Review of “Sleeping Giants” by Sylvain Neuvel

Title: Sleeping Giants
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Series: Themis Files #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 320
Published: 2016, Del Ray
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

MY REVIEW

Wow! It has been a long time since I felt like I couldn’t put down a book. Five days to finish a book is fast for me nowadays. And I wanted to pick up the second one right away. And I would have, had I not had a tournament just starting. The ending made me literally sitting with my mouth open on the tram on my way to the tournament. I had been thinking that that could not have truly happened, but at the very end, the epilogue, I was still surprised out of my mind at the revelation. I had been thinking how I should read another book inbetween, but after that ending (and frankly the whole book), I am definitely not. I cannot!

Okay, so I guess I have to explain the crystal clear 5 I gave it. First of all, this is no ordinary book. Like The Illuminae Files, it is written completely from a documentation perspective. Mostly interviews, but also journals and logs of different kinds. Mostly interviews. Very interesting way to write and Neuvel really manages to get the reader to see everything. Isn’t that insane? That just through dialogues, you get a really good idea of what the characters are like and how the environments look like? It’s impressive and Neuvel really does it. And speaking of characters, my complete favorite is the interviewer who you don’t really know anything about. He is so interesting and I can’t wait to find out who he is! He is serious, always use the right words, and fancy ones, well-educated I guess. But he also a smart-ass and really funny, even in his seriousness. Maybe I have gotten the complete wrong picture of him, because like I said you don’t really get any information about who he is, but the way I see him, he is funny and the most interesting character.

What is a minor downside though, is the lack of details and actually the time perception. Where a “normal” book would thoroughly describe every important aspect of the story, this one can sometimes jump several months ahead and all of a sudden something major happened, but it is just mentioned in one sentence and you don’t really get to find out how they managed to do it. It is not needed to understand the story, definitely not, and you get a good understanding of it anyway. But details are good, or maybe I just miss it because all the other books I am reading are full of them.

It gets a strong 5. I was recommended this by a friend who usually don’t read any books, and for once it didn’t take me very long to pick it up and I am so glad I did. An easy read and very entertaining. Now when this review is finished, I will start with Waking Gods right away!

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Review of “Höstregn” by Lars Wilderäng

Title: Höstregn (~ “Autumn Rain”)
Author: Lars Wilderäng
Series: Höstsol
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 395
Published: 2018, Massolit
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION (translated to English by me)

A bigger part of Europe is without power and means of communication. Control centres are wiped out and hours are passing without backlashes simultaneously as rival troops are crossing the borders.

Time is meagre and hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake. Body guard Christian Vindelby ends up in the middle of the installment of a new government, Johanna is stuck in a desperate juggernaut duel and Jonas is stranded in the chaos south of Uppsala with the kids, at the same time as a huge responsibility are laid upon his shoulders.

In the defense centre of Moscow, Misja’s fight for survival has only just begun and in the USA, hidden forces are working to escalate the situation further.

When old leaders fall, one no longer can control who will take their place. One desperate plan is formed, but the question is if everyone is prepared to pay the price?

MY REVIEW

Everyone who has ever read a book knows that it can sometime start off kind of slowly and uneventful. Even if it is the second or third or 7th book in a series. I have found the exception that confirms the rule: Höstregn, the sequel to Höstsol by Lars Wilderäng. Everything starts at page one! Taking off exactly where Höstsol ended, at the cliffhanger. The feeling of hopelessness that joined me in the end and taunted me with one year of waiting for the sequel joined me right away on page one. And kept going for a long while. It looked very very bad for the poor Swedes. And honestly, it is not until the very end that hope comes forward. I like that it is stated pretty early on about a big secret mission, but you don’t really know until the very end what it is about.

Like with all the other books Wilderäng has written, it follows many characters and at first I felt that it was hard to get to know the different ones, that his type of writing is better to give a full overview of the plot, rather than following the personal developments of the characters. But I changed my mind towards the mid/ending. I did feel with the characters, I felt what they felt and even started crying a little bit at one point.

