Review of “House of Earth and Blood” by Sarah J. Maas

Title: House of Earth and Blood
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Crescent City #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 803
Published: 2020, Bloomsbury Publishing
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

 

MY REVIEW

One of my favorite authors have started a third series, Crescent City. I was super excited after loving both Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. I had no expectations, and had honestly barely even read what it was about when I picked it up. I trusted Maas enough to pre-order this one signed as well (I’ve lost count on how many signed copies I have of her books by now, haha).

Even with no expectations, more than she being the author, I have to admit that I was almost ready to put it down at first. It honestly took me half of the book before I actually started to get into it and understand and sympathize with the characters and here’s why.

Maas is an amazing worldbuilder, I would love to pick her brains to find out where she gets all of her ideas from. It’s the same with House of Earth and Blood. She has a little bit of a different approach this time though. At first I hated it, but after reading the whole thing, I think I like it. She introduces the world and all its politics and hierarchies and characters and races in a very natural way. You never feel like she is explaining something, but everything comes naturally in the story. But, this is a whole new world, new races, a lot of characters, and I couldn’t keep up and felt frustrated when I didn’t understand anything at all the first half. I still feel unsure about some things honestly. This is the main reason why I had such a hard time reading this in the beginning.

I think it’s supposed to be adult fantasy, but with the exception of quite a bit of swearing, I don’t really see it. It’s still very similar to her other young adult works. Nothing bad, in my opinion, just something I thought about while reading.

And since it was supposed to be an adult fantasy, and in her latest books had included a lot of sex, I was expecting the worst. But honestly, not a single sex scene. Lots of plays on it though, but nothing that I really thought about. Except that scene when Hunt jerks off in the shower and comes so hard that he sees stars. I actually laughed out loud at that, like wtf?

What was so great about it at the end then? Well, I really liked the mix between science and fantasy. It took place in a modern world but where there was also magic. I really liked the balance she had created there.

The characters’ development were also amazing! All of them were hopeless in the beginning, they all had such attitudes that I just thought it was ridiculous. But it was on purpose and fitted the story and how everything developed at the end.

Also, at the end, so much action. So much was happening! I couldn’t put it down!

The end was an end, but there will be two more and I will obviously read them, but it was a satisfactory ending.

I feel like grading this book is hard. My general feeling now that I have finished it, is that it was a great book! I loved it! But it shouldn’t take 50% into the book to start caring for it. A three is too low, a five (considering the first half) is too much. So I guess a 4 is fair? If you enjoyed her other series, I’m super confident you’ll like this one as well. And if you haven’t read any of Maas’ books previously, start with Throne of Glass.

Review of “Kometen Kommer” by Tove Jansson

Title: Kometen Kommer (~Comet in Moominvalley)
Author: Tove Jansson
Series: Mumintrollen #2 (~The Moomins)
Narrator: Mark Levengood
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 3 hours 31 minutes
Published: 2007, Bonnier Audio (first published 1947)
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

When Moomintroll learns that a comet will be passing by, he and his friend Sniff travel to the Observatory on the Lonely Mountains to consult the Professors. Along the way, they have many adventures, but the greatest adventure of all awaits them when they learn that the comet is headed straight for their beloved Moominvalley.

MY REVIEW

The second book about the Moomins was about the comet that flies across the sky. I like how it actually deals with science and explains it in a simple way. Even if it is not described in detail. There are new characters introduced and once again, I’m sad to have listened and not having seen the illustrations. The Snork and Snork Maiden are similar trolls, but change colors. The Snork is so extremely blue it’s ridiculous. But I guess that’s how a children’s book should be written, in extremes to show a point. I honestly found it a bit annoying. And something else that’s annoying is Sniff, the small animal they found in the first book. I’m guessing he’s gonna be by Moomintroll’s side throughout the whole series. He is such an annoying baby. Maybe these stories are better to read myself instead of listening to when the narrator apparently is doing such a good job at reading out loud, haha!

I still very much enjoy the setting and storylines though. So it still gets a three.

Review of “Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen” by Tove Jansson

Title: Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen (~The Moomins and the Great Flood)
Author: Tove Jansson
Series: Mumintrollen #1 (~The Moomins)
Narrator: Mark Levengood
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 59 minutes
Published: 2007, Bonnier Audio (first published 1945)
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Moomins and the Great Flood was the original Moomin story, published in Finland in 1945. Moomin and his mother is searching for the lost father and experience dangers before the family happily reunites. Finally they come across a valley that is more beautiful than anything they had ever seen before.

MY REVIEW

This was an easy listen. Moomins originates from Finland and having Mark Levengood, Swedish-speaking Finn narrate this hour-long book was perfect. But I think it would have been better to actually read it myself to see the illustrations made by the author herself. It’s been so long since I saw any movies or TV-shows or whatever it was when I was a kid that I didn’t really remember how all the creatures looked like.

