A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Autobiography of Red (Anne Carson)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten,5

”Words bounce. Words, if you let them, will do what they want to do and what they have to do.”

The thing with poetry books is that they always leave up a lot of things for interpretation. You cannot go into them expecting them to make a distinct point. Poetry meanders, comes back to its originals just to leave them again and to throw another question at your feet. It challenges and forces you to deal with everything that’s mentioned and hinted at. No, to read poetry is definitely no easy feat, yet I still love to do it every once in a while. It keeps me on my toes and causes me to think outside of the box and that’s always a good thing in my book.

”The red world And corresponding red breezes
Went on Geryon did not”

This said I really enjoyed reading “Autobiography of Red”. Carson has a unique way to tell her story and to follow Geryon’s character was extremely intriguing. It takes a while to get into the story but once you found the rhythm and flow of the tale you can’t help but wonder where it will take you. I found Carson’s choice to take Greek mythology and to put it into our modern world pretty impressive and bold. It’s a noteworthy choice and gave the entire story an edge I would have never been able to anticipate, yet the themes that are tackled could be found in ancient mythology as well.

”The world poured back and forth between their eyes once or twice.”

“Autobiography of Red” follows Geryon and his life on earth. In Greek mythology Geryon was a red winged monster that was slain by Herakles, in this poetry novel he’s a person who is trying to figure out his life and sexuality. There are many different topics that are tackled in this short book, sexual abuse, bullying, sexual identity and disfigurement just to mention some of them. If you read between the lines there are plenty of things to discuss, for instance the relationship between Geryon and Herakles as well as their relationship with Ancash a mutual friend.

„The effort it took to pull himself
away from Herakles‘ eyes
could have been measured on the scale devised by Richter.”

As I already said poetry leaves a lot of room for subjective interpretation but what I could gather from the story and how I interpret it is that Geryon is a very lonely person. His mother is affectionate but doesn’t know how to support her son. She’s not only unaware of the bullying at school but also doesn’t notice the ongoing sexual abuse by Geryon’s own brother. Geryon’s world is pretty dark and the atmosphere of the book makes sure to convey this feeling every step of the way. When Geryon meets Herakles and falls in love with him he begins to question his sexuality and this starts his process of finding himself. The relationship between Geryon and Herakles feels kind of toxic because even though their feelings seem to be mutual at first Herakles leaves him with a broken heart and this ultimately causes Geryon to fall into a depression.

„He saw the doorway
the house the night the world and
on the other side of the world somewhere Herakles laughing drinking getting into a car and Geryon’s
whole body formed one arch of a cry – upcast to that custom, the human custom of wrong love.

Years later they meet in Peru and Geryon’s conflicting feelings begin to overwhelm him once again. Geryon is aware of all the prying eyes and tries to keep his distance, but Herakles won’t let him be, taking the role of a predator that wants to seduce him. Ultimately Geryon is too weak to push him away. This was a really interesting shift in their dynamic because in the original myth Herakles is the hero that kills Geryon. Carson reverses their roles and makes “the monster” the victim which forces her readers to think outside of the box. I personally think it’s also a nod to the original Greek myth, because in fact Geryon was Herakles’s victim in the tale as well. Geryon was only killed by Herakles because it was his tenth task to steal Geryon’s herd of red bulls and after Herakles slayed Orthos and Eurytion Geryon challenged him to a duel which ended with his death.

„Aren’t you cold?“ said Geryon to Ancash who had no coat on. No, said Ancash.
Then he looked sideways at Geryon.
Well actually yes. He smiled. Geryon would have liked to wrap his coat around
this feather man. They walked on.”

As for the role of Ancash, their mutual friend in Peru? I’m still not all too sure what to make of his character, but I think Carson created him to point out Herakles’ abuse. Ancash doesn’t approve of Herakles’ advances and Geryon’s feelings for him, but I also got the feeling that he was jealous?! His character certainly acted as some sort of catalyst and pushed the story along. Honestly, if any of you read “Autobiography of Red” I’d love to hear your thoughts on Ancash. I still don’t know how to place him. XD

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All told, to read “Autobiography of Red” was a very weird, yet at the same time intriguing experience. I still don’t know what to make of the ending but I guess Carson left it that way on purpose. It’s the reader’s choice how to interpret it and I think that’s good the way it is. 😉

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: All Systems Red (Martha Wells)

Rating: 4 Pfoten

”I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites.”

Haha! Honestly, to read this quote was extremely relatable! I mean it are Murderbot’s thoughts but I can totally understand their enjoyment of tv shows. *lol* And to be completely honest I always wondered how Muderbot would like k-dramas. I bet they’d be hooked and totally forget about their mission, but that’s beside the point so let’s stop thinking about it and get this review back on track. ;-P

I really didn’t think I’d enjoy this short story so much because if we look at it from an objective perspective this sort of plot must have been part of countless science fiction books already. I mean a group of scientists that explores a new planet and gets into trouble with the inhabitants of that new world is nothing new. We’ve had that in about a gazillion of books and movies so this was definitely familiar territory. What was new was the fact that the narration of the story was told through Murderbot’s eyes who isn’t exactly part of the science team because it’s a security android and its only order is to protect the people it accompanies.

Well, that is until Murderbot develops a mind of its own and cuts off the governor module in order to be free. So we have a self-aware SecUnit that decides to stay with its humans because it still wants to protect them and watch tv shows. *lol* For a while the mission actually goes well and nothing happens. Well, that is until there happens something and the scientists don’t only discover that someone wants to kill them but also that Murderbot isn’t attached to the governor module anymore. Fun times!

„At least Mensah and Arada had overruled the ones who wanted to talk to me about it. Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency. I’d rather climb back into Hostile One’s mouth.“

Murderbot was quite something and I really liked to listen to its thoughts. If you ask me it was more human than some of the humans it encountered and sometimes it made me smile with its observations. The characters I liked the most were definitely the captain of the crew and Ratthi because they saw Murderbot as a person and not as an android and I really liked that. I think the feeling was mutual as well because Murderbot was actually fiercely protective of its human crew and once they got attacked it did everything possible to make sure they survived. 😉

”Maybe these clients had been terrible and abusive, maybe they had deserved it. I didn’t care. Nobody was touching my humans.”

4
All told “All Systems Red” was a quick and enjoyable read and after the ending I really want to know what happens next. I can see this series becoming one of those series I pick up whenever I want to read something short and fun so I’m pretty certain I’ll read book two soon. This said: If you want to read a typical sci-fi story with a rather untypical and unique POV this one might be the right choice for you.

