Tuesday, 15 May 2018

My last 5 books: A little bit of everything

1. The Hobbit, Or There And Back Again, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I had never read The Hobbit before, but I liked the movies and decided to give the book a go. I'm glad I did because I actually liked it (when I was 14 I tried to read LotR in what ended up being a really crappy translation and I've stayed away from Tolkien since). It's noticeable that The Hobbit was intended for a younger audience than LotR, but that makes it more fun and a lighter read than LotR. It's also very a noticeable that the way we write for young people has changed a lot since Tolkien's time. Author's of childrens books in the first half of the 20th century tended to break the fourth wall to explain things or reassure the children, they don't do that anymore, but Tolkien does that a lot in the beginning of this book, which to me is kind of immersion-breaking but I understand it's just due to its age. I also find it very sweet. Having read this I feel a lot more confident giving LotR another chance as an adult.

2. The Ice Twins, by S.K. Tremayne. This book was terrible. Absolutely awful. I think it was supposed to be creepy, but it was just sad. It's a story about a mother's inability to deal with her grief basically and her grief turns into a mental condition. However, instead of being heart-wrenching it's just a long string of suspicions and misunderstandings and soon the whole book is all about some nonexistant drama that the mother has cooked up in her mind since she stopped taking her anti-depressants. A long string of drama and unnecessary finger-pointing, and there's nothing that frustrates me as much (both IRL and in fiction) as when people just assume things instead of communicating with each other like grown up decent human beings. This book was just frustration and eye-rolling on my part.

3. Three Novels: Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Round the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne. This book took way longer to read than it should've. Mostly because I got fed up on it after the first book. Journey to the Centre of the Earth was a good and entertaining read and it was interesting to follow the science of the 19th century (which in my 21st century mindset seemed more like mythology than science). But what got me fed up was the last part of the book where our adventurers are on a raft of fossilized wood rising up on the steam of an active volcano starting to have an eruption and they calmly notice that the temperature is getting rather high, and before the burst out of the volcano complains that it's 100 degrees Celsius and they're getting sweaty. At 100 degrees Celsius your skin would be blistering off your bones. Even a 19th century person should know this - ever got boiling water on yourself by accident? Did it blister?! Eventually I got around to starting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but that was sometimes hard to get a hold on. I enjoyed the story and the descriptions of the underwater world and their trip to Atlantis, but Verne had a tendency to do the very 19th century thing and throw in whole chapters that's just explanations. In this case a whole bunch of numbers in units that nobody in my country has used for over a century. I have no idea how much a league or a phatom is in metrics and somewhere along the line I got tried of googling for translations. That's not really his fault but it did impede my reading. Then I finally got around to Round the World in 80 Days and I absolutely loved this last adventure. It was fun, exciting and easy-going and at times even hilarious. Passe-partout (I should also mention that I love the way Verne names his French servants as if they are called what they are) was definitely the driving force of this story, but I also loved the calm demeanor of Phileas Fogg (and I totally shipped him with Aouda even before Verne made it obvious they were going to be together). So after a weak start and a gruelling middle this book ended with an awesome flair.

4. Liftarens parlör till galaxen: En berättelse om 101 språk som egentligen inte finns, by Yens Wahlgren. I love linguistics, and while this book was short it was also incredibly interesting. Half of the things in  this book I didn't know about, but I recognised his style of writing and a lot of the terms he used from my own linguistics studies at university. How often do you get to study languages that "aren't real"? The only thing I actually did know from beforehand when starting this book was how Simlish was created, but the most interesting chapter was definitely the one on Tolkien's languages and where he got inspiration for them. I wish I had his linguistic mind!



5. The Walking Dead, vol. 1: Days Gone Bye, by Robert Kirkman. I remember the early days of the TV series with fondness, but I haven't actually read the comic before. I was excited to go back to the beginning and rediscover the series especially as I'm getting a little bit fed up with the TV show as of late. And while I recalled some characters I really liked that have since left (like Dale) I still finished this comic book with the feeling that "Was it always so flat?"







