As Black as Ebony – book review

As Black as Ebony

As Black as Ebony is a thrilling and captivating book, written by Salla Simukki.

Lumikki Andersson has a new boyfriend – easygoing, gorgeous Sampsa who adores her. But when her ex, Blaze, reappears and declares his devotion, she doesn’t know what to feel. She’s unable to deny the chemistry between them, but does he deserve another chance?

Amidst the confusion and heartbreak, threatening letters start arriving from someone who seems to know everything about her. Suddenly, Lumikki finds herself more alone than ever. Now it’s not just her life on the line. In order to stop the killer, Lumikki must uncover a dark secret that has haunted her family for yeas… before it’s too late.

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This series has been one of those series that I really enjoy when I’m reading them… but unfortunately it’s not one of those series that particularly stands out. While this series is unique in the way that it has a lot of fairytale references and is almost a more sinister retelling, I feel as though quite a lot of authors are doing this nowadays. But that didn’t change much of my opinion of this book. I still really enjoyed it and devoured it in one sitting. The storyline was tense and grabbing and I was definitely engrossed from beginning to end. I just wish that time was a little longer!

With this book being only just over 200 pages and about as thick as an old iPhone, I felt like this book could have been fleshed out a bit more. Everything was precise and to-the-point, except I wouldn’t have been disappointed in seeing a few more details. I was so caught up in this book that I hardly even registered time going by until I was at the last page. In a way, I suppose that was good. This book is highly engaging and its short length begs for you to read it all in one go. As Black as Ebony really is unputdownable. However, I did want more from the ending. It felt as though it ended too abruptly. There was such a massive buildup, and the ending kind of felt like a letdown. I was happy with how it ended and everything wrapped up neatly, I just would have liked some more time to process what had happened instead of everyone packing up the circus and moving on before I had finished my fairy floss.

One thing I loved most about this series was Simukka’s writing style. She has this really unique style of writing that allows her to say a lot with only a few words. She doesn’t need long, flowery prose to deliver such massive emotional blows. Instead, she makes every word count and arranges them in such a way that really gives you the feels. Too many authors try too hard to make their work sound as beautiful and delicate as it can, giving every sentence 16 clauses and 97 metaphors. These people need to realise that if you do that for every sentence, you’re going to end up with a retelling of the Constitution. It’s just not going to work for you. I hope these authors read this series and understand that being a writer is more than just hurtling a thesaurus at a laptop and hoping to end up with something that resembles a 75,000 word narrative.

I’ve really liked reading about Lumikki as our protagonist for this series. She’s honestly so different from any other character I’ve read about. She likes to be alone, but she’s not whiney and all ‘look at me, I’m sad and misunderstood, please let some boy come and save me’. She’s immensely brave and determined and strong. I’m thankful to have read about a character who seems so real and who doesn’t have to be ‘the chosen one’ or a damsel in distress to be interesting. The way she dealt with these terrible and frightening situations and how she was determined to protect those she loved was what made me find her captivating. If you’re looking for a book with a realistic heroine, pick up As Black as Ebony.

Apart from Lumikki, a lot of the other characters felt underdeveloped. In particular, I would have liked to have known Lumikki’s family better. I understand that she’s estranged from her family, but I never fully understood why and I would have liked some more backstory. I felt very disconnected from her family situation, and if that bond was strengthened, I feel as though I would have been able to feel even more for Lumikki and her family. Instead, I was left in the dark with that area. Again, it’s the same thing with the people at Lumikki’s school. There were only name-drops, we never established any real connection with anyone. However, Lumikki’s boyfriend and ex-boyfriend were two people we knew quite well. I was happy with the level of depth that I understood them. Plus, the love triangle going on was incredible and was one of my favourite parts of this book. I know that love triangles are ‘clichéd’ and ‘overused’, but trust me, this one is definitely well done. Because Lumikki isn’t your average heroine, this love triangle isn’t just another sad attempt at a  ‘hook’. It adds tension, genuinely tears you between these two characters, and makes you desperate to read on.

I feel like I’ve written a review which is about a third of the length of this book, so I’m going to just leave it at this: As Black as Ebony is filled with mystery, has a captivating plot and will leave you begging to read more books by Salla Simukki. I’d give As Black as Ebony a score of 8 out of 10. Let’s discuss! Have you read this book, or the previous books in this series? Are you a fan of mysteries? What’s your favourite love triangle? Are you sick of love triangles? Do you wish I’d stop going on about love triangles? Let me know! 🙂

Thanks to Hot Key Books Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

As White as Snow – book review

As White As Snow
As White As Snow is the second alluring and captivating book following As Red As Blood, written by Salla Simukka.

