this urge to run away all the time and have created unhealthy coping mechanisms out of necessity. This book is just about how fucked up abuse can make you. His circumstances is soo very unlikely and special, like out of a hollywood movie, but if you take it down a few levels it’s themes that I’ve not found as central in other books I read. Especially not in this YA-ish format (it’s not young adult though).

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic | Review

I wrote a review after reading this book series for the first time in 2016, and found it on goodreads after rereading this series again. So enjoy my unfiltered thoughts from seventeen-year-old me about this book series I truly still love;

Pages: 237

Genre: Young Adult – lgbt characters (gay and demisexual character(s)).

Synopsis

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

My thoughts

Rating out of five stars: four

I couldn’t put this book down. Sports! Friends forming a family! Dramatic misfits! Such cute (with that I mean hardcore) characters!

First, let us get this out of the way: this book sucks the first pages. Probably the first two chapters, or even longer. But do not give up on it, because the rest of the book is completely worth it. So is the rest of the series, which I read in less than twenty-four hours.

This is a book about family, but not only the biological one. It is about the importance of support and friends, how they can change your life and you change theirs. “The foxhole court” family is not perfect; they are a bunch of misfits thrown together with only one common goal: to be champions & make people stop laughing at their Exy team. That is: except for Andrew, because he is an uncaring, high (and protective) jerk.

“The Palmetto State University Foxes were a team of talented rejects and junkies because Wymack only recruited athletes from broken homes. His decision to turn the Foxhole Court into a halfway house of sorts was nice in theory, but it meant his players were fractured isolationists who couldn’t get along long enough to get through a game.”

And yes… this is a sports book about a sport that does not exists outside of “The foxhole court”s cover. Exy is completely fictional, but seems like a mix between lacrosse and… Rugby, perhaps? A more violent twist to the sport anyway. It seems like making up a sport was preferable in how certain rules and the whole sports culture had to be different from what we know, for this book to be what it is. We already have Quidditch, so why not Exy. Easier name to spell too. Fictional sport or not, this book has an authentic i-will-do-anything-to-be-the-best feel and passion, which I like. Nothing better than jealousy and threats to motivate you.

There is no romance in this book, for reasons you will realize if reading the rest of the series. I found this really refreshing? There is a lot going on with backstories, trying to get these fucked up teens on a straight path and be sort of friends/teammates. There is definitely enough drama to go around anyway. A lot like the raven cycle, this book has the notion of a coming romance, but is too busy that it is of importance.

“Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he [Neil] thought perhaps he liked it.”

I will be the first to admit that this book got some problems, much like the characters in it. I love “The Foxhole Court” and its characters anyway, with flaws and all. Uncommonly, the series only gets better from here, and at the end of the first book, it was pretty exciting already. It was an easy read, but with dept as well. And with a squad you will love.

The Uninvited Series by Sophie Jordan | Book Review

This series is only two books! Genre: young adult dystopia. I would consider this review spoiler-free in that you can read it to see if the book series is anything for you.

Book one – Uninvited: four out of five stars. Pages: 384

Book two – Unleashed: three out of five stars. Pages: 368

Uninvited is an interesting twist to the YA dystopian story with the (US) government going after and locking away people with a specific gene, nicknamed the kill-gene. It’s supposed to make a person predisposed to becoming homicidal and violent, which is why they’re removed from society before they do something illegal. The main character Davy started out as a normal girl, a musical prodigy with a bright future, and has all that taken away from her along with her family when she tests positive for the gene and is sent to be amongst others with it. It forms a really interesting setting with characters on different places on a sociopathic spectrum everywhere, which felt similar to Divergent’s Tris first meeting with the Dauntless group.

There’s an on-going moral struggle and dilemmas through the two books about whether Davy thinks of herself as a killer, and what it would take to make her kill someone. If it really is okay to ban all these people from regular society, before they’ve done harm, even if some of them are obvious lunatics. It also has the usual YA romance aspects, made more interesting by the fact that sociopathy and manipulation is surrouding them and making it so much more difficult to trust.