If I remember correctly, Höstsol had lots of military details and I had a hard time following exactly everything that happened because it was sort of easy to zone out when details occupied page after page. This was easier to understand. I wouldn’t say less detailed, because it still was, which made it super realistic, but it was easier to follow. More feelings involved perhaps? Easier to relate to.

The reason Höstsol only got a 4.5 is because of what I just wrote in the paragraph above. And since that is not applicable in the sequel, Höstregn gets a 5!

Pictures from Barcelona!!

Finally, the pictures from Barcelona are here and uploaded to the original posts. They can be found on these following links (or just go to the Spain category). Enjoy, almost 5 months later!

Barcelona: From warm summer to cold spring
La Rambla
La Sagrada Familia
Platja de la Nova Icaria
Parc Güell
Platja del Bogatell
Borta bra men hemma bäst

Pictures from Kiruna!!

Finally, the pictures from Kiruna are here and uploaded to the original posts. They can be found on these two links. Enjoy, almost 8 months later!

Icehotel in Kiruna

Skiing in Luossavaara

WSP in Lillehammer, Day 3

Our last day in Norway was a truly eventful day and falling asleep with people partying on the floor above was no issue at all. It was a great day!

I think the morning activities were supposed to be a secret, but everyone was talking about it anyway. We were going to the Olympic Park for team building activities. Those activities included shooting with a paintball gun on a moving target, shooting with a bow and arrow, running around in a maze but also going on the bob! I didn’t think too much of it, but it was kind of a big deal. If I am not mistaking, we actually went in the real course that the Olympics did in 1994. In the summer the bobs have big rubber wheels and reaches speeds of 85km/h. But in the winter, they can go up to 130! I thought this was fast!

My group was last on going on the bob, everyone was laughing when they came down and I was really excited. It was fun! But it wasn’t so extreme as I thought it would be. Maybe I have been filled after going on Helix so many times. But it was fun and totally worth it. I think it would be more thrilling during the winter.

We had lunch at the Olympic Park and then we all divided. Some went to Hafjell to go downhill on mountainbikes. I am sure that would have been super fun, but it didn’t really feel like a good idea so I went with another van up to the very top of the mountain, to Pellestova. I didn’t really know what to expect because we hadn’t gotten any information about it more than that it was an easy trek. It was an easy hike, but I thought it was going to be really cold so I changed from my sneakers to Timbaland boots. Bad choice. I got so many blisters and it is still all wet from where the skin was scraped off of my heels. Real nasty! I wasn’t cold, so my sneakers would have been enough. Three layers on my legs and four layers up.

In total we walked approximately 7km both ways, one hour up and a little less down. The whole mountain looked like it was on fire with the leaves on the blueberry bushes (or whatever similar things it was) turning red. It was so pretty!!

Out in the distance we saw white mountain tops and there were many lakes up there. It was a really nice hike. If I hadn’t been stupid enough to wear those boots it would have been even nicer. Here is a 360 picture from the top.

After the hike, we drove around up on the mountain, going to the small community of Sjusoen. I had a cup of hot cocoa, well-needed. Even if I got kinda sweaty and warm, I got really cold as soon as I didn’t move, so in the car I started freezing.

Back at the cabin, I was exhausted to my bones. And cold. So I cuddled up on the couch for an hour under a blanket until it was time to start dinner.

Last night’s dinner was insane! We had the biggest bbq ever and everyone was helping. We had been divided into different teams, some had paella, some had chicken, some had iberico pork (pigs who only eat acorns), vegetarian stuff, entrecote. It was insane. And there was a slight miscalculation in the amounts. Since there were so many different things and meats, it probably wasn’t necessary to have 35 portions of everything, haha! But it was sooooo good. I had seconds, but was so full afterward.

The very last activity of this trip was a picture contest. Beforehand, everyone had sent a picture of themselves to the group arranging the activities in the cabin. We then had to guess who it was. It was so hard. I only guessed 10/36, haha! But super fun game!

