Review of “Playing with Fire” by Derek Landy

Title: Playing with Fire
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant #2
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 389
Published: 2008, HarperCollins
My Grade: 4 out of 5 ecplises

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Skulduggery and Valkyrie are facing a new enemy: Baron Vengeous, who is determined to bring back the terrifying Faceless Ones and is crafting an army of evil to help him. Added to that, Vengeous is about to enlist a new ally (if he can raise it from the dead): the horrible Grotesquery, a very unlikable monster of legend.

Once Vengeous is on the loose, dead bodies and vampires start showing up all over Ireland. Now pretty much everybody is out to kill Valkyrie, and the daring detective duo faces its biggest challenge yet.

But what if the greatest threat to Valkyrie is just a little closer to home?

MY REVIEW

The second book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series was very similar to the first one except that it didn’t need the whole introduction to the world. The action came right away because the characters were already known.

I think the level of sarcasm was a little bit lower than the first? It felt more serious. Not necessarily a bad thing, but the thing that sold me to this story, was the sarcasm and witty dialogue. So that was a small bummer.

On the upside though, the story is very much alive and I was extra surprised in the second half when I actually realized that Landy doesn’t write about details. Like for instance, Valkyrie wears a dress, but there is not a single descriptive word about it. Yet, he totally makes it realistic and visible somehow. Very good job, Landy!

This sums up to a grade of 4.

There was also this short story Gold, Babies and the Brothers Muldoon. Refreshing short story of 26 pages with lots of funny dialogue. I guess it is easier to make a short story incredible with 85% sarcasm. In a whole novel, it shoulnd’t take over. What good would a book be if it was only great because it was funny? There has to be a great story to be told as well. But in a short story, it wors perfectly.

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Review of “Into the Fire” by Pittacus Lore

Title: Into the Fire
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: The Legacy Chronicles #2
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 113
Published: 2018, HarperCollins
My Grade: 4 out of 5 puppeteer

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

After escaping from their sabotaged plane and avoiding a crash, Six, Sam, and their new charges manage to make it to the Human Garde Academy and meet up with Nine. Instead of continuing their investigation, though, the Garde decide they must take on the dangerous new foe who has abducted their friends and allies.

But the trail has gone cold, and the only way to find their enemy is to infiltrate his organization. Against Six and Sam’s better judgement, they send Rena and Nemo undercover. But things take a frightening turn when the two young teens are forced to play a deadly game, and Six and Sam may not be able to reach them in time.

 

MY REVIEW

Another action packed story by Pittacus Lore. Like I have said in my previous reviews of books by the Loric Elder, it is as good as the long novels, except that all the stuff happens in only 100 pages. What differs this side-story series compared to The Lost Files that accompanied the original I am Number Four series (The Legacy Chronicles follows Lorien Legacies Reborn, a series which follows the new Human Garde at the Academy rather than the original Loric who had numbers), is that this is not stand-alone novellas in the world describing events that take place alongisde the main events of the main series. This is a story with cliffhangers. A whole new side-story which I guess could be put into a full book. But it works perfectly when the short novellas are released in between the longer books. Otherwise it could be confusing to which order to read them all.

It is a very exciting story and we get to follow Six and Sam more who didn’t have too big roles in the first series. It’s great. But I do miss following John Smith. He is pictured as an almighty god now in the aftermath of the war on Earth between Lorien and Mogadorien.

So to sum up, this is not a standalone novella in this side series. Read Out of the Ashes first. After reading the full Lorien Legacies series. And The Lost Files. And probably also Generation One. Read them all, they are great! 4 out of 5!

 

Review of “Skulduggery Pleasant” by Derek Landy

Title: Skulduggery Pleasant
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 392
Published: 2007, HarperCollins
My Grade: 4 out of 5 scepters

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant

Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor–tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer
and
Walking, Talking,
Fire-throwing Skeleton

—as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgley, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.

These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.

The end of the world?

Over his dead body.

MY REVIEW

A friend of mine told me about this book series probably four years ago when we started working at Liseberg together. It has been on my to-read list since then. I am stubborn and very selective when it comes to books. Four years is a long time to read something that someone told me I had to read because she/he loved it. I can give three clear examples of book recommendations that I eventually picked up. First we have Throne of Glass, it probably took me two years, but it turned out to be my absolute favorite series (well, one of the many, but it is truly amazing). So that was a good recommendation. The second one was Illuminae and it might have taken me a little less than a year to pick it up? She who told me about it appraised it so much. It was good, but not that good. And now this. Skulduggery Pleasant, the skeleton detective. So weird. And perhaps a bit childish? Four years was definitely too long to wait, but I did read it when I really felt like it, instead of forcing myself to read it when I had tons of other books I felt that I really had to read. I am not disappointed, it was really great!

