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

A - E, Allgemein, C, Reviews

Review: Champion (Marie Lu)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 16 on My Book List 2021

“Sometimes, the sun sets earlier. Days don’t last forever, you know. But I’ll fight as hard as I can. I can promise you that.”

I just wrote down that quote and I’m already bawling my eyes out… again! T_T Marie Lu certainly killed me with that ending. It’s like a shot in the heart and I’m still not over it and this even though I finished “Champion” about a month ago. Jeez! A month and my feelings are still all over the place. Yes, it was THAT good! T_T I don’t think I’ll get over it anytime soon. Well, maybe if I borrow “Rebel” from the library and replace the ending of this book with new information from the fourth instalment.

Seriously, I hope this will work because I can’t live with the ending of “Champion”. Does this sound a little bit too dramatic? Well, for me it is! Anyway, let’s get back to the overall review. When I began to read this book I thought that it would be mostly about June and Day because Commander Jameson and Thomas were finally out of the picture. Unfortunately the Colonies decided they wanted a piece of the cake that is the Republic and used the plague as a cause to invade it. Which basically meant that our infamous OTP is forced to fight against them while Day’s health is slowly deteriorating. And this just broke my heart! T_T

Of course there were a lot of plot twists I didn’t see coming even though I probably should have known better because Marie Lu is very adept at throwing them with the biggest impact. This said, the pacing of the book was slower this time around and there wasn’t as much action as in the first two books. I think this was realistic though because 1.) This book was more character driven than its predecessors and 2.) Day’s condition just didn’t give enough room to go for unrealistic action scenes. Still, despite all that “Champion” was a great finale and I can’t wait to dive into my characters section, which I’m going to do right now because I have feelings that need to pour out!

2

You are entering Antarctica the country of modern technology and progress. Be careful, though, not everything is as shiny as it seems and there might be backstabbing spoilers ahead of you. 😉

June:

June sees the hesitation on my face and knows it’s a confirmation of her fear. She bites her lip. “It’s my fault,” she says, as if it’s just simple logic. “And I’m not sure I will ever be able to earn your forgiveness. I shouldn’t.”

June broke my freaking heart. She stabbed me with her knife and left me bleeding all over the floor and the thing is, I can’t even be angry at her?! It might have killed me but she grew so much as a character and I can’t really hold it against her. She knows that her actions were unforgivable and that they hurt Day, yet she can’t change anything about it. Add Anden and his advances to the picture as well and you have a really confused girl that doesn’t know what to do. XD I kinda liked to see that side of her though because it was in total contrast to the girl she was in the first book. She learned to deal with her emotions while still being a badass soldier and the combination of both is just sexy. *lol* Still, the sacrifice she made in the end killed me and I basically yelled at the pages! >_<

”Now fate has handed the solution to me on a silver platter – Day survived his ordeal, and in return, I need to step out of his life. Even though he looks at me now like a stranger, he no longer has the look of pain and tragedy that always seemed to come with the passion and love he gazed at me with. Now he is free.
He is free of us, leaving me as the only bearer of our past’s burden.”

Day:

”I feel so out of place among these aristocrats, with their bank accounts and posh manners. No matter how much money the Republic throws at me, I will forever be the boy from the streets.”

*screams in heartbreak* Day crying alone in the abandoned kitchen of his family’s old house was legit one of the saddest moments in this series. T_T Gosh! Where to start?! Day suffered so much in this series already and to see how he got weaker and weaker with every passing day just killed me. I think after finishing “Prodigy” I was kind of in denial and thought that his brain tumour might just be a cruel way to keep him in line. But no… Marie Lu actually went through with it and I died about a thousand deaths. To see how his health deteriorated was so painful and yet still he worried about Eden and June and the people of the Republic. If anyone ever needed proof that Day is an angel: Well, this is it! I mean despite everything he still fought for what he believed in and gave it everything. I just can’t with this precious boy! <333

”What makes me lose my breath, though, is that he’s leaning heavily on a pair of crutches. How long has he been here? He looks exhausted, pale, and distant. I wonder what new drugs the doctors are trying on him. The thought is a sudden, stabbing reminder of Day’s waning life, the few seconds he has left, slowly ticking by.”

”My heart’s been torn wide open, just like I feared it would be, and i have no willpower to close it back up. Any barrier I might’ve succeeded in putting up around myself, any resistance I might’ve built up against my feelings for her, is now completely gone. Shattered.”

”Help me,” I whisper desperately to the empty room. “I can’t do this.” I want to, I love her, but I can’t bear it. It’s been almost a year. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just move on?”

”The Republic is weak and broken.” I narrow my eyes. “But it is still your country. Fight for it. This is your home, not theirs.”

”You and I will probably never get a chance to meet. But I know you. You have taught me about all the good things in my life, and why I’ve fought for my family all these years. I hope for great things for your own loved ones, that they can go through life without suffering the way mine have.”

Anden:

”I don’t want to hear anyone else right now. I want to hear you. You are the heart of the people, Day – you always have been. You’ve given everything you have in order to protect them.” Day stiffens beside me, but Anden goes on. “I fear for the people. I worry about their safety, that we’ll be handing them over to the enemy just as we’re starting to put the pieces together.”

You know, Anden is actually a very decent guy. I really liked him and I appreciated that he trusted Day so much. He’s exactly the kind of elector the Republic needed and I’m sure he will do a great job at guiding his country into the future. If anyone can do it, it’s him! He cares for his people and he only wants the best for them. This makes him already very different to his father and I loved that about him. Plus he’s a good loser! He knew exactly that June’s heart was with Day but he never resented her for it. Quite the contrary, he accepted his defeat with dignity and there aren’t many people who would have been able to do so. I guess I’m an Anden fan now. =)

”I envy Day, you know,” he says, his voice as soft as ever. “I’m jealous that he gets to make decisions with his heart. Every choice he makes is honest, and the people love him for it. He can afford to use his heart.”

”You are a soldier, Ms. Iparis, through and through – but it has been an honor to see you as a Princeps-Elect.” The Elector of the Republic bows to me. “Whatever happens from here, I hope you remember that.”

3

June & Day:

Half of my heart is breaking at the pain on her face; the other half, I realize guiltily, is swelling with happiness to know that she still cares. There’s love in her tragic words, in the folds of that thin metal ring. Isn’t there?
Finally, I take a deep breath. “Sometimes, the sun sets earlier. Days don’t last forever, you know. But I’ll fight as hard as I can. I can promise you that.”

Talk about star-crossed lovers! I swear Marie Lu is a master at giving us star-crossed love stories. She seems to love to kill us and I have yet to come across a Marie Lu series that doesn’t stab me with the feels. I mean THOSE TWO… I CAN’T!!! T_T My freaking heart got stabbed repeatedly just to shrivel into a little black pea at the ending of the book. Because unlike the majority of this planet named earth I JUST CAN’T with bittersweet endings like that! Like ARADKAFJASDFKASJFAKSDFJSDADKF! 10 YEARS??!!! Are you freaking kidding me?!! I’m having a déjà vu now because I just remembered the ending of Pirates of the Carribean 3. And my reaction back then was basically the same. >_< Didn’t we suffer enough already, Marie!? Why did you have to do this?!! ARGH!!!! *has a mental breakdown* Okay, I’m fine. *says it like Neil Josten* Also is it just me or did June really never tell him that she loves him?!! ARGHIIIIIIIIIIIII! If she doesn’t say it in “Rebel” I’m probably gonna die! Yep, I’m THAT invested! I mean I understand why June didn’t and let him go in the end but still… I’m fine. Totally. T_T

”Has it really been so long since the last time we kissed? Have I really missed him this much? Have all the problems threatening to crush us both weakened us to the point where we are gasping for breath, clinging desperately to each other for survival? I’ve forgotten how right it feels to be in his arms.”

”Why do I do this to myself? I see you and feel such – “ He has tears in his eyes now. The sight is more than I can bear. He takes two steps away from me and then turns back like a caged animal. “Do you even love me?” he suddenly asks. He grips both of my shoulders. “I’ve said it to you before, and I still mean it. But I’ve never heard it from you. I can’t tell. And then you give me this ring” – he pauses to hold his hand up – “and I don’t know what to think anymore.”

Day just smiles at me, an expression so sad that it breaks through my numbness, and I begin to cry. Those bright blue eyes. Before me is the boy who has bandaged my wounds on the streets of Lake, who has guarded his family with every bone in his body, who has stayed by my side in spite of everything, the boy of light and laughter and life, of grief and fury and passion, the boy whose fate is intertwined with mine, forever and always.
“I love you,” he whispers. “Can you stay awhile?”

”I can feel his presence here in every stone he has touched, every person he has lifted up, every street and alley and city that he has changed in the few years of his life, because he is the Republic, he is our light, and I love you, I love you, until the day we meet again I will hold you in my heart and protect you there, grieving what we never had, cherishing what we did. I wish you were here.”

”It’s you,” he whispers. There is wonder in his voice.
“Is it?” I whisper back, my voice trembling with all the emotions I’ve kept hidden for so long.
Day is so close, and his eyes are so bright. “I hope,” he replies softly, “to get to know you again. If you are open to it. There is a fog around you that I would like to clear away.”

Tess & Day:

”What were my last words to her … back when we had botched the Patriot’s assassination attempt on Anden? Please, Tess – I can’t leave you here. But that’s exactly what I did.
I turn away, taking another drag on my cigarette. Do I miss her? “Every day,” I reply.

I’m so glad they resolved their differences and finally had this dire needed talk! They had to sort their feelings first and needed to talk things out properly. Also it made me happy to know that Tess was there for Day and accompanied him on his difficult way. To be honest it was kind of sad to hear that they didn’t have as much contact ten years after, but then I guess that’s life and it was very realistic that they kind of grew apart over time. I mean they obviously still kept contact but it was different than their super close relationship as teens. Still, I’ll always be happy they reconciled. =)

I swallow hard and look down. “but I don’t love you the way you want me to. I’m sorry if I ever gave you the wrong impression. I don’t think I’ve ever treated you as well as you deserve.” My heart twists painfully as the words leave my mouth, striking her as they do. “So don’t be sorry. It’s my fault, not yours.”

”When the entire world turned its back on me and left me to die, you took me in. You were the one person who cared about what might happen to me. You were everything. Everything. You became my entire family – you were my parents and my siblings and my caretaker, my only friend and companion, you were both my protector and someone who needed protecting. You see? I didn’t love you in the way you might’ve thought I did, although I can’t deny that was part of it. But the way I feel goes beyond that.”

June & Thomas:

”Your brother froze, like I thought he would. There was complete stillness. We drew apart, the silence heavy around us, and for a moment I wondered whether I’d made a huge mistake, whether I’d simply misread every signal from the past few years. Or perhaps, perhaps he knew what I was up to. I felt a strange sense of relief at that thought. Maybe id’d be better if Metias figured out Commander Jamesons’s plans for him. Maybe there’s a way to get out of this.”

I didn’t think it would be possible for me to despise Thomas even more but boy, “Champion” really made me hate him! How could he do this to Metias?! A person he obviously loved?! Or he wouldn’t have kissed him. Thomas was such a FOOL! He’s the living and breathing epitome of ignorance! How could he be so thick in the head?! Like seriously?! How can he live and breathe every single day knowing he killed the only person who ever loved him?! My only explanation is that Thomas was an unfeeling robot. His death was random and stupid and truth be told exactly the kind of death his character deserved. No tears for Thomas just one sentence: Good riddance! XD

”I could’ve chosen Day’s route. I could have become a criminal. But I didn’t. I did everything right, you know. That was what Metias loved about me. He respected me. I followed all the rules, I obeyed all the laws, I worked my way up from where I started.” He leans toward me; his eyes grow more desperate. “I took an oath, June. I am still bound by that oath. I will die with honor for sacrificing everything I have – everything – for my country. And yet, Day is the legend, while I am to be executed.” His voice finally breaks with all his anguish and inner torment, the injustice he feels. “It makes no sense.”

Day & Eden:

”Man, look at us,” I reply. My laughter turns into coughs. “What a team, yeah?”
Eden finds me by placing a tentative hand on my head. He sits beside me with his legs crossed and gives me a wry grin. “Hey – with your metal leg and half a brain, and my four leftover senses, we almost make a whole person.”

Day’s unconditional love for Eden will always tug at my heartstrings. This boy loves his family so damn much and since Eden is the only one who is left of it his baby brother means the world to him. <333 I just loved those two and their close relationship and gosh, when Day carried Eden even though he was shot by Commander Jameson I was covering my mouth and praying that June would take out that cold hearted bitch before she could shoot him a second time. This boy really gave everything for his family and people. T_T I just hope Day and Eden will always have such a close bond. As it seems they are still close 10 years after all the happenings in “Champion” so there’s that, right?

A lump rises in my throat. “Eden,” I begin, “we’ve lost Mom and John. Dad is gone. You’re all I have left. I can’t afford to lose you too. Everything I’ve done so far, I’ve done for you. I’m not letting you risk your life to save the Republic – or the Colonies.”
The defiance fades from Eden’s eyes. He props his arms up on the railing and leans his head against his hands. “If there’s one thing I know about you,” he says, “it’s that you’re not selfish.”

”A small, bittersweet smile tugs at the corners of my mouth. Day, the champion of the people, the one who can’t bear to see those around him suffer on his behalf, who would gladly give his life for those he loves. Except it’s not his life that we need in order to save Tess, but his brother’s.”

”You did good,” I reply. “I’m proud of you.” And I am. I’m prouder of him than I’ve ever been of myself – I’m proud of him for standing up to me.”

4

And here I hoped Marie Lu would give me an ending that wouldn’t break me. I should have known better. She’s famous for her bittersweet endings and this one was as bittersweet as they get. I definitely need to get my hands on “Rebel” and I hope it will be able to ease my mind because right now it’s still reeling. 4 weeks after finishing “Champion” I can say that the book finished me instead. My heart is still bleeding. >_<

A - E, Allgemein, C, Reviews

Review: Cress (Marissa Meyer)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Kiss her, she thought. Isn’t that what people did after they survived thrilling, near-death experiences together? She was sure it wasn’t an appropriate suggestion, but this close, it was all she could think about.”

Ahh, Cress is such a romantic! ❤ The way she swooned over Thorne was just adorable! But let’s not get off topic here and focus on the overall review instead! This said “Cress” was already the third book in “The Lunar Chronicles” and basically everybody and their grandma told me that it’s the best book in the series. Of course there were also a couple of voices that said it’s the weakest book in the series so I decided to just read it and form my own opinion. (As always. Did you expect anything different from me? ;-P)

So did “Cress” live up to my expectations or not? Well, the answer is: Yes, I think it did. It was very entertaining and I loved to see how the story of all those different characters came together in the end. What I really liked about this book was that we got some background info about all the characters and that some of them finally got a chance to confront not only each other but also their personal problems as well. No matter if it’s Cinder, Thorne, Cress or Wolf, they all experience things that force them to act and ultimately lead them to finding themselves and their own path in this (by now very) huge storyline.

Interestingly enough Queen Levana didn’t have an all too big part in this instalment but I’m actually glad she had a secondary role. It gave our protagonists room to plan their next moves and to come to terms with their destiny and their individual parts in the game. The introduction of Princess Winter and Jacin was interesting as well and I can’t wait to read their story. Considering Winter’s mental state I’m sure it’s going to be quite something though. XD For now let’s get down to business and talk about the MCs of “Cress”!

2

If you dare to take a trip to the Sahara be my guest! It’s wise to be careful though, there are many dangers that can be found in the desert and mirages and spoilers are just two of them. ;-P Consider yourself properly warned. That’s all I can do for you, my friend!

Cress:

Cress glanced up, and though his expression was sympathetic, she thought he was probably mocking her. ”I’m not crazy. I know she’s just a computer. It’s just … I programmed her myself, and she was the only friend I had. That’s all.“

Okay, Cress is probably one of the most innocent characters I ever came across in a book but considering she spent almost her entire life on an isolated satellite this doesn’t really come as a surprise. (On a side note: You just gotta love how Meyer turned the initial tower into a satellite. ;-P) She is definitely a cinnamon roll and it’s no wonder she had troubles to adapt to the life on earth. I suppose everyone would have troubles to adapt to life in a desert though so I think she actually did pretty well! Also I kinda liked the contrast of her being a hacker wizard on the keyboard and knowing nothing about the real world. XD I’m very curious where her character arc will head. Still, to find out Dr. Erland was her father was really quite the plot twist. It makes me sad that he died before they could get to know each other. T_T

”She tried to swallow down the rising panic, this sensation that her existence was as small and unimportant as the tiniest fleck of sand blowing against her shins. There was a whole world – a whole planet. And she was stuck somewhere in the middle of it, away from everything. There were no walls, no boundaries, nothing to hide behind. A shudder swept over her, goose bumps crawling across her bare arms.”

Thorne:

”Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he said, squeezing. “Maybe there’s a little bit of a hero in me after all. But … really, Cress. Only a little.”

Poor boy had it really rough in here. He lost his sight due to the satellite crashing and I was really worried about him. I think it was amazing that he never gave up though. You could tell that he was struggling with his fate and had trouble to adjust to a life without his eye sight but he did what needed to be done and he helped Cress as best as he could. Some might say Thorne is arrogant and self-assertive but I know he isn’t. It’s just a way to hide his insecurities and he is indeed the misunderstood hero Cress thought him to be. I loved to get a glimpse at his true thoughts and to see his character arc was really amazing. ❤ Thorne came a long way and I think his journey isn’t over yet.

”She was a girl. A living girl, smart and sweet and awkward and unusual, and she was worth far more than they could ever realize.”

”It seemed like hours since he’d so flippantly said good-bye to Cress, when she was still in the bath, when her singing was still echoing in his ears. And he’d left her. He’d just left her – and why? To show off his gambling skills? To prove that he was still self-sufficient? To prove that he didn’t need anyone, not even her?“

Cinder:

”Of course I will. I’m the rightful heir!”
She drew back, stunned by her own words. She didn’t think she’d ever felt so invested in her identity, and determined to claim her place. It was a strange feeling, bordering on pride.

Cinder actually accepted her powers, but she still feels conflicted about them and I think that’s a good thing! I loved to see how she got stronger and started to see the Lunars as her people and came to terms with her identity. She had to make a lot of difficult choices though and I was really afraid that she might break under the pressure. To think you’re just a cyborg that works as a mechanic and to realize you’re the rightful heir to Luna… I can’t even fathom how tough this must have been. It’s no wonder she’s so insecure, but she has a lot of people that love and support her so I’m sure she’ll make her way. =)

”Standing on the hotel step, with sixty guns trained on her, Cinder realized she was no better than that thaumaturge. This really was war, and she really was in the middle of it.
If she had to make sacrifices, she would.”

“News flash: I have never manipulated you. And I hope I never have to. But you aren’t the only one with responsibilities and an entire country of people who are relying on you. So I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but you are coming with me, and you’re just going to have to figure out whether or not you can trust me when we’re not so pressed for time.”

”You want to know another secret? The biggest secret?” She sat, splaying her legs like a broken doll in front of her. “I’m scared, Kai. I’m so scared.” She thought it might feel better, to say the words out loud, but instead they only made her feel pathetic and weak.

Kai:

”Excellent. And have you given any thought to your wedding vows?”
Kai snorted. “Delete anything that has to do with love, respect, or joy, and I’ll sign on the dotted line.”

Seriously whenever I read about Kai’s and Levana’s upcoming wedding I felt dread! >_< I really, really, really didn’t want him to marry her and ahhh the mere idea of their wedding was already enough to cause me to scream and tear at my hair! He still defied her though and I’ll never get tired of this boys defiance! *lol* Kai is the best and I love him so much! <333 The things he did for his country and people were amazing and I hated to see his self-doubt and insecurity. He did everything he could and it’s not his fault Levana was cunning enough to plan this invasion for years or even decades. It could have happened to his father if he wouldn’t have died of the plague so I really hope he stops blaming himself for everything that happened. It’s not his fault. T_T

”He hated Levana. He hated himself for giving in to her. He hated that his father had managed to keep her and her threats of war at bay for years and years, and within weeks of Kai taking the throne, he’d let everything fall apart.”

”Maybe she’s trying to help me. Cinder knows that if she finds the princess, it could be the end of Levana’s rule. I wouldn’t have to marry her. She would probably be executed for treason. Cinder risked her life going to that farm, and she did it … she may have done it for me.”

”He would never tell Torin that a part of him hoped Cinder would be safe. And he would never tell a single living soul how terrified he was, every moment of every day. How afraid he was that he was making an enormous mistake.”

Iko:

”Aaaaw,” squealed Iko. “Did Wolf just say that he loves Scarlet? That’s so cute!”

Iko fangirling over Scarlet and Wolf was one of the best things in this book! *lol* She’s basically the embodiment of every shipper and the comical relief of this series. XD Also I almost choked when she spoke about Adri and Pearl. Haha! I just adore Iko and I’m so glad she got a new body now. Thorne really picked the perfect robot. It’s a shame she got hurt when she tried to help them, but I’m sure Cinder will find a way to fix her. =)

”See? Injustice. Here we are, risking out lives to rescue Kai and this whole planet, and Adri and Pearl get to go to the royal wedding. I’m disgusted. I hope they spill soy sauce on their fancy dresses.”

Jacin:

”Because Thaumaturge Mira was preoccupied with your operative. Otherwise, I would have been the same brainless mannequin that I usually am.” His tone was self-deprecating, but Cinder could detect bitterness beneath it. Nobody liked to be controlled, and she didn’t think anyone ever got used to it.

Now here’s a new character that has me intrigued. Mostly because he’s still one big question mark and we all know how much I love question marks. XD But please, Jacin! I don’t believe you a single second that you’re not in love with Princess Winter! He so is! It was pretty obvious. After what I saw from Winter I can’t help but wonder about their relationship though. Is his love one-sided, does she reciprocate? I need answers and since the last book is named “Winter” I’m sure I’ll get them soon. 😉

”Do you … do you love her?”
He glared at her, disgusted. “Don’t try to push your swoony psychodrama on me. I’m sworn to protect her. Can’t very well do that from down here, can I?”

3

Cress & Thorne:

”Carswell Thorne wasn’t a heartless scoundrel at all. If anyone bothered to get to know him, they would see that he was compassionate and chivalrous.
He was exactly the kind of hero Cress had been dreaming about her entire life.”

Those two are such an unlikely pair but they still worked somehow. XD I loved them together and they were pretty cute. I mean Cress is super innocent and Thorne well, let’s just say he has a lot of experience with women and all sorts of crimes. *lol* Despite everything they are still kind of perfect for each other. I loved that Cress brought out the compassionate and chivalrous side of Thorne and that he didn’t care about who she was or how she looked like. The fact that he couldn’t see her might have helped to see her inner values more clearly but that was exactly what it was supposed to do so yeah. Also Thorne protecting Cress and taking care of her was legit the cutest thing! She saw his true self long before he saw it and I think her believing that he’s a good person might have helped to actually make him one. Plus can we appreciate that Thorne is super gentle and caring with her. He’s kind of a rake but he got all protective and considerate with her. So, nope, I don’t agree with Dr. Erland. I think Thorne is exactly what Cress needs! <333

”But you’re a prisoner,” said Thorne.
“I prefer damsel in distress,” she murmured.
One side of Thorne’s mouth quirked up, into that perfect half smile he’d had in his graduation photo. A look that was a little bit devious, and all sorts of charming.

He rubbed her shoulder. It was the kind of touch that would have filled her with giddiness and yearning if she hadn’t been too tired to feel anything. “You have to trust me, Cress. I’m going to get us out of this.”

”Good idea,” he said, wrapping an arm around her waist. “How could they not think that we’re in love?”
“How couldn’t they?” she murmured. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to memorize the exact feel of him.

Knees suddenly weak, she reached for his forearms to stabilize herself. “You came for me.”
He beamed, looking for all the world like a selfless, daring hero.
“Don’t sound so surprised.” Dropping the cane, he pulled her into a crushing embrace that tore her away from Wolf and lifted her clean off the floor.

”While Cress’s thoughts continued to churn through the horrible things that could happen to her, she felt herself being suddenly sprung around and dipped backward, a supportive arm scooping beneath her back. She yelped and caught herself on Thorne’s shoulder.
Then he was kissing her.”

Cinder & Kai:

”Right. And what if I’d said, oh, sure, Your Highness, I’d love to go to the ball with you, but first you should probably know that I’m cyborg. And then what?”
Kai looked away.
“You never would have talked to me again,” she answered for him. “You would have been mortified.”
“So you were just going to keep it hidden forever?”
“Forever?” Cinder waved her arm toward the window. “You are the emperor of an entire country. There was never going to be a forever.”
He was surprised how much the words stung. She was right.

I was so glad they finally got a chance to talk!!! This conversation was so overdue and I was damn happy when they eventually had their confrontation! Also I remember wishing that Cinder would kidnap Kai before he marries Levana when I wrote my Scarlet review and well, it happened! *lol* Marissa Meyer actually threw me a bone here! YAY! XD I guess now that Cinder cleared things up and Kai knows that she’s Princess Selene they got closer to getting their happily ever after and I can’t wait for it to happen!!! <333 I ship them, HARD! Both on their own couldn’t do a lot against Levana but Cinder and Kai together? They’ll crush her! I know they will because they have the potential to be a power couple! 😉 And it definitely helps that they both know how it feels to be responsible for an entire nation. They can support each other and push through their doubts together and I’m so ready to see that!!! ❤

He lifted his gaze. “Just to be clear, you’re not using your mind powers on me right now, are you?”
She blinked. “Of course not.”
“Just checking.”
Then he slid his arms around her waist and kissed her.

”Arms wrapped around her. Cinder pressed her face against his silk shirt. There was some sort of cologne or maybe soap there – so faint she hadn’t picked up on it before.
“I know exactly how you feel,” Kai said.
She squeezed her eyes shut. “Not exactly.”
“I think pretty close.”

Scarlet & Wolf:

Cupping his chin, Scarlet tilted Wolf’s face away from her and pressed a kiss against the wound. He inhaled sharply, but otherwise became as still as a rock – an unusual feat for him.”

They broke my freaking heart!!! T_T I can’t believe Scarlet got kidnapped by Sybil and ended up as a prisoner on Luna. I felt so sorry for both of them because Wolf knew exactly what they’d do to her and Scarlet suffered so damn much. >_< Poor girl!!! I could understand why Wolf considered her to be dead because the torture she went through physically as well as mentally will leave its scars and make her a different person than she used to be. Ahhh! I feel so damn sorry for Scarlet! To lose her grandmother was already horrible enough but now this?! T_T I really hope Meyer gives my girl a break in the next book! Wolf and her deserve to be happy and neither of them are right now and it’s just not fair. =(((

”She suppressed the voice out of nervous panic that her mistress would sense her confusion. She did not want that. There was no confusion.
She knew precisely where she wanted to be. Precisely who she wished to be serving.”

”But then Wolf’s breath hitched and all the fury drained out of him with a shudder. Like a man shot fatally through the heart, he collapsed over his knees, covering his head with his good arm like he wanted to block out the world.”

”The illusion and the pain vanished, but the horror lingered. The rawness of her throat. The damp salt on her face. Scarlet rolled onto her side, sobbing in the middle of the playroom floor, grateful that the boy couldn’t maintain the brainwashing while he was distracted.”

4

All told “Cress” was one of those sequels in which most of the plotlines come together and finally turn into one central theme. The only loose thread that’s still left is Winter’s and Jacin’s story and I’m already very curious about it. I really liked that some of the character’s problems were addressed, resolved and smoothed out. This lays a good foundation for the final book and I’m ready to read it soon! =)

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Assassin’s Quest (Robin Hobb)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Death is always at the edge of now. Nighteyes’ thought was gentle. Death stalks us, and he is ever sure of his kill. It is not a thing to dwell on, but it is something we all know, in our guts and bones. All save humans.”

Sometimes I think that Nighteyes actually is the wisest character of them all. >_< He has a way to see the truth in the world and he’s never hesitant to voice it which certainly is a trait many of us humans lack. XD Well anyway, let’s not get philosophical right at the beginning of my review. *lol* Let’s focus on the third book of this awesome series instead. 😉

I know many of my goodreads friends gave “Assassin’s Quest” a rather low rating and weren’t happy with the ending and even though I understand their reasoning I still feel the need to declare that I liked it! Yes, you read right! I liked it and enjoyed to read this 700+ pages book! So how come that I ended up relishing this book even though about 70% of my friends didn’t? I guess the answer to this is simple: I had no expectations! *lol* After the ending of book two I had no idea where Robin Hobb wanted to go with this so you could either say that I was blissfully oblivious to every possible outcome or you could go with the theory that there were so many possibilities that I didn’t care in which direction it would head. XD

No matter how you prefer to look at it, it definitely made it easier to cope with the huge changes that happened in this book. And truth be told, there were quite a lot, which probably is the reason why so many of my friends didn’t enjoy this last book. For instance the story line is no longer bound to Buckkeep but plays in the Six Dutchies instead and unlike in the first two books skilling is taking a huge part as well. Some parts of the plot are even played out through skilling alone and if we wouldn’t have been with Fitz we might have never known about those details. So yes, the surroundings are different, the tone of the book is different, the interactions between the cast of characters are different and the ending is so very different to everything everyone imagined that it is kind of hard to wrap your head around it. *lol*

It’s different, yes, but in my humble opinion “Assassin’s Quest” isn’t only a great book but also worth reading. 😉 And because I still have so many other things to say I’ll head directly to my characters section now!

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You are entering my character section, which is also widely known as my spoilery spoiler section so if you don’t want to be spoiled and still want to experience this book on your own, you better don’t continue to read now. XD This is a fair warning! Don’t say I didn’t give you a choice because unlike Fitz you actually have one. ;-P

FitzChivalry:

”No choice, no choice, no choice. Never any choice about anything. Fate had made me a killer, a liar, and a thief. And the harder I tried to avoid those roles, the more firmly I was pushed into them.”

My poor Fitz!!! I don’t know how often I said this already, but no matter how often I say it, it still holds true! If you ask me Fitz is Robin Hobb’s personal scapegoat and when she wrote his character she probably was like: Mhmm how else could I destroy him?! Because seriously, that boy went through so much already and he JUST DESERVES BETTER THAN THAT!!!! Plus the injustice that happened in those three books is outrageous!!! I mean, he died for his king and then he was forced back into his body!!! The peace he had once again ripped away from him because other people decided that his work wasn’t done!!! Believe me when I say that I understood every single one of Fitz emotions!!! I mean he gave them everything, his youth, his love, his life and yet it still wasn’t enough?! What else could they possibly want from him?! It’s no surprise he wanted Regal and his coterie dead and I don’t even blame him for his stupid actions. For him they were justified! Also DAMN THEM ALL FOR PLANNING TO USE HIS DAUGHTER WITH MOLLY AS WELL!!!! He did everything for them and that’s the way they repay him for it?! By being willing to use his only daughter as a tool and pawn as well?! AADFASKDFASFDJSAKDFAJSDKFA! That made me so angry I can’t even!!! *breathes fire* And yet, still despite everything that happened, despite all the things they would have done to him without even batting an eye, Fitz still would have given his LIFE for Verity’s dragon!!! Because he is precious and pure and he loved Verity!!!! GAH!!! As for the ending, I saw the thing with Molly and Burrich coming from miles away, so it was no surprise for me. Poor Fitz obviously didn’t anticipate it though. =(( I feel so heartbroken for him! T_T And Regal… I can’t believe Fitz let him live! He actually LET HIM LIVE and turned him good by implanting fanatic loyalty in his mind!!! OMG!! Of course Regal died in the end, but it was not through the hands of Fitz!!! My precious, precious destroyed boy… T_T

”That debilitating fear was a cowering presence inside me. I knew, with a sick certainty, that if I were pressed I would become it. I was no longer FitzChivalry. I was what was left after fear had driven him from his body.”

”The choice was simple. Be a wolf, with no past, no future, only today. Or a man, twisted by his past, whose heart pumped fear with his blood.”

”You can’t even imagine what you’ve taken away from me. I should be dead, but you wouldn’t let me die. All with the best of intentions, always believing you were doing what was right, no matter how it hurt me. But who gave you that right over me? Who decreed you could do this to me?”

Verity:

”You. He has refused to allow you to be put into the dragon. He could do it, you know, whether you willed it or not. He could simply reach out and pull you into him. But he refuses. He says you love your life too much, he will not take it from you. That you have already laid down too much of it for a king who has returned you only pain and hardship.”

*sighs deeply* Verity… it made me so sad to see what has become of him. I mean I always hoped that Verity would come to their rescue bringing the Elderlings with him and then we find him carving a dragon out of stone. =( Gosh, what it cost Verity to make that dragon! He lost his memories, his humanity; he gave everything into that dragon just to bring him to life. It was painful and sad to see Verity like that, especially because he was one of my favourite characters and I always hoped that he’d actually become the king of the Six Duchies and would live a long and nice life with Kettricken. Robin Hobb wouldn’t be Robin Hobb if she wouldn’t have spoilt things for me though. *lol* Plus even in those last moments of his life he used Fitz and it was something that rankled me big time. I mean I understand why he used his body to sleep with Kettricken but damn, Fitz deserved better than that and Kettricken too. So yes, I definitely was no happy camper when it came to that turn of events. >_<

The Fool:

”I am glad, glad that you are alive. To see you take breath puts the breath back in my lungs. If there must be another my fate is twined around, I am glad it is you.”

I think now is the moment to scream: I LOVE THE FOOL!!! His character is soo damn amazing that I can’t help but adore him!!! The Fool was always one of my favourites and that he played such a huge role in this book made me more than just a little happy! I always wanted to know more about him and his roots and my wish was finally granted! XD Also I loved that Starling believed him to be a woman who is in love with Fitz. *lol* I mean yes, he’s definitely in love with Fitz but I’m pretty sure he’s no woman, or at least not all of the time. ;-P If you ask me the Fool was initially born as a man but is gender fluid and considering that this book was written about 20 years ago I have to give Robin Hobb kudos for being brave enough to invent his character!!! <333 Still, there is so much I don’t know about him and I hope that one of the other trilogies will provide me with even more information about his origins and background story. I can’t get enough of him and I want MORE!!!!

”That is one thing that in all my years among your folk I have never become accustomed to. The great importance that you attach to what gender one is.”
“Well, it is important …” I began.
“Rubbish!” he exclaimed. “Mere plumbing, when all is said and done. Why is it important?”

Chade:

”Over and over and over again, you forget your place. You are not a prince, you are an assassin. You are not the player, you are the game-piece.”

What can I say about Chade? I’m glad he and Fitz sorted things out and that he mourned him when he thought him to be dead, but still. I hate that Fitz was always some sort of tool for him. I’m sure Chade didn’t know any better because he was raised being a tool himself, but damn I can’t forgive him for everything he did. Especially not for trying to use Nettle as a pawn as well!!! It was wrong and he should have known that!!!

Starling:

”Honor and courtesy and justice … they are not real, Fitz. We all pretend to them, and hold them up like shields. But they guard only against folk who carry the same shields. Against those who have discarded them, they are no shields at all, but only additional weapons to use against their victims.”

I still don’t know if I liked her or not. I mean she was as likeable as they come, but I didn’t feel anything for her. In fact I was as indifferent to her as Fitz and I’m not okay with them being occasional lovers. Fitz deserves so much better than that and I really hope that one of the other books will finally give him the happy life he longed for! He deserves it!

3
Fitz & Nighteyes:

You will pay for this. I promise you.
In answer I leaned down to pat his shoulder and then scratch his ears. Wag your tail, Nighteyes. “He’s a loyal old dog. I should have known he wouldn’t be left behind.”
The things I endure for you. He wagged his tail. Once.

I have so much love for those two!! Their friendship is everything and it made me so sad when Nighteyes decided to go his own way for a while. I mean, I know why he did it and what he wanted to achieve with it but it was really sad to see them separated. By now their bond is so strong that Nighteyes is no longer just a wolf though. He has human features and this certainly doesn’t make it easy to live among the wild wolves. Also can we take a second and appreciate the joining of the Fool, Fitz and Nighteyes?! I love those three together!!! Bless Nighteyes for accepting the Fool into their pack! <333

Fitz & The Fool:

His cool fingers moved tentatively down my face, tracing the scar and the broken nose. He leaned down suddenly to rest his brow against mine. “When I recall how beautiful you were,” he whispered brokenly, and then fell silent. The warm drip of his tear against my face felt scalding.

I LOVE THIS SHIP AND I WILL GO DOWN WITH IT!!! You can say what you want but I adore those two!! They fit together so perfectly and if anyone should be at Fitz’s side then it’s the Fool!! I mean seriously their chemistry is amazing and I ship them harder than I ever shipped Molly and Fitz. Plus it’s not one-sided!!! No matter how much Fitz tries to deny it, it’s still obvious that he cares for the Fool deeply and even loves him!!! He was so worried when the Fool had a fever and he knows him better than anyone else!! OH AND DID I MENTION THAT THE FOOL KISSED HIM!!!??? He freaking kissed him!!! AHHHHHHH!!! *runs around hyper* I will ship them forever and for always and I genuinely hope they’ll be reunited in one of those following trilogies. XD <333

”There was a naiveté to you that none of the ugliness could stain, as if you never truly believed in evil. It was what I liked best about you.” The Fool swayed slightly where he sat, but righted himself. “It was what I missed the most, when you were dead.”

”Ah, Fitz,” he said quietly a moment later. “You do not know how much it means to me that I can still make you laugh. If I can stir you to laughter, I can laugh myself.”

”There, now you have said it,” the Fool replied as if I had proven his point for him. “And I love you, and all that is a part of you.” He cocked his head and the next words held a challenge. “And do you not return that to me?”
He waited. I desperately wished I had never started this discussion. “You know I love you,” I said at last, grudgingly. “After all that has been between us, how can you even ask? But I love you as a man loves another man …”

Chade & Fitz:

“Oh, my boy, my boy, I believed you were dead. When Burrich sent me word he had found your body, I thought my heart would break. The words we had when last we parted … but here you are, alive if not well.”

Curse Chade for being willing to use Fitz’s only daughter!!! No matter how much he seems to love Fitz, as long as it would serve his purpose and his king, he would still sacrifice my boy in the blink of an eye! That’s not right! Where is his conscience? How can he do such a thing to a person he loves? I don’t understand it and I think I never will. I could relate to Fitz’s anger and I don’t blame him for being furious with Chade. In fact I understand him way too well! >_<

”You can have me,” I told him quietly. “And I will do my best to bring Verity back, and do all I can to restore him his throne. You can have my death, if that is what it takes. More than that, you can have my life, Chade. But not my child’s. Not my daughter’s.”

Verity & Fitz:

”I knelt on the rise, looking down at the town, knowing clearly what I wished with all my heart to do. And I could not do it. Nothing held me back, no man lifted a hand or sword to me and bid me turn aside. Only the small insistent voice in my mind, battering at me. Come to me, come to me, come to me.
And I could not do otherwise.”

Okay, I admit it. As much as I love Verity I was still slightly angry at him for forcing Fitz to come to him. I mean, that boy endured enough and now he even had to go on a quest because Verity told him to. I know Verity didn’t do it on purpose but still, it left a bad aftertaste especially because Verity of all people should have known how powerful a skill command is. Also I didn’t like how Verity’s life ended. Sure, he saved the Six Dutchies but he would have deserved better than to end up as a stone dragon. Plus that unfeeling Verity had nothing to do with the Verity I came to love. Poor Kettricken, to go all that way only to discover that her husband has no feelings for her anymore because he put everything he is into a dragon. *sighs* I guess when it comes to this ending I’m totally with the 70% of my friends that didn’t like it. *lol*

”It would be a poor courtesy to Hod’s skill to pass this on with a blunted blade. Take better care of it than I did, Fitz.” He resheathed it and handed it to me. His eyes met mine as I took it. “And better care of yourself than I did. I did love you, you know,” he said brusquely. “Despite all I’ve done to you, I loved you.”
At first I could think of no answer to that. Then, as he reached his dragon and placed his hands on its brow, I told him, “I never doubted it. Never doubt I loved you.”

4
There were many things I didn’t like about “Assassin’s Quest” but despite everything that happened the positive things still outweighed the negative aspects of the book. It was not the ending I expected and if things would have gone my way I would have gone for a nicer conclusion, considering that Robin Hobb wrote other books that feature Fitz and the Fool, I can’t be all too unhappy about it though. *lol* A solid and unexpected ending for a great trilogy.

A - E, Allgemein, C, Reviews

Review: Caraval (Stephanie Garber)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 12 on My Book List 2021

”Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world.”

I think I’ll just go with this quote and add: “Whatever you’ve heard about ‘Caraval’, it’s nothing like ‘The Night Circus’. “ 😉 When I went into this book a lot of reviews compared it to “The Night Circus” but I think that simile is misleading. In my opinion those two books have nothing in common except of the magical aspect and the atmospheric and poetic writing style. This said, I really enjoyed reading this and I was more than just happy to follow Scarlett on her journey!

To be honest I loved everything about “Caraval” and the characters were great and interesting. I enjoyed exploring this world alongside Scarlett and I wish this book would have been even longer. Thankfully book two and three are already out so I guess my wish of reading more about this world was already granted. XD What really hooked me was the storyline, the constant guessing, following all the hints and the unexpected plot twists. I never saw some of those coming so the author did a great job!

Not to mention the amazing magical atmosphere! You all know I’m a sucker for magical things and of course this immediately drew me into the world of “Caraval”. In some way this actually reminded me of the old school magic performances. We’re constantly deceived and no matter how hard we look and how desperately we’re trying not to fall for the trick, in the end we still do. XD And I loved it!!!
But before I go on and on I’ll just let this speak for itself and head right to my characters section. 😉

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Welcome to Caraval! ”Remember it’s only a game.” A game that feels very realistic and that will spoil you like no other! So if you don’t want to gamble for knowledge and would rather prefer to remain ignorant you better don’t enter this show! This is all the warning you’ll get so make your choice and accept the consequences! 😉

Scarlett:

”Scarlett had always seen her own emotions in color, but she’d never seen another person’s. She didn’t know what shocked her more, that she could now see the color of Julian’s feelings, or that those feelings were so wounded.”

Scarlett or Crimson like Julian liked to call her wasn’t really a character I could relate to. I mean I got where she was coming from but she was definitely a person that was totally prude and never took any risks. She was playing it safe and to say this stood in her way would be putting it more than just mildly. To discover the world of Caraval through her eyes was definitely a one-sided view but I think Stephanie Garber wrote her like that for a reason. We’re supposed to discover this new world through her eyes and if Scarlett would have been more open-minded we as the readers couldn’t have been as immersed in this experience as we were while reading it. 😉 I don’t think Scarlett had a huge character arc but I think she had one that fitted her personality. A person like her can’t change overnight and old habits die hard, so I think her rebelling against her father in the end was already a huge step. I can’t help but wonder how she’s going to change in the next book and I’m very curious about her “powers”. I mean she obviously can see people’s emotions, so where does this ability come from? I’ve a lot of questions and they need to be answered. XD

”This was wrong too. When she’d kissed Julian, it had felt right. Two people choosing to give tiny vulnerable parts of themselves to each other. That’s what Scarlett wanted. That’s what she deserved. No one else had the right to decide this for her. Yes, her father had always treated her like a possession, but she was not a thing to be bought or sold.”

”It pained her to breathe and it took effort to speak. But she was still alive. She was still breathing and speaking and feeling. Most of what she felt was agony, but she also didn’t feel afraid of anything.
And for the first time, her father looked afraid of her.”

Julian:

”She tried not to stare. Every inch of it was muscled, just as his torso had been, but that wasn’t the only part that captivated her attention. A thick scar disfigured the space between his shoulder blades. Two more crossed his lower back. As if someone had stabbed him multiple times.”

And here we go with mystery boy! *lol* Despite being a very active part in the entire game Julian is still one huge question mark for me. He started out as a sailor and then turned out to know more about Caraval than he let on just to be revealed as one of the performers at the end of the game. Plus he seems to know Legend personally and I can’t help but be curious about their relationship! What is Julian to Legend? He seems to be one of the few people who even know how he looks like so their connection must be strong. Also what’s with those scars on his back?! We never got an explanation for them and I am CURIOUS af! *lol* I definitely want more of Julian in the next book and I hope some things will make sense after reading book two.

”That girl gave a performance, meant to make you drop your guard. They say they don’t want us to get too carried away, but that is the point of this game. Legend likes to – play.”

”I know you want to find your sister, but on this isle secrets are valuable. Be careful about giving yours away too freely. If people know what you want the most, it can be used against you.”

Legend:

”Legend was as prideful as he was handsome, and he believed she was wrong. He told himself if he were famous it would allow him to marry Annalise. So he wished for that. He said he wanted his performances to be legendary. Magical.”

Enter the most interesting character of the entire game: Legend! I am so damn intrigued by him and I just want to find out more! Who is he? How did he become the person he is now? Why is he a villain? Is there some truth to the story of Annalise? Did he get carried away by his own game and therefore become the person he is now?! AHHHHH!!! I just need more info! And scenes with him! Judging by the letters he wrote he’s such an interesting character and we all know that I can’t resist a well done villain or a good mystery for that matter. 😉 So I’m definitely ready to find out more about Legend and since book two is named “Legendary” I really hope it will be about him! Throw me some breadcrumbs, please?!

”Oh yes.” Caspar laughed, as faint as his smile, seasoned with something bitter. “Legend is very real, but most people have no idea if they have met him – including many of his performers. The master of Caraval doesn’t go around introducing himself as Legend. He’s almost always pretending to be someone else.”

”Legend had changed over the years, and not for the better. He takes on a part of whatever roles he plays, and he’d been playing the role of a villain for too long, he’d become one in real life. Finally, a few months back, I decided to leave, but Legend convinced me to give him another chance and stay.”

”I am beyond redemption. However, depending on how far you’re willing to go, I’ve thought about it, and I may be able to work with you.”

Dante:

”Dressed entirely in sleek black, he was the type of boy Tella would have called uselessly pretty, while secretly thinking of ways to gain his attention. She noticed all the ink covering his hands and moving up his arms. Tattoos, carnal and intricate, arcanists’ symbols, a mourning mask, lips curved into an alluring pout, bird talons and black roses. Each of them was at odds with the rest of his refined appearance, which made Scarlett more curious than she ought to have been.”

Who is Dante?!! Obviously one of the performers but damn that boy had such a mysterious vibe going on! Next to Legend he’s one of the characters I’m the most curious about! *lol* His appearance and all the tattoos. Ahhh!!! I already have a picture in my mind. He doesn’t seem to be all too friendly though and is definitely a bad boy so I don’t know where that leaves me. I never shipped him with Scarlett but Tella… mhmm… that could work. XD I really need more of that boy with a non-existing moral compass! Haha! ;-P Hopefully he’ll be a part of book two.

”He won Caraval last time I played. Remember what I said about this game costing people? Even winning comes with a price, and his triumph cost him, a lot. My bet is he’ll do anything to win the wish and try to get back everything he lost. If you think my moral compass is damaged, his doesn’t exist.”

3
Scarlett & Julian:

Inside the house, violin music, richer than the darkest chocolate, started playing. It seeped outside and whispered to Scarlett as Julian’s smile turned seductive, all shameless curves and immoral promises. And invitation to places that proper young ladies didn’t think about, let alone visit. Scarlett didn’t want to imagine what sorts of things this smile had convinced other girls to do.
“Don’t look at me like that.” Scarlett said. “It doesn’t work on me.”
“That’s why it’s so fun.”

I really liked the chemistry between those two and they were obviously made for each other. I guess as stereotypes go they both fit the bill of the geek and the bad boy. *lol* At least they both gave off those vibes whenever they were around each other. Scarlett the very guarded and careful character and Julian the daredevil. It worked for me. XD Julian must have fallen really hard for Scarlett in order to stay in the game for so long. And he even got mutilated by her father and still decided to stay by her side. He seems to be a very loyal character and that really caused him to grow on me. He couldn’t leave Scarlett’s side and he obviously can’t leave Legend’s either. Whatever their connection may be. I guess Scarlett is the same when it comes to Tella. So I’m kind of worried this might lead to problems between them in the next book. I guess I’ll just have to read it and find out.

”He’d never stared at her like this before. Sometimes he gazed at her as if he wanted to be her undoing, but just then it was as if he wanted her to undo him.”

”Dimly, she knew she tasted his blood. It was like no other gift she’d ever received. Strangely beautiful, alarmingly intimate. And she wanted more of it. More of him.”

”His steady gaze was even softer than his voice. It reached out to the broken parts of her like a caress. The type of touch that moves through damaged flesh, past fractured bones and into a person’s wounded soul. Scarlett felt her blood go hot as he watched her. She could have been wearing a dress that covered every inch of her skin and she would have still felt exposed to Julian’s eyes. It was as if all her shame, her guilt, the awful secret memories she tried to bury, were laid bare for him to see.”

Scarlett & Tella:

”Her sister had always been wilder; Tella liked the taste of trouble. But it wasn’t the wildness that hurt Scarlett. Tella was the most important person in the world to Scarlett, but it always broke Scarlett to know her sister did not feel the same way.”

We only got Scarlett’s POV so it’s really hard to say if Tella truly doesn’t care as much about Scarlett as she thinks. They most definitely couldn’t be any more different though. Tella seems to be the daredevil while Scarlett never risks anything and if the next book is really from Tella’s POV things will most certainly get even more interesting than they were in “Caraval”. *lol* I can’t wait to see the world of “Caraval” through Tella’s eyes and to hear her thoughts about her sister. We only got a one-sided not all too positive impression of her in here and I’m curious if it will be rectified. The fact she was absent for most of the book didn’t really work in her favour either so I guess we’ll see what “Legendary” will bring.

”Please, trust me.” Scarlett held out a hand. No longer stained in blood, she hoped she could save Tella in the way she hadn’t been albe to save Julian in the tunnels. “I will find a way to take care of you. I love you so much.”
“Oh, Scar.” Tella said. Tears streamed down her pink cheeks. “I love you, too. And I wish I was strong like you. Strong enough to hope it could be better, but I can’t do this anymore.”

Tella & Legend:

”She practically fell into the arms of her newest partner. He pulled her closer than the others had. His large hands snaked determinedly around her, bringing with them a new surge of pleasure. Tella liked the confident way he touched her. As he tugged her toward the edge of the party and farther from the crowd, she imagined feeling his hands on places besides her waist.

I’m convinced this was Legend and I’m sooo damn ready to read about their love story!!! Because I’m about 99,99% sure that there will be one between those two! ❤ Alone the way she reacted to him touching her!! Can I have more of this chemistry, please?! Also I’m pretty certain Legend had his reasons to play with Tella. He wouldn’t have answered everyone and there seems to be something that attracted him. I’m so READY to read more about those two, I can’t even! ❤

4
I loved “Caraval” and for me it was one of those books that had me super intrigued. The idea of Caraval was so fascinating and I adored the magical atmosphere. There was always an undercurrent of danger and mystery accompanying the MCs actions and I lived and breathed for it. =) I can’t wait to read “Legendary”! Let’s hope I’ll get my hands on a copy soon!

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Assassin’s Apprentice (Robin Hobb)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Most prisons are of our own making. A man makes his own freedom, too.”

So this was my first Robin Hobb and I’m positively surprised! =) I mean after reading all those raving reviews I already expected that “Assassin’s Apprentice” would be a good book, I definitely wasn’t prepared for the train of feels that occasionally hit me though. Well, truth be told, that’s actually a bold understatement.

For a book that started out so slowly there certainly were a lot of intense and awesome scenes that had me hooked almost right from the beginning and if you ask me, it’s as good as impossible to read them without being swept away! Hobb has an undeniable talent for the fine arts of building up an interesting storyline and as far as I could tell she never even hesitated to use it! ;-P

While you read the book you stumble over all those typical fantasy tropes (young boy, apprenticeship, relation to the royal family, hard life, etc.), yet the author still managed to make something intriguing and unique. It’s like she used those fantasy tropes as a scaffold in order to build her own world and ideas around it. And tell you what? It worked! XD

This was such a wonderful read and the fact I already borrowed book two from the library should be enough to persuade you to give it a try! 😉

Since the title of the book is kinda self-explanatory (Assassin’s Apprentice? I can’t help but wonder what it’s going to be about! *lol*) I won’t talk about the plot and will dive right into the characters section instead!

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WARNING! This is the danger zone! *lol* I’ll spoil in here and if you hate to be spoiled you better run in the other direction! ;-P Can’t say I didn’t warn you, can you? XD

FitzChivalry:

”I know he meant well. But I did not feel protected by him, but confined. He was the warden that ensured my isolation with fanatical fervour. Utter loneliness was planted in me then, and set its deep roots down into me.”

Aww Fitz! I love this Boy! (See what I did there?! XD) He’s so sweet and funny and I can already see him becoming a sassy and clever protagonist in the future! Unfortunately he still has to learn a lot about life and the dangerous world he’s living in so I mostly felt really sorry for him while reading this book. There were so many moments that broke my heart and there were times I was like: CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE THIS POOR BOY A BREAK?!! Plus some of the scenes were so damn amazing that they really stuck with me. For instance the “Silver Knife Scene”! Chade and King Shrewd wanted to test Fitz loyalty and they did it in a very cruel way. My poor Boy suffered so much but once the problem was resolved he didn’t back down. No! He made his point by stealing a silver knife right in front of his King and driving it into the wood of Chade’s shelf! *LOL* THAT WAS SO DAMN AWESOME!!!! The sass and defiance!!! Gosh I loved it so much! Plus can we acknowledge the wonderful atmosphere of the “Poison Scene”? It easily became one of my all-time favourite scenes and the twist was executed so well I could only gasp in disbelieve and awe! So cleverly done, Hobb! So cleverly done! *shakes head*

Chade:

”I’ll be teaching you the nasty, furtive, polite ways to kill people. You’ll either develop a taste for it, or not. That isn’t something I’m in charge of. But I’ll make sure you know how.”

Haha! Chade instantly became one of my favourites of this book! I mean he’s the Royal Assassin and he’s a wise and good man. He has principles, he knows his limits and he did his best to tap his full potential. It made me very sad he was so painfully aware of the fact that he was raising and educating the next generation and that his use was going to run out as soon as his replacement was ready. Yet he still knew that it wasn’t Fitz fault and taught him everything he needed in order to do his job. I have a very deep respect for Chade and I really hope he’ll live through the next two books.

”Sometimes,” grumbled Chade, “it is better to be defiantly wrong than silent.”

”You’re a bastard, Fitz. We’re always a risk and vulnerability. We’re always expendable. Except when we are an absolute necessity to their own security.”

Burrich:

”You failed? No, Fitz. I fialed. I was too soft-hearted to beat it out of you at the first sign of it.”

Gosh, I’m still so torn when I think of Burrich. I mean in some way he’s Fitz father figure and it’s clear he only meant well, but boy the way he tried to raise him was so damn wrong sometimes. *sighs* I mean every parent makes mistakes; we’re all human after all, but to punish Fitz so much? He and Nosy were everything Fitz had and that stubborn mule named Burrich just didn’t realise how much Fitz needed and loved him. He was just a little boy that needed a safe place and it should have been Burrich who provided it. I mean he didn’t even give him a chance to explain. He would have been dead without Fitz connection to Smithy, yet he refused to listen to him. ARGH!!! It makes me so angry. *lol* I know Anish has a different opinion about him, but I just can’t forgive Burrich for what he did. *sighs deeply*

”How you must have hated me.”
“And feared you.”
“All those years? And you never learned better of me, never thought to yourself, ‘He would not do such a thing’?”

Verity:

”I must have dozed, for I woke to his hand on my hair. “Do they tell you to watch over me so, boy, even when I sleep? What do they fear, then?”
“Naught that I know, Verity. They tell me only to bring you food, and see as best I can that you eat it. No more than that.”

I absolutely adored and loved Verity! He’s such an awesome character and he’s always true to his name. I really liked his relationship with Fitz and I hope he’ll feel a lot better in the next book. It hurt to see how much the Skill took from him and for a second near the end I really thought he wouldn’t make it. =( Gosh that was suspenseful! *lol* I’m just glad he’s fine now and I’m sure Princess Kettricken and him will make a wonderful couple. They are both on the more practical side of things and even though it’s no marriage of love, I’m sure Verity will win her heart. (Maybe she’ll win his too? XD)

Regal:

”Ruthlessness creates its own rules. So my mother taught me. People are intimidated by a man who acts with no apparent regard for consequences. Behave as if you cannot be touched and no one will dare to touch you.”

I hate Regal! I hate him so much! Such an arrogant, snobby, superior feeling little piece of s***! He’s a clever villain; I have to give him that but his obvious distaste for Fitz caused me to dislike him from the very start! I mean there are villains and then there are villains! Regal is one I just can’t help but hate! XD How he and Galen treated Fitz was so cruel that I wanted to bang their heads together multiple times! And don’t even get me started about the death of Nosy, if it wouldn’t have been for Nosy Fitz would have died at the end. =((( Oh my, poor Nosy. That last paragraph killed me. He saved him, He dragged him out of the water and then he died, trying to give him strength… I can’t even… *sobs violently*

King Shrewd:

”A bastard, Regal, is a unique thing. Put a signet ring on his hand and send him forth, and you have created a diplomat no foreign ruler will dare to turn away. He may safely be sent where a prince of the blood may not be risked. Imagine the uses for one who is and yet is not of the royal bloodline. Hostage exchanges. Marital alliances. Quiet work. The diplomacy of the knife.”

I still don’t know what to make out of King Shrewd. I mean at the moment he’s obviously on Fitz’s and Verity’s side, but I have no idea which side he’ll choose when we get a better grasp of the big picture. I have no doubt that he’s an opportunist and he’s certainly shrewd enough to use this to his advantage. Plus Regal and Verity are his sons. He might care for them both but I’m sure he’ll support whoever wins their dangerous game in the end. So yeah, I’m #TeamVerity and I really hope Regal won’t get a second chance. 😉

The Fool:

”Because your heart will be hammered against him, and your strength will be tempered in his fire.”

I loved the Fool! He’s so mysterious and such an intriguing character. I really would have liked to find out more about him, but Hobb kept us in the dark and I’m convinced she had her reasons to do so. I’m pretty sure the Fool knows about everything that happens at court and I’m also more than just certain that he’s an advisor of King Shrewd. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to him though and that he might have even disobeyed some of the king’s commands in order to help Fitz. Hobb, I want more of the Fool in the next book! XD

The Wit and The Skill:

”The appetite for the Skill is one that devours a man, not one that nourishes him.”

Boy did it take long until we finally got a decent explanation what the Skill is about. *lol* I know Anish was getting impatient and so was I! Haha! Whilst it’s true that the Skill is an intriguing ability, I’m still fascinated with the Wit as well. I’m convinced that those two go hand in hand and could work together and if I’m correct it’s really remarkable Fitz has an aptitude for both! =) The quote above made me think there might be a connection and since the Skill devours a man and the Wit seems to nourish it, Fitz could be a more than just powerful man! Just think about all the possibilities! ;-P

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And with this thought I’m finally ending my rather long review. XD
“Assassin’s Apprentice” was an amazing and well-thought-out fantasy tale and I’m already curious about the next book! =)

Since this was a buddy read with The Sweet Manisha and The Amazing Anish I want to thank them both. I’m sorry Manisha had to drop out of our buddy read at some point but I’m still glad you guys were willing to read this book with me! Thank you for experiencing this with me and also thank you for your interesting thoughts and input! =) It definitely made this an even better read! ;-

A - E, Allgemein, B, Reviews

Review: Broken Throne (Victoria Aveyard)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten

Book 32 on My Book List 2020

”Perhaps this is my own ignorance, but I cannot fathom the death of millions by the order of one.”

I don’t even know how to start this but let’s just say this was very different to what I expected but it was still okay. I mean I obviously expected a collection of short stories and that’s what I got. Well, that and additional info about the world building which was really nice. The fact that those stories followed a timeline and that we actually got to see some moments that played after “War Storm” was great too. Still, I wasn’t happy that “Queen Song” and “Steel Scars” were included once again because I already read them and would have liked some new short stories instead. I guess that’s just personal preference though so yeah. Also this might be a spoiler now so if you don’t want to be spoiled about Maven you better don’t click that button but for everyone who hopes there will be Maven in this book and doesn’t want to read my entire review to find out: (view spoiler) If you want to read more of my thought on this and the other short stories, feel free to continue to read my review. I’ll try my best to keep the summaries spoiler free. 😉

Queen Song: 4

”Her footsteps were even, not too fast or too slow. How far away must I be?
Farther, said Elara’s sneering purr in her head. She nearly tripped over at the sensation. The voice echoed in everything around and in her, windows to bone, from the chandeliers overhead to the blood pounding in her ears. Farther, Jacos.”

I already said it and I’ll say it again: This short story is amazing and heart-breaking at the same time. It’s about Cal’s mother Coriane and how she got to know Cal’s father and ended up becoming the Queen of Norta. The story itself is pretty slow at the beginning but the ending is… haunting. I have no other word for it so I’ll just leave it at that. This said, “Queen Song” was definitely one of the best short stories of this collection.

Steel Scars: 2

Okay, I’ll be totally honest here: I skipped the entire short story because I already read it back in 2017 and I just couldn’t bring myself to read it again. I didn’t like it when I first read it and I doubt anything would have changed if I would have given it a second chance so 2 stars it is. My opinion still stands.

World Behind: 4

”A silver princess abandoning her kingdom, dead to all who knew her. And wanting to stay that way. I’m intrigued to say the very least.”

I’ve got to admit that this was a really nice short story and I enjoyed it very much. Ashe and Lyrisa were two super intriguing characters and I totally loved their interactions. Also it was nice to see a different POV than the ones we already knew and to experience how the war felt for all the refugees that had to deal with its repercussions. It’s good their POV was told and I also think it’s very important. Usually only the main players in a war write history and get the attention; it’s always the civilians who suffer the most though. So kudos to Victoria for giving them room too!

Iron Heart: 3

”Princess Evangeline. Lady of House Samos. Daughter of Volo and Larentia.
I am none of those things anymore. Not after today. I should be glad – I should be relieved to be rid of the name and the life my parents gave me. And parts of me are. But the rest of me can’t help but be reminded of what I traded away to live as who I am now. What I betrayed. What I killed. What I lost forever.”

I was never Evangeline’s biggest fan so this story was okay for me? I mean I’m happy for her and Elane and I’m glad she finally did what she wanted to do instead of what everyone else expected her to do. It takes guts to go your own way and I really liked that Evangeline was ready to do it. Still, aside from her embracing her new home and status not a lot happened in here so it was just a nice addition to the main story we already know. No more, no less. 😉

”Hereafter, I shall be known as Evangeline Samos of Montfort, and I swear my allegiance to the Free Republic, where I can live and love freely. I renounce my citizenship in the Rift, in Norta, and in any country where people are caged for the circumstances of birth.”

Fire Light: 4

”When we first came here I told myself it was so we could heal and mourn together. And so I could forget. Put aside all the things Maven did to me and I did to him. Instead, barely a day goes by without me agonizing over him and his fate. Whether he deserved it or not. If I made the right choice. If he could have been saved.”

I think of all the new short stories this was my favourite one. And this even though it was about Mare and Cal. *lol* As you all know I was never the biggest fan of this ship so I certainly didn’t expect to like this story as much as I did. I guess what I liked the most about it was that it gave me some sort of closure. I never got that at the end of “War Storm” and somehow this short story was exactly what I would have needed after finishing the last book. It was good to see that Mare and Cal tried to work through their differences and that they still dared to hope for a better future. After everything they went through they were both thoroughly broken and I think Victoria captured this more than just well. Their grief, their guilt and self-hatred, their doubts and fears and – like a thread through all of their thoughts – their still palpable love for Maven. Because yes, those three were messed up and their relationship was more than just dysfunctional but at the end of the day both of them loved Maven in their own way. My heart still aches for Maven and obviously Mare’s and Cal’s hearts still ache for him too. <333

”I thought I’d lost them both, lost them to each other one last time. My brother would have liked that. He took her once before and he would have taken her forever if he could have.”

”I can still hear him in my head. You think I can’t lie through pain, he said when Tyton got too close. You think I haven’t done it a thousand times?
He meant the torture his mother inflicted on him. I knew that then and it haunts me now. Whatever his mother did to him whenever she entered his mind – it was torture. It was pain. And it twisted him beyond repair.”

”She feels the memory as I do, both of us lost to watching the floor. Her smile fades, as does mine, and we weather the storm of loss and regret together. It’s the only way through it.”

Fare Well: 3,5

”My mother gave me so much, but she took in return.”

This short story was just too…. well, short! I really would have loved to get a full short story about Maven but all I got was one chapter and even though this was a great chapter and made me feel all the mixed feels it still wasn’t enough. Victora could have given us a short story about Maven’s past and how he met Thomas. She could have given us a story about Maven as a little boy, but she did none of those things and I’m kind of bitter about it. Yes, “Fare Well” gave us a good glimpse into Maven’s mind and yes, it even managed to kind of redeem his character… but it didn’t give me all the content I was craving for and the knowledge that I will never get more of him is sort of irritating?! >_<

”Cut for cut, my mother whispers, louder now, taunting. The words slice like a razor.
It would hurt him deeply, wound him forever, if I let him glimpse what little is left of me. That I’m still here, in some forgotten corner, just waiting to be found. I could ruin him with one glance, one echo of the brother he remembers. Or I could free him of me. Make the choice for him. Give my brother one last proof of the love I can no longer feel, even if he never knows it.
I weight the choice in my heart, each side heavy and impossible. For one terrifying moment, I don’t know what to do.”

”He is without his title, with little more than his name. But every word on the stone is the truth. We love him – and he strayed down a path no one else should pursue.”

Conclusion:

This collection of short stories kind of started with Elara’s influence and also sort of ended with it which gave this a pretty nice touch. I really enjoyed some of those stories and considering it all it was a nice compilation. The additional info about their world and how it came into being was a welcome supplement and I’m sure if you’re a hard-core fan you’ll appreciate “Broken Throne”.

A - E, Allgemein, D, Reviews

Review: Darkdawn (Jay Kristoff)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 19 on My Book List 2021

”Fear was Can’t.
Fear was Won’t.
But fear wasn’t ever a choice.”

In honour of this buddy read being with the Yoongi to my V, the one and only Paper Plane Nomad, a fellow BTS ARMY and the one who accepted me as the V to her Yoongi, I shall only be using Tae (aka V of BTS) gifs in this review! Let’s hope I can pull this off and won’t get bias wrecked every 3 seconds. *lol*

This said: Let’s start with the actual review!

As third books in a series go this was actually a good conclusion. Well, mostly at least. There were a lot of things I really enjoyed and a couple of new characters that got introduced which I immediately took to, but there were also some things I didn’t like and that made this final book a less enjoyable read than its predecessors. So what exactly were my issues? Well, for instance I missed a central theme throughout the entire book. In comparison to the other two (assassin academy & gladiatii) this one just seemed to be all over the place. Yes, there was finally the darkin story we’ve all been waiting for since “Nevernight”, but aside from that we just had too many other threads that played into the main plot.

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Plus the ending was certainly not what I expected and it sort of fell flat for me. I don’t even know what I expected but it was something totally different than what I got. *lol* It kind of felt surreal? Idk how to describe it but after everything Mia went through I would have expected something more… epic? Okay, maybe it’s just me being weird?! XD

Or maybe it was me getting “eye-rollitis” whenever a certain character entered the page. *lol* I didn’t like that character and I sort of got angry every single time she opened her mouth, so I think that sort of animosity might have been another reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I should have. ;-P And speaking of characters: I think it’s about time to head to my character’s section because as you can tell I have THOUGHTS and FEELINGS and I really need to get them off my chest! Are you ready?

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Welcome to my spoilery spoiler section, gentlefriends! This is going to be juicy so if you’re not ready to face the bitter truth you better don’t continue to read this. ;-P Take your lemonade glass and make yourself comfortable, this is going to take a while. *lol*

Mia:

”I am a daughter of the dark between the stars,” she replied. “I am the thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight. I am the vengeance of every orphaned daughter, every murdered mother, every bastard son.” Mia leaned forward and looked the man in the eye. “I am the war you cannot win.”

Mia sitting on that damn throne of the pirate king and later on telling Tric that to wear a shirt would ruin her “Murderous Bitch aesthetic” is my new aesthetic! *LOL* This girl!!! I never saw that one coming and I swear Mia is the embodiment of a badass heroine. I read about a lot of badass heroines over the years but none of them ever came close to Mia Corvere. XD Even more importantly: With Mia Jay Kristoff created a really unique character that has no equal. At least I never saw someone as compassionate, ruthless, stubborn, vulnerable and fierce as her. Mia doesn’t try to be a man, she makes use of her female assets and works with everything she got. So she’s a character that doesn’t try to be cool, she just is and that with such an effortless grace that you can’t help but admire her for it. I want to marry her so bugger off Ash! *lol* ;-P

”Two pices of the whole. One is just … darkness. Rage. She hates the world and everything in it. All she wants is to tear it down and laugh as it burns. And then there’s the me who thinks there might actually be something worth fighting for in all this. And maybe something to live for after.”

Ash:

”See there you go.” She gifted the boy a wink. “A little bit of spit and fire, that’s what I like to see. But I’m fierier than you, Tricky. I’m quicker and I’m prettier and the girl we both adore ended up in my bed, not yours.” She drummed her fingers on her sword hilt. “I won. You lost. So stay away from her, aye?”

I really can’t with Ash! I just can’t! I mean look at this gif! This is literally me whenever Ash said something in this book!

I don’t like this woman and I just can’t forgive her for killing Tric. I know Jay Kristoff wanted us to dig her and Mia together because they both have some ruthlessness to them and a soft side, but quite honestly I never saw that soft side of Ash. Where Mia had some compassion, Ash was just mean and had a downright cruel streak. The things she said to Tric in here… I could have punched her in the face and I wouldn’t have regretted it even though I’m a pacifist. *LOL* Jay, how was I supposed to like this girl? She’s a witch and I think Mia deserved better than her! Someone that rubs things in the way she did with Tric is not someone I’d like to ship. #SorryNotSorry

And that half-assed attempt at a redemption arc also didn’t do it for me. Once again #SorryNotSorry To say it with my Yoongi’s words: I’m done with this! So done! XD

Cloud Corleone:

”Well,” Cloud Corleone sighed. “As my dear old tutor Dona Elyse said the year I turned sixteen, “Fuck me very gently, then fuck me very hard.”

Now there’s a character I loved! Cloud Corleone and BigJon were two amazing new additions to the cast and Cloud’s four-bastard smile really grew on me. *lol* I think after Sturmhond he’s my second favourite privateer. XD I just loved how he and BigJon flirted so shamelessly with Mia and Cloud’s serious backstory was quite something to take in. >_< I’m glad Jay invented him in this book and I would have loved to read even more about Cloud and his crew. Maybe one day Jay will indulge us with a novel or short story? You never know. 😉

Corleone tilted his head. “You mean to tell me you know who crews aboard my ship better than I, Hangman? When was the last time you set foot on my decks?”
“When I was ploughing your mother,” the captain growled.
“O, aye, she sends her regards, by the by,” Corleone replied without skipping a beat. “She told me to tell you she hopes you’re not still embarrassed. It happens even to the best of men, apparently.”

Mr. Kindly:

”… if you wish a dog who simply rolls over when you growl, bring eclipse with you. but i’ll speak my mind, if it please you …”
“And if it doesn’t please me?”
“… i’ll speak it anyway…”

This is actual footage of me when I read the scene in which Mia tells Mr. Kindly to go away. Like OMG!!! I couldn’t believe she told him to get lost and even though I understood why she was angry I really didn’t get why she blamed it all on Mr. Kindly. He was right to tell the gladiatii the truth and he was also right to let them decide themselves. The rift between Mr. Kindly and Mia hurt so much and if there’s one thing I didn’t like about Mia in this book then it was the fact that she turned on him. Despite everything Mr. Kindly was still loyal to her though and worked in the background so she could face Cleo and I really hope Mia appreciated what he did for her!!! Mr. Kindly is the best! ❤

”… i am a part of you, mia. before i met you, i was a formless nothing looking for a meaning. the shape i wear is born of you, the thing i became is because of you. and if i must do what you will not, so be it. at least you will be alive to hate me …”

3

Mia & Ash:

”If you wanted a snog in the hallway you could’ve asked.”
“Not asking,” Ash shook her head. “Taking.”

And here we go with another actual footage of me. *LOL* I can’t believe Jay went for a HEA like that! Like WHAT??!!! Jay will probably never admit it but deep down he might be a romantic after all. XD I already said it in “Godsgrave” and I’ll say it again: I don’t ship the Mash ship! Urgh! Ash is just a selfish witch and she doesn’t deserve Mia! Period! Alone that quote above. Yep, that’s my problem with Ash she just takes without ever asking and she’s ruthless and doesn’t seem to have any sort of conscience… at all! How am I supposed to dig a character like that? Plus she’s petty and super jealous as well. Not the kind of woman I’d want to have by my side. I still think we need more sapphic romances in books but I can’t seem to be able to like this one because it’s actually sort of toxic. If Mia likes a girl that will kill everyone who just looks at her: Okay. I personally hate jealousy in relationships so Ash is a no for me. Also and someone has to say it – you’re allowed to take out your pitchforks now – I think a HEA in which Mia would have spent the rest of her days with Jonnen and Mercurio would have been more realistic. Yes, I would have even been okay if Ash would have been with them. But she basically fights the entire book for Mercurio and Jonnen’s freedom just to end up on that Threelakes shore with Ash? Of all people! Why? It beats me! *shakes head*

”And while the press of Ash’s lips left Mia feeling almost dizzy, the thought of her touch even now, laying senseless and sated, sending warm and delighted pulses up her thighs, a part of Mia – the part Mister Kindly would have filled, most likely – was still suspicious of the girl in her arms.”

Mia & Tric:

”She was losing herself in it. The feel of him, the taste, the familiar shapes, carved anew by the Mother of Night. Falling down into the need of him, aching from the touch of him, wanting to forget and remember and for a tiny moment, simply enjoy being lost inside it, with him inside her.”

Haha! This gotta be the first time I’d have preferred a straight pairing over a sapphic one. *lol* But seriously, there was way more chemistry between those two than there ever was between Ash and Mia. I mean Tric basically told her that he had to rip his way back through the walls of the abyss to get back to her and that he gave up his place by the hearth just to be with Mia. Tric is too good for their world and it made me really sad to see that he came back for nothing. Also: Why throw a possible love triangle at us, Jay, if you don’t follow through with it?! I always thought love triangles were one of my pet peeves, tell you what, my new pet peeve are love triangles that are brought into existence and never play out. *lol* #TricDeservedBetterThanThat

He took Mia’s hand, pressed it to his chest, and she was astonished to feel a heartbeat, strong and thudding beneath her palm. “BUT I WOULD STRIKE A THOUSAND BARGAINS WITH THE NIGHT FOR ONE MORE MOMENT WITH YOU. I’D DIE A THOUSAND DEATHS AND DEFY THEM ALL, JUST TO HOLD YOU IN MY ARMS ONE MORE TIME.”

Ash & Tric:

”I’m sorry you had to go, but that’s just how it is! And I stabbed you friendways, in case you’ve forgot. In the front, not the damned back. I can’t undo it, so what the fuck do you want from me?”
“A HINT OF REGRET? SOME SHRED OF REMORSE? FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND SOME SMALL PART OF WHAT YOU TOOK FROM ME?”
“Remorse is for the weak, Tricky,” Ash said. “And regret is for cowards.”

I loved that dinner scene in which Tric finally called out Ash! *lol* She deserved it and her excuse of “I killed you because it needed to be done” is so weak that it would need two crutches to stand on its own feet! She needed to? Hogwash!! She just couldn’t stand that Tric won Mia’s heart fairly and because of that he had to go. Every time she rubbed in that Tric was dead and she was the girl at Mia’s side I got so damn angry! She kicked at someone who was already lying on the ground and that is behaviour I just can’t accept. That half-assed redemption arc totally didn’t work for me because of course she knew that he was a way better person than she’d ever be! Am I supposed to feel sorry for her now? She killed Tric and yes, she might feel remorse over it but the knowledge she’d feel remorse over it still didn’t stop her from stabbing him in the first place! She knew exactly what she was doing! So: #SorryNotSorry. Tric was a way better person than Ash will ever be!

”In truth, she’d always known it.
She knew what shed taken from this boy. She knew why. Extinguishing all he was and could have ever been. She knew how hard it must be for him, returning to a world so changed. To see the girl he loved in the arms of the girl who murdered him. And though he had every reason under heaven to hate them, to lash out in his rage and break everything around him, he remained true. Loyal to his love. Loyal to the last. That was the kind of boy he was.
That was the kind of boy she’d killed.“

Mia & Mercurio:

”Once he’d been fire. Breathed it. Bled it. Spat it. But now, the only ember that remained was the one he kept burning for her – that snot-nosed, stuck-up little lordling’s bitch who’d wandered into his shop all those years ago, a silver brooch shaped like a crow in her hand.”

I’m not ashamed to admit it: Mia’s and Mercurio’s relationship caused me to tear up multiple times. The love those two felt for each other was so true and ahhh when they parted ways… Mia is truly Mercurio’s daughter and Scaeva can jump in a lake! *lol* I really wish they would have gotten a happy ending and that Mercurio would know she’s still alive. I guess he’ll just have to live with the memory of her though because Mia is busy with Ash in that house at the Threelake shore. Me being bitter? Nope, no way! *lol*

”When everything else had been taken away. He gave me a home and he kept me safe when he had no reason under the suns to do it.” Mia looked up at the girl, eyes shining. “He’s familia. More familia to me than almost anyone in this world.”

Mercurio scowled, his ice-blue eyes welling with tears.
“Never took a wife,” the old man said. “Never had a familia. Didn’t seem fair in my line of work. But … if I ever had a daughter –“
“You had a daughter,” Mia said. The girl threw her arms around the old man and squeezed hard as she could. “And she loves you,” she whispered.

Mia & the gladiatii:

”And then Sid was running, catching the girl up in his embrace, lifting her off the ground as she squealed. Bladesinger collided with the pair of them, wrapping them up in her arms, Butcher staggered over, Wavewaker arrived like an earthquake, grabbing all four of them and roaring as he lifted them off the ground and jumped in circles.
“You magnificent little bitch!” Sid cried.
“Let me go, you great fucking lumps!” Mia grinned.

It was really great to see that found family together again but unfortunately that moment of peace and happiness was gone pretty fast! I can’t believe almost all of the gladiatii except of Sid and Bladesinger died. =(( Sid and Singer hooking up was a little random but I guess after everything they went through it was kind of logical as well. *lol* Still, Jay is a devil for killing them off. The way they all died? OMG! Bryn and Wavewaker quite literally died while having sex and Butcher was betrayed by the person he wanted to protect. Ouch! You did quite a number on them Jay! >_<

”Mia, you risked your life for us,” Sidonius said. “Everything you’d worked for danced on the edge of a knife. And still you gambled it all to see us to freedom. And now you’d stand there and tell us what we can and can’t do with it?”
“Damn right I do,” she snarled. “You owe me your lives? Go fucking live them. You want to give me thanks? Do it when you tell your grandchildren about me.”

Mia, Jonnen & Scaeva:

”Our familia had a saying,” Mia said. “Before your father destroyed it. Neh diis lus’a, lus diis’a. Do you know what that means?”
“I do not speak Liisan,” the boy growled.
“When all is blood, blood is all.”

Well, that was quite the familia. *lol* Jonnen was a really spoiled brat before he came to Mia so it was good to see that he changed for the better while being around her. Also that moment when she put him into his place when he was hostile towards Cloud and BigJon? It was such a typical thing an older sister would do. As for Scaeva? I hate that man! He actually had the gall to think he made Mia the person she is now??!! Also how he treated Jonnen! I mean he quite literally said “Obey me!” and killed Eclipse because she protected Jonnen. The fact Jonnen let it happen was a real betrayal but then again he was only a nine year old boy that was scared and Scaeva was his father after all… This said the ending was kind of … idk. It was supposed to be this epic battle but it kind of fell flat for me. It was just too much, you know? They were both too powerful and strong and that took away from the enjoyment. Like usually in a battle one side is always weaker and overcomes that weakness which makes for the suspense. In this case both of them were equal and so it got a little… boring? *lol* I dunno how to describe it but I hope you get what I mean. I’m glad Scaeva isn’t around anymore though. XD

”She had every reason in the world to be nothing but rage and hatred and misery. But he knew, as much as she tried to hide it, she hadn’t let life turn her cold. She loved with a heart as fierce as lions. Gave in a way that left her bleeding, but never broken. Because even with all she’d lost, all she’d sacrificed, all the hurt heaped upon her shoulders, she’d still come back.
She still came back for me.”

Scaeva gave a soft, bitter chuckle as he looked her in the eye.
“All you are? All you have become? I gave you. Mine is the seed that planted you. Mine are the hands that forged you. Mine is the blood that flows, cold as ice and black as pitch, in those veins of yours.”
He leaned back on the divan, black eyes burning into her own.
“In every possible sense, you are my daughter.”

”He’d been a hard man, no doubt. Never cruel, no. But heavy as iron. Merciless as the sea. Slow with praise, swift with rebuke, fashioning his boy into a man who might one turn rule an empire. Because always, his father had made it plain – despite his parentage, the throne would be something Jonnen must earn.”

4

“Darkdawn” was a good conclusion to “The Nevernight Chronicle” but unfortunately it wasn’t as good as the other two books. It had a couple of issues that kept me from giving it that fifth paw but I guess it might be just another case of the “it’s me, not the book” syndrome. *lol* Either way it was a very enjoyable read and I’m glad I buddy read this with my Yoongi! ❤

I hope you enjoyed my rather untypical gif review and I’m already looking forward to read the next book Jay Kristoff will throw our way. 😉

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: And I Darken (Kiersten White)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten
 
Book 17 on My Book List 2020
 

She sat beside his bed for a long while. Finally, she put a hand on his shoulder and whispered, “You are mine.”

If you’re looking for a fast paced book with lots of action and historical accuracy you better turn around and leave this review, because I can guarantee that you won’t get either of those two things if you start to read “And I Darken”. If you’re looking for a slow paced and very character driven story that has quite a unique setting and lives and breathes intrigues and machinations… Well, you’re welcome to stay! 😉

I really enjoyed this story because it was something different and even though there were some things you could argue about – for instance Lada’s full name being Ladislav which is definitely a male name that could have easily been changed into a female one – Kiersten White never claimed historical accuracy or well, I suppose just accuracy in that particular case. *lol* This book is placed in the genre of historical fiction after all and even though it borrows a few names and facts every now and then the story and the characters in it are clearly fictional. Just to put it out there as information for the people that might take offence when they read this. XD

And speaking of historical facts: Yes, Vlad II had two sons named Vlad (equivalent of Lada) and Radu who served as bargaining chips and were captives of Sultan Murad II. Funnily enough Mircea was actually Vlad’s elder brother and Radu (who was indeed called “Radu the handsome” or “Radu the fair”) was his half-brother. According to historical facts Vlad and his half-brother weren’t able to stand each other. Also Mehmed II (named Mohammed before he became the sultan) was actually Murad’s and Huma’s son. So there you go with the historical facts. History geek that I am, I probably could go into even more detail, but I’ll just leave it at that and talk about the fictional book instead. ;-P The history lesson is officially over now! You can breathe again. *lol*

2

So this is the moment when I welcome you to Edirne where machinations and plots are brewing as thickly as a Mercimek Çorbası. If you don’t want to be spoiled you better leave now! If not: Be my guest and eat soup with me. 😉

Lada:

”Lada had a sense for power – the fine threads that connected everyone around her, the way those threads could be pulled, tightened, wrapped around someone until they cut off the blood supply. Or snapped entirely.”

This girl is fierce, relentless, unapologetic and tenacious. And she’s driven! Driven by her love for Wallachia, her brother and yes, even Mehmed. I think I rarely met a bookish character that was so self-assured and knew exactly what it wanted. Lada wants to go back to her homeland and her deep love for Wallachia trumps everything else. I think she’s kind of similar to Aelin when it comes to this, only that Aelin’s Terrasen is more like a vague idea of something that used to be and Lada’s Wallachia is everything that’s out of her reach. She’s longing for her country and her people and she’s ready to do whatever is needed in order to get back there. But she’s also conflicted. So very conflicted. She refuses to give up on her religion, she doesn’t want to adapt to Ottoman customs and she fights against her tutor, yet there is one thing or rather one person she can’t seem to be able to refuse and his name is Mehmed. Throughout the entire book it felt like she was torn inside and I suppose she was. Between what she wanted and what she needed or craved for. I’m not sure the ending solved that problem but she made a choice and she’ll have to live with it. For better or for worse. >_<

”She had to be the smartest, constantly surprising and delighting him. She was terrified that the day she stopped amusing him would be the day he remembered he had no use for a daughter.”

”She kept a pleasant smile on her own, kept her hands loosely folded in her lap, kept control. Control was power. No one would make her lose it. And eventually the tutor would realize that she would let him hit Radu over, and over, and over.
And only then would Radu be safe.“

”On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”

”Why was she still here? What had become of the girl who was the daughter of a dragon? Was this it, then? Had she reached the pinnacle of her potential? A command of fifty men in service of a man she loved, who ruled an empire she loathed?”

Radu:

”Radu had gotten all the beauty their father had wished on his daughter. His eyes were framed by thick lashes, his lips full, his gentle curls kissed with a hint of Saxon gold.”

To say Radu is a precious cinnamon roll would be kind of insulting because even though he is, the Slytherin in him is still strong! *lol* I really loved that about his character because it made him so much more intriguing. There is this beautiful and sweet boy that knows exactly how to use his good looks and charisma to his advantage and he never even hesitates to do just that. As long as it helps him to protect Lada and Mehmed he won’t have any qualms about his actions. If I’d have to describe Radu in a brief sentence I’d say that he is: Beauty with a sting. XD But despite all his good cheer and easy nature he’s also a very lonely and insecure character which is easy to see whenever he’s around Mehmed. At first he doesn’t even realize that what he feels for Mehmed is love and once he figures it out he’s trying to suppress it. Because of his good looks and friendly nature he was always teased and I think the fact that he harboured feelings for his best friend only made it even harder to come to terms with himself. His father basically thought he was soft and worthless so it’s no wonder he’s super insecure about his feelings. Especially at a time like that and in a country where the Sultan has an entire harem of women. It’s no wonder poor Radu is lost and I’m kind of afraid of what will happen to him in book two. =S

”And then, seeing the relief shining in Mehmed’s black eyes, Radu knew what he hoped for: He hoped for the best for his friend. Regardless of what that meant for himself.“

”What had Lazar seen? What did he suspect? Could he tell simply by watching Radu that something was very wrong with him, when even Radu did not understand what it was? All he knew was that there was some light, some pull, some fire that Mehmed carried, and Radu only felt truly alive when he was nearby.”

”You have both been so busy learning tactics and studying battles, you have failed to see the truth of where thrones are won and lost. It is in the gossip, the words and letters passed in dark corners, the shadow alliances and the secret payments. You think I am worthless? I can do things you could never dream of.”

”I know it would help you, to have someone you could trust on that throne. And I want to serve you, to do whatever I can to help you gain Constantinople and be the sultan your empire has waited for. I will do whatever I can. But please, I beg you, do not ask this of me.”

Mehmed:

”The more I pushed, the more they looked the other way. My father never saw me, my mother could not be bothered to take so much as a meal with me. No one cared who I was or what I became.”

Dare I say it? Yes, yes I do. Don’t kill me but I think in comparison to the complexity of Lada and Radu’s characters, Mehmed was actually pretty… bland? *lol* Ahh it feels good to get that off my chest. XD I really don’t know why both of them fell for him because aside of his occasional kindness there is actually not a lot that speaks for him. He’s as spoiled as you’d expect the son of a sultan to be and even though there was an obvious effort to show that he was never loved by his father he still had it so much better than anyone else. Mehmed might not have been happy about his role but he still played it and used his harem to father children. I guess in some way he was as torn about this as Lada and Radu were about their allegiances, but this certainly didn’t stop him from seeking out his harem and for using his power as he saw fit. So yes, underneath it all he’s still spoiled and carries some sort of entitled arrogance with him. Which ultimately didn’t make him all too likeable in my opinion. I DID appreciate his efforts to protect his infant brother though and I was as heartbroken as he was when Huma arranged for him to be killed. T_T

”I want you to think of an amount you feel is fair but generous. It is important to me that your soldiers – and you – know that no one values you or can take care of you as much as I can.” Mehmed’s smile dropped off, his eyes becoming as shard as his tone. “No one can offer you what I can, and if anyone tried, it would be treason.”

”He knew then that his posterity, his wandering, homeless people, would rule the world. Is how far we have come not a testament to the truth of his vision? I have inherited that, Lada. It is a calling and a dream I cannot deny. The tree is mine to spread, and I must.”

3

Radu & Lada:

Radu nodded, snuggling into her shoulder. “Will you protect me?”
“Until the day I kill you.” She jabbed a finger into his side, where he was most ticklish, and he squealed with pained laughter.

In some way this is such a typical sibling relationship and then again it isn’t. I think everyone who has a brother or a sister can relate to the rivalry between those two and sometimes even to the animosity they feel at the beginning of the book. Lada realizing that she loves and cares about her brother deeply is something very typical for siblings. When you’re little they are always there and steal the attention from you, so you try to get some of your parents attention too, but the older you get the more you realize that the person you took for granted is very dear to you and that you wouldn’t want to miss them for the world. So regarding their early years this felt very relatable. Their relationship as they grow older is something entirely different though. Where normal siblings would have gotten along by then, Lada and Radu are still struggling. It’s obvious they love each other but at the same time they also kind of hate what they’ve become. Lada can’t forgive Radu for embracing their new home and Islam and Radu doesn’t understand why Lada is holding on to their old ways. This by itself is a pretty interesting dynamic and if you add Mehmed into the mix it gets even more complicated. At first it was their father that sowed the seed of discord and later on it’s Mehmed. Lada knows about Radu’s feelings yet she also knows that Mehmed has only eyes for her, and Radu is painfully aware that Mehmed only wants his sister and not him. Despite all that their bond is strong and when push comes to shove it’s Lada, Radu rescues. XD I really wish those two siblings would have talked more and that Lada would have explained why she let their teacher hurt Radu. *sighs* What being apart will do to their already strained relationship I dunno, but you bet I’m ready to find out. 😉

”But they were both silent in the shared secret of their escape, the truth that Mehmed could never know. Their secret was deeper and darker than the pool in the woods. Lada took her brother’s hand and squeezed it, a grip as painful as their new bond. They had betrayed Mehmed.”

”You – It does not seem like you. I never thought you could do something like this.”
Radu stiffened. “You may have been the one who stopped the dagger last time, but I am the one who will know before the dagger ever comes close to Mehmed.”

”You saved me,” she said.
“Of course I did.”
She shook her head. “Not when I was falling. When Ilyas had us both on the floor. You chose me over Mehmed.”
“You are my family,” he whispered. Lazar had been right, after all.

”She did not acknowledge it or the immense gratitude welling in his eyes. She owed him a debt. Nothing was more important to him than Mehmed’s trust. Perhaps it would have been kinder to break that trust and force a removal. Maybe then Radu could be free of the impossible love he carried. But she could not do that to him, not when it was so easy to take this blow on her own shoulders.”

Lada & Mehmed:

”Would you command me to stay? And if I refuse? Will you have me beaten? Whipped? All that and more I have faced in your father’s courts. I did not bow before your god or your sultan then, and I will not now. Why did you bring me here, Mehmed? I will not be ruled.”
Mehmed’s face fell. He lowered his hand, and the line of his back – so straight – curved. “I have never wanted to be your master. I have servants. And teachers, and guards, and a father who despises me. I want you … to be my friend.”

I think this relationship was doomed from the beginning because neither Lada nor Mehmed are able to change the way they are. Lada’s first and only true love is Wallachia and Mehmed is the sultan of the Ottoman Empire and has responsibilities he’ll never be able to escape. If Lada would have given in they might have had a chance but she’s too independent and stubborn to give up her dreams. Also I probably would have disliked her if she would have chosen Mehmed over everything she loves. If you break it down to the basics all Mehmed can give her is being one of many women to bear him children, always standing on the sidelines, designated to be nothing more than the shadow of the sultan. Lada has to go her own way and even though she had to rip out her heart in order to do so, she made the sacrifice willingly because she knew it was necessary. She’ll never be a docile wife and Mehmed should have realized this way earlier than he did. Their cultures and stances just clash too much. So I think this ship has sunk even though I doubt that we’ll have seen the last of them together. *lol* There’s still book 2 and 3 after all so I’m sure they’ll meet again eventually.

”And the harem, I – It is not real, Lada. I visit, and they flit about like phantoms, like paintings. None of them are real to me.” He paused again, placing a hand flat against the door. “You are the only real thing in my life.”

Mehmed blinked rapidly, then shook his head. “Lada, I was not talking about my son. Do you think he is the only thing here I value?”
“Then what?”
“You! I will not take you into battle! You have no idea what the conditions are like, no idea how many ways there are to die.”

”Say you are mine.” He trailed his lips down her neck. She arched into him, digging her fingers into his back.
“I am yours,” she whispered. The words cut like knives, barely out of her mouth before he stole them, sealing them with his own lips.

“Because thinking like that is the only way to keep from losing our minds.”
“What about our souls?” Mehmed whispered.
Before Lada walked out, she paused at the door. “Souls and thrones are irreconcilable.”

Radu & Mehmed:

Mehmed put a hand on his shoulder, his smile healing the hurt of Lada’s mocking. “I know what you meant. This pool is as old and as pure as that story, I think.”
“It will be ours, then.” Radu beamed.
“Our secret,” Mehmed agreed.

First of all I’ve to say: DAMN IT!!! How could Mehmed not realize that Radu didn’t come along with them?!!?? Like seriously!! He’s his best friend and he didn’t realize his absence until about an hour or so has passed?! WTH??  Poor Radu! T_T It broke my heart! As did Radu being in love with Mehmed. I was constantly wondering if Mehmed is even aware of it but considering that he didn’t even notice Radu was missing he obviously only has eyes for Lada. It’s like Radu is some sort of afterthought and I hurt for Radu because he deserves so much better than that. I still don’t know how I feel about Radu’s marriage with Nazira but I suppose in some way it will be good for them both. I mean Nazira can be with her maid Fatima and be happy and maybe she’ll be a good companion for Radu. Someone he can confide in when he feels lonely and lost. That he had to kill Lazar because he betrayed Mehmed made me very sad but I understand why he did it. >_< Still, Lazar was an old and trusted friend that only tried to protect Radu so that he died at his own hands was a cruel twist. =(( I wish I would have gotten Mehmed’s POV because I think some part of him is aware that Radu loves him and even uses it to bind him to his side… His POV certainly would have been helpful in that regard. *lol* And I don’t even know who that guard from Constantinople was that held Radu’s gaze for such a long time but I’m pretty sure he would have been way more healthy for Radu than Mehmed. XD I’m kinda disappointed nothing happened between those two. *lol* But I’m pretty sure sooner or later Radu will meet a guy that will reciprocate his feelings and hopefully he’ll be ready to take the leap. =) He deserves to be loved and I hope it will happen in book two. XD

”He wanted Mehmed to look at him the way he had looked at Lada.
He wanted Mehmed to kiss him the way he had kissed Lada.
He wanted to be Lada.
No, he did not. He wanted to be himself, and he wanted Mehmed to love him for being himself.

„Radu knelt beside Mehmed, putting a hand on his shoulder. Mehmed looked up in surprise, but whatever he was about to say died on his lips as he squinted at Radu. Without a word, he threw himself forward. He wrapped his arms around Radu’s torso and buried his face in his shoulder.”

”She is lovely and a good match. And you will still be here.” He stopped and looked up. A hint of fear mingled with the trouble behind his eyes. “You will still be here.”
“Of course.”
“I depend on you. I trust you as I trust no one else.”
Radu smiled, lifting a hand to his heart. “And I you.”

After she was gone, Radu held Mehmed as he wept, Radu’s joy at cradling Mehmed was like a kick to the stomach, overpowering and destined to linger with bruises long after it was over.
“Never leave me.” Mehmed’s grief-choked voice still rang with command.
Radu closed his eyes. “I will never leave you.” Mehmed was in his arms, but he knew Lada was the only thing in Mehmed’s heart.

4

Kiersten White took historical names and spun her own story around them and what a marvellous tale it turned out to be! If you like historical fiction and books with a slow plot and multifaceted, independent characters this one certainly will be for you. Add a little bit of love, jealousy, an LGBTQ rep and lots of intrigues and you’re all set for a while. ;-P