Review: The Alchemists of Loom

the alchemists of loomThe Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova
Release date: 10.01.2017 by Keymaster Press
Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 5/5 stars – ★★★★★

I received this book from the publisher (through Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way. 

SynopsisAri lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors. Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins. When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go. He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.


In May of this year, I finally read Air Awakens by Elise Kova. I’d seen so many people raving about this fantasy series, so I figured I should give it a try too. I ended up really liking it (I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars) but felt like something was lacking in it. I had no such feelings with this book. The Alchemists of Loom was absolutely incredible, and I’m so grateful I got a review copy through Netgalley. I’ll definitely be buying the sequel when it is released. 


The Alchemists of Loom takes place in Loom and its territories. To make everything more clear, I’ll insert the map I found on Elise Kova’s website below. 

loom map

As you can see, Loom is divided into different territories -and instead of city names, most of the territories and cities are numbered. Each territory belongs to a Guild. There are 5 Guilds: the Ravens (Ter. 4), the Alchemists (Ter. 2), the Harvesters (Ter. 1), the Rivets (Ter. 3) and the Revolvers (Ter. 5). They all have special skills and provide different services. The story starts in Dortam (which as you can see lies in Ter. 5) with Arianna and Florence. There’s a lot of travel in this book, so I was grateful for this amazing map. Not only did it help me track the progress, but it clearly shows the different Guild territories too. I have to admit that I was a tad confused at times, keeping track of the different Guilds and what it is they do? Maybe it was just me, but I got a bit confused with Rivets, Revolvers, Ravens. 

The travel in this book happens through different methods: on foot, via train, via airship, underground carts, etc. The steampunk element was such a welcome surprise! I love the addition of those elements in fantasy books, yet I don’t read enough of it.  

There are three different races (or species?) in this book. Dragons, Fenthri and Chimera. The Fenthri are basically humans (and are white or ash colored usually), and Chimera are humans with Dragon organs/parts. Because the Chimera have Dragon organs, they can command magic too. And then there are Dragons. Dragons have exotic coloring, depending on the dominant parent (for example, if the mother is dominant in her relationship and her skin is blue, so will her childrens’ skin be). I thought that was so much fun! 

Loom is ruled by the Dragon King, and the Fenthri are basically the slaves of the Dragons. They are forced to mark their cheeks with the symbol of their Guild. If you are born into a Guild, that’s what you’ll study. If you don’t pass the Guild tests, you die. Before the Dragons conquered Loom, people were free to study what they wanted, and join a Guild of choice. 

I loved this world. I loved how Loom was divided into Guilds, how the Guilds used to support each other and each formed a link in the bigger chain of Loom. I loved the steampunk elements, the revolvers with magic power, the explosives Florence created, the gliders used so dragons can fly. I loved piecing together the history of Loom, before and after the dragons conquered it. 


This book was so fast-paced. I was absolutely hooked! Before I started this one, I was reading Snakewood which is a very slow read. I felt like I was in a slump, even though I wasn’t? But then I picked this one up… I read it in 2 days I think -and the only reason I didn’t finish it in one is because I had appointments to go to. 

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, because that’ll spoil the experience of reading it for you. But the story starts when Arianna, The White Wraith, discovers an unconscious dragon while finishing a job. She tries to cut out his heart. That’s when she discovers he’s not actually unconscious. He offers her a deal: she’ll get a boon (which is any wish she can ask of him) if she brings him to the Alchemists. That’s not an offer Arianna can ignore. So she agrees. 

So we follow Arianna, her student Florence and the dragon Cvareh while they travel through the Territories. Like I said, I was hooked. I read big chunks of this book without even realizing it. At one point, I looked at my Kindle app and saw that I had reached the 94% mark. And I sat there, thinking: NO! IT CAN’T END YET. I just want to keep reading about these characters, and this world. 


This book is told from multiple POVs. The main ones are Ari, Florence and Cvareh -but there are also little chapters from Leona and Petra.