It’s been over three months since Lumikki Anderson was left for dead in the snow with a bullet wound in her thigh and frostbite creeping into her skin. The scorching hot streets of Prague in the summer are a welcome change to that terrifying time and now Lumikki just wants to move on and forget the events of the past year. She desperately wants to be free of the Polar Bear’s crime ring and her parent’s oppressive concern. Now she’s alone again – just how she likes it.

But Lumikki’s peace is about to be destroyed. When she is approached on the street by a nervous young woman claiming she might be Lumikki’s long-lost sister, Lumikki’s world again changes forever. Lumikki is initially unconvinced, but Lenka’s story seems horrifyingly true. However, Lumikki can’t shake her suspicious and apprehensive thoughts.

It turns out that Lumikki was right to be wary of Lenka, because she is a part of a dangerous religious cult who believe they are descendants of Christ, Lumikki included, and they must all be ‘martyred’. Lumikki finds herself on the run and she must once again draw on all her strength if she is going to survive.

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I really enjoyed reading As White As Snow. I felt like this book was really different from the first book in this series, As Red As Blood. I was surprised to find that this book has nearly nothing to do with the first book. I was expecting the story to lead on directly from the last one, but after the first chapter, everything that happened in the last book seemed irrelevant. We were tossed into the world of Lumikki with a whole new set of problems that needed solving. I also expected this book to tell me a lot more about Lumikki’s past, which it didn’t really do. I learnt a little more about her boyfriend that she had and bit more about why she was the way she was, but I still would have liked more about her family and her background. I would have liked more character development in this book, and perhaps some more links to the precious book.

This book begins as Lumikki goes to Prague in order to try and forget about what happened to her before and move on with her life. I would have liked to have seen more connections to the previous book and just to have it mentioned a little more, but I kind of felt like the previous book played no part in this one. While the new story was refreshing and interesting, I would have liked this series to follow a vague storyline throughout all the books. It could have been cool for these books to all be entwined in some way, but I think we still have a book or two or more before this series ends, so I’m hoping for that to happen. Crossing my fingers!

One thing that I liked about this book was the plot. Although it wasn’t related to the first book in any ways that I saw, it was still very interesting. I liked getting to know Lenka. I felt as though she made the story as exciting as it was. I never really knew if I could trust her or not, but I desperately wanted to. She was such an intriguing character and I loved the interactions between her and Lumikki. I think the inclusion of Lenka was the thing I liked most about this book. She had an air of mystery and suspicion about her and I liked speculating who she really was and how she was related to Lumikki. I liked seeing how different their lives where and now how different their lives had become because of meeting one another. I also liked how meeting Lenka forced Lumikki to tell us more about her past. Although her past isn’t fully explored in this book and I still don’t have a firm grip on who she really is just yet, I like that. It makes me want to continue to read this series to see how things end up for Lumikki.

I felt like most of the characters in this book could have been fleshed out a bit more. I wanted to feel like I really understood them and therefore could connect with them, but I just didn’t. If I had felt more connected to the characters, I would have been scared for them and feared what could possibly happen to them. The only characters I felt for were Lumikki and Lenka, and I must admit, I did shed a tear or two in the end for them. I was surprised that a book of this short length could get me care about Lenka, and of course, I managed to feel even more connected to Lumikki in this book.

At times, I did feel a little disconnected to the story. Reading the parts of the book that didn’t follow Lumikki were a little confusing. However, it did make this book even more mysterious. I liked the thriller aspects of this book and it places, it really made my heart pound. It would have been great to have more in this book – more plot, more character development, just more. It felt a little on the short side to me simply because I really liked this story once I got into it and I didn’t want it to end so quickly. Because of the fast pace, this book could easily be devoured in one sitting.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and I’m really looking forward to reading the next book in this series. I can’t wait to learn even more about Lumikki and her past and see what enthralling plot is in stall for us next. I’d give As White As Snow Salla Simukka a score of 7.5 out of 10. I recommend this series to anyone looking for a quick and thrilling read! Has anyone read this series yet? Let me know your thoughts!