The story was short, fast-paced, and cute. A perfect listen while doing chores. But why did the Moomintroll’s father leave in the first place? Why did the Moomintroll’s mother not expect the dad to have built a house for the whole family? Questions perhaps a kid doesn’t even think about.

It was a cute story and it gets a four.

Review of “Ronja Rövardotter” by Astrid Lindgren

Title: Ronja Rövardotter (~Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter)
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Narrator: Astrid Lindgren
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 4 hours 59 minutes
Published: 2013, Astrid Lindgren Aktiebolag (first published 1981)
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

On the night Ronia was born, a thunderstorm raged over the mountain, but in Matt’s castle and among his band of robbers there was only joy — for Matt now had a spirited little black-haired daughter. Soon Ronia learns to dance and yell with the robbers, but it is alone in the forest that she feels truly at home.

Then one day Ronia meets Birk, the son of Matt’s arch-enemy. Soon after Ronia and Birk become friends the worst quarrel ever between the rivals bands erupts, and Ronia and Birk are right in the middle.

MY REVIEW

On my 30th birthday, a couple of weeks back, my mother told me that the reason I don’t remember these books, is because she actually never read them out loud to me. I know I was scared of everything growing up (some movies, like Gremlins, Scary Movie and The Princess Bride (which by the way isn’t even a scary movie) gave me nightmares for countless of years), but being scared of Astrid Lindgren’s children’s stories? I guess I do see it. There are some pretty badass antagonists in all of these books that I’ve listened to lately. I remember seeing the movies and yes, they were scary too. Vildvittror, ugh, they were the worst!

Since I saw the movie many times growing up, I did recognize it all while I was listening now and it is as good as I remembered. Now, I want to see the movie again. That will bring back many memories, for sure.

Astrid’s writing is as usual very colorful and I saw the whole story taking place in front of my inner eye. Maybe even more so because I saw the movie so many times. It was amazing! Astrid herself reading is incredible. I am so infinitely happy that she recorded all of her biggest books (maybe even all, I’m not sure?) to audio. She is not just an amazing author, she has a great storytelling voice and she definitely goes all in while reading her own words. 5 out of 5!

Review of “Mio, min Mio” by Astrid Lindgren

Title: Mio, min Mio (Mio, My Son)
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Narrator: Astrid Lindgren
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 3 hours 34 minutes
Published: 2013, Astrid Lindgren Aktiebolag (first published 1954)
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

With help from a genie, young Karl Anders Nilsson travels by day and night, beyond the stars, to reach Farawayland. There, his father the King, who has been searching for him for nine long years, tells him his true name is Mio, and lavishes upon him the loving attention he never received from his foster parents back in Stockholm. Mio learns of a prophecy that has been foretold for thousand of years. With his best friend Pompoo, and his horse with the golden mane, Miramis, he must travel into the darkness of Outer Land to battle the cruel Sir Kato.

MY REVIEW

I don’t think I’ve ever read Mio, min Mio. And it is supposed to be one of Astrid Lindgren’s best works! I think I have to agree.

It’s fast-paced, it’s easy to follow along, the story is captivating, and it is surprisingly dark. Not as dark as Brothers Lionheart, but there’s the Dead Forest, the super evil villain who kidnaps children. There’s beautiful sceneries and even if I never saw the movie, I could still see it all before my inner eye.

The absolute best part about it though is that I listened to Astrid herself reading it. She does it so enthusiastically! I’m sure reading it myself is great too, but hearing her voice, knowing exactly what feelings she wants to evoke in the reader, it’s absolutely amazing! Highly recommend listening to her narration. 5 out of 5!

Review of “Bröderna Lejonhjärta” by Astrid Lindgren

Title: Bröderna Lejonhjärta (The Brothers Lionheart)
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Narrator: Astrid Lindgren
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 5 hours 18 minutes
Published: 2013, Astrid Lindgren Aktiebolag (first published 1973)
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Brothers Lionheart (Swedish: Bröderna Lejonhjärta) is a children’s fantasy novel written by Astrid Lindgren. It was published in the autumn of 1973 and has been translated into 46 languages. Many of its themes are unusually dark and heavy for the children’s book genre. Disease, death, tyranny, betrayal and rebellion are some of the dark themes that permeate the story. The lighter themes of the book involve platonic love, loyalty, hope, courage and pacifism.

The two main characters are two brothers; the older Jonatan and the younger Karl. The two brothers’ surname was originally Lion, but they are generally known as Lionheart. Karl’s nickname is Skorpan (Rusky) since Jonatan likes these typical Swedish toasts or crusts.