Let’s start with Arianna, or Ari/The White Wraith. It took me a while to figure out how old Arianna was, so I’ll save you the trouble. She’s 22. I’m already insanely happy about that fact, because I AM 22! And I feel a bit underrepresented in terms of age in (fantasy) novels. Ari is an amazing woman. She’s a Master Rivet, but she is unmarked. She became a master before the dragons took over their society, and refuses to mark herself -therefore becoming illegal. She hates dragons with a fiery passion, and that’s why she became The White Wraith. She’ll take any job that ends up screwing over a dragon. She’s a thief, a harvester at times, and just plain genius. I loved her complex character and history. I really enjoyed seeing her development, and the fierce loyalty to her student and best friend. I love great friendships in books, and I think Florence and Arianna’s friendship is just so beautiful. 

Next up, Florence. Florence is a few years younger than Arianna is -and does not remember Loom not being under dragon-rule. She was born a Raven, but would have never passed her tests. So she fled, and met Arianna. Florence has always wanted to be a Revolver, which is how Arianna is training her. I loved Florence. She was so kind and honest, without being naive. She was smart, had certain fears but tried to conquer them, and an amazing friend. The female friendship in this book was so great! Florence and Arianna balance each other out, and they obviously care deeply for one another. Florence is the kind of girl/woman to look up to. 

Lastly, we have Cvareh. Our little blue dragon. I really liked Cvareh too. There is an intense hierarchy in the dragon world, and his family is sort of the lowest of dragon society. Thanks to his sister Petra however, they have a chance of changing that. They want to overthrow the Dragon King and put their family on top. I loved his sense of pride at being a dragon, his loyalty to his family, learning about his magical abilities, and seeing him adjust to traveling with a Fenthri and a Chimera. Some of the descriptions were so funny, like the fact that he was unnerved/disgusted by a straight row of teeth -and the absence of canines- in humans. I was definitely rooting for him. 

If you can’t already tell, I am urging you to pick this book up once it is released. It’s honestly so good, I enjoyed it even more than Air Awakens (although I’ve only read the first book). It features amazing characters with incredible skills, friendships, loyalty, family, rebellion, steampunk elements and travel. It’s got everything I love.  

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Mysteries

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. This week, it’s all about Halloween! I don’t really read a lot of scary books, so instead I thought I’d make a list of some of my favorite mysteries/thrillers. 

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga // This is a fantastic YA series about a boy called Jasper Dent. His father was a serial killer, and is locked up in jail when murders start happening again in their little town. 

Gravity by Tess Gerritsen // A fairly recent read! I loved this science fiction mystery so much. It’s about the astronauts on the ISS when a deadly and unknown virus breaks out. 

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch // Another YA mystery! I was pleasantly surprised with this one… I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. 

The Surgeon (Rizzoli & Isles #1) by Tess Gerritsen // This series is the reason I picked up Gravity be her. I used to love these books, and the TV show as well. I haven’t watched the show in full. I really want to re-read these, and see if I still love them. 

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1) by Stieg Larsson // I read this trilogy quite a few years ago, and I believe in Dutch. Highly recommend. Would not recommend the movie -or at least not the American version. Didn’t like that at all.. 

The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin // This book is absolutely massive! It’s actually the reason I haven’t continued the series. They’re just enormous. But it’s really good! It’s about our society years/decades from now, when a zombie-vampire-virus has broken out. You get to see how the virus breaks out, who it affects, how it stretches over communities and years.

One For the Money (Stephanie Plum #1) by Janet Evanovich // This is more of a cosy mystery series. I really love these. Granted, the series has been going on for a long time. Maybe they should have stopped earlier. But I remember reading these books so vividly: they made me laugh while I tried to figure out who was behind the new mystery. 

Obsession (Faces of Evil #1) by Debra Webb // I read this 2 years ago and was determined to continue the series immediately. Still haven’t done it… But this book was good. It’s about a FBI Special Agent Jess who returns to her hometown to solve a case. There’s a creepy serial killer, an ex, and a whole lot of suspense involved.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl // I read this for the #spookathon, and absolutely loved it. It’s amazing. There are different formats in the book too so aside from the normal prose you have police reports, articles, web pages, text conversations, pictures, etc. It blew my mind to be honest.

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith // I included the second book instead of the first one because I loved it more, but I’d obviously recommend starting with number 1. This mystery was great, I didn’t see the twists coming and I really like the two main characters!

Those are the 10 (cozy) mysteries I really enjoyed! Have you read any of them? Did you like them? Recommend me some mysteries if you want!

#Spookathon Wrap Up!