First of all, I did not get the childish impression of it as it had first given me from the description on Goodreads. Sure, the main character is 12, but that seems to be a good start for characters in a long series. Compare it to Harry Potter.

It is also comparable to Percy Jackson in the way it is written. The whole book is basically 83% sarcasm and witty dialogue and I love it! It makes it fun to read. It makes it easy to read and the pages just flew by. That’s how I like it, easy to read without unnecessary poetic descriptions and metaphors in every other sentece to describe something as simple as breathing in spring air for example. A book should be entertaining yet relaxing to read. If I wanted to learn stuff, I would have read something else than fiction.

At the end of the book was #1.5 in this series, The Lost Art of World Domination. Only a couple dozen or so pages of just one scene where Skulduggery had been captured by a sorcerer who wanted to take over the world. And the way Skulduggery completely defeat that man psychologically was hilarious all the way through! Don’t skip out on it!!

A very enjoyable book, and I honestly can’t really say why I only give it a 4. It just doesn’t feel like it belongs on the shelves where all my fives are. Maybe it should be a 4.5? Eh, doesn’t really matter. A reall good book and I suggest you read it if you agree with what I wrote in the review.

#skrivutmaningapril, 3

Luften var laddad. Någon röt till och allt svartnade för en sekund. När synen återkom hade jag flygit flera meter bakåt och framför mig hade jag ett par. Helt tysta, endast stirrande in i varandras ögon. Nej, inget par. Ingen respekt var synlig i deras blickar. Det var hat men igenkänning. Vilka var det där? Oavsett så tycktes det inte finnas någon trevlig utväg på situationen framför mig.
Den lite äldre mannen lyfte långsamt handen för att sen överraskat snärta till den mot kvinnans ansikte. Hennes reflexer var bättre. Som om att hon hade sett hans handling redan innan den hänt. Hon grep tag i hans hand, böjde den åt fel håll och luften fylldes än en gång med ett ryt. Den här gången av smärta istället för ilska.
Men det stoppade honom inte från att höja andra handen och slå kvinnan i magen med knuten knytnäve.
Jag slog mig för magen och skrek samtidigt som kvinnan framför mig. Andan gick ur oss båda.
När kvinnan böjde sig dubbelt sträckte hon ut ena benet och fällde mannen och var på honom med händerna runt halsen innan han förstod vad som hänt. Hon klämde till.
Slagsmålet försvann framför mina ögon och ersattes av en svarthet jag aldrig upplevt innan. Jag tvingade upp ögonen och stirrade rätt in i mannens.
“Du har blivit bättre sen vi sist sågs,” sa han till mig medan han kämpade efter luft.
“Min tränare i unga dar var inget vidare,” svarade jag med glimten i ögat och släppte taget om min gamla mästares hals.

#skrivutmaningapril, 2

”Kom hit då, lilla bubben! Kom då! Ja, kom hit!” Svansen viftade med den uppenbara känslan som strömmade genom hela hans väsen. Bollen var nästan platt i hans mun när han kom springandes. Stolthet över att ha lyckats med uppdraget att hämta den flygande leksaken var också tydlig i hans ansikte. Med snabba men klumpiga skutt var han snart vid min sida.

Luften försvann ur mig när det stora fluffet hoppade upp på mitt bröst och släppte bollen rätt i ansiktet på mig. Slafsigt och blött. Men känslan spred sig till mig som det snabbaste viruset och jag skrattade högt samtidigt som jag höll om min lilla älskling och kastade iväg bollen på nytt.

#skrivutmaningapril, 1

My writing depends on many things. It should be the other way around, shouldn’t it?

I have 26 000 words in 10 months. That’s not good. I need motivation. I think the inspiration is there. I pretty much know what to write, or at least where I want to go with each new chapter. But so many things come in between.

I think the most important thing (besides people who want to continue to read what I have yet to write), is routine. At least that’s what Stephen King says in his book “On Writing” as well as Litterära Konsulter (who gave me feedback at the Book Fair last September).