A - E, Allgemein, B, Reviews

Review: Blackout (Dhonielle Clayton)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

What can I say about this collection of short stories? Well, I might just start with the basics and take it from there. 😉 For me this was a really nice collection and I enjoyed reading a different story each night. I loved that there were stories with LGBTQIA+ reps as well and that all of the stories were pretty diverse and varied. They all played during a blackout in NYC that was caused by an extreme heatwave and it was very interesting to follow the characters around while they all tried to make their way to a party in Brooklyn. I suppose NYC truly never sleeps, even when it’s dark. *lol*Anyway, considering the format I decided to talk a little bit about every story so without further ado let’s just jump into them:

“The Long Walk” by Tiffany D. Jackson

”That’s the thing about finding the right person to love. When someone loves you, all their hang-ups don’t really mean much. Because loving that person is a choice you have to make every day, even when that day isn’t what you expect.”

This was a nice tale about Kareem and Tammi who are exes and meet rather unexpectedly before the Blackout begins and throws everything into darkness. Throughout the entire book they try to make their way to the party in Brooklyn and their story kinda functions as the glue between all the other stories. 😉

“Mask Off” by Nic Stone

Tremaine and JJ meet again on the subway train that is stuck in the tunnels during the blackout. They haven’t spoken with each other for years but they went to the same school and JJ knows about Tremaine’s problems. Should he help him or keep his distance?
A really sweet love story about two boys that find each other in the dark. 😉

“Made to Fit” by Ashley Woodfolk

Nella is visiting her grandfather in Althea House, a senior living facility, when the Blackout starts. But she isn’t the only teen. Soon after the Blackout begins Joss and her dog Ziggy arrive in Althea House as well and Nella is forced to spend some time with a girl that is too gorgeous to be true and might be able to steal her heart if only given the chance.

“All the Great Love Stories … And Dust” by Dhonielle Clayton

”The truth: Everything we do together is a memory I never want to forget. Each joke, each touch, each experience. My notebooks spill over. Too big to hold all that is him … all that is me … all that is us together.”

Lana and Tristán have been best friends for ages always teasing each other and trying to win a bet. This time however their bet might turn out to be more than they bargained for. Skimming through the bookshelves of the NY public library during a blackout while looking for the best love story ever written turns out to be quite the challenge, especially with long harboured feelings getting in the way…

“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by Angie Thomas

”Your heart will never lead you wrong, but it can be hard to hear it. You have to give it space to speak. That’s a form of love, too.”

How do you know you want to spend the rest of your life with someone? Kayla and Tre’Shawn have been long-term sweethearts for ages and are happy together, but Kayla can’t help but feel an attraction towards Micah, another boy in her class. Feeling conflicted by her own heart Kayla has one hell of a bus ride ahead of her.

“Seymour and Grace” by Nicola Yoon

What do you do if you’re on your way to a party and your taxi driver turns out to be a handsome philosopher? Grace has no idea especially because she actually wanted to get to Brooklyn in order to make her ex jealous. To spend some time with her attractive Ryde driver Seymour definitely wasn’t part of the plan, but it might actually turn out to be exactly what she needed. 😉

4
This said: I really enjoyed all of those six love stories and they all had their own voice. The ones I liked the most were definitely “Mask Off”“All the Great Love Stories … And Dust” and “Seymour and Grace”. The writing style in “All the Great Love Stories… and Dust” was so beautiful and the other two stories were super cute! =) Also I usually love Angie Thomas’s books but this time around her short story just didn’t work for me. All told I liked reading this short stories collection and had a very good time! Happy reading! =)

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 31 on My Book List 2021

”Why bother to make music when the silence and wind are so much larger? Why light lamps when the darkness will inevitably snuff them?”

This book was a dark, dark book, but then again it were extremely dark times and all our two main characters Marie-Laure and Werner were trying to do, was to survive them. To be honest I really don’t know how I feel about “All the Light We Cannot See”. It was a good and thought-provoking book and the story was written beautifully. Still, after all the reviews I read I thought this story would hit me harder and that it would be one of those books that would leave me crying in the end. None of that happened though and even though the plot was well-crafted and the prose was lyrical I still couldn’t help but feel a little detached from the characters and their fate.

I think I’m just not used to historical fiction anymore. The writing style in books like this one is very different to what I usually read and even though you follow the characters, you’re not exactly in their heads which is probably one of the main reasons  why I didn’t connect all too much with them. Also I was in a huge reading slump when I started to read the book in April and only picked it up in August again. I did finish it in a couple of days then though so yeah. It definitely had me engaged and I wanted to know what was going to happen next, I just wasn’t as attached to the characters as I usually am when I read other books.

”I want to be an engineer. And you want to study birds. Be like that American painter in the swamps. Why else do any of this if not to become who we want to be?”
A stillness in the room. Out there in the trees beyond Frederick’s window hangs an alien light.
“Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.”

I however will admit that some scenes in this book hurt. Badly. No matter if it was Marie-Laure who struggled to survive in a world that was ever-changing and had no room for people with disabilities or Werner who just wanted to become an engineer and was forced to go to war instead. Their stories were so different, yet they both were connected somehow. Werner’s childhood and his very brutal education in one of the German military schools, Marie-Laure’s life as a blind person in times that made it even harder to navigate through them because nothing ever stayed the same. Two different sides of a coin but both connected in ways you could only grasp if you closed your eyes and let yourself sink into the story. The older they got the harder their lives became and the stronger the war around them raged. To see the world through Werner’s eyes and Marie-Laure’s ears was at least as fascinating and unique as it was heart-breaking.

”Frederick said we don’t have choices, don’t own our lives, but in the end it was Werner who pretended there were no choices, Werner who watched Frederick dump the pail of water at his feet – I will not – Werner who stood by as the consequences came raining down. Werner who watched Volkheimer wade into house after house, the same ravening nightmare recurring over and over and over.”

But it wasn’t just about Marie-Laure and Werner. There were so many other side-characters that stuck with me but I think Frederick and Volkheimer were the two people I still think about the most. It’s kinda funny how sometimes the side-characters actually leave a deeper impact on the reader than the main characters themselves.

I mean Frederick… oh Frederick. His story moved me the most and I still feel anger boiling deep in my stomach whenever I think about it. In Germany of World War II there was no room for honourable people like Frederick and it still hurts to think about this precious boy. I suppose there was no room for boys like Volkheimer or Werner as well. Volkheimer who was the best soldier because he was burly and did exactly what he was told, but still was so gentle with Werner whenever he was ill. Their friendship was everything and I couldn’t help but like Volkheimer even though he did what he did. Talk about conflicting feelings. >_<

Volkheimer definitely saw the potential in Werner and appreciated his talent and gifts. Truth be told, I think Werner was a genius that never got a chance to shine because all his talent went into the war machine and for me this makes him an even more tragic character than he would have been already.

”Go,”  says Volkheimer again. Werner looks at him a last time: his torn jacket and shovel jaw. The tenderness of his big hands. What you could be.
Did he know? All along?

I think this quote emphasizes it pretty well. Anyway, there’s one thing I still need to address before I wrap up my review and this is the supposed love story in this book. When you read the blurb you automatically think that there will be a love story between Marie-Laure and Werner but this is not the case. There is no love story between them and they only meet once in the entire book. So if you’re going into this book because you expect a romance you better be aware of this. I totally expected there to be a love story between them and was pretty disappointed when I discovered that there was none. Maybe I would have enjoyed the book even more if I would have known that from the get-go.

”Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

4

This said “All the Light We Cannot See” was a very good and thought-provoking book. It’s a slow story that takes time to unfold and to grow which is in total contrast to the fast-paced world and the time it plays in, but I think this was actually a big part of its charm. If you’re looking for a good historical fiction book that plays in World War II and packs a subtle yet strong punch you definitely should pick it up.

A - E, Allgemein, C, Reviews

Review: Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Tomi Adeyemi)

trigger warnings:war, violence, genocide, loss, trauma, abusive parents

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Rating: 2 Pfoten,5

”Just tell Zélie what you want,” he says. “She’ll listen.”
“No, she won’t.” I shake my head. “None of them will.”

And if that isn’t the entire mood of this book, then I really don’t know! People, buckle up because today I’m going to serve some hot tea and not everyone is going to enjoy it. I’m not here to please though so you either read my honest opinion or you don’t. It’s up to you. ;-P Okay, this out of the way let’s talk about why I didn’t enjoy “Children of Virtue and Vengeance”. To cut it down to the basics there was absolutely no “virtue” in this book and if anything the “vengeance” part was extremely pronounced! Like so extremely distinctive I just couldn’t enjoy the book anymore. Honestly after the about hundredth time these “children” (that is actually a very suitable description for the childish behaviour they showed) couldn’t decide whether to make war or not I kinda lost my patience. And I’m a very patient person…

Don’t get me wrong, the first book was great. I mean I had my issues with it but I was really looking forward to read book two because I believed that the author would learn from the mistakes of the first book. Unfortunately what I got was something totally different than I expected. There was so much potential! We had the tîtáns that suddenly appeared after the ritual and we could have had such great character arcs and a really solid and good story line but this wasn’t what we got. No.

”Marked by white streaks, the tîtáns appeared in the nobility and military after the ritual, displaying magic similar to one of the ten maji clans. But unlike us, their powers require no incantation to come forth. Like Inan, their raw abilities are quite strong.”

What we got were immature protagonists that fought amongst themselves at every opportunity. MCs that were incapable of listening to each other and that were so stubborn and stuck in their way of thinking that they didn’t even ponder the idea of peace. I mean honestly, who needs peace if you can make war and kill each other? Why save millions of lives if you can just send them to death? The maji and tîtáns don’t need peace, no, it’s way easier to annihilate each other and to destroy everything. Way to go! Totally good solution! I hope you notice my sarcasm because urgh, I just couldn’t with them. With all of them!! Every single character! It was so frustrating!! And before I go on and on I’ll just head to my characters section and vent my anger over there! Just in case you didn’t notice: I’m still salty. *lol*

2
Welcome to the land of doom aka Orïsha, where we all want to kill each other because happy endings are overrated! Who needs peace when you can have war? Oh yeah, and because we’re nice like that we’ll hand you lots of spoilers to deal with! Be prepared to be drowned in them. ;-P

Zélie:

Who is this girl and where did the real Zélie go?! It’s like her character turned around by 180 degrees and I don’t recognize her anymore. I mean she went through a lot in the first book, really A LOT but by the end of the first book she still was nothing like that! I so couldn’t with this new Zélie and I think fame got to her head. Everyone telling her what a special snowflake she is definitely didn’t do her any good and I wish she would have listened to the people that were close to her before she turned into the “Soldier of Death”. I don’t even have a single quote that would describe Zélie’s character because it was all over the place and there was nothing left of the girl we got to know in “Children of Blood and Bone”. I’m so disappointed by her character, I have no words.

Amari:

”I pick up a navy tunic, squeezing the silk to keep the tears in. What right do I have to grieve when the sins of my family have caused this kingdom so much pain?”

And here we go with the second lead character I didn’t recognize anymore. Amari changed at least as much as Zélie did and I hated to see her blame herself for everything. Where is my strong and determined queen? Where is the girl that always tried her best and never gave up? It’s like Adeyemi set her up for failure from the very first page and the ending was so convenient because by then Amari really became the person every single one of the maji expected her to be. If Adeyemi wanted to destroy Amari’s character she did really well. I’m sure no one likes her after the ending of this book which doesn’t sit right with me because up until the halfway mark Amari tried to prevent a war and then suddenly changed direction just because she felt betrayed by her brother. It was like: I was betrayed by him. I need to answer to violence with violence, it’s the only way. No talk of peace anymore. Sure I mean if I tried to prevent a war for about 1,5 books I totally would change direction from one moment to the next. Wouldn’t we all?! Sorry, I’m getting salty again. But I JUST CAN’T!!

”I don’t care what you’ve done.” Ramaya’s attacks subside, a brief reprieve as she catches her breath. “If you want to help the maji, kill your vile family. Kill yourself.“

Roën:

”Thes idiots bleed for you. They die for you. And all you want is to run away and lick your scars –“
“What right do you have?” I whip around. “You left your home!”
“Because I had nothing!” he yells at me. “I had no one. You’re going to win and you still have so many of the people you love! I don’t feel sorry for you. Stop feeling sorry for yourself!”

Roën was legit THE ONLY voice of reason in this book! Honestly, even Mama Agba was such a disappointment. She saw everything that went wrong and didn’t do anything against it?! WTF?! Oh gosh, I loved Roën so much for giving Zélie a piece of his mind! And he was totally right: At first she goaded everyone into war and then she suddenly didn’t want to be a part of it anymore?! I think Roën was the only reason I read this book until the end, because he was the only sane and reasonable character among a flood of stupid and stubborn warmongers. I really wish we would have gotten so much more of him because he seemed to be the only character that was worth my reading time.

Inan:

”One victor shall stand at the end of this war. One ruler shall sit on my throne. I can’t hold back anymore. I have to take out the Iyika no matter what it does to Amari and Zélie.
This war ends with me.”

Good lord give me patience! There was so much potential for Inan’s character and… it all went to waste! Instead of forming his own opinion and doing the right thing he let himself be influenced by his mother and the people around him. Inan had absolutely no – I repeat – no character growth and even though he tried to find a peaceful solution for everyone and wanted to avoid a war it felt like he never really wanted to stop it. If you want to stop a war you take the risk and go through with it no matter the cost. No wonder Inan wasn’t successful; all his attempts at peace were just half-hearted and half-assed! You do things properly or not at all. Period! His stance of “I want peace but I still want to be king” was so illogical and it was no surprise the maji didn’t trust someone who held on to his crown like that. Uff…

3
Zélie & Amari:

„Don’t compare your scars to mine, Princess. You’ll lose every time.“
“I’ll lose?” I charge forward. “I’ll lose? You had two parents who loved you till their dying breath. A brother who stands by your side. Both my parents tried to kill me with their own hands! I took the life of my own father to protect you and the maji!”