In Nangijala, a land in “the campfires and storytelling days”, the brothers experience adventures. Together with a resistance group they lead the struggle against the evil Tengil, who rules with the aid of the fearsome fire-breathing dragon, Katla.

 

MY REVIEW

I would like to say that I grew up with Astrid Lindgren’s works. But after reading this, I’m not sure I can say that anymore. Maybe I grew up with the movies more so than with the books? Did my mom read these to me when I was too young to remember? It doesn’t really matter but in one way I’m glad I didn’t remember. Because it was like I read this classic for the very first time, I had no idea what would happen and was surprised just 20 minutes in. I didn’t even remember that the whole story starts with the two brothers dying. That’s not really a spoiler, so I don’t feel bad about writing it.

It’s the first of Lindgren’s works that I’ve read, well listened to I suppose, and more will there be. Hearing her book, with her has the narrator, was amazing! I don’t think I would have seen it all before my inner eye as clearly as I did when she read it. The different voices, the singing, the anxiousness she got aced completely in the right scenes! Goosebumps!

For a children’s fantasy book, it was very dark. Death, oppression, terrible monsters. I do remember the movie being scary. Now I thought it was sad as well. Especially the ending. It was a brutal ending! I had to google what happened next, and apparently she wrote an open letter to a Swedish newspaper a year after it was released telling everyone about the ending and how it continued in the land of Nangilima. It was a happy ending! If you want spoilers, you can read about it on the Swedish Wikipedia page.

I haven’t really read any children’s books in my adult life and at first I thought it was very simple. As it should be. Still all the environments and pictures flooded throughout the whole story. Things happened all the time, it was fast-paced and had lots of events. I can compare this experience with reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I had no idea it was a screenplay but even without the descriptions, I could clearly see what was going on. The brain is fascinating.

I can’t wait to listen to more of her books. I think I will go on with Mio, Min Mio (Mio, My Son). The Brothers Lionheart gets a solid 5!

Review of “Seeking Shadows” by E. A. Cartwright

Title: Seeking Shadows
Author: E. A. Cartwright
Series: Chrionicles of the Balance #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Published: 2021, EC Editorial
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Death can be a curse, but also a blessing. For aeons, the reapers have been the keepers of the Balance, maintaining the universal order of life and death in the human realm. And as a High Reaper, it will one day fall on Branwen to guide the flock… should she be crowned, that is. For she is not the only one eligible to take the throne, and with a tarnished reputation, Branwen has long since accepted she will remain a pawn of her lifelong rival, Taren. For why would the Balance crown her, the reaper disfigured with a power to embarrass all of her kind?

But Branwen is forced to confront her insecurities when Taren does the unthinkable. Jealous and impatient, he allies himself with a pompous businessman hungry for invincibility, transforming the world of Kana into a deathtrap as humans unite under a common goal: no more reapers, no more death.

While starving reapers grow weaker and humans feel the consequences of a life with no end, it falls on Branwen to navigate a world of technology to bring Taren to justice and restore the natural order. But an unlikely friend leads her to a discovery that there is more to the humans’ unified behaviour than meets the eye, and saving the worlds may no longer be so straightforward.

The problem is locked inside an old clocktower, and the solution could tear the worlds apart.

 

MY REVIEW

The idea of reapers and angels taking and giving life is intriguing and Seeking Shadows is the first book I’m reading on the topic. And I loved it!

Cartwright is writing in first person perspective from all the three main characters and she does it really well. I like that you feel the characters more this way if you write it correctly and she really did. I’m thinking a lot about the writing style while I myself am writing in first perspective and I wish that I will reach the varied and interesting yet still easy way of writing that she does. The story flows so easily.

One thing I thought about in the beginning of the book was how I got the feeling that when she is writing, she really lets the characters decide where conversations are going. I recognize it since I myself end up there pretty much every single time I’m writing dialogue. I have an initial thought but then the characters keep on talking and discuss other things than what I had had in mind.

One thing I didn’t quite understand though was the consumption of the reapers. The Shadows have different professions, some are reapers, some are readers for example. I assume that the reapers are the only ones who go to the world of Kana to reap the souls who area ready and that’s how they gain their energy, by consuming souls. But how do the readers consume? I didn’t quite understand it when Ina, a reader, consumed a soul and felt sick at first when it was trapped. Other than that, her world-building totally made sense.

It is definitely a fast-paced first book. Things are always happening and you as a reader don’t know at all where the story is going. At the end it was easier to guess, but that’s how it’s supposed to be if you wrote the story the right way, I guess?

I loved the ending! It was an end, but at the same time definitely not and I really hope that she will write her butt off so I can continue the story.