So I have accepted a challenge. Workout challenges are fun. Reading challenges are fun. But I have never felt the urge to follow them through. A writing challenge however. Yes, that could be my thing! Not just fun, but with a purpose as well. Writing a little every day to get a routine while at the same time learning to “show, don’t tell” as I have learned it is called in English. To give something form and meaning by showing it rather than telling it. If that makes any sense.

The challenge is provided by Litterära Konsulter through Instagram. We are given 30 words to write something about without writing the actual word or synonyms. Just to describe it, show it. And then let the readers guess the word.

I am actually writing this in Swedish, could be good exercise too. And here comes my first entry in this challenge:

Favorittröjan så här i kalla vintertider låg på golvet i badrummet efter gårdagens långa och uppvärmande dusch. Inför dagens promenad längs sjön i det molnfria och friska senvintervädret var den vinröda stickade det givna valet.

Hon drog den över huvudet. Något var inte som det brukade. Nåt fränt trängde sig in i näsan. Surt. Inbillade hon sig? Nä, usch! När skulle hon lära sig att katterna alltid passade på att kräkas i klädhögar på golvet?

Review of “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Series: –
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 358
Published: 1953, Ballantine Books
My Grade: 2 out of 5 phoenixes

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television ‘family’. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people did not live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.

MY REVIEW

I have had this book on my priority to read list for quite some time now but have been postponing reading it until I really felt like it. I got in a classics mode after finishing Ready Player One and thought this might be a good read next since it is coming out as a movie later this year. I tend to move books up on my to-read list when I learn that they are being converted to the screen. However, I am disappointed. Maybe disappointment is the wrong word. Perplexed perhaps as to why this became a classic is more accurate. I strongly like the idea of this dystopian future where books are illegal and firemen start fires instead of putting them out. But it was just too weird for me to understand why it got so big.

One reason why I didn’t like it, might be because I am part of this problem Bradbury describes. And that is one scary thought! And nothing I can’t really help either. In Bradbury’s world it was decided that the free thought was what made everyone depressed and the world a bad place. By reading, everyone was more aware of the world and all the sadness and bad things in it. Why read about things that aren’t real? Why read about things that can lead to depression and suicide? Why read at all when you can surround yourself with screens as walls that contain your “happy family” who tells you how to be and live. How to be controlled. It really reminded me of 1984 by Orwell. This could have been the first stage to that extreme controlled big brother society. Anyway, where I come into this whole scary scenery is that I am controlled by what I read. I do read. I read a lot and I am proud of it. But I read as my leisure time. I don’t watch TV, I much more prefer to read and have the world grow in my head instead of just being an image projected there. I can read on the bus with tons of people around me, sure I have music in my ears, but I can read and understand what I am reading without really thinking about what the meaning of it all is. That is how books nowadays are written. And I guess that can kind of compare to the braindead people in Fahrenheit 451 where they do the easy thing where the least amount of brainpower is needed, something leisurely. Now when I wrote that theory down, it sounds stupid, I might not be the person who discards all books to watch the walls, but many others today sure are.

The real problem with what I just wrote I think comes down to this: It is an old book. It is written in a different way from books are nowadays. I get the feeling that back then, it was as important how it was written as what the text was actually saying. And I just don’t see how that is an entertaining text where you don’t even understand the meaning behind the words. How am I supposed to get a world in my head when nothing makes any sense? When so many paradoxes are used to described the story, when there are more metaphors describing every action? Perhaps if you spent some time analyzing the text every other page or so you might understand and get the deep meanings behind every word. But like I said, I like to read leisurely, so this was clearly not for me. I might be the wrong person to write this review then?

More things that bothered me, the dialogues. Extremely weird and didn’t make any sense at all. Like they randomly took thoughts from their heads while watching the big screens and throwing them at each other where they did not quite fitted. Was it because they were more real than any other dialogue in a book because all the characters usually always says the perfect thing?

 

Last but not least, the ending. I got the feeling from it, but it was just so strange that I had to read it several times to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating or something while reading it. Super weird.

I have my idea of what a good book is. I know what types of books I like, and even if I feel like being a little cultivated every now and then with something from the row of books behind my favorites, I rarely get this disappointed. Yet, I don’t regret reading it But I did expect more. I have now made myself a personal opinion about another classic. Maybe next time I will go even further back in time and finally read something of Jules Verne?

Fahrenheit 451 gets a 2 out of 5,  it was a book which I didn’t enjoy very much, but I don’t really regret reading it either.