Review: ‘The Girl Who Takes An Eye for An Eye’ by David Lagercrantz

Foyles Bookshop, London, September, 2015. David Lagercrantz takes to the stage to talk about The Girl in the Spider’s Web – a book which sees him continue Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium trilogy.

Photo of book cover.

One would be surprised if the author didn’t feel a little bit under pressure that night, or, more specifically, after the book was released. The original three novels chronicling Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist’s adventures are classics, and there was a chance that some were worried about the reboot of the series.

Yet, the book did well. Keen to stay true to the lore, Lagercrantz kept character development minimal and instead, it was how the main duo interacted with a gripping plot which made the book interesting.

Fast forward to today and the Swedish writer has lost the air of hesitation. In some regards, The Girl in the Spider’s Web was Lagercrantz dipping his toe into the water. This time, however, with The Girl Who Takes An Eye for An Eye, he’s prepared to take some risks, and be a bit more daring.

There’s two main plot points in particular which will probably leave devoted fans shocked, but for the sake of this review and spoilers, I won’t mention them. Nevertheless, it shows bravery and competence on Lagercrantz’s part to change the story in such a way.

Although, with that being said, the story perhaps could have worked better as a ‘personal vendetta’ story, as the name suggests. The plot in itself was interesting somewhat, but it was nothing extraordinary. However, the character development in this follow-up is to be commended.

Whether or not this is down to my lengthy breaks between reading (I blame university) or the story itself, but as I turned the last page whilst on the tube, I couldn’t help but feel a little confused. In some regards, the title hadn’t lived up to my expectations, and the epilogue lacked the sense of completion and satisfaction that one normally feels.

So, as a whole? It’s an enjoyable book which is satisfying for the most part. To some, it may well be seen as the ‘filler’ that the second book in a trilogy tends to be. Nevertheless, we approach the final instalment in the new trilogy knowing Lisbeth and Mikael a whole lot better, and with a refreshed, confident writing style from Lagercrantz.

The sixth Millennium novel looks set to be a gripping tale indeed.

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Musical Discovery: ‘Lemon to a Knife Fight’ by The Wombats

It’s always a joy rediscovering a classic band, and it’s even better when you realise that they’re back with new music. In my case, after months of re-listening to Kill the Director and Moving to New York, The Wombats return with Lemon to a Knife Fight.

If you were to compare Lemon to a Knife Fight to songs from A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, then you’ll hear a subtle difference. The fast-paced feel of the latter is replaced with a slower tempo, yet the chanting vocals remain – along with the traditional, bizarre song titles…

This makeup creates a song which has the potential to be both a festival hit, and a laid-back track for a bedroom listening session.

Lemon to a Knife Fight shows maturity from The Wombats in what is a solid single marking their return.

Musical Discovery: ‘We Could Go Back’ by Jonas Blue (Jonas Blue & Jack Wins Club Mix)

Unlike previous releases, Jonas Blue’s We Could Go Back has a much slower tempo, opting for a smooth marimba feel complete with tropical house vibes. However, as with any track with a low BPM, the potential to speed things up a little bit is there. Cue the producer joining with the Dutch DJ Jack Wins to do just that.

Jumping straight in with the first verse, already we hear the flow of Moelogo’s vocals increased which sees the chorus brought in just 22 seconds into the song. At this point, we get a flavour of the instrumentals to come, with light synth melodies gaining prominence before coming to the forefront.

Staggering piano stabs keep things nice and bouncy, providing the first build-up of the track before a second build follows, complete with backing synth and drums. Then, come the actual drop, it’s the deeper, backing synth (a sound often apparent on a Jack Wins single) that we hear as the instrumental.

If there’s one thing to be admired for the track, then its smooth transitions into different musical styles. The DJ duo’s remix sees bursts of deep house, traditional piano stabs and, with regards to the second verse and beat drop, hints of drum-and-bass.

Whilst, of course, Jonas Blue’s original style is suited to the club scene (tropical house still makes a regular appearance at nightclubs around the country thanks to tracks such as Despacito), with a wonderful blend of styles, the UK DJ’s collaboration with Jack Wins is also the perfect track for any party-goer, with any musical preference.

Musical Discovery: ‘Hard to Be Myself’ by Fickle Friends

‘Something a bit different’ was how Fickle Friends described their latest single in a tweet last month. Whilst a more synth-heavy track could certainly be described as ‘different’ compared to  the usual funky guitar vibes, the five-piece band from Brighton once again strike a hit with their latest bop, Hard to Be Myself.

It’s a track which is as catchy as it is relatable. Soft vocals from lead singer Natti see her talk about overthinking, reading between the lines and feeling like ‘a prisoner to [the] mood‘. We’ve all been there: sitting in the corner of a party feeling lost and insecure when everyone else is dancing away. It’s a song about a position we’ve all been in, beautifully presented with bouncy synth and triplet vocals, and soul.

