The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

Started: November 16, 2017
Finished: November 26, 2017

Language: English
Rating: 4/5 stars

He was not here to retrieve his wife. For his wife was not a thing to be retrieved.

This was a wonderful, amazing sequel!

The story of this book suited me a lot better than the one in The Wrath and the Dawn, simply because it felt more original – and because it showed a different side of both Shahrzad and Khalid. Renée Ahdieh writes beautifully about a land edging towards war, two lovers trying to mend it, and about loss and heartbreak. It told of family and childhood love compared to adult love. About what women were seen as by most – and what their worth actually is.

And about magic. Finally we get Shahrzad learning to use her latent magical powers – and we also get to see how magic can corrupt those who delve into things too powerful to be tamed. The world grows as we meet people with magic from other parts of the world – and that intrigues me even more (can we have a short-story about Artan, please?).

The reason I can’t give this a full five stars? I felt like the side characters – Shahrzad’s sister Irsa, for example – could have been developed even further, as could her sweet little romance. I also felt that Tariq got way too much of the spotlight. But other than that? Yes, this was a glorious book!


Ali-A Adventures: Game On!

Started: November 20, 2017
Finished: November 20, 2017

Language: English
Rating: 3/5 stars

“But that’s all impossible, right?”
“Ali, you’re having a conversation with a super-powered talking dog…”
“Oh, yeah. Right. Good point.”

I started watching Ali-A mainly for his Pokémon Go vlogs last year, but then I got caught up in a lot of the other games he played as well. So I kind of knew that I would probably read this book even if graphic novels aren’t my thing. I actually bought it at Gatwick Airport after a weekend in London – and read the whole thing on the flight back to Sweden. Which takes about 2 hours – and I only needed to use half of that time to read.

The story is fast paced and structured like a video game, where Ali’s character looses a life whenever he fails a mission, but is also able to find upgrades after saving a certain number of aliens. It has a few unexpected twists and turns, which was entertaining, and the dialogue was spot on. My favourite character was Eevee – seriously, you’re going to have to look long and hard for a more sarcastic dog!

But even though I liked the overall feel of the story, I do still have trouble with the graphic novel format. I just feel like there’s so much more that could be added by writing it as a non-graphic – but maybe that’s just me.
Still, it was an enjoyable read!

Check out Ali-A’s YouTube channels here and here, as well as his girlfriend Clare Siobhan’s here!

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts #2)

Started: October 30, 2017
Finished: November 12, 2017

Language: English
Rating: 4/5 stars

London’s burning, she thought. Burning with the Skill of the Equals.

Such a gorgeous sequel! This was certainly one of those books that just became better and better the more you read, with more and more pieces added to the puzzle. And the complete picture is turning out much darker than you first believed it would.

As Luke is taken north to Lord Crovan’s estate, Abi has escaped the carriage taking her and her parents to Millmoor, intent on finding a way to rescue her brother. She seeks out the Skill-deprived Heir Meilyr, who also hosts the remainder of the Millmoor rebels, and together they start to put together a plan to get Luke out. At the same time, Silyen manouvers himself into a position of power in the House of Light – and with Lord Jardin becoming a temporary chancellor, Gavar begins to worry that his father will push new, harsh rules onto the common folk, and people like his daughter.

Tarnished City is much darker, grittier and more politically inclined than Gilded Cage was. We lose several important characters, but find just as many new and intriguing ones. This, however, makes things a bit complicated as the book has so, so many POVs. Yes, they intertwine with one another, but they also disrupt the flow of the story a bit. I can see the need for them, though, as each POV brings a new perspective on the situation to us readers – but sometimes it takes far too long to get back to certain characters.

Either way, I’m already excited for Bright Ruin!

Bloodrose (Nightshade #3)

Started: July 15, 2017
Finished: November 11, 2017

Language: English
Rating: 4/5 stars

Guardians were made from the beasts that rule their souls, forced to share a human body so they would be servants to the Keepers.

Actual rating: 3.5/5 stars

Compared to the first novel in this series, I felt like this was a bit messy. It’s still an easy read – the way Andrea Cremer writes makes the language flow easily and you read 50 pages in an hour if you give yourself the time – but the messy story, mainly the romance part, made me put it on hold several times. I’m just not a fan of a love-triangle like this.

As the story neared the end, though, things became more interesting. The action sequences were very fun to read and I love the characters – humans and Guardians alike. And I did find myself crying a bit at the losses they suffered in the final battle. All in all, that bumped the rating up to at least 3.5 stars. But only just.