Because the #spookathon ran for an entire week, I’ll just replace with third weekly wrap up of October with a #spookathon wrap up! In my TBR post, I mentioned I wanted to read 3 books: Night FilmDays of Blood and Starlight and Snakewood. Today, I’ll show you what I actually read each day, and whether I achieved my TBR goals and challenges! 



Day 1: 17/10

Book(s) I read? Night Film by Marisha Pessl
#of pages read today? 293 pages

I got about halfway through this book in the first day, and I can already tell it’ll be a 5-star one. It’s just so good. The atmosphere, the different formats, the characters… I’m on board. 

Day 2: 18/10

Book(s) I read? Night Film by Marisha Pessl
#of pages read today? 299! 

I finished Night Film on the second day! It was such an incredible book. After a while, I started questioning everything. What is reality? Is Scott insane? AM I GOING INSANE?

Day 3: 19/10

Book(s) I read? Days of Blood and Starlight (DOSAB #2) by Laini Taylor
#of pages read today? 513!

Today, I started and finished Days of Blood and Starlight! I was just so hooked, I couldn’t put it down. I think it’s one of the best sequels I have ever read. 

Day 4: 20/10

Book(s) I read? Snakewood by Adrian Selby
#of pages read today? 67

I read next to nothing today, especially compared to yesterday. I think it’s a combination of a busy day, and a book that isn’t a very quick read.

Day 5: 21/10

Book(s) I read? Snakewood by Adrian Selby
#of pages read today? 86

I don’t know whether this book is just a slow read, or I have been too busy to pick it back up… The last two days haven’t been that successful reading-wise!

Day 6: 22/10

Book(s) I read? Snakewood by Adrian Selby
#of pages read today? 30 

I wasn’t at home in the afternoon, which I know is a terrible excuse for reading 30 pages on a readathon-day. I don’t know what it is with this book! I like it, and I enjoy it while reading, but I am going so SLOWLY. 

Day 7: 23/10

Book(s) I read? NONE
#of pages read today? 0!!

Apparently I am the worst. I didn’t read anything on the last day of spookathon… What is it with this book? Or my reading mood? Maybe I’m just busy?

Did I complete all the challenges?

  1. Read a thriller? YES (Night Film)
  2. Read a book with red on the cover? YES (Night Film)
  3. Read a book with a spooky word in the title? YES (Days of Blood and Starlight)
  4. Read a 2016 release? NO
  5. Read a book with paranormal characters/creatures? YES (Days of Blood and Starlight)

Did I complete my TBR?

Well, not entirely. I read 2 out of the 3 books I was hoping to read. I did read 1288 pages in total, which isn’t bad, right? And both books I managed to finish turned out to be 5 star reads! Here’s what I finished: 

Days of Blood and Starlight (DOSAB #2) by Laini Taylor // ★★★★★

Night Film by Marisha Pessl // ★★★★★

2 Mystery Mini Reviews | Call After Midnight & The Silkworm

call-after-midnightCall After Midnight by Tess Gerritsen
Published: 01.01.1987 by Mira
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★

Synopsis: Newlywed Sarah Fontaine must join forces with special agent Nick O’Hara to find her husband Geoffrey, who is presumed dead, and as they journey to Europe to discover the truth, they become the pawns in a deadly game of espionage.


I bought a copy of this in a secondhand shop in Dublin because a) it was super cheap and b) I love Tess Gerritsen’s mysteries. And it seemed to be about 300-330 pages at first. Until I realized that the last 60 or so pages are previews of two of her other books.

This book only has like 250 pages! For a mystery book, I feel like that’s difficult. In my opinion, a mystery needs time to develop and build the tension, and this book lacked in that department because of the length. 

In general though, I quite liked the mystery. It starts with an assassin murdering an assassin. And then Sarah gets a call. Her husband has been found dead in a hotel in Berlin. Only Sarah thought he was in London. She doesn’t believe he died, and wants to find out what happened -which is where Nick O’Hara from the U.S. State Department comes in. I had fun with the mystery -even though I had to suspend my disbelief at times.