All I can say to those two is: WTF?! I mean what happened to their amazing friendship?!!! Did I miss a memo? How did we get from respect, mutual understanding and trust to the sentence above?! I have no idea what I was reading but it definitely wasn’t the kind of friendship I signed up for. I hate what became of those two and I think if Zélie would have just listened to Amari and trusted her they could have found a way to peace. But nope, Zélie decided to be a b*tch and treated Amari like shit. I mean she didn’t even defend her against Ramaya and the things Ramaya said… if someone would say something like that to my friend I’d give them hell for it! And what did Zélie do? Nothing! She let the maji treat Amari like dirt and didn’t care. You know what makes me even more angry is the fact that they all treated Amari so badly and it was so, SO WRONG! And in the end after Amari really steps out of line and does something totally extreme and horrible it’s like: Oh, we were all right and it wasn’t our fault, it was Amari’s because she was wrong from the beginning. Never mind Amari tried to prevent the war from ever happening for about 3 quarters of the book. Never mind that Zélie was a total b*tch and sent so many of her own people to death and actually wanted to abandon them near the ending. Zélie is our precious heroine and she can do nothing wrong. URGH!

”You keep pretending all you want is to kill my brother, but I saw the way you two looked at each other at Chândomblé. I know there’s more in your heart than rage!” I point at her chest. “If you want to lie to yourself about how you really feel, fine. But if you damn us to this warpath, you’re putting innocent lives on the line!”

Zélie, Inan & Roën:

The pit of guilt in my stomach hardens, squashing my fantasy. But that same pit turns to a flutter when Roën slides a hand around my waist.
“Besides, what soul could be better off that far away from me?”
“You have three seconds before I cut off your arm.”
“Three whole seconds?” Roën smiles as the cart swings to a stop.

This was the most unnecessary love triangle I ever came across and I read so many books with unnecessary love triangles you have no idea. I mean seriously, what was the point of this?! We all know there’s no way Zélie and Inan will ever get together because they hate each other with a fierce passion. And that’s all the passion that will ever be between them. And after reading this book I can honestly say that Roën is way too good for Zélie. Just to think that he believes he isn’t good enough for her. Like excuse me: WHAT?! But you know: Having read so many love triangles I can already guess how this one might end: Zélie will get together with Inan despite all logic and Roën will most certainly die somehow. Because that is how you solve a love triangle like that. One person has to die. If anyone of you reads the third book please let me know with whom Zélie ends up with. I’d really love to hear about that one. *lol* Am I bitter about this love triangle, yes, yes I am.

Roën’s steps slow as he exhales, pressing his fingers to his forehead. I watch bewildered as he turns back to help her; metal drifting towards its magnet.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers, tears brimming in her silver eyes. One spills out and Roën wipes it with his thumb, his unbandaged hand lingering on the side of her face.
They stare at each other, and it’s as if we all disappear. Unspoken words pass between their eyes. Roën’s shoulders slump when he rises to his feet. “Me too.”

”Your mistake wasn’t falling for a monster, Zïtsõl. It was falling for the wrong one.”
“Are you supposed to be the right one?”
Roën smiles, but it doesn’t hold any joy. “I’ve never been the right anything.”

Amari & Zane:

”Of course.” Tzain grins. “I live to serve, my queen.”
Though he jokes, his words heat my skin. He’s the only one who looks at me like I deserve that title. The one person who believes I can lead.”

I said it after reading the first book and I’ll say it again: Their love story came out of nowhere and it’s still irritating af. *lol* Amari clearly was in love with Binta and no one can persuade me otherwise. I find it weird that she would fall for Zane like that and that he’d become her safe haven in such a short time. Also their love ended as abruptly as it started, which only causes me to be even more irritated by their relationship. At first she is everything for him and the moment she does something horrible and stupid he drops her like a hot potato because that is EXACTYLY what we do with the people we love! We can turn our feelings on and off like a light switch, don’t you know?! It must have been true love! Oh jeez, my sarcasm is showing today. I just can’t with this book! I can’t!

Amari & Inan:

”I only asked for one thing when I joined this fight,” she cuts me off. “All I wanted was to end Inan.”
“He’s my blood.” I narrow my eyes. “You know I could never agree to that.”

I really liked their sibling relationship … well up until the moment Amari didn’t even give her brother a chance to explain himself and decided to go into full war mode. What happened to the benefit of the doubt? I mean of course we wouldn’t even listen to our sibling. Why should we? We want war, so we’ll throw all caution and every reasonable and sensible thought out of the window and just go for it! Despite us trying to find a peaceful solution for 3 quarters of the book! Sure. Totally logical, right?! Can you still follow me? Nope? Well, I guess that might be because I couldn’t follow that logic as well. But here we go!

”Everything that’s passed between us flashes behind my eyes as I run. I see every way we’ve been hurt. Every face that we have lost. Binta. Admiral Kaea. Father. But worst of all, each other.
the moment I place my head against his chest, I don’t know who weeps harder. Me, or him.”

4
I hate to say it but “Children of Virtue and Vengeance” so wasn’t for me and it was a real struggle to get through the book. I just couldn’t with the constant back and forth between making war or making peace and the fact that the characters themselves just couldn’t seem to be able to decide for a clear path made this impossible to enjoy. The MCs were so inconsistent in their decisions and they were nothing like the characters from the first book. Characters I may add that had a lot of potential and could have had great arcs. I’m sorry but this book really wasn’t for me. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it and that’s totally okay. I really wish I would have enjoyed it too, but I just didn’t and I guess that has to be okay as well.

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Almond (Won-Pyung Sohn)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me.”

It’s been ages I buddy read “Almond” with my friend Katja but I really wanted to write a review about the book. Unfortunately my life got in the way and I neither read as much as I wanted to nor did I manage to write reviews about the books I finished. I’m going to rectify that now though and after I wrote this review there will follow a couple of other reviews as well. So watch out for them. It’s about time I write them down. 😉 This said, let’s head right back to the actual review and speak about “Almond”.

”Granny, why do people call me weird?”
Her lips loosened.
“Maybe it’s because you’re special. People just can’t stand it when something is different, eigoo, my adorable little monster.”
Granny hugged me so tight my ribs hurt. She always called me a monster. To her, that wasn’t a bad thing.

I wanted to read this book for a while and when my dear friend Katja asked me to read it together for the #Koreadathon I immediately said yes. We picked it for the “read a book recommended by a Korean celebrity” prompt and the fact that RM as well as SUGA of BTS read it and enjoyed it was enough reason to go for it as well. I trust my boys taste in books and I’m really glad I decided to go for “Almond” because it was an intriguing read and very thought-provoking. The plot of the book is easily described: It’s about a boy named Yunjae who was born with a brain condition named alexithymia which basically means that he can’t feel emotions. The part of his brain that is responsible for our feelings (and formed like an almond, hence the book title) isn’t fully developed and that causes him to have troubles to understand human emotions. Our MCs mother and his grandmother tried their best to teach him how to cope with his lack of emotions but then one day tragedy hits and Yunjae is left to fend for himself.