Thank you to Hot Key Books Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

As Red as Blood – book review

As Red as Blood

As Red as Blood is a fast-paced and thrilling book by Salla Simukka.

In the depth of the freezing Arctic winter, seventeen-year-old Lumikki Anderson stumbles upon a stash of money hanging to dry in her school’s dark room. But these notes just weren’t wet, they were splashed with crimson – someone’s blood.

Living by herself in the city of Tampere in Finland alone in a studio apartment far from her parents, Lumikki has finally left the past behind. She’s transferred to a prestigious art school and she’s focussed on only studying and graduating. She ignores the cliques and the gossip, preferring to spend time with herself where she doesn’t have to be forced to pretend to be someone she’s not.

But finding the blood-stained money changes everything. Lumikki is swept up into the world of deception, corruption and danger as she finds herself helping to trace the origins of the money. Things turn even more sinister when Lumikki finds that there’s connections to the international drugs trade. Lumikki is smart, but can she outsmart a criminal mastermind? Will she be able to bring down the infamous ‘Polar Bear’, or will she become another one of his victims?

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I had mixed opinions about As Red as Blood. There were a lot of things that I liked about this book, but equally, there were the same number of things I didn’t really like. This book is definitely fast paced. For a book with its number of pages – a little over two hundred – you’d want to make everything important in that short amount. I felt like everything in this book was put there for a reason and there wasn’t any unnecessary details or information that we didn’t need to know. Everything was very precise and the book flowed smoothly. I didn’t find one moment in this book where I was bored because this book is quite thrilling and it makes you want to know how everything is going to work out.

One of the things I didn’t like about this book as much as I could have were the fairy tale references. I knew that this book was referring to one of them, but I didn’t really understand that and it could have been a bit more clearer if this book was really going to have the desired effect. I felt like that if this was clearer and done better, it could have made this book stand out a lot more, rather than just being one of those books that I enjoyed while reading but will most likely have forgotten all about in less than a month.

I really liked Lumikki as a main character. She was the type of character I hadn’t really seen much lately. She was the type of person who preferred to be alone, but she wasn’t lonely and being alone was her own choice. She’s a really smart person and also very brave. I really admired those traits in her. The fact that she liked to be alone came off as a little cold in some scenarios in the beginning and it felt like she wasn’t really making an effort at anything, but I soon understood what she was like as a person and I liked the fact that she was a little different from everyone else. I often get tired of reading books that have almost the exact same main character as all the other YA books out there. In a way, Lumikki felt like a sort of Sherlock character. She reminded me of him in lots of different ways. Even if she couldn’t deduce things like he can, she was determined to see through the problem and would never back down from a situation. I would have liked some more backstory to Lumikki and what her family situation was like. Even though we got little snippets of this throughout the book, I still want to know more about her. I’m hoping we’ll get more of that in the next book because I feel like there’s a lot we don’t know about her yet.

One of the things I enjoyed reading about was the friendship between Lumikki and Elisa. Because Lumikki distanced herself from people in the beginning and preferred to be alone, the conversations between Lumikki and Elisa and hearing some of Lumikki’s internal dialogue during these scenes was entertaining. I loved watching their friendship grow. In the beginning, being nice and friendly towards Elisa was something she felt sort of morally-obliged to do because of how defenceless and naive Elisa could be at times. However as the novel progressed, Lumikki and Elisa because better friends and they realised they relied on each other more than they initially thought. However, these two characters felt like the only ones who were fleshed out. The other characters felt a bit bland and I didn’t really get to know them. Lumikki and Elisa were the only two characters who I felt connected to and I would have liked to have seen some more background information on the other characters so I could care about them more.

For the most part, I really like the mystery in this book. It was fast moving and interesting, but there were a few places I got lost in it. I didn’t fully understand why the characters needed to do certain things and at times I questioned their behaviour, but it was still exciting to read and I loved the dramatic things that happened to Lumikki in this book. Some of the most enjoyable parts of this book to read was when Lumikki was in danger. I loved seeing how she could keep her cool in most situations and work things out methodically without getting flustered.

Overall, I enjoyed most of this book and I think I’ll read the next book when it comes out. I’d give As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka a score of 7.5 out of 10. I’d recommend this book to everyone who is looking for a quick and exciting new YA thriller!

Thank you to Hot Key Books Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!