The biggest reason I only gave this book 3 stars -aside from the length- is the romance, and how prevalent it was. First of all, Sarah had only married Geoffrey 2 or 3 months ago. She had only known him for 6 months. How do you marry someone you’ve only known for 6 months? That aside, she discovers some things about Geoffrey that make her believe she never really knew him. (I’ll try to hold in my DUH! here). And that’s where the romance with Nick starts. And I feel bad for not liking the romance, because I LOVED Nick’s character. He was an honest, smart and kind person. But you can’t fall out of love with someone in a few days, and fall in love with an entirely new person! Especially when you are a) so dependent on the new person and b) he must be intertwined with your husband’s tragedy in your mind.

the-silkwormThe Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith
Published: 19.06.2014 by Sphere

Genre: Mystery, Crime
Rating: 4/5 stars – ★★★★

Synopsis: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. 


I didn’t particularly love the first book in this series, so I didn’t purchase the books. And I was kind of hesitant to continue. But a few weeks ago I went to my local library, and saw a copy of it there. I’ve been in a mystery/thriller mood lately so I figured I’d give it another try. And I really enjoyed this one! 

First of all, I loved the mystery in this book. It included the publishing/author world, which is always a plus to me. It’s about this author who goes missing -and his wife asks Cormoran to find him and bring him home. Along the way, you discover more about Owen and his works. He seems like a horrible person, and not that great of an author either, so there are many people who can be seen a suspects. By the end of the book, I didn’t even feel sorry for him anymore. I thought that he kind of deserved what happened to him -although maybe not in such detail… I never guessed who was behind the crime, so I was completely taken by surprise at the end. 

Then, there are the characters. I think that my biggest problem with the first book is that I didn’t connect to Cormoran at all. I found him much more relatable in this book. I was most definitely rooting for him: not just because he was helping this old and lonely woman, but also because he’s not afraid to stick it to those he hates/doesn’t respect. I also love Robin, his assistant, so I was glad to see her take a big(ish) role in this book. I hate Matthew though, can we just get rid of him? I feel like he doesn’t respect her enough. 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book! I’ll definitely pick up the third book on my next trip to the library. 

On Diversity, Privilege and Feeling Uneducated

I woke up this morning feeling inspired to write this post. I knew I had to write it soon before I forgot it. I have never really made a diversity-post. Don’t get me wrong, I highly support diversity. I think it is a necessity to include all perspectives of human life in all aspects of our lives -and thus literature too. I follow the discussions on your posts, comment, follow them on Twitter and so on. But I’ve never written a post myself. Here’s why. 

I recognize my privilege. I am a privileged person. Let me count all the ways I am privileged: I am a white person, from a middle class family, well educated, come from a European (and thus rich) country, am heterosexual, an atheist, never had any money trouble, don’t have any illnesses whether that is mental health related or physical (aside from a stomach issue and loose joints), have never had a truly traumatic experience, have a loving family and have only ever lost one family member close to me. That’s a lot of privilege. And I recognize that. I am grateful for it every single day. 

The only privilege I do not have (I think) is being a man. So the only thing I have experienced is being catcalled, frightened when walking alone at night, frightened when followed by a man in the streets and other sexist remarks. Because I have had this experience, I am a feminist. I think everyone should be. Yet unfortunately, most feminists are people who have had these experiences -not those who haven’t. The feminist movement is big though, and we have made a lot of progress in the past years (and decades). 

I thought of this topic when Ely told me she didn’t like how disability was portrayed in Me Before You. I kindly asked her to expand her opinion, so she did. And it opened my eyes. I had never seen a problem with the story line before, but when Ely told me, I could see how it can come over as problematic. And then I was left thinking: how many books with problematic representation have I read, but never noticed? 

Here’s the thing. I understand and support all the diversity and equality movements, like #BlackLivesMatter. I don’t even know how we are still in a society that doesn’t respect all humans equally. And I understand and support the need of every human experience having to be in literature, especially YA, because that’s the time we all try to find a place where we belong, and for someone to say that are experiences are normal, okay and most of all: that you are not alone. 

But I also feel like I am uneducated about most diversity-issues because I haven’t experienced them first hand. I want to feel educated, so I can be a better person and participate in the movements more actively. I want to be educated, so I recognize bad representation. My privilege has kept me sheltered from a lot of issues in the world, and it’s time to take action and actively seek out information. It’s not enough to passively come across it anymore. I need to seek it out now. 

I want to learn about all the different cultures in the world. About mental health problems that are still taboo. About physical illnesses no one talks about or still aren’t talked about enough. About skin color and the difference it shouldn’t (but does) make. About sexuality (all types). About gender. About poverty. About oppression. About migration. About war. About political instability in your country. 