Origin (Robert Langdon #5)

Started: November 4, 2017
Finished: November 11, 2017

Language: Swedish
Rating: 4/5 stars

Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

If you’re a fan of Dan Brown and his stories about Robert Langdon, you will certainly like this novel as well.

Langdon is invited to an event hosted by his former student and friend, Edmond Kirsch, at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Kirsch claims to have found the answers to humanity’s greatest mysteries and plans on revealing it all in a presentation that will also be streamed online. Before he can, however, he is murdered by someone who does not want these questions answered. Langdon decides to find a way to stream his friend’s presentation either way – and to his aid he has the curator of the museum, Ambra Vidal. Who also happens to be engaged to the Spanish Crown Prince – and as it is revealed that the assassin was a last minute addition to the guest list due to a phone call from the palace, the royal family might not be innocent bystanders in all of this.

The story is, just as all Dan Brown books, fast paced, full of mysteries and symbols, hidden messages and history. And all of that is just as entertaining as in every other novel following the Harvard Professor turned crime solver. I also found that I really enjoyed reading more of Spain’s modern history – something that is forgotten in-between World War Two and the Cold War.
As a teacher, I feel we should definitely add that as an optional thing to study for older students. I know I would have found it interesting if I’d been given the chance to do a paper on it in High School. However, Kirsch’s answers to humanity’s greatest mysteries are a let down. Of course, Brown cannot write anything controversial, anything that is “too out there” as an answer to the questions – but instead the answers become a bit meh. Too safe. Too expected.
Which is the reason why I cannot give this a full five stars. I enjoyed Inferno a tad bit more.

The Glass Spare (The Glass Spare #1)

Started: October 29, 2017
Finished: October 29, 2017

Language: English
Rating: 4/5 stars

Death itself is no match for you. The day you were born, it shrank away in fear.

Wil is the fourth child of the royal family and has grown up nearly invisible. Few outside the castle know what she looks like – which means she can sneak in and out to collect objects from the black market for her brother’s experiments without anyone realizing they’re trading with a princess. One night, however, something goes horribly wrong as a vendor tries to kill her – and Wil, in turn, turns him to ruby with a simple touch. When she, by accident, turns this power on someone she loves, she is forced to flee the kingdom – and try to figure out a reason for her curse. And a cure.

The world building in this book is amazing! Wil’s kingdom is steampunk/medieval/modern and – no lie – I want to live there. I also enjoy the characters immensely. Wil in particular; she’s a true tomboy princess with a lot of attitude and spunk, who’s also trying to deal with the fact that she might be cursed and cannot touch anything living without turning them or it to gemstones. Loom, a character she meets while on the run, is also really interesting, with an intriguing backstory and family of his own.

What I did not like as much was the romance between those two characters. At times, it felt a bit forced – and I actually wouldn’t have minded leaving the romance part be. The story would have worked perfectly well with them as friends – or as people who fall in love in future novels of this series. But other than that this was an entertaining story and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

12 Doctors, 12 Stories

Started: October 22, 2017
Finished: October 28, 2017

Language: English
Rating: 4/5 stars

“I’m very clever,” said the Doctor. It was a good line, and he was determined to use it as much as possible.

One cannot have too many Doctor Who short stories! Loved reading all these little pieces and meeting all these Doctors once again – along with several companions whom I’ve missed dearly. Some stories affected me more than others, so those I might actually read again. I especially enjoyed the 8th Doctor’s story Spore – and you honestly can’t go wrong with a story like Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman. The Nameless City (2nd Doctor) wasn’t my cup of tea, though. Sadly.

Individual ratings

  • A Big Hand for the Doctor by Eoin Colfer (4 out of 5 stars)
  • The Nameless City by Michael Scott (2 out of 5 stars)
  • The Spear of Destiny by Marcus Sedgwick (4 out of 5 stars)
  • The Roots of Evil by Philip Reeve (3 out of 5 stars)
  • Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness (5 out of 5 stars)
  • Something Borrowed by Richelle Mead (4 out of 5 stars)
  • The Ripple Effect by Malorie Blackman (5 out of 5 stars)
  • Spore by Alex Scarrow (5 out of 5 stars)
  • The Beast of Babylon by Charlie Higson (4 out of 5 stars)
  • The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage by Derek Landy (4 out of 5 stars)
  • Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman (5 out of 5 stars)
  • Lights Out by Holly Black (3 out of 5 stars)