I liked the second book as well, but it took a different turn and reminded me more of Stephenie Meyer’s “The Host”, with an underground hiding place with a certain hierarchy – only filled with persecuted, possibly dangerous people. In some parts the plot had easy and predictable ways to resolve things, which is why it got a lower rating. My favourite thing about this series is how Davy isn’t the “nice girl” even if she started out normal. She adapts and nearly turn ruthless, but then she also holds on to her moral qualms. She’s very clearly a survivor, because it all pushes her down and she still keeps fighting, and I loved that about her through it all. In general this series is all about a person’s nature VS how societal persecution and expectations affects behavior and choices. With some cheesy things and YA romance, so be aware of that. It doesn’t go that deep, but it does bring a new dimension to the usual dystopia. Would absolutely recommend!

Legion Series by Bradon Sanderson | Book Review

The book Legion is the first of three in a series by the same name, which has also been collected and sold as one bigger book, which is makes it a bit awkward to search for. Here is it all collected in one book.

Genre: Sci-fi

Pages: 350 in total

Synopsis

Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad.

A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems. . .for a price.

His brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: Book One – 5 stars. Book Two – 4 stars. Book Three – 2 stars.

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favourite authors, which is what made me pick up this series. It started out with a great concept, a genius who has split himself into aspects, creating side-kicks with specialization in different skills, different personalities and made up backstories. For example can there be one expert in language, fighting, deciphering code or computers. With Sanderson funny dialogues, and an imaginative plot with a camera that can take pictures of the past, the first book comes together into one perfectly entertaining story.

In the second book it starts to get a bit repetitive. The plot is still exciting, the interaction between the different hallucinations/characters still entertaining to follow. But it also brings with it the beginning of what becomes my big problem with book three, where Stephen Leeds becomes even more overwhelmed with the aspects he’s created, and Sanderson repeating how they’re made up way too often. It feels clunky in the story, which is weird since the fact that they’re in Stephen’s mind doesn’t really matter to it. He’s created them in a way where Stephen does everything he imagines the aspect characters doing.

In book three Sanderson doesn’t succeed in portraying how Stephen is suddenly losing his mind completely, and still finish the plot he’s built up. It doesn’t feel as fast-paced, entertaining or exciting anymore. My thoughts through the whole third book was “let’s get to the end and see if the aspects are still there or if he’s gotten rid of them somehow”. To me it feels rushed and much less clever than the first book, somehow. It was the execution I disliked more than the concept of the ending, I think.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially to anyone wanting to read some sci-fi, have a quick refreshing read between larger books or want a book that include some questions of psychology.

Favourite quotes

“My name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.”


Book Series I Want to Finish Part 2 | Book Things

I went through my TBR and cleaned it out, what was most difficult was deciding what series I want to finish – some I started as a kid or teenager, some I needed a break from. Here’s part one

 

Monster (Gone #7) by Michael Grant

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Let’s see how long ago I started this series … Likely nine years ago (!!!). This book was released last year, another book this year. This shouldn’t be happening, the series was finished a long time ago. But I can’t stop now?! I have to finish this, unless this book is completely awful, in which case I guess I’ll find out reading it.

 

 

 

Opposition (Lux #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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The first three books of this series was good. A bit predictable, but entertaining. I still have this fifth book left, along with some extra material and hope to finish it just to see how it ends. Do you ever read a series too fast and suddenly you’ve gotten enough of it, like it’s way too much and you need a break? Usually happens with tv series, but apparently book series as well.

 

 

The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3) by Maureen Johnson

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The problem with trying to finish series is that I don’t remember the plot of the first (two) books sometimes. Maureen Johnson seems like a awesome person, and I recently read “Truly Devious” which was everything of the modern boarding school mystery I didn’t know I wanted, but I’m going to have to read some summaries before starting the third book of “The Shades of London”

The Saga of Larten Crepsley by Darren Shan

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Last post here I mentioned how much I want to finish Demonata by Darren Shan. Then I remembered I didn’t finish this one either, it’s a spin-off of the original “Cirque du Freak” series. I’m honestly finishing these series to figure out how scary they are compared to me first reading them as a kid.