So help me. 

Teach me. 

Tell me about your culture. Your country.
Talk to me about your religion. Or recommend some books, articles and videos about it.

Recommend me books with great representation.

Recommend non-fiction books about every topic ever. Whether it’s feminism, your culture, mental health, physical health, I don’t care. 

Leave me links to articles, videos, blog posts about diversity and equality that you feel I should read.

If you are comfortable with it, tell me about your experience. 

Help me understand the world.

Mini Reviews | Red Glove & Never Never

It’s time for another mini review post! I’ll be talking about 2 books I read recently. One I really enjoyed, one I didn’t. Let’s get into it!

red-gloveRed Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black
Published: 05.04.2011 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Genre: Urban Fantasy, YA
Rating: 4/5 stars – ★★★★

I won’t provide a synopsis, as this is the second book in the trilogy.


I read the first book in May, and didn’t want to leave too much time in between books (see my review of the first book here). Well, I actually listened to the audio book. So when I was planning my trip to Dublin in the beginning of October, I thought it would be the perfect time to listen to the sequel (I traveled alone). 

I love the audio books of this series. They are narrated by Jesse Eisenberg -which now means I associate Jesse with Cassel. Cassel really is a young Jesse to me. I love his narration, although I know a lot of people won’t. If you don’t like his voice, or the fact that he talks faster and a tad more quiet than most people, don’t listen to it. But I love it! It really gets me immersed in the book.  

I loved the fact that this book allows us to get to know some of the characters better. Especially Lila and Daneca were interesting to me! One from a worker/mafia family, one from a family fighting for worker rights (by worker, I mean curse worker and not a factory worker). 

The focus on the characters does show in the mystery aspect. Each book has a mystery/thriller aspect, and I have to admit I enjoyed the mystery of the first book more. I was more involved in it. I guess, in a way this book suffered a bit from middle-book-syndrome. 

I can’t wait to see what Cassel gets up to in the final book! I hope it’ll end up being my favorite of the trilogy. So far, this book was my least favorite. 

never-neverNever Never by Brianna Shrum
Published: 22.09.2015 by Spencer Hill Press
Genre: Retelling, YA
Rating: 2.5/5 stars – ★★.5

SynopsisJames Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child – at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up. But grow up he does. And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate. This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan. Except one.


I was so disappointed in this book. It was a fairly quick read, which at this point is one of the only things it has going for it. As I’m thinking about it, I feel like I should bump it down to 2 stars. Anyway, let’s get started. 

I thought this was going to be a amazing Peter Pan retelling. And you may know that I’m a big fan of the show, Once Upon a Time. The Peter Pan season was one of my favorites, and Hook is probably my favorite character in the entire show. And I felt like he was done a gross injustice here. 

I wasn’t really immersed in the world, which is quite the feat because it’s Neverland. Neverland sounds pretty awesome in general -although a tad creepy. And I wasn’t in love, or attached really, to any of the characters either. 

The main character here is Hook, but there’s a fair amount of Peter Pan and Tiger Lily too. Peter was supposed to be this creepy sociopath. He has that childlike sense of right and wrong -and in his case, right is whatever he wants. And yes, he was most definitely a sociopath -or psychopath. Help me, I can never tell the difference. But I wasn’t creeped out at all. Just annoyed.

Then there’s Hook. He’s supposed to be the smart one, the one who wants to grow up because he believes that most of what Peter does is wrong. And I thought it would be an amazing tale of the both fighting each other, and Neverland attacking Hook. But once Hook decided to leave the Lost Boys, all he did was whine and sulk. Like a child -the exact opposite of what he was supposed to be. Plus, I could never get a grip on his character because the time and age is so different. One moment he’s 13, then something happens and he’s 17, and then he’s in his 20s. How does he know? How do I keep up?? Even though he was in his twenties, he still acted like a spoiled child! 

This was just not the book I hoped it would be. 

Top 5 Wednesday: I Did Not Agree with the Majority on these Ships

It’s time for another Top 5 Wednesday post! I didn’t make a post last week because I had the flu -and it was not a pretty picture. Today, is all about non-canon ships. But I feel like that might be a spoiler? So instead, I chose some ships the majority of readers ship(ped), but I don’t (/didn’t). 

Books mentioned: