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.

Review of “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Series: –
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 374
Published: 2011, Crown Publishers
My Grade: 4 out of 5 simulations

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

MY REVIEW

During the first chapter or two, I didn’t believe that I would see the charm that everyone 10 year older than me does with this book. Then I realized that it probably wouldn’t have mattered even if it was about the geek-culture of the 90’s. I don’t think I would have recognized as much anyway. Or maybe I would have. But the fact that I was born in the early 90’s didn’t make me understand any less. I have the geek within, even if it is not on such a detailed level and I think that was what made me understand anyway. I know how all of that works, I lived through a decade of incredible technological developments and understand why Halliday (the deceased creator of OASIS) had such an obsession with the 80’s, which was even more extreme than the 90’s. The author is also very good at describing everything, so even if you might not get the exact image in your head while reading, you still clearly see it all in front of you. The part about the book being about geek culture in the 80’s doesn’t take over the main story, even if it is present all the time.

I think of myself as a technology-loving person and of course wonder how this whole virtual reality world works. Like do they talk out loud while talking to people in the game? Wouldn’t that be very annoying for everyone around on that bus for example? Do they have earplugs to snuff out the sounds from the real world? How much do they actually have to move in real life order to move in the OASIS? I wonder if the author had anything to say about the movie that will be out in 11 days.

 

The plot was kind of predictable and took the usual turns where we first meet the main character who falls in love, screws it up while everything else around him turns bad as well just to work everything out and give the book a happy ending and not a surprising one at all.

It was a very good book and the predictabilities doesn’t lower the grade, but the fact that I don’t understand the 80’s does unfortunately. So it gets a 4!

Review of “Out of the Ashes” by Pittacus Lore

Title: Out of the Ashes
Author: Pittacus Lore
Series: The Legacy Chronicles #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 115
Published: 2017, HarperCollins
My Grade: 4 out of 5 puppeteer

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

In the aftermath of a thwarted alien invasion, teenagers across the globe have begun to develop incredible powers known as Legacies.

Most are sent to the Human Garde Academy, where they can learn to harness their powers for the good of humanity. But there are still countless others who slip through the cracks, who prefer do things their own way, or who are being kept from attending the Academy by people with very different plans for these gifted teens.

That is where Six and Sam come in. They’ve just joined a convert group tasked with investigating suspicious incidents around the world which might be Legacy-related. Their first mission has them looking into the connection between a string of disappearances—but as they dig deeper into the mystery, they stumble upon an unexpected and dangerous Human Garde underworld.

 

MY REVIEW

 

It’s amazing how Pittacus Lore can spit out book after book and fill out his science fiction world with so many details. Since the first book, I am Number Four, I have loved this world and that it is always expanding with new main stories but also small side stories like this, Out of the Ashes.

It revolves around Six and Sam trying to fit in this new world of humans with Legacies. Six is against forcing kids to go to the Human Garde Academy but get another opportunity to help the kids.

I really liked that it mostly took place in New Orleans. It was easy to visualize the places since I was there a few years ago.

Lots of action like usually. Nothing that deviates from the previous books and short novellas. It gets a 4.

Review of “Once Upon a Time in the North” by Philip Pullman

Title: Once Upon a Time in the North
Author: Philip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials #0.5
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 104
Published: 2008, Alfred A. Knopf
My Grade: 4 out of 5 arctic rabbits

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

In this prequel episode from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials universe, Lee Scoresby — Texan aeronaut and future friend to Lyra Belacqua — is 24 years old. The story reveals the origins of Scoresby’s friendship with Iorek Byrnison as well as Scoresby’s aeronautical career.

After winning his hot-air balloon in a poker game, Scoresby finds himself floating north. On the Arctic island of Novy Odense, Scoresby and his dæmon Hester become involved in a deadly plot involving an oil magnate, a corrupt mayoral candidate, and a hired killer who is Lee’s longtime nemesis from the Dakota Country. Forming an alliance with one of the island’s reviled armored bears, Scoresby fights to break up the conspiracy.

MY REVIEW

When I read His Dark Materials, Once Upon a Time in the North had just gotten out and I hadn’t gotten my hands on it. Then I continued to not have it and therefore not read it. Until now. And I feel more than ever that I really have to reread the original series. I can’t even remember who Lee Scoresby is and what his role is. The bear, Iorek, I do remember bits and pieces of, but no big details.

It was a short story, very enjoyable. But it might have been more enjoyable if I didn’t read it “before” the original series. Hard to remember after 10 years. But it gets a 4. Maybe I will give it a higher grade after I finish rereading His Dark Materials.

 

Review of “La Belle Sauvage” by Philip Pullman

Title: La Belle Sauvage
Author: Philip Pullman
Series: The Book of Dust #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 464
Published: 2017, Alfred A. Knopf
My Grade: 4 out of 5 souls

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy…
Malcolm’s father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.
He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust–and the spy it was intended for finds him.
When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl–just a baby–named Lyra.
Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make chocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

 

MY REVIEW

I guess that most people have read His Dark Materials, or have had a parent read it to them when they were kids? Or at least heard of it? The Golden Compass? I read the series in 2008 (as a 17 year old) for the first time and I absolutely loved them! The Book of Dust have been planned for a long time and I have patiently waited, until I honestly forgot about it.

I’ve been meaning to reread the original series but frankly been afraid that if I reread them, my idea of them being incredibly amazing would shatter. But after finishing La Belle Sauvage, I feel ready to reread them, and I feel confident that I won’t be disappointed and have an even clearer view of why they are amazing. Because ten years later, I can’t remember a single detail about them, just that they were good.

But anyway, La Belle Sauvage lived up to my expectations. It followed the same style as His Dark Materials and it was easy to see Pullmans version of England while reading.

The story is perhaps a little bit slow until the end when a lot of spaced out stuff happens. But even if not many things happen, it was hard to put it down. He has a very smooth way of writing if that explains anything? I find his writing very appealing and easy to read. And yes, smooth.

I give La Belle Sauvage a four and I hope that I will enjoy His Dark Materials once again!