”People sometimes say how cool it’d be to be fearless, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. Fear is an instinctive defense mechanism necessary for survival. Not knowing fear doesn’t mean that you’re brave; it means you’re stupid enough to stay standing on the road when a car is charging towards you.”

I had so many thoughts when I read this book and a lot of them had to do with the way Yunjae was raised. I know his mother and grandmother only had the best intentions and wanted him to blend in with everyone, but I think to some extent their constant efforts made it even more difficult for him to deal with his condition. Emotions are something you can’t learn because human feelings are very complex and some people will cry because they are happy while others will laugh even though they are sad. You might be able to explain the general reasons behind behaviour like crying but every person is an individual and we all react differently when we’re overwhelmed by our feelings. The fine nuances of emotions… well they are something you can’t learn. So even though I understood where Yunjae’s mother was coming from I still didn’t agree with her methods. It felt like Yunjae was under a lot of pressure to learn “the proper reactions” and I kinda felt sorry for him.

”Dr. Shim was right – being ordinary was the trickiest path. Everyone thinks “ordinary” is easy and all, but how many of them would actually fit into the so-called smooth road the word implied?”

Well, and then his grandma died and his mother was out of the picture as well, leaving him to fight through all the troubles on his own. Okay, almost all on his own because Dr. Shim was amazing and I loved that he helped him out! Honestly, bless his soul because he just accepted Yunjae the way he was and tried to help him as best as he could. ❤ But Dr. Shim isn’t the only one that helped him to find his way and Gon as well as Dora had an impact on the MCs character development.

”Dora. Dora was exactly the polar opposite of Gon. If Gon tried to teach me pain, guilt and agony, Dora taught me flowers and scents, breezes and dreams.”

I loved the way this was put, because it sums up their different personalities and essence so well. With Dora Yunjae discovered the soft feelings of first love and attraction and with Gon he learned about true friendship and hardships. Some might say Gon was a catalyst and I’m inclined to agree with that, but I also think that Dora’s appearance was at least as vital to Yunjae’s development as Gon’s. Both played a very important part in the MCs life and contributed to his experiences.

”About what?”
“About destiny and time.”
“What a surprise to hear those words from you.”
“Sheesh, did you know that even when you say the simplest things, you sound like a dick?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Now you know.”
“Yes, thanks.”

I really loved the bluntness between Gon and Yunjae! They took each other the way they were and they didn’t try to pretend to be someone else when they were in each other’s company. I think this might have actually been the main reason their friendship could bloom and evolve because the way they met definitely wasn’t the best start. (And that’s an understatement right there.) I’m not going to spoil anything here though. 😉 Despite being unable to feel emotions the same way other people do Yunjae was quite a wise person sometimes and could look through people’s disguises with surprising ease. I suppose you could also say that because of his disability to feel emotions he was probably more perceptive than others?

”She said families walk hand in hand. Granny would hold my other hand. I have never been abandoned by anyone. Even though my brain was a mess, what kept my soul whole was the warmth of the hands holding mine on both sides.”

I’m pretty sure it was due to this that he was able to see who Gon truly was. The way Yunjae described Gon was simple yet beautiful and I guess this is also how I would describe Won-Pyung Sohn’s writing style: Beautiful simplicity with many layers. The author never beats about the bush or hides information. It’s all there and you get exactly what you read which was a very refreshing approach and even though the conversations between the characters are pretty unexcited, they still have some sort of beauty to them. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the writing style so much but I did. =)

”I said, shut the fuck up.”
“You are not that kind of person.”
“Fuck,” he shouted, half crying. A nail on the wall must’ve pricked my leg, because it was bleeding. Gon saw and started weeping like a child. Yes, this was who he was. The kind of person who tears up at a drop of blood, who feels pain for other’s pain.

4
As for the ending of the book: I liked it but it almost felt too smooth? I don’t know if I’d have done anything differently but I’ve to admit that I still don’t know how I feel about it. I thought a lot about my final reaction to Yunjae’s story but all I can come up with is that the ending felt too convenient. Still, I really enjoyed “Almond” and I can recommend reading it if you want to go for something different and thought-provoking. I still think about the book and in my book this is always a good thing. 😉

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Small Hotel (Suanne Laqueur)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Every time I finish one of Suanne Laqueur’s books I can’t help but wonder if I finished the book or if it finished me? I can never speak about her books because they always touch me on such an emotional level that it becomes exceptionally difficult to talk about them. Some might say I need time to “digest” the book first and that’s actually pretty accurate. Still, I finished reading “A Small Hotel” months ago and I still haven’t figured out how to write about it, which in its own way is testimonial to Laqueur’s amazing writing skills.

And she can write. Boy, how she can write. Right from the first moment of the book we’re already thrown into the middle of the Fiskare family and to take in everything that was happening was quite a challenge. The Fiskare family isn’t only a huge family but also a loud one and it takes a little time to get to know all the different members. Especially because almost none of them is called by their actual name which was such a relatable thing if you come from a huge family in which everyone is named after their father or mother. You get creative with nicknames and I loved that the author made this a part of her book. It gives a personal touch, it makes you relate to the characters and it causes you to love them like your own family. By the end of the book you feel like you’re a part of the family and you’re heartbroken when you have to leave them behind.

See, that’s what I mean with Laqueur’s great writing style. You get so immersed in the story by all those little details and you can’t help but fall head over heels for her characters. But that’s not all; the historical aspect of the story was done so amazingly as well. The research that went into this book must have been extremely extensive and I can only salute the author for fighting through all the historical books she must have read in order to write this. The names and dates of all the fights the characters had to go through, the historical accuracy when it comes to the route the soldiers took, from the way gay soldiers in the army were treated, right to the ammunition and rifles they used. As someone who’s interested in history and read their fair share of history books as well, I can’t help but be in awe of the author.

What Laqueur truly excels at is the emotional aspect of her stories though. You feel with the characters, you cry with them when a comrade falls, you’re angry on their behalf when you see them suffer, you want to pick them up and hug them tightly. I swear, there were moments I just wanted to jump into the book and tell them that everything would be alright. And all the while you wonder if all the boys of the family will make it back home, if they’ll survive the war they were thrown in, if they’ll be able to embrace their father and siblings again. And in Kennet’s case if he’ll finally end up with the person he loves.

I swear, the love story between Kennet and Astrid was so heart-breaking and the strong and healthy relationship with his father and siblings had me crying more than once. This family is as thick as thieves and my heart bled for all of them. The brotherly bond between Kennet and Minor actually had me weeping and for a while I wasn’t even able to see the pages of my book. But Suanne Laqueur doesn’t end her book with the war. She continues to tell her character’s story, she gives them room to process the war and to work through their traumas and even more importantly she gives them time to heal. We get the chance to witness their recovery and for me – as a reader – this was so important.

4

All told “A Small Hotel” was an emotional roller coaster that hit me with the force of a hurricane, knocked the breath out of me and caused me to blink away my tears. I’m still not sure if I finished the book or if the book finished me, but quite honestly it doesn’t matter. I fell in love with the Fiskare family and they’ll always have a special place in my heart.  And in the end, that’s actually all that matters.

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 9 on My Book List 2021

”People could only hurt you if you cared enough to let them.”

I think this quote describes the vibe of the book in a nutshell. “A Gathering of Shadows” is all about the characters and their strong feelings for each other. Sometimes those feelings get in the way and make it impossible to grow and to be who they truly are and sometimes those feelings help them to realize what is important. At times to read this book felt like you’re staunching a wound and no matter what you do, it always starts to bleed anew.

The repercussions of what happened in the finale of “A Darker Shade of Magic” are perceptible in every single word of the story and I was hurting with the characters so much it wasn’t normal anymore. While Rhy and Kell are trying their best to ignore what happened to them, while they try to come to terms with their changed reality and their place in the grand scheme of things, Lila and Alucard are just trying to have the time of their lives. And I was thankful for it, because the Lila/Alucard Duo was a really good counterweight to Rhy and Kell.

As for the third plot line… gosh I was so anxious about what would happen. The knowledge that there was a new force at work in White London had me all kinds of worried and it felt like a looming presence above my head. Do you know the expression: “It hangs like a sword of Damocles above/over sth”? Well, I think that about nails the overall feeling of dread I experienced while reading the book. >_< This said I think I’ll head to my characters section now because I need to get rid of a lot of thoughts and they’ll be spoilery so consider yourself warned! 😉

2
Welcome to Red London! If you have magic running through your veins I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Essen Tasch! The finest of our finest will duel each other and not everyone is going to survive the spoilery fun! Tread carefully and try to stay out of trouble. The spoilers? Well, if you continue to read they’ll find you anyway.

Lila:

”People survived by being cautious, but they got ahead by being bold.”

I guess I got the answer to my question: Lila became a pirate, indeed. *lol* I personally liked her more in this book because she finally opened up and we got a good glimpse at her true personality. In the first book I could never get a grasp of her but this time around we were finally allowed to dive a little bit deeper into her personality. She doesn’t like to let anyone in because she is scared of her own feelings, but despite all her cool exterior and bravado she cares a lot about the people she spends her time with. Alucard and his crew grew on her and Rhy and Kell seem to own a special place in her heart as well. Lila’s determination to do whatever she wants is something I totally admire about her. She sets her eyes on a goal and she doesn’t cave until she made it. Her participation in the Essen Tasch was very reckless but I guess she’s one of those people that need to test their own limits and strength. And truth be told, if I would discover magic in myself I’d want to test and try it out too. *lol*I mean, who wouldn’t? ;-P

”Lila was a quick study, and she knew how to keep up a front; but behind the mask of disinterest, she took in everything. She was a sponge, soaking up the words and customs, training herself to see something once and be able to pretend she’d seen it a dozen – a hundred – times before.”

”She wanted to push away from the table and walk out, walk away, break the cords that tied her to this ship and this crew and this life, and start over. Whenever she felt the weight of those bonds, she wished she could take her sharpest knife and cut them free, carve out the part of her that wanted, that cared, that warmed at the feeling of Alucard’s hand on her shoulder, Tav’s smile, Stross’s nod.”

”The thing about freedom, Kell? It doesn’t come naturally. Almost no one has it handed to them. I’m free because I fought for it. You’re supposed to be the most powerful magician in all the worlds. If you don’t want to be here, then go.”

Kell:

” The truth was, Kell’s blood pulsed with a restless beat, while the thing that coursed within it longed for activity. Something had been roused in him, and it didn’t seem intent on going back to sleep.”

Okay, my hope that things would get better for Kell in “A Gathering of Shadows” was crushed the moment I first read his POV. My poor red-head suffered even more than he did in the first book and most of it was due to his connection with Rhy and the behaviour of his “parents”. I hated that they treated him like a criminal and even though I understood that they wanted to keep Rhy save I still detested them for the way they treated Kell. The fact that he could feel each and every single one of Rhy’s emotions and his pain certainly didn’t help to make him feel better and his slow but gradual suffocation was noticeable throughout the entire book. I bled with Kell and I could understand his need to be free. His entire life turned bitter and he realized that he was never truly a part of the Maresh family and only a means to an end. And then this horrible ending!!! ARGH!!! As if he hadn’t suffered enough already! I really hope my boy will be safe in the next book and that Lila will be able to rescue him.

”But that was the thing. Kell would never be free. No matter how far he fled. He’d given up freedom with is life, when he handed it to Rhy.”

”Rhy had always been fickle, but now Kell felt his brother’s ever-shifting temperament, the constant oscillation, and it was maddening. Space meant nothing. They could be standing side by side or Londons apart. There was no escape.
More and more, the bond felt like a chain.”

Rhy:

”He could feel it, whatever it was, hovering in the air around him, waiting until the sun went down and the world got quiet. Quiet enough to think. Thoughts, those were the waiting things, and once they started up, he couldn’t seem to silence them.
Saints, how he tried.”

You know, I’m kinda sad I never got to see more of the carefree and funny Rhy because the ending of “A Darker Shade of Magic” obviously left its traces on his personality as well. The Rhy in this book was very serious and haunted by his past. Then again I suppose to die and to come back to life will do that to a person. His life force is bound to Kell and what one of them does is felt by the other so it’s no wonder the Rhy in this book was more mature and intense. He feels responsible for everything that happened to his people and Kell and he just can’t seem to be able to live with what he did. I really hope someone is going to tell him that it wasn’t his fault and that him wanting to be a better prince and worthy was the thing that caused him to use the necklace. His fault wasn’t to fall for Holland’s trick because he wanted to be stronger; his fault was to try to please his parents and to think that the power he already has wouldn’t be enough. All that self-hatred… it will destroy him from the inside out. I really hope someone (hopefully Alucard) will be able to get through to him.

”Kell. My greatest fear in life isn’t dying. It’s being the source of someone else’s suffering. I know you feel trapped. I know I’m your cage. And I can’t –“ His voice broke, and Kell could feel his brother’s pain, everything he tried to smother until dark and drown until morning. “You will do this,” said Rhy. “For me. For both of us.”

”Every day. I wake up wanting to be a stronger person. A better prince. A worthy king. That want, it’s like a fire in my chest. And then, there are these moments, these horrible, icy moments when I remember what I did …” His hand drifted to his heart. “To myself. To you. To my kingdom. And it hurts…” His voice trembled. “More than dying ever did. There are days when I don’t feel like I deserve this.”

”He’d always envied his brother’s strength.
And now, in a horrible way, it was his.
He was immortal.
And he hated it.
And he hated that he hated it. Hated that he’d become the thing he never wanted to be, a burden to his brother, a source of pain and suffering, a prison. Hated that if he’d had a choice, he would have said no. Hated that he was grateful he hadn’t had a choice, because he wanted to live, even if he didn’t deserve to.”

3
Lila & Kell:

”Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Be quiet.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”
“We weren’t courting,” snapped Kell. “In case you forgot, she left.”

I really like those two and I definitely want more of them! I mean their kiss was … for lack of a better word hot and I think we deserve to see more of this ship. It’s a really slow burn but I actually like that about it. It probably comes with the nature of both of them. While Kell is all restraint and the brooding kind of type, Lila is all recklessness and bravado. Their personalities are quite a contrast but we all know opposites attract. ;-P I guess before we can find out if their ship is going to work out Lila will have to save her man first though! And I really hope she’ll do it fast because my boys are suffering and I need them to survive this!!! T_T

”They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn’t know which of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding. This kiss as Lila pressed into a single gesture. Her brazen pride and her stubborn resolve, her recklessness and her daring and her hunger for freedom. It was all those things, and it took Kell’s breath away.”

Rhy & Kell:

To his surprise, Rhy shot him a scowl. “I’m invested in my kingdom, Brother,” he snapped. “You should be, too.”
“I’m not their prince,” observed Kell. He was in no mood for Rhy’s attitude. “I’m just the one who has to clean up his messes.”

I love their brotherly bond so much but it definitely suffered in this book. Both of them didn’t know how to cope with the situation they found themselves in and both of them tried to atone for what they did in their own way. I wish they would have done it together, that they would have addressed all those things that stood between them more directly. Their relationship was so strained and it hurt to see them together. They were both bleeding and I think the only ones who could stop it are Kell and Rhy themselves. I really hope they’ll talk it out in the last book and that their relationship will be more relaxed again. I mean yes, their fate is bound together but if they are on the same page they could do so many great things. I want them to find peace in the next book and I genuinely hope they will.

”These days, Rhy always seemed to be the source of Kell’s suffering, while Kell himself walked around as if the world were suddenly made of glass, all because of Rhy. It wasn’t even in the end, wasn’t balanced, wasn’t fair. Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.”

”Kell.” Rhy sat forward, elbows on his knees. “I was dead.”
The words hung in the air between them.
“I was dead,” he said again, “and you brought me back. You have already given me something I shouldn’t have.” A shadow flashed across his face when he said it, there and then gone. “If it were lost again,” he went on, “I would still have lived twice. This is all borrowed.”

Alucard & Rhy:

Rhy turned to say something, but Alucard’s mouth was already there on his. Hands tangled in hair, clutched at coats. They were a collision, spurred by the force of three years apart.
“You missed me,” said Alucard. It was not a question, but there was a confession in it, because everything about Alucard – the tension in his back, the ways his hips pressed into Rhy’s, the race of his heart and the tremor of his voice – said that the missing had been mutal.

Now that came as a surprise! I knew there was something between them by the way they acted around each other but woah their romance totally caught me off guard. I guess this is mostly due to the fact that Alucard is a newly introduced character and that we didn’t know much about his past before his ship docked at London. I’m all aboard the Rhylucard/Alurhy?! ship though so please let more of those scenes come way! *lol* It’s so obvious Alucard is totally besotted with Rhy and I’m ready to see more of Rhy’s true feelings for the rakish captain as well. More, please?! XD

Alucard & Lila:

”There was a measure of theatre to everything Alucard did. She wondered how many other parts he could play. Wondered which, if any, were not a part, but the actor beneath.”

”Lila really should have killed him, back when they first met. Back before she could know him. Back before she could like him so much.”

I’m a huge fan of their friendship and I think they should continue to be just friends. Not gonna lie, the chemistry between them was amazing but they are both too reckless and probably would get each other killed. Their flame would burn bright and then blow out. *lol* I can’t blame Lila for giving into Alucard’s advances though. I mean that man is a really nice package! ;-P A deceitful and cunning package but a nice package nevertheless. XD

”Tell me,” he whispered, “was that better than winning a bet?”
She was breathless. “You make a valid argument.”
“I’d love to press the point,” he said, “but first …” He cleared his throat, and looked down at the knife she had resting against the inside of his leg.
“Reflex,” she said with a smirk, returning the weapon to its sheath.”

Lila & Rhy:

Lila’s expression hardened. “Whatever he feels for me, it isn’t love.”
“Because it isn’t soft and sweet and doting?” Rhy rocked back, stretching against the pillar. “Do you know how many times he’s nearly beat me senseless out of love? How many times I’ve done the same? I’ve seen the way he looks at those he hates…” He shook his head. “There are very few things my brother cares about, and even fewer people.”

The bond between those two surprised me as well. Lila and Rhy really seem to care about each other and I loved their tiny interactions. I’m glad Rhy kind of seems to function as a translator between Kell and Lila because I think otherwise those two would always talk past each other. XD Also can we appreciate how Lila’s first reaction, when she saw an upset Rhy, was to ask him who she needed to kill? I loved this so much because ARGH! Coming from Lila this means the world! <33 Lila and Rhy give me a Blue and Ronan vibe and I’m so here for it! I can’t wait to see more of their interactions in the next book and I hope there will be many.

He ducked his head and let out a shuddering sigh. Lila hesitated. She knew she should probably bow, kiss his hand, or swoon – at the very least explain what she was doing there, in the private palace halls, as close to the prison as anyone would let her – but instead she flicked her fingers, producing a small blade. “Who do I need to kill?”
Rhy let out a stifled sound, half sob, half laugh, and sank onto his haunches, still gripping the wooden edge of the table.”

The King & Queen and Kell:

Kell swallowed. “Will they never forgive me?”
“Which would you rather have? Their forgiveness, or Rhy’s life?”
“I shouldn’t have to choose,” he snapped.

I absolutely hated Rhy’s parents in this. His mum didn’t do anything and King Maxim was so unfair to Kell that I wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. I think Kell suffered enough and he did it all to save their son because Rhy got himself into a sticky situation that almost killed him. How is that Kell’s fault? They can blame him for dark magic finding its way into their kingdom and for being a smuggler but they can’t blame him for saving their son’s life. The Dane Twins plot would have fruited no matter what Kell did. It wasn’t his fault that Rhy felt a need to be stronger for his people. Plus Holland could have easily caused trouble without involving Kell. After all he’s an Antari too and can travel between the worlds. If King Maxim would have been fair to Kell and would have trusted him the ending of this book would have never happened. So everything that happens now is on him. I hope he’ll realize this before everything goes to hell. >_<

He stilled. “No. But we both know this isn’t about what’s good for me.”
“You’re right. It’s about what’s good for our kingdom. And if you are loyal to this crown, and to this family, you will confine yourself to this palace until the tournament is over. Am I understood?”

”I can’t keep atoning,” Kell whispered into the king’s shoulder. “I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

4
I really enjoyed “A Gathering of Shadows” and I can’t wait to read the last book of the series. Since the Essen Tasch was a huge part of this story I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Jay Kristoff’s “Godsgrave” though. Both books were the second book of a series and focused on a deadly tournament while the main plot was still running in the background. My weird brain is probably the only one that saw those similarities… Anyway! I absolutely loved the world and the characters Schwab created and I’m very curious where this series will end. I’m definitely more than just willing to find out. 😉

A - E, Allgemein, C, Reviews

Review: Clap When You Land (Elizabeth Acevedo) 

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

„A truth you did not want
can put a collar around your neck

& lead you into the dark,
the places where all your
monsters live.“

Every once in a while you read a book that totally surprises you and for me “Clap When You Land” definitely falls into this kind of category. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I opened this book but when I saw the writing style I was a little bit sceptical at first. The entire book is written like the quote above and I was worried this would dampen my enjoyment of the book. Little did I know that it would be the perfect way to enhance the impact of Yahaira’s and Camino’s story.

I swear I’ve never read anything like this before and it was so beautifully written that I just wanted to soak up those words and keep them close to my heart forever. Yahaira and Camino come from two totally different worlds. One of them lives in New York while the other one lives in the Dominican Republic. Their lives couldn’t have been any more different yet there is something they both have in common: Their unconditional love for their father.

”For the rest of my life I will sit & imagine
what my father would say in any given moment.

& I will make him up:
his words, his advice, our memories.”

Their father is everything to them. Their hero, their friend, their idol and so many other things you can’t even put into words. Well, and then he dies in a plane crash on his way to DC and the entire house of cards that was built on so many lies comes crashing down on them. Yahaira and Camino didn’t even know that they are half-sisters and after their father’s death layer after layer of his complicated life gets exposed. How do you grieve for your father once you discovered that he wasn’t the person you thought him to be? How do you deal with the aftermath of not only his unexpected and sudden death but also with the people he left behind? The people you didn’t even know are part of your family? How do you accept that the person you loved so dearly had a secret life in another country? And how do you forgive him for cheating on your mother if he isn’t even there to take the blame or to be confronted about it?

”All these lies that we’ve all swallowed,
they’re probably rotting in our stomachs.”

Elizabeth Acevedo explores all of those questions and tries to find an answer for her two protagonists. And she does it so gently and in such a kind manner that it’s impossible not to feel with those two girls. The situations they have to face are frightening and upsetting but they have to face them no matter if they want to or not and in the end both girls come out of it stronger. They aren’t just connected by blood but also by their love for their father and when push comes to shove that’s all that really matters.

”if a heart has topography,
I know none of these boys know the coordinates
to navigate & survive mine’s rough terrain.”

4

All told I really enjoyed “Clap When You Land” and I’m very glad I picked it up. This was a beautiful and sad story that broke my heart and kind of mended it again. It wasn’t just heart-warming but also encouraging and there definitely need to be more stories like that! This said: No matter what Acevedo writes next, I’ll make sure to have it on my radar!

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Benjamin Alire Sáenz) 

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

”Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?”

I think I rarely read an introduction to a book that touched me as much as this one did. It were exactly questions like that I asked myself when I was a young and confused teen. I was always more serious than the other kids and there were things they just didn’t understand. When I was seventeen life was tough for me, at least more tough than for other people my age. I asked myself questions they wouldn’t ask themselves for decades and I had to ask those questions because life and my personal experiences kind of forced me to.

Just like Ari, I was thinking about so many things, wondering about my place in this world. Why did some things have to end? Why did others start? Why did my heart hurt so much? Gosh, I really wish I would have had this book in my teens, because it definitely would have made me feel better. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” certainly is a book that’s important and needed! It’s one of those reads that is able to change you, to help you and I really, really wish I would have had it back then. XD It captured the problems of adolescence so damn well and because of that, it’s easily become one of my all-time favourites. =)

”Sometimes I think my father has all these scars. On his heart. In his head. All over.”

The problem about those scars is that no one can see them and most people don’t even bother to try to understand. I loved that Ari truly wanted to know what his father felt and that he wanted him to tell him about his feelings and thoughts. But just like Ari (and basically everyone else on this world) his father was a creature of his experiences and his environment. The war he had fought had changed him and the experience with his eldest son had shaped him as well. It’s never easy to talk about things that are so close to our heart, but Ari’s father made an effort and I think that counts for something.

”You were looking for me,” he said.
I looked at him.
“In your dream. You were looking for me.”
“I’m always looking for you,” I whispered.

”I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get – and never would get.”

I guess in some way this sentence explains a lot about the book. There were people Ari didn’t understand and there were people who understood him pretty well but couldn’t seem to be able to convey it. For instance his parents and Dante. Dante understood him more than anyone else and I think in some way he might have even hated him for it. At least at the beginning of the book. The more time passed the less he saw him as a threat. It’s just that Dante always asked the right questions, he is honest and very outspoken and therefore the complete opposite of Ari who always keeps his feelings and words to himself.

While Dante admits that he loves Ari (and this pretty early on in the book), Ari isn’t only unable to accept his own feelings but also incapable to voice them properly. He’s overwhelmed and he feels helpless. So basically just like any other teen, right? *lol*

”I love swimming,” he said again. He was quiet for a little while. And then he said, “I love swimming – and you.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Swimming and you, Ari. Those are the things I love the most.”

And even though Ari tells him not to voice those thoughts it’s still obvious that he feels the same way about Dante as well. Call me crazy but in some way this was really beautiful to watch. XD I mean we have a boy who knows exactly what he wants and we have a boy who questions everything and doesn’t even know who he is. Still, there’s no doubt Ari loves Dante too, because even though he can’t admit it, his thoughts speak their own language.

”And it seemed to me that Dante’s face was a map of the world. A world without any darkness.
Wow, a world without darkness. How beautiful was that?”

Despite all this, it was still amazing to see that their friendship was able to survive every blow of fate that was thrown their way. I just loved their dynamic and the fact that they knew each other inside out. Their friendship was #friendshipgoals and it were always those little, to some people rather insignificant moments, which touched me the most and automatically warmed my heart.

”How many burgers did you flip to buy the book?”
“That’s a very Dante question,” I said.
“That’s a very Ari answer,” he said.
And then we started laughing and couldn’t stop.

Also can I say how much I loved the way Ari described his relationship to his mother? Those two had me close to tears more often than once and I just adored the way they spoke with each other, how open and extremely honest they were. Ari’s and Dante’s moms definitely are #momgoals and I strive to become an awesome mother like that too! ❤

”I could feel my mom listening to me. She was always there. I hated her for that. And loved her.”

”And I knew that there was something about me that Mrs. Quintana saw and loved. And even though I felt it was a beautiful thing, I also felt it was a weight. Not that she meant it to be a weight. But love was always something heavy for me. Something I had to carry.”

All told, I really loved this book and I can recommend it to every teenager who feels lost and alone. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is a wonderful and exceptionally beautiful read. It’s full of poetry and the important questions of life, it’s a journey with a beginning and an end and it’s so damn relatable that you can’t help but fall in love with it.

I’m sure young and old will enjoy it and I hope everyone who reads it will discover the secrets of the universe as well. Sometimes the journey is everything that truly matters. ;-P