I received this as an e-ARC copy in exchange for my honest review in time for the release on February 6th this year. Life came in between and I am now posting this a couple of weeks too late. I don’t like stressing out a book and this way I can enjoy it more. Which I did. It gets a 4 out of 5 and I cross my fingers she will release the follow-up soon!

Review of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #0,5
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 825
Published: 2020, Scholastic Press
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

MY REVIEW

This book really made me miss The Hunger Games. I remember one of my hostkids in California 2013, when I was an au pair, who forced me to read them while I was there. One of the best recommendations I’ve ever gotten. We had so much to talk about after I had finished all three of them. It was nostalgic reading this prequel and I feel like I want to reread the trilogy (but who has the time?).

It was easy to recognize Collins’ writing, I was once again in Panem but this time at the time of the tenth Hunger Games instead of 74th. The games are not yet developed into the dramatic event it is in the trilogy, we get to see how it changed and that President Snow had a big part in it.

In The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Coriolanus Snow (the awful president) is the protagonist and it’s amazing that you start to sympathize with him. Everyone knows how horrible he is, yet you root for him in this book. That’s excellent writing!

The book led me to think that he would actually turn out fine in the end, although I knew that he would turn into the monster that he is in The Hunger Games. But it wasn’t until the very last chapter that it all turned. I was always on edge, hoping that the historical events would change and Snow would finally get his girl. Sadly, no. Still unhappy ending.

Well worth a read! If you love the Hunger Games, you’ll definitely love this book too! 4 out of 5.

The End

I can’t really believe it finally happened. The first draft of my very first manuscript is done! I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago, rewrote the end a bit a week later and now just sent it out to some beta readers. It’s unreal. Those endorfines I got when finishing it stayed with me for several days. I’m pretty proud of myself for actually going through with this whole thing. I wrote a book!

98 999 words, 377 pages, 33 chapters.

When I started this projekt a bit more than three years ago, I was planning on writing one book. A single book, just to see if I could do it. Very early on, I realized that the story that had started to grow in my head would be too big for one book. At least for a normal length debut fantasy novel. I was aiming for thirty chapters and around 100k words. I’m impressed that I actually reached that goal, right on. With no experience of writing before.

I had made up a plan from the begnning, I had the eight big milestones that my story would consist of. I then added side stories, starting from book number two and have now realized that it will be three books before I’m done with this series. I also have an idea about a prequel. So four books in total. Crazy how much this idea of mine grew.

The series is called Legend of Enunta and the first two titles are set:

  1. Across the Divide
  2. Toward the Divide

The other two are just ideas so far, but I’m thinking:

3. Ending the Divide
0,5. Creating the Divide

Don’t hold that against me, if I decide to change the titles years in the future, haha!

I just sent out to some beta readers and will now let my manuscript sit until I recieve all the feedback and then I will start editing. I keep hearing that writing a book is the easy part compared to editing. At the end of March, I’ve booked an editor and I’m super excited to work with her. I’m currently waiting for a price plan and what type of edit I want. Whatever we decide to continue with, I’m sure it will be great!

Until then, I’ve started writing on Toward the Divide and am already half a chapter in. Woho! I’m so excited about where this is all going! And not just with Legend of Enunta, but also with The Emergence Trilogy that I’ve held dearly in my head for a while now. It will be epic!

If there are any more beta readers out there interested in reading, please let me know 🙂

 

Review of “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss

Title: The Name of the Wind
Author: Patrik Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 662
Published: 2007, Gollancz
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

‘I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

My name is Kvothe.
You may have heard of me’

MY REVIEW

Wow, I’m just gonna say that: wow!

I now understand why everyone keeps telling me to read this book. It was incredible! Such an original piece of work with stories within stories within stories. A very interesting way of writing.

It’s about this inkeeper, Kvothe, who tells his story to a storyteller who writes it down. Within that story there are other stories told and it is just so nicely done. There are things happening on the first level of the story too, but I’m not sure those events have much to do with anything. Yet. In the end, there will most likely be some big kind of reveal.

It’s an epic fantasy story with magic that doesn’t take over the plot.  Not that that usually is a bad thing, but here it is just on the side of things, enough to feel the fantasy. But the magic system is really fascinating. I’ve never read anything like it but it’s logical with symphatetic bindings. If two things are connected somehow, and you add an energy source to it, then anything can happen. Since it is that logical, the system really speaks to me.

There is a downside to this brick of amazement. There is a second book published. But the third and last is not even on the horizon of being released. Even if most people told me to read it right away, I also got warnings. Do not read until the third one is published, or at least has a viable release date. Rothfuss is very similar to George R.R. Martin in that regard. Too bad. But I will not pick up the second book until I know when the third one will come out. And I think I recommend you to do the same. I know how frustrating it is to wait for “The Winds of Winter”…

Because of its originality and interesting story and writing style, it gets a five. Yes, it is way up there!