WSP in Lillehammer, Day 2

A long day lies behind me and an even longer is ahead of me tomorrow. Long days, with many fun activities equals time flies and this trip will be over in no time.

I had no idea what we were going to do today. On the agenda it said Maihaugen. Oh nice, I thought, that is probably up on one of the mountains and we will get a nice view. I don’t think I could have been more wrong, haha! Maihaugen is like an outdoor museum with old timber houses from like the 18th century and earlier. Super cute place!

I also, of course, took a 360 picture as I pretty much always do when I travel and the picture can be found on Google Maps.

Our next stop was the Olympic ski jump slope. Lillehammer was host of the Winter Olympics in 1994 and all the arenas and slopes and the torch man on the side of the mountain are still here. The slope was insane! We walked down and the vans picked us up at the bottom. My knees hurt after all those stairs down. I don’t really understand what goes through people’s mind who practices that sport. Crazy people!

Lunch at Peppe’s Pizza in downtown Lillehammer after. Delicious pizza!

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the cabin doing work-related stuff. Department meeting and then a game of WSP’s values and what we think is important and should go in our action plan for 2019. We had some hectic discussions in our group but came up with a nice suggestion to the plan in the end.

Catered dinner at 7pm, and then several games. Like charades, a communication game that was really fun and some other games. It was fun, but I got tired and as soon as we were done, I went down and sat down in the sauna for a bit. Sooooo nice!

I kinda feel that a skiing vacation would be really nice! Living in a timber house, always being rosy and cold and warm and being in the sauna every night. Drinking hot cocoa. Perhaps not going skiing? Just doing everything else, haha!

WSP in Lillehammer, day 1

In two days, so have already worked at WSP for a full year. I can’t believe it and time has flown and blaha blaha blaha. It is unbelievable and I still feel that I have found my place. It truly doesn’t feel like a full year though.

Another year, another conference trip. As long as we make enough money, the whole department goes away for a long weekend. Last year we went to Budapest, a really fun and rainy weekend. This year we went to Lillehammer in Norway. A very different type of trip, I think I can already say without having done anything just yet.

Last year we flew, this year we had big vans and drove up. Around 6-7 hours total? With a stop in Oslo around lunch. We ate at Olivia, an Italian restaurant which will open in Gothenburg eventually. After eating there today, I am really excited for the grand opening back home. The sallad before the “buffet” was so simple yet so good! The buffet was first pasta dishes that were shared among all the people around the table, so not a true buffet. And then we shared pizza. Everything, including the olive oil drenched bread was delicious!

A few from the WSP management office in Oslo joined us and gave us a short tour after lunch. We walked to the Opera House and watched all the millions of construction sites all around us. They are building even more there than back home. Cranes everywhere!

D

uring the ride from Oslo to Lillehammer, I fell asleep in the back of the van. Very uncomfortable, and I am sure I missed some views, but still nice!

A quick coffee break in Espa where I bought a Kvikklunsj. I thought it was like a Kexchoklad, but it was more like a KitKat. I have heard about it and thought it was worth a try.

At 6pm we arrived at Hafjell Lodge, the big cabin right in the middle of Hafjell. I realized that I was here 8 years ago. When it was white and I was skiing. A bit different of a trip now. Very pretty still!

We had dinner almost immediately, a game stew with mashed potatoes and tyttebær, lingonberries. Very good. I was still not hungry after the huge lunch, but it wasn’t too hard to eat.

After dinner the group of people arranging activities for our department, gave us the last piece of information for the last big math question from the quiz in the cars. All the cars competed against each other by solving rebuses, Gothenburg words, questions about beer and a car bingo by taking pictures of stuff on the way. By handing in the last question’s correct answer first, our team won! Woho! We won candy and when that rush had gone away I got so tired that I went to bed. It will be a luxury to sleep a full night without the cats waking me up. Not that they did last night, but still.

The next couple of days will be full of outdoor activities and I hope I brought warm enough clothes.