Hard to Be Myself is available now on Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music.

Musical Discovery: ‘Ego’ by Ella Eyre feat. Ty Dolla $ign (Jack Wins Remix)

A successful remix is always one which could be passed off as the original, if the listener hasn’t heard anything different. In my case, as I listened to Jack Wins’ remix of Ella Eyre’s Ego, despite knowing it wasn’t the initial song, it certainly sounded like the first version.

There’s no denying that Eyre’s vocals can’t fit a good dance track (look no further than her recent hits with Sigma and Sigala, which both entered the UK Top 40). From something a bit tropical (Came Here for Love) or drum-and-bass (Good Times), Jack’s remix shows Ella’s suitability for a more club-like sound. With the original version adopting a slow calypso, the club version injects some much-needed fun and pace into the track. Whilst the initial track’s chorus contains nothing more than flowing drums and soulful vocals from Ella, Jack Wins brings a new instrumental melody to this part of the song which gives it that added punch.

Disappointingly minimalistic in its makeup, the slower tempo of Ella’s song lacks a satisfying beat drop and chorus. It may well serve as a more atmospheric single compared to the 23-year-old’s previous, fast-paced pop releases, but it just lacks a certain substance. Ego sounds very much like a track one would see accompanying a big-budget emotional movie trailer. It is great background listening, and is comfortably mediocre, but there’s nothing there to warrant our full attention.

This brings me to Jack Wins’ remix, and my point about this having the potential to be considered the original. The Dutch DJ’s impressive portfolio of hits shows he is no stranger to creating the perfect hook, beat drop and chorus, and fixes all the mistakes in the initial track with ease.

The underwhelming beat drop at the start is replaced with a satisfying drum fill, followed by a chorus complete with a bouncy rhythm and sharp synth chords to set the tone. Yet again, like his Rockabye remix, Jack Wins cuts out the featured rapper in the track (Ty Dolla $ign) for the benefit of the song as a whole.

With a perfect balance between adding new things to the song, and taking other parts away, Jack’s remix style yet again brings out the best in a single in a way that makes it his own – and if that’s not the sign of a good remix, then I don’t know what is.

Musical Discovery: ‘Dancing in the Daylight’ by Scouting for Girls

It’s been a while since we danced to She’s So Lovely at school discos. Scouting for Girls’ strong collection of pop hits were always popular throughout the noughties and early 2010s – HeartbeatElvis Ain’t Dead and This Ain’t A Love Song were songs about love and heartbreak with cheesy guitar melodies and straightforward vocals. Now, 10 years on from their debut, the band return with Dancing in the Daylight.

It’s a song taken from their upcoming album, Ten Add Ten – a release which will see 10 of the four-piece’s biggest tracks appear alongside 10 new songs. If it wasn’t for the fact that they’re celebrating such an anniversary, then the continuous regurgitating of their biggest hits would have been a bit tiresome by now (they released their Greatest Hits album in 2013 and have also re-released their debut album this year). However, there’s something smart about the idea behind Ten Add Ten: an album which will no doubt take a look back, whilst also looking forward.

Yet, Dancing in the Daylight contains all the elements of a traditional Scouting for Girls song, as opposed to being something completely different. From lyrics about a midnight kiss, to bouncy piano chords and a lively drum beat, it’s packed full of bubbly euphoria which fits the tone of the song perfectly. With hints of a Heartbeat vibe, Dancing in the Daylight sees Scouting for Girls give us a wonderful sense of nostalgia and another good song to have a dance to.

Ten Add Ten is set to be released on October 13.

Introducing ‘The Impaired Judgement Podcast’

There’s hosting a radio show, then there’s creating a podcast. The former, I have done now, on-and-off, for around two years. When it comes to the latter, despite my presenting experience, was all very new to me – that is, until today.


At 5pm, the very first episode of Impaired Judgement – my podcast which sees me and other disabled people cast a critical eye over the latest disability news – went live on YouTube (and soon, it will be available on iTunes). Despite being in front of a microphone many times before, I still struggled to find the right place to start – although I did have a detailed plan of things to discuss.

Thankfully, I had my good friend Connor to discuss things with, as he was my first guest on the podcast. Reaching the 30-40 minute target was easy. However, coming up with the name was particularly tricky (an earlier idea was Sign of the Times, before I realised that Harry Styles may have a few words). The great thing was that this new name contained a similar level of wordplay – ‘impaired judgement’ being a common phrase, but it also nicely sums up a podcast which sees disabled people discuss the latest news.

Looking ahead, the aim is to build up my ability to improvise when thinking (I often rely on scripts when on radio), and hopefully have at least one guest on per episode. How frequent the podcasts will be is something I still need to figure out, but I hope to keep a regular flow going for as long as possible.

Nevertheless, if you’re interested in hearing myself and Connor discuss noisy restaurants, the latest MMR vaccine statistics and schizophrenia, then you can give the first episode of the podcast a listen on YouTube.