Bonus: The Alan Wake Files, by Clay Steward. I only read this book because I played the game and while it offered some insight into Agent Nightingale's character (and added even more Twin Peaks flavour to him) there wasn't much else in this book to draw me in. The "early works" of Alan Wake wasn't something that particularly interested me since his writing in-game didn't impress me much. I was hoping for a bit more background of the game, not some fake journalistic investigation into the disappearance of Alan Wake. I was hoping for some more lore and tidbits of this world of darkness.



And here's my current TBR:

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Dealing with backlog: Army of Tentacles: (Not) A Cthulhu Dating Sim

I had high hopes for this game. It seemed like it would be a hilarious visual novel kind of game, but instead it turned into a cringey, wannabe-RPG kind of game.

I don't mind having stats or equipping things to increase them or have fights during random encounters, but I do mind when they seem haphazardly put together. I also mind when the game randomly can't load script and all you see is a script page from Windows 8.1 (which I assume is the dev's OS). It's an indie game so I didn't expect the greatness of AAA games, but compared to other indie games I've played recently this was very sloppily made. It's just copypaste of photos and pictures made in Paint, and extremely cringey voice-acting, which I turned off after the first 15 minutes because that's how long I could stand it. 

I love the Lovecraft mythos and I was looking forward to a game which also showed its love for the mythos but turned it all on its head and joked about it. But the devs of this game seems to have read a story or two and then tried to joke about it while creating a game for an afternoon in their mom's basement.

I had such high hopes :(

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Dealing with backlog: Fran Bow

Fran Bow is a point-and-click horror-ish game that I've heard so much about that I decided I needed to play it. It's a very dark story of a girl suffering from a mental illness. Originally it seems as if she developed her mental issues after her parents were murdered but as you go through the game questions start to arise...

You play as Fran Bow and when the game starts you are in a mental asylum for children. The game is set during the 1940s so imagine the theme. The game is divided into episodes. The first episode takes place in the asylum and sort of sets the pace of the game and as the game goes on the episodes become increasingly weird. My favourite part is when Fran is in the imaginary land Ithersta. That part gives me a very Elsa Beskow feel (Elsa Beskow with a grotesque twist) and I also really liked The House of Madness, which is pretty much the last part of the game. House of Madness gives me a very Alice in Wonderland vibe.

I don't really have anything to complain about when it comes to this game, except maybe I wish it could've been longer and that Itward and Palontras were in it more, and some more background on Remor and Mabuka. But rumour has it there will be a Fran Bow 2 so fingers crossed :)

I couldn't decide whether to give you the trailer or the first episode of Markiplier's playthrough so have both:

Monday, 30 April 2018

Dealing with backlog: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

This game had been on my to play list for ages, but I had been wary of it entirely due to the 80s style. To me that could either be hilariously awesome or cringeworthy bad. I had heard it was amazing but my opinion tends to differ from the general public's so I still had my doubts. But in any case I bought it as part of the Far Cry bundle I got years ago, and decided that now was the time to play it.

It starts off hilariously macho, like GI Joe meets the Terminator, and I chuckled/giggled my way through the intro and basically every story cutscene sequence afterwards. And I groaned and/or facepalmed to every single one-liner Rex said throughout the game - and they were many.

But if I looked past the fancy futuristic laser furnish it was still Far Cry with outposts to take over and areas to liberate and animals to hunt. The game was a lot more linear than the previous Far Cry I've played and I really, really missed the RPG elements of skill points and crafting.

The further you got in the main quest the more epic the game becomes especially when you start to go through the trial to get the Killstar (which is probably the most badass weapon I've ever seen) and then the reward for getting the Killstar which is an amazing armoured battle dragon shooting lasers (can it get anymore badass?!)

I went into this game a sceptic and, although there were a lot of disbelieving groaning facepalming moments, came out loving it. This game is amazing and I will definitely play it again some time.

And due to the nature of the game I had this song on my head for the whole time I was playing it:

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Dealing with backlog: Alan Wake

I bought this game and the sequel after it was announced that they'd be taken off Steam due to the music license running out. People had told me how great the game was so ofc I wanted a chance to play it.

In general I liked the game and it had some really epic moments, like fighting a big bunch of taken while the radio station was playing War by Poets of the Fall, or the moment on the stage of the Andersons' farm. That was awesome! Or running from the Dark Presence along the bridge, or fighting against a possessed Harvester. So many epic moments!

But there were some things that sometimes made the game annoying, like the fact that Alan always moved a little bit to the left even when I had the camera straight and only pressed the forward button. Interestingly I figured out I had to angle the camera to the right to actually jump straight forward. Alan was also crap at climbing and running (not being able to climb practically at all and gettting tired from running short distances).

The story was intriguing and even when I thought I had figured it out there was a well-placed twist thrown in my face and I had to reevaluate what I knew. The manuscript pages were a nice touch (though the writing made it waaaay too obvious that Stephen King was the inspiration for Alan Wake, I knew that already, but come on, can't you try to be less in your face about it?)

The many Twin Peaks hints were hilarious. The crazy Agent Nightingale didn't remind me so much of Dale Cooper as of his bitter/angry partner, and the Night Springs episodes that you could catch on the TV sets in-game felt like a nod both to Twin Peaks and to The Twilight Zone

The ending was epic and unexpected, but I felt that it was left a bit too open, which is why I made the mistake of starting up the two DLC episodes. I wanted something more after the ending. I wanted more closure. Instead I got more of the same, and tbh too much of the same. I only played the first DLC episode for about an hour but for that hour it felt like I didn't get anywhere, the world just got more and more fragmented and broken while the Taken became more and more numerous. Needless to say I didn't complete the DLC episodes but contented myself with the ending of the base game. It would have to do.

Alan Wake is one of those games that you love when you're playing them, but when you stop playing and the story is over you realise just how done you are with the whole thing. I have some amazing memories from that game, but do I feel like going back to that world and fighting with a flashlight again any time soon? Not really. Which is a shame, because I did love this game when I was playing it. I really did.
 Left). A suspiciously Lovecraftian reference in the beginning of the game that turns out to have been entirely intentional later in the game (Yay me for spotting it). Right). A rare daytime shot.

 Left). The game enjoys to go all Hitchcock on everyone. Why avoid a horror reference when it's so readily available? ;) Right). First hint at the tornado stuff to come - a boat that fell right out of the sky.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Dealing with backlog: Betrayer

This is an indie game that I've been excited about for ages and I'm really happy that I liked it as much as I did :D

You arrive on the shore of a new colony settlement in North America in the early 17th century. But there's nobody to be found, the colony is deserted and completely empty (the game draws from the legend of Roanoke here). You soon meet a girl in a red hood and she seems to be the only other living person there. You've seen what remains of the conquistadores and they aren't human anymore. The girl in red can't remember much about what happened before or why the colony is empty, she doesn't even know her own name.

Looking around the first part of the settlement you find human-shaped ash statues (which totally creeped me out) and on the map you can make sure to mark all important items for the story or collectables. I made sure to collect everything before moving on to the next area.

The trailer for the video uses "wield early 17th century weapons" as a point of charm for the game, but having to reload after every single shot (historically accurate, I'll give you that) soon seemed annoying and frankly time-consuming and in the end I only ever used the bow. The game also lets you choose whether to play the game in full colour or in monochromatic grey with important items marked by splashes of red. I chose to play in colour.

The story that unfolded before my eyes during the six hours I played this game was incredibly sad. The girl's sister was in love with a Native boy and she got pregnant. Her father chased her into a part of the forest that the Natives claimed to be haunted and there he killed her and the boy. Her sister found her corpse strapped onto a cross. She set it on fire to help free her spirit. But the supernatural energy of that forest is only strengthened by her rage and it stretches out over the land corrupting the people and the earth.

The end was a major wtf moment and I actually had to read what other people thought about it before I made up my mind about it myself. The ending was fitting and surprising, and you actually have to pay attention really closely to get the ending. It felt like an abrupt end when I played it, but after letting some time pass and I thought about it I can say that I liked the ending. I just wish that there'd been a Betrayer 2.

The main thing I liked about Betrayer was the atmosphere. It was creepy as hell which I enjoyed even though it made my skin crawl. I also absolutely loved the mystery-solving part, picking up clues and piecing them together... It was a lot of fun and I wish it could've been longer.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Dealing with backlog: Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper

Because I loved The Testament of Sherlock Holmes and really enjoyed Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles I decided to also give this one a try. This is by far the oldest of the three of them, and it's very noticeable. Most noticeable is the lack of a hint button. I always try not to use the hint button, but if your attention wanders and you miss a part then you'll have no idea what to do without that or a quest log, and this game has neither. The only thing that might help you if you lose the thread is to read through an old dialogue. But because both Holmes and Watson have the tendency to talk to themselves an old dialogue might not help you.

Second noticeable is the lack of explanations. The first time the deduction board popped onto my screen I had no idea what to do with it, and the game didn't explain how it worked. When you were supposed to add pieces of evidence into the deduction or timeline the game didn't explain that either and I was just sat there wondering why I seemed to have a puzzle with half the pieces missing. Because the game didn't tell me that I'd have to find and add them myself.

Suffice to say I used a guide for a lot of this game.

About halfway through I got bored with it and took a small break from it, but then decided to complete it anyway. The first half is mostly just walking around Whitechapel as Watson and talking to people, and barely anything happens (apart from the first confusing deduction board). Not until Holmes dresses up and starts figuring things out for himself rather than using Watson the puzzles truly start and the game starts to shine a little bit.

The game is old and there's no getting away from it. It hasn't aged gracefully, but I find that I can actually look past that and say that I did enjoy the game - once I understood how everything worked.

Also Holmes' aqcuired pronunciation is terribly hard to listen to for long.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Dealing with backlog: Life is Strange & Before the Storm

So finally I have played these games! Life is Strange was all the hype a few years ago and now I understand the hype. Because omg no other games have made me cry like these.

Life is Strange is about Max Caulfield who, after five years, returns to her home town of Arcadia Bay. She loves photography and she's a shy and timid little girl. Until she figures out that she can reverse time. What follows is an adventure that takes so many twists and turns and while the first two episodes were innocent enough, the last two are a scary and tearful ride.

I loved the scenery of the game and how the whole thing looked and felt while playing and while I'm way older than Max and her friends I recognise so much from when I was at that point in life.

This game is just wow.

*waters plant*
This action will have consequences.


Before the Storm tells the story of Chloe before Max returns to Arcadia Bay and how she became friends with Rachel. It's not quite as adventurous like the original (no time-travelling) and not quite as good, but still amazing. I didn't really like Chloe to begin with in Life is Strange, but she kind of grew on me while I played and even more so when I played Before the Storm. 

And Chloe... How do you manage to get yourself mixed up in all these shitty situations? 

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Dealing with backlog: DARK

I really wanted to like this game. I really, really did and I was so excited when I started it up. And then it all fell apart before my eyes. The controls were wonky, the powers faulty, the sneak mechanics broken, the story failed to be engaging, the voice actors and the script sounded like they were trying out for the school drama club, and the whole goth vibe they were trying for was so wannabe that it became cringeworthy and ridiculous.

I was going to give it a chance to redeem itself, but when the game kept pitching my lowbie vampire with barely any powers unlocked (I haven't gotten that far yet) against 20+ guys with automatic weapons it just wasn't fun anymore. If every missions means I have to die ten times because if one enemy finds a body (why were there no practical humongous dust bins like in Dishonored in this game?) he alerts all the other enemies at the same time and they all go on the warpath together and you have to spend around 10 minute sulking in a corner before the enemies decide you probably got away and then we do the whole dance all over again. There are no practical places to hide the body of an enemy you just killed, you just have to hope this dark corner under the stairs is sufficient (which it never is), and Eric just refuses to pick up a gun. Like... there are 20+ guys with automatic weapons here, you just killed one of them, why don't you pick up his gun?!?!?!?!?!?

From other reviews I've read I understand that the kind of enemies you're up against basically doesn't change towards the end, while you gain more and more powers to the degree that in the end of the game you're ridiculously OP. And that's not a good way to go about making a game either...

I really wanted to like this game.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Game completed: Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

After Dishonored 2 I was really excited about this game, but I soon realised that Billie Lurk was a lot more squishy than Corvo and that her powers weren't nearly as good.

But after I got used to her weird powers, halfway through the second mission or so, the game became really fun. I didn't care much about the contracts. If I succeeded, then good, if I didn't, whatever. But the execution of this game felt a lot more similar to the original Dishonored than Dishonored 2 did. I could murder my way to the end and still get a good ending depending on what I chose to do at the end. Not like in Dishonored 2 where if I killed even a single person my chance for getting a good ending was severly limited.

I barely remember the Brigmore Witches DLC from the first Dishonored, but I do remember Daud and it was great to get to see him again. Although it felt like a waste of time to save him when he was just gone a mission later.

The mission to kill the Outsider was cool and if you do the "find another way" option you'll find out so much more about his background, and I found it hilarious that [Spoiler] his mark is literally just the way his name was written in the language from 4000 years ago when he was human. So he's basically just been putting his signature on people! x'''D


In the end I had a great time running around Karnaca as Billie Lurk. Returning to the Royal Conservatory was also interesting. The missions were straight-forward but offered several ways to complete them (ofc I went with guns blazing every time except for when I came face to face with the Outsider). The missions even made me laugh several times especially Ivan Jacobi and Shan Yun. Not that what they were doing was funny, but their personalities were imo.

But when it was over I just wished it could've been longer...

Monday, 19 March 2018

Game completed: Dishonored 2

When I first started playing this game it was early 2017. That time I made the mistake of starting the  game without any powers which made it a lot harder than it had to be. Then I got lost and stuck at the Clockwork mansion and decided to drop the game indefinitely.

Now I felt like the time was right again. This time I made sure to play with powers, which made the whole game much easier. (Though I only ever used Blink and occasionally Dark Vision) I also followed a guide for the Clockwork mansion because if I had gotten stuck there again I probably would never have finished this game.

Dishonored 2 is supposed to be played stealthily to get the good ending. I knew this, but I suck at stealth so I knew I'd get the bad ending. I tried to find alternate means to deal with the key figures rather than just killing them (I killed most of the guards, but I tried to stay away from killing civilians). I cured Hypatia. I made goo of Jindosh's brain (but he's still alive, not sure if that's a mercy). Breanna Ashworth just had to join a fight I had with a few of her witches and got herself killed, if she hadn't I would've gone with the mercy option there too. After seeing what became of Aramis Stilton I decided that killing him would be the merciful option - so I did. I tried dealing with the Duke's body double, but the real Duke just had to go too close to a pylon I had rewired and got himself killed. I was going to go merciful with Delilah too, but the game didn't tell me how to do it just "Find another way", and after running around for a long time trying to find another way I got so sick of it that I just killed her too (and after I killed her the game told me what it had wanted me to do as "another way". gee, thanks game).

The only thing I didn't like in this game was who judgmental all the characters became towards the end because I killed so many guards and what not. I did the same in the original Dishonored and I can't remember them being so judgmental towards me back then. I also didn't like how dark Corvo had become. I guess both of those are understandable and realistic, but I still didn't like them :P

But all in all I enjoyed being back in the world of Dishonored. I had forgotten how great it was :3 I particularly enjoyed the times when the story let you run around and explore the streets rather than having you stuck inside a mansion or building. Next is to play Death of the Outsider and then there's no more Dishonored.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

When Duolingo takes over

I roiginally started playing around with Duolingo in 2015, but didn't get into it. Then this year I decided to pick it up again to improve my French and to check if they had Finnish because knowing even basic Finnish would be so useful at work. They didn't have Finnish but I got started on French, all the way from the beginning. Now I have completed the French skill tree, but I do the strengthen skill exercises almost every day, and it has actually helped. My pronunciation is still atrocious but I understand almost everything and I can actually construct sentences in conversation without stuttering or stumbling over the words. So gold star to Duolingo.

But then I thought that I know the basics of Spanish too so let's improve that too! And so I started on the Spanish skill tree. Spanish is also going well because I had all the most basic basics hidden away in my head from before. Haven't completed the skill tree yet, but there isn't much left.

Then I realised that with all the Italians we get at work in August and September that Italian would also be really useful at work. So I started at the Italian skill tree without any previous knowledge of Italian. But with the combined knowledge of French and Spanish grammar I soon figured out Italian too. Though I do mix up some Spanish and Italian words now and again. Not even close to finishing the Italian skill tree, but it's going better than I thought it would.

And after we went to Germany I decided to add German too. Because hey, there were so many things in German that I could understand or figure out what they meant so German should be easy, right? I was so wrong. German is by far the hardest language I'm practicing on Duolingo. And it shouldn't be, right? I mean Swedish and English and German are from the same linguistic tribe. German should be easier than all those Latin languages that aren't even from the same tribe. But no. German makes absolutely no sense to me, and yet I struggle on, because somewhere down the line the workings of the language should click into my mind. It always happens at one point or another.

Then I discovered that they had Japanese and so I decided that it would be useful to practice and improve on my Japanese too. Even if it's just an excuse to keep the language fresh in my mind (as it is with French). Curiously enough the Japanese skill tree isn't as long as the others. Might be because it's still in beta?

And then yesterday I discovered that they had Korean. When I was in Seoul in 2010 I decided to try learning Korean and I did get as far as learning their alphabet (hangeul) so I can read but I have no idea what I'm reading and I'm so slow. But that's when I decided to add Korean too.

I feel like I'm going to regret doing so many languages at once, and I'm considering removing German because I'm so spectacularly bad at it. But at the same time, these languages keep me busy during low season at work and it feels like a useful pastime rather than just standing around scrolling through Facebook or Tumblr or Steam.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Dealing with backlog: The Secret of Monkey Island

The 90s were strong with this one. I played the remastered edition but the 90s vibe was still incredibly strong. The humour was childish but still made me giggle every now and then. The point-and-click aspects were old-school but worked really well once you learned how to use them.

So you are Guybrush Threepwood and you want to be a pirate! You start at Melee Island where you go to the local bar and talk to the pirates there. They tell you what's required to become one of them (the Three Trials) and you're also told a story of why they are all sitting there rather than being out with their ships - it's due to the ghost ship of the ghostly pirate LeChuck. They tell you the story of how he became a ghost and why nobody dares to even go close to Monkey Island nowadays.

But off you go to become a pirate. First step is to get a sword. To get that you need money and so you become a temporary circus act. When that is over you take your money and go buy a sword, make sure to ask the shopkeeper about the Sword Master. Then you go to train with the trainer and when he deems you ready he sends you out to practice duelling with random pirates you meet on the streets. When they start getting impressed with you, you're off to find the Sword Master who lives in the forest. When you defeat her she gives you a T-shirt as proof, and now you're off to do the second trial - find the treasure of Melee Island. When you do it's a tourist attraction and you get another T-shirt as proof. Now it's time to break into the Governor's mansion and complete the Trial of Thievery and steal the Idol of Many Hands. It goes well, except that the new sheriff catches you and throws you into the ocean along with the Idol.

When you manage to get out of the water and bring your victories to the pirates at the bar to prove you're a pirate you discover that the Governor has been kidnapped by LeChuck. You decide to go and save her so you start chasing down a crew and a ship, after a lot of running around you're finally on your way to Monkey Island.
Or so you think. Your crew isn't happy and they decide to just work on their tans and let the ship drift. Guybrush follows the recipe to Monkey Island (yes the directions are a recipe) and the result completely knocks him out. When he comes to they have arrived at Monkey Island. After some running around dealing with the locals (cannibals), the castaway and the monkeys Guybrush is finally able to find LeChuck's hideout, but when he's ready to fight and defeat LeChuck the ghost ship is gone. A left-behind crew member of LeChuck's tells Guybrush that they left for a wedding to be held in the church at Melee Island. So off we go again.

Guybrush arrives back at Melee Island and while killing ghosts he makes his way to the church where it's revealed the the Governor had everything under control and actually didn't need to be saved. But in the end Guybrush defeats LeChuck with root beer and then the Governor and Guybrush watch the ensuing fireworks together.

The game had its annoying moments, but mostly it was a lot of pretty straightforward fun. I did use a guide for some of it though. I liked this game and I'm looking forward to play the sequel (at some point).

Saturday, 10 March 2018

My last 5 books: YA, horror and a Pulitzer

1. Eld, by Mats Strandberg & Sara Bergmark Elfgren. I loved the drama, the intrigue and the whole investigative element of finding out who's evil and what the ultimate goal is of the demons this time around. If the first book was disappointing in holding everything back, this is the book where the story truly kicks off and the story unfolds and nothing is held back by the authors anymore. I loved to read about Linnea and how Ida starts to grow. I loved how Anna-Karin starts to become a bit more comfortable in herself and how Minoo finally dares to start explore her powers. This book is all about growth and self-exploration, and while the characters explore themslves the reader finds out more about the magical aspects of the world.



2. Nyckeln, by Mats Strandberg & Sara Bergmark Elfgren. Yes! This is how you end a trilogy! With a bang! Quite literally as the school blows up... This whole book is the climax of the story and it never gets boring. Minoo's self-sacrifice is enormous and yet it leads to them all ultimately getting together. All seven of them. The whole Circle together at last. Finding out what the Protectors really were was something I didn't see coming. I loved how the girls decided to open up about what was going on and the ending was perfect.




3. Färjan, by Mats Strandberg. This book has been hailed as a Swedish Stephen King novel. Not sure I agree... First of all it was a long time since I read a book where I wanted all of the characters to die. I didn't root for a single one of them (only the children grew on me towards the end). Second of all the threat and horror-aspect was so incredibly obvious that when it was revealed that there were vampires on the ferry I just rolled my eyes - yes, I know, what else? Nothing about the story was unexpected, the author left so many obvious clues throughout the story that when the events that he had hinted to actually happened they were so obvious that nothing was shocking. And the ending felt completely unresolved. Ok, so the vampires can't get to you now, but you're aware that they don't need to breathe at the bottom of the ocean and they can still move about... So how long before they get to a shore and the whole business starts again?

4. Hemmet, by Mats Strandberg. The second horror book by the author hailed as a Swedish Stephen King... This time the nature of the threat was left ambiguous way longer, which was better in a way, but it was also left ambiguous and unknown to the characters for most of the book which made it seem like they either didn't care or were chasing question marks. While his other book was extremely obvious this one was just flat. I'm just happy it was short. The only thing I really enjoyed with this book was the subtle hint that this one and his other horror book (Färjan) take place in the same universe, which could possibly mean that the author is building up to some major supernatural horror event that could turn out great if done right. Once again nothing was resolved towards the end, and the characters just shrug and move on with their lives.

5. The Gold Finch, by Donna Tartt. A book blogger I follow set this book as her favourite book of 2015 (I think, could've been 2016) and she talked so much about it and praised it so highly that I decided I wanted to read it too. Now, lots of the reviews on Goodreads categorise this book as Dickensian, but I would rather go French and call it Balzacien. Why, you ask, since Dickens and Balzac were in the same genre? For me there's a huge difference, mainly that I liked reading Dickens but I definitely didn't enjoy Balzac. Dickens has a plot and there's always something going on, Balzac is mostly just a huge monologue of someone's messed up life. In simpler terms - Dickens shows, Balzac tells. And Tartt also tells. Until Theo becomes an adult (in the last third of the book) The Gold Finch is just a huge monologue of Theo's messed up life. The famous painting who gave the book its name is mostly just a figment among Theo's thoughts and while he thinks about it a lot it doesn't really have any bearing on the story until the last third of the book. I really enjoyed the language of the book, she has a beautiful way of writing, but for the most part it didn't really seem as if she had a story to tell and rather she just rambled (beautifully) about this not-so-lucky-in-life boy. Halfway she seemed to have lost the thread and didn't really find it again until Boris shows up when they are adults and something finally happens! The book ended on a high note for me and as I watched the pieces come together in the end and see everything played out and resolved I actually felt rather content and to my surprise I can actually see myself re-reading this in the future.

And here are my current TBR: