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, 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!

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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.”

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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, 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, 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

 
 

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Brigid Kemmerer)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 11 on My Book List 2020


”My father once said we are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”

So after reading “A Curse so Dark and Lonely” I was actually kind of surprised to discover that a lot of my favourite bloggers only rated this book 3 or 2 stars. I get that they are tired of “The Beauty and the Beast” retellings but I don’t get the low ratings. O_o In short: Yours truly is confused! *lol* Sure, there are a lot of retellings at the market right now and yes, ACOTAR is among them, but that doesn’t mean that this wasn’t good. Quite the contrary, in its own way it had quite a unique spin. Well, at least in my humble opinion it did. 😉

For instance Harper, the love interest, has cerebral palsy, the beast is no beast right away but slowly turns into one the more time passes, and even more interesting Rhen actually has a (best) friend. XD (Though I’m pretty sure a lot of people might disagree with me, when it comes to that last part.) Also there’s an evil sorceress that apparently has nothing better to do than to torment our MCs. Who doesn’t love a wicked witch? *lol*

Joking aside this was a lot of fun to read and it definitely kept me reading. Sure, you might argue that the jump from modern DC to Emberfall was quite sudden and jarring and yes, I’m the first one to admit that Grey (the side-character) was my favourite character in this book. Still, I might have not been as attached to Harper and Rhen as I was to Grey, this doesn’t mean that the book or its characters were bad though. Sometimes you just like the side-characters more and this is certainly one of those particular cases. (Come to think of it this seems to be a recurring thing when it comes to “The Beauty and the Beast” retellings. After all I loved Lucien and Rhys way more than Tam too. XD) Anyway, if you’re looking for a fast and entertaining TBATB retelling I’m pretty sure you’ll like this one too. 😉 And now that we got that out of the way, let’s jump right to my characters section!

2

Welcome to Emberfall where we always have autumn and it never gets cold. But that’s not all!  We also have a lot of amazing sights like for instance lots of spoilers, a beast, enemy troops and a super evil enchantress. Just like the spoilers you might want to avoid the enchantress though. *lol* This is a fair warning! If they get their hands on you I’m not responsible. ;-P

Harper:

”She wasn’t conscious. She wasn’t going willingly.” Her words are fierce. “And for the record, I’m not either.”

Ahh that fire! I really liked Harper right from the beginning. This is a girl that thinks on her feet and stands by her opinion! She is certainly no damsel in distress and I was happy to see such an independent character. Harper is ready to fight for her life and for what she thinks is right and she won’t back down just because of an evil enchantress and a curse. I think in some way that made her the perfect match for Rhen because she’s not broken and he actually needed a strong willed person like her. This said, I don’t know a lot about cerebral palsy but for me the rep was done really well. I liked that Harper was honest about it and that she considered herself to be lucky. Just like epilepsy, cerebral palsy seems to come with different characteristics and with a different severity for every person that’s affected by it and I could really relate to that. I’m really curious where Harper’s character will go in the next book and I can’t wait to see more of her relationship with Rhen.

”It affects everyone differently,” she says. “Some people can’t walk, or they can’t speak, or they have to use a wheelchair. I was a lot worse off when I was younger, so I had to have surgery to correct my left leg. I still have trouble with balance, and I walk with a limp, but I’m really lucky.”

”You are not angry about what Lilith has done?”
“Oh, I’m furious. But not about my face.”
“Then what?”
Her voice fills with steel. “I’m mad I missed.”

Rhen:

”I remember a time when my people feared the day I would come to lead – because I was seen as spoiled and selfish and not half the man my father was.
Now I am spoiled and selfish in another way, and no better fit to rule.”

Lord Vincent Aldrhen, Prince of Emberfall, son of Broderick, King of the Eastern Lands. Wow! That’s quite a long title, no wonder he goes by Rhen. *lol* Rhen was a very difficult character to gauge. I guess this is mostly due to him having to endure not only the curse but also the company of Lilith. At first I thought he was just reserved and cautious but the more I found out about him, the more I realized that he was thoroughly broken. He didn’t dare to hope that the curse could be broken and after so many years he was demoralized and resigned. Not even desperate, just done with the world and the curse. Well, and then Harper came along and gave him hope. I really liked that he always did what was best for his people and it’s no surprise Grey was so loyal to him. What Karis Luran told him at the end was quite a revelation though and I’m more than just ready to find out if it’s true. XD

”My lady, please – please know I meant you no harm. I meant your family no harm. I have tried everything I can think of to break this curse. I have tried to destroy myself. I would undo it if I could. I promise you.”

”This was my father’s kingdom,” he says. “This is now my kingdom. I may not be able to save myself – but I may be able to save my people.”

Grey:

Grey sights and gather up the cards. “You asked how I got her to play with me. As if there were some trick to it.” He wraps up the stack. “My lord, I did nothing. I sat down and asked.”

Ahhh my precious Grey! I haven’t been as enamoured by a side-character ever since I read ACOTAR and this says quite something! Lucien was/is so intriguing and Grey is too! XD For me he was legit the best thing about this book and I can’t wait to read “A Heart so Fierce and Broken” because I’ll finally get his POV! I loved that he was such a complex character yet at the same time he was so easy to be around. He took everything in stride and his loyalty to Rhen and Harper was amazing. ❤ This said I think that he suffered at least as much from the curse as Rhen did because he is a good person and to stand aside while Rhen was tortured by Lilith must have been pure hell for him. He’s compassionate and kind and he has some special brand of dark humour that was especially endearing. (at least for me it was. *lol*) In short: He’s an angel and an honourable soul and I really hope that he won’t suffer even more in the next book. I hate that Lilith and Karis Luran drove a wedge between him and Rhen and I really hope they’ll be able to talk things out in book two. >_<

”If His Highness allowed it, I would take her provocation by tenfold. I would fight her until I had no breath left to breathe.” His voice turns almost lethal, and in the dim light of the hallway, Grey’s eyes seem to darken. “My duty is to bleed so he does not. And now,” he says, “my duty is to bleed so you do not.”

”I speak too freely. This cursed drink has bewitched my thoughts.”

3

Harper & Rhen:

”Rhen,” she calls after me.
I pause in the doorway and face her.
“I’m not going to fall in love with you,” she says.
Her words are not a surprise. I sigh. “You won’t be the first.”

Mhmm… I know they are the two MCs that were supposed to fall in love but I didn’t really feel their relationship. If anything it was more some sort of friendship that formed between them and even though they were attracted to each other I never had the feeling that they were I dunno, head over heels? Truly, madly, deeply? *lol* But then again this was the same problem I had with ACOTAR. Only attraction just isn’t working for me and considering that they apparently fell in love by the end of the book their relationship was actually pretty chaste. I think the most outrageous thing they did was hold hands and brush lips. XD What a scandal! *lol* Sorry, my sarcasm is surfacing. ;-P I think what it comes down to, is that I missed the passion between those two. But maybe I’ll get more of it in the next book? *shrugs* One thing is for certain though, for the main MC couple their love story was pretty lukewarm and probably the only thing I didn’t like about the book. Let’s hope I’ll be persuaded and swept of my feet by them in the next instalment.

She studies me. “I never know when to trust you. Everything always sounds so calculated.”
I jerk back, stung.
“Until you said all that.”

”What will you offer to stop it? What will you offer for passage home?”
“Anything.” She draws a hitching breath. “God, Rhen. Any –“
“No!” My voice is sharp, and she jumps. I put a finger over her lips. “Never offer blindly, my lady. Not for your family. Not even for yourself. Certainly not for me.”

”I want so desperately to turn it into more, to see where this blossoming attraction will lead. But I have come close before. I have found this moment before. The only difference is that I have never wanted it so badly. I draw back, then press my lips to her forehead.
“I want to know it’s real, too,” I say.

”I’m sorry,” Harper whispers. “I’m sorry I didn’t break the curse.”
I lift a hand to brush the tears off her cheeks. Oh, Harper. I wish she had. Not because of the curse, or because of Karis Luran, or because of Emberfall.
Because I have fallen in love with her.”

Harper & Grey:

”I’m finding that Grey has a dark sense of humor hidden under the formality. It’s subversive. I like it.”

Haha! I really liked those two! And yes, in my opinion they had more chemistry than Harper and Rhen. Might have been due to Grey’s intensity though. *lol* Either way I enjoyed their friendship and it was such a natural thing. Like they were just honest with each other and appreciated each other’s company. Nothing about them was complicated and it was the easiness and their companionship that made their scenes together so nice to read. =) Also that scene at the inn! *lol* I loved that Grey just followed Harpers order and how surprised she was at what he did. Haha! One of the best scenes in the entire book. XD I’m not sure I like the insinuation of Grey being romantically interested in Harper though. For me they had nothing but a great friendship and that conversation between Grey and Rhen when they drank together didn’t sit well with me. It came out of nowhere and sure Harper is great but we all know she’s Rhen’s love interest so why insinuate a love triangle that will lead nowhere? Just for the sake of it? Nope. Not buying it. They will be friends and that’s it. ;-P

I look at Grey, remembering how he made faces at the children in the snow. “You’re good with kids,” I say. “That’s like the most … incongruous thing about you.”
“Is it?” he says, his voice dry. “Truly, my lady?”

I hold his gaze and refuse to look away. “Commander Grey. Prove how serious I am.”
Grey’s hand flicks out. The man shouts and drops to the ground. The hilt of a knife protrudes from his knee. Whoa. I have no idea what I expected him to do, but that’s even better.

Harper & Jake:

”You think I’m going to sit upstairs eating cake with Noah while you’re out risking your life?” he snaps. “Quit staring at me. I’m coming with you.”

Harper and Jake gave me all the sibling vibes! ❤ I loved their relationship and that they were so close. We might have only gotten them together near the end of the book but the few scenes they had were really wholesome and typical for siblings. The bickering, the conversations, the wish to take care of each other, their protectiveness, it was on point. Also I kind of liked that Jake had a bf and that no one was bothered by this. *lol* In fact Grey’s reaction was hilarious! The healer’s concubine. I’m still not over it. XD I can’t help but wonder what they’ll do now that they are stuck in Emberfall though. Harper was always supposed to end up with Rhen, but her brother and Noah came there by accident and I’m curious if they’ll stay in Emberfall or if Grey will return them to DC one day. Guess I’ll have to find out by continuing with the series. 😉

”No,” says Jake, speaking for the first time in a while. “Harper, you didn’t do this.”
“But I could have stopped it. I couldn’t get out of my own way –“
“No,” he snaps. “And damn it, for once would you listen to me? You didn’t curse him. You didn’t bring yourself here.” He takes a long breath. “You didn’t – you didn’t give Mom cancer. You didn’t force Dad to borrow money from the wrong people –“
“You didn’t, either,” I say to him. “But you still went to work for Lawrence.”
“I did what I had to do,” he says. “To give Mom time. To protect you.”
“Me too,” I say.

Then he smiles, a shadow of the old Jake, before life clobbered us all. “Mom would be really proud of you, Princess Harper.” He kisses me on the forehead, then heads back through the doors into the castle.

Lilith & Rhen:

„I cannot wait to see how your monster manifests this season,” she says. “Perhaps I will keep you on a chain and put you on display for my enemies.”
A sudden chill grips my spine. This is an outcome I have never considered.
“Would you like that?” she says, moving closer again. “Mine for all eternity, Prince Rhen?”

I rarely witnessed such an abusive relationship in a book and whilst Harper’s and Rhen’s relationship was super chaste the same couldn’t be said about Lilith and Rhen. That woman tortured him in every way possible, manipulated him, enslaved him, sexually and emotionally abused him, humiliated him and did everything in her power to make him submissive. >_< I felt so sorry for Rhen and it’s no wonder he gave up hope and was broken. Seriously, Lilith’s relationship with Rhen was such a harsh contrast to his relationship with Harper and the differences couldn’t have been even more pronounced. Which was most likely Brigid Kemmerer’s intention. An abusive relationship vs. a wholesome one. Still, I hated Lilith for what she did to Rhen and Grey and I really hope Grey managed to end her. Hopefully she won’t appear in the next book. Good riddance!

”Humiliation burns my eyes, my throat. When she breaks the kiss, relief nearly breaks me. I want to shove her away, but I am pinned to the wall. My breathing is rough and ragged. I cannot look at her. I can barely move. My hands are still in fists, my muscles so tense I am trembling. And hope that bloomed in my chest has now withered and died.”

Rhen & Grey:

”Are you prepared to die, Grey?” I demand. “Because that is all that exists at the end of this path. I am sure of it. This was never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the thought that we might find escape.”

What they both endured and what they went through together… I think it’s safe to say that they aren’t just friends but actually brothers. (no pun intended, I swear. *lol*) They tried to keep it professional for so long but the longer the season proceeded the more they gave up on their formality. And I think that was good the way it was. After so many seasons it was about time they admitted that they are friends. You can’t survive things like they did without forging a bond and theirs is strong. I’m confident that whatever Karis Luran and Lilith threw their way … they’ll overcome it in the next book. They have too much history together and I believe in them. Grey might think he won’t be welcome at Emberfall but we all know that Rhen misses him sorely! So there’s that! I really hope they’ll meet in “A Heart so Fierce and Broken” and that they’ll finally be able to have the friendship they were supposed to have all along. =)

”I do speak freely, my lord.”
His loyalty should inspire me. It does not. I have done nothing to earn it. I find that I regret his oath.
“Leave me,” I say.
The door whispers shut. Grey has always been good at following orders. And for the first time, I wish he wasn’t.

”Your first order was to seal the borders. You sent word to each city to govern from within.”
I do not understand how he can speak of my failures as if they are victories. “It was all I could do.”
“You asked why I keep my oath. In that moment, I never meant it more.”
“I do not deserve your loyalty, Grey.”
“Deserved or not, you have it.“

”You are incorrigible. I have no idea how I put up with you for so long.”
I raise an eyebrow, more amused than anything else. “Is that the drink talking?”
The shadow of a wicked smile finds his lips. “You told me to speak my mind.”

4

“A Curse So Dark and Lonely” definitely lived up to its title. Some scenes were truly dark and I felt really sorry for the lonely MCs! XD In this case I’ve to admit that I loved the side-character more than the MCs though. Grey just stole them both the show and I was quite fine with that. ;-P Still, for another TBATB retelling this was as good as they come and I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book. I’ve been told there will be Grey’s POV so I’m already pumped! *lol*

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Charm of Finches (Suanne Laqueur)

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Rating:5 Pfoten

”Listen and learn it, learn to tell it, and tell it to teach it.”

I think I’m just beginning to realize that no matter what I say about Suanne’s books, it will never be enough. I feel kind of unworthy to talk about her stories because they are just so, so, SO good and believe me when I say that in all the years of my existence I never read anything like them… EVER. There are books that are epic, there are stories that have wisdom, there are tales that take you to another world and narratives that make you think and feel, but there is nothing, I repeat nothing that even gets moderately close to how I feel when I read Suanne’s wonderful books.

I can try to describe them but all the words in the world won’t do them justice. Nothing I say will suffice. They are filled with so much humour, with relationships that are so real you can taste them on your tongue and feel them in your heart, they make you ache and bleed, but they also console you and hold you when you’re breaking down. They are pure joy and your darkest hour! They are all the good and bad things and all the nuances in between. They are life! In all its facets and with all its ups and downs. They feel like a living and breathing thing, like a beating heart you’re holding in your palms while you read it.

Suanne’s books are everything and even more and I can’t believe I just discovered them because quite honestly I can’t even imagine a life without them anymore. (I already dread the day when I’ll run out of them, because sooner or later I will. At least when I continue at this pace. *lol*) I love “An Exaltation of Larks” and I adore “A Charm of Finches” and if all of Suanne’s other books are that good I’ll probably die about a thousand deaths until I’ve read them all. It will be worth it though. XD

This said I decided to make this one of my long reviews because I have so many thoughts and feelings that need to be written down. I know this is going to be a huge mess with lots of emotions that will run all over the pages but it needs to get out. XD So to all of you who don’t want to be spoiled: You better stop reading now! I’ll only say one more thing before I go for the real deal: READ THIS SERIES!!! You won’t regret it, because it’s so damn good!!!! ❤

2

Warning: Don’t cross this border! There’ll be lots of emotions, even more feels and plenty of spoilers. Of course it’s up to you if you continue or not, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉

Javier Landes:

Jav exhaled heavily. “Twenty-three years I had this perfect social life. Perfect date after perfect date. I’m really becoming aware of what an act it was. What a repertory of roles I played and none of them were really me. It’s kind of put me in a mini existential crisis. I have moment s when I don’t know who the fuck I am.”

My review about “An Exaltation of Larks” was an ARC review so I was careful not to spoil anything but since I read this without the aid of NetGalley I can finally gush about Jav!!! I love this man so damn much and I think that’s mostly due to the fact that we’re very similar. Jav experienced so many things, he was hurt, he was lost, he knows loss and pain and even though my experiences might be different than his, the feelings and emotions we share are still the same. I can relate to him and there were countless moments my heart truly ached for him. It was so beautiful to see his journey, to see that he finally accepted himself and was ready to fall in love with Stef. Jav is such a compassionate and wonderful man and it was so good to see that he was finally loved back!!! I just love the way he thinks and feels and when he zoomed out writing things in his head or used his journal I was like: This is me when I write! XD I adore him for always being there when someone needs him, the way he helped Geno out even though they were kind of at odds at the time and how nervous he was! He didn’t want to screw up and this only made me love him even more. ❤ I swear, when he opened up to Stef after meeting his aunt… Oh gods!!! I cried buckets reading that scene!! Jav was hurt so badly by his family’s actions and he suppressed it for so many years. I was so glad Stef was with him and was able to catch him when he fell. >_< This man deserves all the love and I just want him to be happy for eternity!!! <333

”Why do you do it?“
„Why?“
Jav’s shy smile unfolded. “Asking people what they do is boring. Asking why they do it is so much more interesting.”

A beat of silence that felt like a gamble, then Jav said, “I know what it means. I’m on my way.”
“Jav, I’m sorry,” Geno said. “About-“
“It’s all right,” Jav said. “None of that matters tonight. Let’s just get you the hell out of there. You stay with Ed. I’m coming.”

”This is how I was born to love.
The world can call me whatever label they want. I know who I am.
I’m Stef’s.”

”Everyone just leaves,” Jav said. “I don’t get to say goodbye to anyone. I don’t get a say at all. They leave and I just sit around making up stories to explain why.”

Stef Finch:

”I didn’t choose this particular road, it kind of chose me.”

I never thought I’d love another character in “Venery” as much as I love Jav but then Stef came along and I had to revise my opinion. *lol* This man is perfect in every sense of the word! I even told Suanne as much! XD But I don’t mind because ahh he’s so great and I just adore him! I don’t know how he does his job but I’m glad there exist some Stefs in the world because they are needed! I mean he passed out after he saved a girl that wanted to kill herself and even scarred his left eyebrow when he fell. That’s a true hero right there!! Also can we appreciate his love for books?! I mean one of his first thoughts when he met Jav was ”Dude, if you don’t read, we ain’t got no future anyway.” *LOL* Of course he didn’t know that it was Jav’s book he was reading so yeah. XD There are so many things that make Stef special and his compassion, his calm nature, his way to deal with problems, they are just a few of them! =) Plus I loved how self-confident he is. Stef takes everything in stride and knows exactly who he is, which was wonderful and made him a perfect man for Jav! So at the risk of repeating myself: Stef is perfect! Period! <333

”Connect, he thought. I want to connect.
His heart closed around the thought like catching a firefly.
I’m lonely and I want to connect with someone. Mind and body. Something that means… something.”

”He was wearing a grey shirt today. It would fucking have to do. He went straight from work to the bar. No going home to shower, shave, pick a blue shirt and hang out in front of the mirror like a twink.
Dig me, dig my crappy shirt.”

”It’s all right,” Stef said. “You cry as much as you want.”
Max moaned and wept harder.
“I’m right here. I got you.”

”Sometimes,” Stef said slowly. “I come home with part of a case sticking to me, and I don’t want anyone or anything. I don’t want to be touched until I deal with it. But other times, the only way I can deal with it is being touched. Sometimes I can only shake off the echo of a sexual abuse story by making love.”

Geno:

Someone has to be in charge. I am Mos, rhymes with dos, and I’m in command here. I have the strength of two now.”

Geno’s story moved me so much I can’t even put it into words. This boy went through something no one should ever go through and even though it broke him, he came out of it stronger in the end. I don’t know how he did it but I agree with Stef: ”they didn’t get the best of him”.  I’m not going to sugar coat it: The first 10% of this book were so damn hard to read, because we get a good glimpse at Geno’s ordeal and it was tough to read. Rape is horrible and for Geno… it was pure torture. What those men did to him, what he had to endure… I can’t even imagine what this must have done to him. There is this 17 year old innocent boy and they raped him until he almost died. T_T And believe me when I say that I want them all to rot in hell for it! To hurt a young boy like that! It’s unforgivable! Geno suffered so much! This poor boy! His twin died and he had to live with the aftermath, with knowing that his own brother brought him to them. I could understand why Mos came into being, why it was better to let it happen to someone else. >_< Carlito’s death, his own ordeal, the death of his father… gods it was just too much for him to endure. I have no idea how Geno managed to survive but he did it, he fought, he clawed his way back into life and he’s one of those characters that will stay with me forever. Whatever he’s doing now, I hope he’s happy! And that he’s still friends with Micah, because their friendship was everything. Two different generations that survived ordeals no one should ever have to survive and they still made the best of it. When they hugged and Geno cried in his arms I was crying with them. T_T

”All of it still hurt so much.
Lying in the dark, a soft, sleeping girl in his inked arms, he blinked through irritated tears and feared it would always hurt.”

”I’m all alone here.
He stood again, his view free of the bars but still feeling just as caged.
I want to go home.
I want all this to be happening to someone else. Why can’t this be someone else?“

Micah rocked him, a hand stroking Geno’s head. Inked numbers in his dusty skin. Strong arms and a stronger heart.
“Hijo querido,” he said. “You and I know what it’s really about.”

3

Jav & Stef:

„Hey there, handsome.“
Stef looked back.
Hey there, indeed.
A guy was at the top of the gallery’s stairs. Tall and built in jeans and a black blazer. Taking off aviator shades to show his face.
Whoa.“

There is so much I want to say about those two men and I’m really afraid it will become an essay! lol* BUT oh boy!!! They were so great together!!! After everything Jav went through it was so good to see him in such a solid and healthy relationship! It was a great contrast to the heavy parts of Geno’s story and Suanne managed to find a balance which is searching for its match. (Suanne, did I ever tell you that I love you? No? Well, I do! ;-P) I loved to see their first meeting from Stef’s POV and haha his reaction to seeing Jav for the very first time was priceless! ❤ They were so truly and madly in love it was overwhelming and made me giggle like crazy. I loved how they got to know each other, how they accepted each other’s boundaries and talked things out! Yes, they spoke about their problems and fears and it was AMAZING!!! They were so attuned to each other they noticed the smallest gestures of discomfort from a mile away. XD And their conversation about how being bi feels for them! It felt so true and real that I found myself speaking to the pages saying: Yes!! Yes, that’s it! They were each other’s safe haven and whenever the sea got unsteady and tempestuous they could rely on each other. ❤ That moment Jav broke down in Stef’s arms?! Ahh it hurt so much but I was so happy he was with him guiding him through the rough sea! Those two men! I can’t get enough of them and I’ll make sure to read all the accompanying stories I can find. I need more of their happiness! So, so much more! XD

”Crying out loud, Landes, what?” he said.
“What?”
Stef’s smile broke apart laughing. “Stop looking at me.”
“No puedo dejar de mirarte,” Jav said, tackling him. Because he was a fucking hot mess and couldn’t keep his hands off the guy.

”The attraction is tougher?” Jav said. “More tenacious?”
“Yes,” Stef said, his voice rising. “Tenacious. Exactly. It can take my weight. I can push on it hard, be rougher with it. It’s not a connection I overlap or fall into. It’s something I lean on. Hard.”

”I like you so fucking much,” Stef said. He’d never in his life said such a thing to a man.
“I like you, too,” Jav said, as if the words were bubbles on his tongue.”

”When Stef locked arms around Jav’s waist at the stove and leaned on him, Jav had to stop cooking and taste the moment. Close his eyes and hold it tight, unable to remember the last time he felt this content. This complete.“

”The last chapter.”
Stef blinked. “You lost me.”
“You’re the last chapter,” Jav said. “I went from the prologue to you. I skipped everything in the middle and now I’m in love with you and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”
A rush as everything in Stef’s body dilated, returned to normal levels, and then rose up. “Jesus Christ, Jav,” he said, rubbing his face. “I swear, I’m going to kill you or fuck you. Pick one.”

”You didn’t know I’d end up fucking for a living. Making me waste twenty years of my life when I could’ve been something to somebody…”
Then he was crying.
Stef pulled him in tight and stood still against the storm, his hand running in slow circles between Jav’s trembling shoulders. “You’re something to me,” he said. “You’re everything to me.“

”Mm.” Jav fitted his thumbnail into the scar across Stef’s eyebrow. “Man, I don’t know how you do what you do.”
“I don’t know how you write books.”
“I make up bullshit. Your work is so much more important. You know how men make love with each other and you know how men make war on each other.”

Stef, Jav & Geno:

”They got him.”
“It’s over.” Geno slid off the couch, onto the floor and into Stef’s arms. “It’s over.”
Stef caught him up tight, a hand on Geno’s head. “They got him,” he said, rocking their bodies side to side.

Now the three of them certainly had an interesting dynamic. Especially because Stef had a professional relationship with Geno and Jav’s relationship with him was rather a friendship. And once again I’ve to praise the fine nuances of Suanne’s stories. Their relationships to each other were so palpable and they felt real and true. I loved that Stef got all protective of Jav when he discovered that Geno had read his journal and therefore his personal thoughts but I also loved them both for still being there for Geno even though he violated Jav’s privacy. I always knew that Geno finding out about Jav and Stef’s relationship would end badly, but after everything he went through it was no surprise. Still, I’m glad they managed to sort things out in the end and I’m so happy Geno has those two as his friends now. Stef being there for him as his therapist was so important but I think Jav being his friend was at least as vital for his healing process as Stef’s therapy. ❤ You need friends in your life and with Jav and Stef at his side Geno kind of won the friendship lottery. =) True friendships between men! I think the bookish world needs more of them.

”I’m on guard, little brother.
You fought hard and brave. Rest your heart now. Don’t be afraid.
I’m here.
They’ll have to come through me to get to you this time.”

”Geno took a long swig of ice water and asked Jav, “Do you believe everything happens for a reason?”
“I do,” Jav said. “But not everyone gets the privilege of liking the reason. Of feeling the reason was worth the ordeal or the experience.”

Jav & Ari:

”Oh my god, T, are you crying?” Ari said. He called Jav T, for Tio. Spanish for uncle.
“Shut up.”
“Come on, I bet you have an absolute surplus of toilet paper now.”
“This is true. One box of cereal lasts forever and I only have to buy a half-gallon of milk.”
“See? You don’t miss me at all.”
“You’re right. Glad to have you out of my hair. Don’t ever come back.”

I still adore this uncle-nephew duo! =) Jav and Ari’s relationship was one of the best things about “Larks” and it continued to be amazing in “Finches”. They might have found each other under difficult circumstances but they made the best of it and formed a bond that will connect them forever. Also can we acknowledge how supportive Ari is?! That boy is still so young but he already knows what’s important in life! Their conversations were once again some of the best in the book and I had to laugh so hard when Ari told Jav that he shouldn’t have sex in front of his dog. *LOL* Poor Roman! I’m sure he appreciates Ari’s concern. ;-P

”I hope you find someone,” Ari said. “You deserve it. Male or female, it’s about fucking time you had someone you can be yourself with.”
“Thanks.”

Jav & Gloria:

”When Jav lost Flip, he found in Gloria the one person who loved him unconditionally. The woman who had taken him in when his own people cast him out. He went to court and legally changed his surname to Landes. He would never think of her as his mother. He chose her name because it was the thing he respected most in the world.”

As you can see my relationships and ship section is huge this time around and the reason for it is that Suanne writes them like no other! I mean for instance Jav and Gloria!! Gloria was probably the only person that cared about him when he was alone and lost and even though to help him to become an escort might have been kind of harmful for Jav on the long run it was still something he enjoyed to do when he was younger. Gloria guided and comforted him. She provided a safe haven and helped him to help himself so for that alone she deserves respect. Plus she’s his voice of reason and a very wise woman. I love that they still have contact and that she’s the first person he comes to when his heart is troubled. ❤

”You’re right. As usual.”
“Often wrong, never in doubt.”
“Which is why I love you.”

”Love doesn’t always play nice. Love plays games you haven’t had to deal with before. Love is going to serve up a buffet of emotions you neatly avoided for decades.”

Alex, Jav & The Larks:

”And if you met someone, and it feels easy and you’re waiting for the axe or the shoe or the whatever to drop, it’s because you think you don’t deserve easy. What did I tell you about that?”
“Yeah, I know,” Jav said, exhaling.
“Say it.”
“I’m worth more and I deserve it.”
“Damn right you do.”

Ahh the tension between Alex and Jav is still tangible. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll ever get over it or if it will be one of those relationships that will always have that special spark. Sometimes you meet people that draw you in and no matter how much you try to get some distance between you, it’s bound to fail. You’re drawn like a moth to the flame or like a moon that’s pulled into the orbit of a planet. So you either find a way to live with that involuntary attraction or you don’t and put some distance between you. And let me tell you this as someone who’s tried to live with it, it’s tough!!! I managed to do it for a few years but then the contact broke because it was just too much to handle. For both of us. >_< So I can’t help but wonder how the relationship between Jav and Alex is going to develop. Still, despite all the things that are going on between them and Val basically watching them like a hawk they are a family and support each other. Which is truly amazing! Val definitely has all my respect for forgiving Alex and Jav and for trying to give them space. This woman is a saint!!! Period!

”Well, maybe I’ll meet them someday.”
Jav smiled at the safe, gender-neutral pronoun. “Maybe you will,” he said. “If I don’t fuck this up.”
“Oh my God,” Alex said. “You’re still the same idiot.”
“The only one allowed in the room,” Jav said, laughing.

”Let go now,” Alex said, slapping Jav’s back, then his ass. “Or I won’t.”

Jav hugged them both. “Thanks for coming.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Alex said.
“We’re your family, dumbass,” Val said. “We’d do anything.”

Stav & Stef:

”Is this the guy you called me about the other day?”
“Yes.”
“Dude, does he have a brother? Named Rav?”
“No.”
“Where did he come from?”
“The fucking sky.”

Haha! I LOVED this sibling relationship!! Stav and Stef were so much fun to read about and they reminded me of my sister and me. I swear, we have conversations like the one above too and I love spending time with her and to be silly. We do that frequently and have been told that we’re like a comedy show when we’re together. (I swear sometimes it’s like people get their popcorn to watch us. Well, my brother-in-law actually did but that’s another story for another day. *lol*) So yes, I adored this sibling rep and could relate to it! Stav and Stef are two amazing people and even though Stav went through a lot of heavy shit she’s still a very optimistic and funny character! Which is remarkable! The world definitely needs more Stavs too! =))

4

“A Charm of Finches” was INCREDIBLE and I just couldn’t get enough of it. The many thoughts, ideas and feelings that went into this, the way Suanne managed to put this on paper! How she writes life the way it is and creates characters that feel like real people! (For me they actually are!) The heavy topics she’s addressing! With so much respect and care. I’m in awe of Suanne Laqueur’s mind and writing style and I’ll never get tired of advertising her books! Seriously, more people need to read her books because they are so, so, so GOOD! All the stars! All the stars, por siempre jamás!

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

ARC Review: An Exaltation of Larks (Suanne Laqueur)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

*A forever grateful thank you to NetGalley and “Cathedral Rock Press” for providing a free ARC*

”They shared breath, poised on a shared edge, shaking all their separate pieces into one.”

Do you know the kind of book that swallows you whole? That makes you want to pick it up even though it’s in the middle of the night and you just closed it. The sort of story that takes over your mind, body and soul? The kind that makes you restless and achy with the need to continue? This special sort of book that touches you on such a profound and fundamental level your heart quite literally bursts from hurting, but, boy it hurts so good?!

“An Exaltation of Larks” was everything of the above and so, so, so much more! I had no idea what I was getting myself into until it was already too late. Until I found myself so deeply immersed in this story that it seemed to be impossible to get away from its words. They followed me around, taunted me, teased me, wanted to be read with such a relentless fervour that I couldn’t even think about uttering the word “no”.

”All his movements were clumsy and reluctant. His fingers balked at tying his sneakers. Turned locks the wrong way while opening the door. He stumbled going down the hall and the elevator door banged him on the elbow as it was closing.
He didn’t want to go.”

That’s exactly how this book made me feel and even after finishing it two weeks ago it still didn’t let me go. This story swept me off my feet, dug its claws into my skin and sang me to sleep. And to be entirely honest, this effect is still going on. By now I think “An Exaltation of Larks” was written to bury itself in my soul so that I would never feel alone again. And if that is truly the case, then all I can say is that it can have every inch of my heart it conquered.

”Many people like being alone, but nobody likes to be lonely.”

There are so many things I loved about this book, so many in fact that I don’t even know where to start. I adored Val and Alex, I worshipped Jav, whose character was so similar to mine that it sometimes felt like torture to read on. I connected with him on such a basic level that it killed me to accompany him on his difficult journey. But just like him I longed for more and no matter how much I got, I just couldn’t get enough. Of the strong friendships in this book, of the relationships between the characters, of the family they became. I swear the relationships in this book were everything!!! Just everything!! The humour, the banter, I loved how they joked, how comfortable they were around each other, how effortlessly those two families merged into one.

”Te lo agradezco mucho,” Alex said.
“You don’t have to thank me.”
“No sé cómo agradecértelo.”
“Stop.” Jav kissed his head. “You guys are my family. I’d do anything.”
He kissed Val’s head. Then six arms wove and wrapped and they held each other tight.

There are three people that found each other because they were meant to, because destiny had chosen them before they even knew it themselves and they love each other so deeply, so madly, so unconditionally that it broke my heart. The way Suanne let them deal with their troubles, how they acted around each other, how they were angry and mad but still so very much in love. How they fought for their love, how they realized that they had to accept their feelings with all their consequences, weaknesses and flaws. It just blew me away!! Suanne can write! And it’s so convincing, so realistic that it killed me. The chemistry of those characters, the cozy atmosphere, the strong feeling of belonging, of kinship and above all else the affection and love that connects them all.

”It’s not the Larks that kill you. It’s the exaltation.”

I swear at times I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I felt so fragile you could have shattered me with a soft breeze. Val’s and Alex’s marriage was so wonderful, yet I also loved the idea of Alex and Jav. To be entirely honest, the mere thought of all of them together kind of blew my mind and I suppose in some way or another those three actually kind of were in some sort of relationship. They were so connected, it was hard to even imagine them not being involved with each other and their children Ari and Deane only seemed to add to that intense sensation of all-encompassing love.

”I want you to be all right. I wanted that long before all this other stuff showed up. I wanted you to stay in Guelisten, I wanted my home to be your home. A place where you feel good. A place you can come as yourself and bring along your happiness and your pain. I wanted you around since the beginning.”

Of course none of those characters had it easy, because as we all know life may be described with an abundance of words but “easy” is certainly none of them. This said there are quite a lot of serious topics that are tackled by Suanne and they were woven so gently into the rug of this story that you don’t know where the seam begins or ends. They are as much a part of the book as they are a part of the characters and I’m still in awe of the author’s ability to let those stories speak for themselves. “The Disappeared” of Chile, 9/11 and its effects, the way our family and our personal history shapes us. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried throughout the entire chapter that dealt with 9/11 and that the only thing that made it better was to remind myself of the things that are good in this world. Namely, a short peek at my kid while she was fast asleep in her bed. This chapter wrecked me, big time, as did so many other moments in this book… ¡Vale! I just had to take a deep breath because my emotions are still all over the place and I’m pretty certain this will never change.

”It caught Jav under the ribs and his teeth trembled together. He felt the ground tilt beneath his feet. His heart flailed, making desperate minute adjustments, frantically trying to find center. Find his way home, even as home insisted it was here. Right here in this house. With Alex.”

4

So this was my rather futile attempt to convey how much this book means to me and I can’t help but feel like I failed miserably. There is no way to put all of those emotions into words and if I’d live a million years I still wouldn’t be able to describe this painful contentment that I feel. “Therapy Fiction”, “Contemporary Train Wreck”, “Emotionally Intelligent Romance” those are all terms that are used to describe Suanne’s books. Well, I guess I have a new one for you: “Heart-breaking Realism”.

Make of that what you want, but I can guarantee you one thing: If you read this, you will never be the same again. All the paws! All the paws, por siempre jamás! ❤

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight (Sarah J. Maas)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten

”Mother above and Cauldron save me.”

Yep, that’s exactly what I thought when I read another one of Feyre and Rhy’s naughty scenes! The words might have been the same; my thoughts came with an eye roll instead of pleasure though. As did a lot of other things while I read this novella. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed almost every second of this and it was really nice to spend some time with all those characters again BUT (yes, it’s a big but) there were a lot of things that didn’t sit well with me and you can bet your lovely behind on the fact that I’m going to point them out later on when I get to the spoilery parts of this review.

Generally speaking this wasn’t bad. We got to see a little bit of our characters normal lives and I think we can all agree that after everything they went through they deserve some normalcy and happiness. It was nice to walk through Velaris, to go Solstice shopping with Mor and Feyre and to see those beloved characters interact with each other. They all survived the war and each and every single one of them is trying to cope with the aftermath. There are plenty of wounds that still need to heal and I’m kind of grateful Sarah decided to give her characters some room to come to terms with everything. So yes, this novella might not have a huge plot but definitely provides a good transition into the next series. 😉

Still, there were quite a lot of interesting dialogues and a bunch of things that either made me happy or caused me to get angry. Mostly it was the relationships between the characters and so this is exactly what I’m going to write about. Buckle up! This is going to be a hard ride! *lol*

From here on out, I’ll talk about the relationships and ships of the characters, so this isn’t only going to be rant and gush feast but also a spoiler celebration! If you still continue to read and haven’t read ACOFAS yet, it’s at your own risk! Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉

3

Feyre & Rhys:

”But you are bothering – you’re both still working to make this peace last. Peace, Rhys. We have peace, and the true kind. Enjoy it – enjoy each other. You paid the debt before it was ever a debt.”

I totally agree with Cassian and even though this might sound harsh now I still need to say it: I want them to enjoy each other too, but please not as the MCs of the following books. I love Feyre and Rhys, I really do, but I think from ACOWAR on out their character development was kind of detrimental. I already mentioned it in my review of ACOWAR and I’ll say it again Feyre’s and Rhys’s holier-than-thou attitude is beginning to get on my nerves. Feyre and her friends weren’t the only ones that suffered and it would be really nice if she’d get out of her pink bubble and would acknowledge the fact that others hurt too! It’s good that Rhys and her have each other but not everyone is as lucky as them and it would help to remember that they made mistakes too! Also if I read about “toes that curl” in Feyre’s boots one more time I’m going to be sick. Yes, we got it, Rhys is such a sexy male and they really love each other. If you ask me their story should have ended after ACOWAR because right now I have more negative feelings towards them than positive ones and this is actually kinda sad. >_< Okay, Feysand shippers are allowed to take out their pitchforks and torches now… Just give me a little head start, will you? ;-P

Feyre & Lucien:

”And what, exactly, does this Band of Exiles plan to do? Host events? Organize party-planning committees?”
Lucien’s metal eye clicked faintly and narrowed. “You can be as much of an asshole as that mate of yours, you know that?”

I think Feyre was a real bitch to Lucien in this book. And no, I’m not sorry for saying it out loud. After all someone has to do it and I don’t mind it being me. I mean if she really wants him to be friends with her, she has to accept that he has his own life and doesn’t want to depend on her and Rhys. If she’d be honest to herself she’d realize that Lucien isn’t welcome at her court and that he has his reasons to stay away from them. I think the only two people who feel real sympathy for Lucien are Az and Amren and they only do it to some extent. So yeah, she can’t expect him to be happy with the situation. Lucien lost so much over the centuries and now he even lost Tam and his second home. It’s not Feyre’s call to decide what’s best for him! Especially because she’s actually the reason why Lucien isn’t welcome at Tam’s place anymore. So nope, take care of your own court and leave Lucien be! Thank you very much! And a huge YAY for Lucien! Because he dared to call Feyre and Ryhs out on their bullsh*t and didn’t back down! That’s my man!!! <333 Also I totally agree with him! Rhys shouldn’t have said what he did and the way he treated Tam cost him a lot of my sympathy.

”Your mate should have known better than to kick a downed male.”

”I can’t stand to be in the same room as her for more than two minutes. I can’t stand to be in this court and have your mate pay for the very clothes on my back.”

Elain & Lucien:

”He hadn’t mentioned Elain, or his proximity to her. Elaine had not asked him to stay, or to go. And whether she cared about the bruises on his face, she certainly hadn’t let on.”

So if you already put away your pitchforks and torches, guess now is the right time to draw them out again, because this isn’t going to be nice and tell you what: I actually don’t care! I’ll say it as it is: I HATE Elain! There, I said it! And I’m not even sorry for it! You think Nesta is a witch? Oh well, guess Elain is even worse because she hides it behind her super sweet appearance and gentle actions. By now I’ve reached a point where I despise her and I’m sick and tired of everyone defending this woman just because she is so sweet! Where was Elain when Feyre was taken by Tam? What did Elain do when Feyre went out hunting for them? Nesta might be a witch, and I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but at least she went looking for Feyre. What did Elain do? She got engaged to Grayson! YAY! Way to go! Also everyone loving precious and dear Elain! WTF?!!! Did Elain ever do anything except of looking lovely?! (Yes, she might be a great cook and good at gardening but seriously is that all!???!!!) AND WHY THE FREAKING HELL IS EVERYONE DEFENDING ELAIN WITH THE WORDS “Elain is Elain”!??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!??? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!!!???? I’m sick and tired of her getting away with everything because she’s everybody’s darling! Lucien deserves so much better than that! She can’t even talk to him for a few minutes? She can’t even thank him for the present he got her? Where was her present for him?! And just for the record: LUCIEN DIDN’T WANT HER TO BE HIS MATE!!! He’s as innocent when it comes to their mating bond as Elain! It’s not his fault that they are mates and people better remember this when they judge him for trying to get to know her! She doesn’t even give him a chance to get to know her so she’s just cruel and mean in my eyes. If she doesn’t change her attitude in the next trilogy I’ll never ship her with anyone. Not even Az. No one! For all I care she can live with her precious flowers and become one of them! GRRRRRRR!!!! AKDFASDFJASLDFJKASDFJASDKLFJASDFLK! Okay, I’m fine now. XD

”Elain, at least, would be too polite to send Lucien away when he wanted to help. She was too polite to send him away on a normal day. She just ignored him or barely spoke to him until he got the hint and left.”

Those doe-brown eyes turned toward me. Sharper than I’d ever seen them. “And that entitles him to my time, my affections?”
“No.” I blinked. “But he is a good male.” Despite our harsh words. Despite this Band of Exiles bullshit. “He cares for you.”
“He doesn’t know me.”
“You don’t give him the chance to even try to do so.”

Cassian & Nesta:

”A storm is going to hit in a few days. I’d like you to distribute this amongst those who might feel its impact the hardest.”

Cassian is so, so damn precious and he’s stuck with Nesta! That’s not fair! I think when it comes to me disliking characters in this series it’s a tie between Nesta and Elain. I just hate them both. (I know I’m making a lot of friends with this review. *lol* But I just can’t help it!) I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to ship them but after seeing that Nesta still didn’t change… Well, I just can’t ship them. By now I don’t even know if her character can be redeemed and if Sarah doesn’t work her magic with her I’ll never board this ship. And it will take a HUGE amount of magic to make her character at least a little bit more likable! And to everyone out there who likes Nesta and thinks I’m mean: I know she has PTSD too and I know that she suffers at least as much as all the other characters around her do, but that’s no reason to lash out at the others. If she wants to be secluded from them, live in a cheap apartment, drink all day and sleep with every fae male that comes her way: Okay! But to hurt the others, to fight them even though they are trying to help her, to spend Feyre’s and Rhys money without asking them: That’s not okay!! How many people have to offer her help until she accepts it? How often will she hurt poor Cassian because she’s just too proud to acknowledge that she has a serious problem? Just like Lucien, Cassian deserves so much better than her and I think I’ll make a petition for both of them! #FreeCassian&LucienFromTheClutchesOfTheCruelArcheronSisters

”Nesta is Nesta. She does what she wants, even if it kills her sister. I’ve offered her job after job, and she refuses them all.”

Tamlin & Rhys:

Forgiveness could be a gift to both, but what he’d done… “Do you want her to?”
His green eyes were empty. “Do I deserve it?”
No. Never.
He must have read it on my face, because he asked, “Do you forgive me – for your mother and sister?”

I’m not okay with the way Rhys treated Tamlin! Yes, he made mistakes, yes he hurt Feyre, but that doesn’t mean that they have to hurt him too! Rhys should have known better than that, he should have been better than that and he shouldn’t have kicked Tam when he was already on the ground. Everyone can see that Tamlin is hurting and to treat him like that? To say what Rhys said to him? WOAH!! That was just cruel, mean and uncalled-for. I’m feeling really sorry for Tam now and Rhys helping him with the elk doesn’t make this any better. He only helped him because he might need him in future, not because he actually cared. Where is your compassion for Tam, Rhys? Where is the Rhys of ACOMAF I fell in love with? I don’t see him anymore. *shakes head*

”I hope you live the rest of your miserable life alone here. It’s a far more satisfying end than slaughtering you.”

Elain & Az:

Cassian sat up, the portrait of outrage. “No?”
Azriel tucked in his wings. “Would you want people betting on you?”

I think the only reason Az reacted like that is because he might feel guilty for liking Elain. It’s so obvious that Sarah wants them to end up together and all those little tense moments between them speak volumes about her intentions. But as I said: I can’t ship Elain with anyone right now. Az is too sweet and gentle to end up with her and I really don’t want them to be together. Not because I would begrudge him a relationship with her, but because I think that he deserves better than her. After Mor played with him for centuries Az deserves the world, and then some! If Elain doesn’t change and acknowledges her misbehaviour against Lucien then I can’t ship this ship. And quite honestly, if I’d be Az I wouldn’t want to be with someone who treats their mate like that.

”Azriel emerged from the sitting room, a glass of wine in hand and wings tucked back to reveal his fine, yet simple black jacket and pants.
I felt, more than saw, my sister go still as he approached. Her throat bobbed.”

Rhys & Lucien:

”I can let go of the taunts,” he said, scanning my face. “And the fact that he still harbors some hope of one day reuniting with Tamlin. But I cannot let go of how he treated you after Under the Mountain.”

I’m just glad that Lucien became friends with Vassa and Jurian because as I already mentioned above, he obviously isn’t welcome at the Night Court. Rhys still doesn’t like him and Lucien deserves more than to be tolerated. He deserves to be respected, to be loved and cherished and not to be treated like sh*t! Also what the hell does Rhys even mean with how he treated Feyre after Under the Mountain? Lucien did nothing wrong, he was there for her, tried to help her, defended her against Tam, spoke up for her and confronted Tamlin. And what did he get in return? Tamlin reprimanded him and might have even physically hurt him, Ianthe abused him and Tam let it happen because he refused to take part in the ritual, and Feyre?! Do I really have to point out what Feyre did? She lied to him, claimed that Rhys had turned her and even after she came back to the spring court she continued to lie to him and hurt him even more by destroying the only place he called home. Hell, she even used him to antagonize Tam and to destroy his friendship with Lucien. A great friend she was to him! And this after everything he did for her Under the Mountain. Hell, he even got whipped because he helped her and almost died as well. To destroy your friends’ life is a great way to show him gratitude. Well done, Feyre! So WHO EXACTLY TREATED WHOM LIKE SH*T AFTER UNDER THE MOUNTAIN, RHYS???!!!! Mhmm??? Care to enlighten me? And one more thing before I come to the end of this rant review: Lucien was in no position to help Feyre because he suffered from PTSD too. That’s something everyone always seems to forget. You can’t help someone else if you’re drowning yourself. And people better keep that in mind before they talk badly about him.

4

I really thought I’d enjoy this novella and then move on to the next trilogy but for some reason those 229 pages kinda irked me. Big time. *lol* I guess that’s mostly due to the fact that all the things I already criticized in ACOWAR seemed to be even more prominent in this short story and I just couldn’t ignore it any longer. Also all the chapters we got from Mor’s POV didn’t contribute anything to the story, which is the main reason I didn’t even mention her in my review. All told this was a nice addition to the first trilogy and a good segue into the next one and I really hope that Sarah J. Maas will tackle all those issues I just pointed out. After all, “Hope dies last”! ;-P

 

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (Sarah J. Maas)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

“Only you can decide what breaks you, Cursebreaker. Only you.”

I really enjoyed this third and last instalment of the ACOTAR series BUT (and there always seems to be a “but” when it comes to “A Court of Wings and Ruin”) I still think that it’s the weakest book in the entire series. Even after rereading it and appreciating the little details that were dropped throughout the entire story I couldn’t help but see the weaknesses of it too. Yes, Sarah J. Maas wrote a great book, but it lacked something the first two books had. Something important that every book should have: A good ending. *lol*

It’s as simple as that! As much as I appreciate all the different threads of the story coming together at the end, the way to get there and how the ending was executed just didn’t do it for me. A huge part of the book has its focus on the war and how to either prevent or to win it, people are persuaded to join ranks, a few surprise guests make their appearances, there are some fighting scenes and a meeting with Feyre’s and Rhy’s allies. Well, and then there’s the war and the final battle. See, it only took me a few sentences to convey the main plot of the book. Don’t get me wrong, there actually happens a lot but many of the things that happen ultimately don’t seem to be important for the overall storyline, which is a shame.

There were so many topics I would have liked to explore, yet Sarah never digged any deeper. All this build up, all those revelations and at the end everything is dealt with in a couple of pages. No matter if it’s the Mor/Cassian/Az dynamic, Lucien/Elain, the Queens from the continent, Rhys long lost allies, etc. Or my favourite:

spoiler

Feyre’s father!!! I mean WTH??!!! Let him come to their rescue even though he apparently never gave a shit about his daughters before, let him name his freaking merchant ships after them and join their forces and then for good measure let us kill him and wrap it up with a bow! Yes, that’s exactly how you dispose of a storyline you would have never been able to explain otherwise. Let it be buried and dead. No questions asked, except of that I have a million of questions and will never get any answers!

So yeah, was this book good? Yes, it was! It kept me glued to the pages and I wanted to know what would happen to my beloved characters. I think we can all agree that Sarah J. Maas can write and that her characters are intriguing and complex. Still, despite all that I can’t help but be salty when it comes to the ending. I wanted a little bit more and I didn’t get it. >_< Which is the reason why this only gets 3,5 paws rounded up to 4 from me. Am I being petty? Maybe, but it is the way I feel and I stand by it. *lol*

This said let’s head to my characters section! There are a lot of things I need to talk about and as expected the GR word limit didn’t suffice! So here I am posting my essay on my blog! 😛 Buckle up!

2

Welcome to my spoilery spoiler section! If you haven’t read the book you better turn around and leave this path as soon as possible. To everyone else who already read ACOWAR: Be my guest and enjoy the ride! ;-P

Feyre:

”I suppose that in the past weeks, I had crafted my demeanor as intricately as one of these paintings. I suppose that if I had also chosen to show myself as I truly wished, I would have been adorned with flesh-shredding talons and hands that choked the life out of those now in my company.”

What can I say about the Feyre in ACOWAR? Well, let’s be honest, shall we? I still feel conflicted about her character in this one. I loved how strong she became by the end of book two and I’m all for more independent and badass female characters, yet I’m still not happy about the way her character arc proceeded in this book. It’s like she lost some part of herself along the way. A part I loved and adored: her compassion! I get why she wanted to destroy Tamlin and his court, but she never even thought about the innocent people that still lived at his court. She just didn’t think about the consequences of her actions and this ultimately led to her regretting them in the end. Which is good because I would have been really mad if she would have been called out on it and wouldn’t have given a damn. *lol* Still, to be strong and self-determined doesn’t mean that she had to treat others the way she did. For instance Lucien. I get it, she has a new family and she’s super content with them, but urgh you can still be happy with your new life and appreciate the good parts of your old one. Truth be told, her behaviour towards Lucien and how she spoke about him with Rhys really made me dislike her A LOT. But oh well, I’ll talk about this in my “the relationships & ships” section and you can bet your lovely behind on the fact that it’s going to be a long, long rant! *lol*

”I will use these powers – my powers – to smash Hybern to bits. I will burn them, and drown them, and freeze them. I will use these powers to heal the injured. To shatter through Hybern’s wards. I have done so already, and I will do so again. And if you think that my possession of a kernel of your magic is your biggest problem, then your priorities are severely out of order.”

Rhysand:

”I was willing to lose my mate to another male. I was willing to let them marry, if it brought her joy. But what I was not willing to do was let her suffer. To let he fade away into a shadow. And the moment that piece of shit blew apart his study, the moment he locked her in that house…” His wings ripped from him, and Lucien started.

It’s kind of funny but I think Feyre’s lost compassion was somehow added to Rhys character instead. *lol* Now that we know about his true feelings and have seen the real Rhysand he seems to be more and more human and we get to witness his weaknesses as well. He is still cunning, sassy, caring and all the other adjectives I used to describe him in my review of ACOMAF, but there’s a soft core to his character now and you can see it shine through. His actions and everything he does, it’s way easier to understand the mind behind it all. And we see how truly broken he was while he had to serve Amarantha during his time under the mountain. What it did to him to do her bidding, what he had to sacrifice in order to keep others safe. Quite honestly, I have no idea how he even managed to keep his sanity. 50 freaking years! T_T I’m can only agree with Feyre here: I love every single part of him. Okay, well, except of the part that dislikes Lucien. *LOL* (Also is it just me or did Rhys actually become too good to be true? No wonder everybody wants a bf like him. XD)

”Rhys sacrificed his legion in the process, got all of them captured and tortured afterward. Yet everyone insists Rhysand is soulless, wicked. But the male I knew was the most decent of them all.”

Lucien:

Lucien sat against a nearby tree, folding one booted ankle over another. “Whatever you’re planning, it’ll land us knee-deep in shit.”

I LOVE HIM WITH ALL MY HEART!!! <333 Yes, I’m obsessed with Lucien but really, how is it possible I’m the only person who loves this man?!! Why is everyone so mean to him?! I don’t get it! The inner circle is weary of him and doesn’t really trust him, even worse Feyre and Rhys talk bad about him behind his back and this even though he went through hell and back!!! It’s like Sarah created his character just to torment him. My poor boy is like a kicked puppy and no one is even willing to lend him a hand. WHY??!!! After everything he did for Feyre: he got whipped and tortured because he helped her, he almost died because Amarantha wanted him to pay for it, he tried to talk some sense into Tamlin and got hurt because of it, he got raped and abused by Ianthe because he did what Tam couldn’t in order to keep the spring court alive. His own family hates him and wants to see him dead, his best friend isn’t talking to him anymore, his freaking mate can’t even be bothered to look at him!!! ARHKADFKASJDFAKSDFJASDFK! Sarah I ask you: When will you finally have enough of torturing my boy?! And now to add even more fun to it, it’s revealed that he’s Helion’s son! My heart broke so often for him in this book. Like every single moment when Elain didn’t look at him, when he was surprised about the children in Velaris, when Tam ignored him… I swear if he doesn’t get the spotlight and a HEA after this I’m going to riot and won’t continue to read the other three books of ACOTAR. I mean it!

”Would you want it – your father’s crown?”
“No one’s ever asked me that,” Lucien mused as we moved on, dodging fallen, rotting apples. The air was sticky-sweet. “The bloodshed that would be required to earn that crown wouldn’t be worth it. Neither would its festering court. I’d gain a crown – only to rule over a crafty, two-faced people.”

At last, Lucien looked at me. At us.
He said, “There are children laughing in the streets.”
I blinked. He said it with such… quiet surprise. As if he hadn’t heard the sound in a long, long time.

”And you love him. And he – he truly does love you.” Lucien dragged a hand through his red hair. “And all these people I have spent my centuries hating, even fearing… they are your family.”

My friends glanced to each other. Mor said, “It will be – very dangerous.”
A half smile curved Lucien’s mouth. “Good. It’d be boring otherwise.”

Cassian:

”Good,” Cassian said, glancing at Nesta. “If I end my life defending those who need it most, then I will consider it a death well spent.”

Cassian really grew on me in this one and I’m glad he’s part of Rhys inner circle because he actually seems to be the only one who dares to call Rhys out! *lol* I loved that he confronted him with the fact that he always wants to save everyone and doesn’t even think about the possibility that people feel the same way about him. His character has so much potential and even though we got to see more of him in ACOWAR I still feel like I don’t really know him. I need more of his character and I’m pretty sure that we will get a lot of him in those next three books. Well, at least I hope so! XD

”So you’re allowed to be mad about our choices to protect you – and we’re not allowed to be furious with you for your self-sacrificing bullshit?”

”I’m a warrior. I’ve walked beside Death my entire life. I would be more afraid for her, to have that power. But not afraid of her.” He considered, and added after a heartbeat, “Nothing about Nesta could frighten me.”

Mor:

”I hate war.”
“Likewise.”
“Not just for the death and awfulness,” Mor went on. “But because of what it does to us. These decisions.”

How is it possible that Mor is such a wise and strong woman but completely insecure when it comes to other things? I hated to see her get all weak in front of Eris, Beron and her father. She hides it well, but deep down within her she’s still so very broken. What they did to her… No one should have to experience anything like that. >_< Poor Mor! Still, after everything that was revealed in this book I can’t help but feel very conflicted about her character. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Mor, but urgh seriously Sarah, how could you?!! This is the worst, I repeat: THE WORST bi rep I ever read about in my entire life. In fact I’d even go as far as to say that this is the reason why people think that you can’t have a serious relationship when you’re bi. Urgh! Just urgh! Right now I have no words and that’s really, really rare!!! Let’s hope I’ll be able to write something coherent in the “relationships & ships” section. >_<

”We’re all broken,” Mor said. “In our own ways – in places no one might see.”

”I do find pleasure in them. In both.” Her hands were shaking so fiercely that she gripped herself even tighter. “But I’ve known, since I was little more than a child, that I prefer females. That I’m … attracted to them more over males. That I connect with them, care for them more on that soul-deep level.”

Azriel:

Again that dry, quiet smile. “Why do you think Illyrians are so fit?”
“Why did no one warn me about this cocky side of yours?”

Let’s move on to more pleasant themes, like for instance Az! I really began to appreciate his character in this. In ACOMAF he was always the silent presence in the background and we didn’t get to see an awful lot of his character. This time around however, more facets of him and his life were revealed and I loved every single one of them. ❤ Azriel is such a sweet character and in the right company, when he feels secure enough to open up, he’s even pretty funny. *lol* I really hope to see more of him in the next 3 books and considering his particular situation with Elain, I’m pretty sure my wish will be granted. XD

Azriel, wreathed in shadows by the front door, chuckled quietly. Cassian shot him a glare. “I don’t see you sprouting poetry, brother.”
Azriel crossed his arms, still smiling faintly. “I don’t need to resort to it.”

Amren:

”You should kill Beron and his sons and set up the handsome one as High Lord of Autumn, self-imposed exile or no. It will make life easier.”

I always knew why I love Amren! *lol* For that sentence alone she would have gotten in my good books. XD I think after this book we all know how she feels about Rhys and his inner circle. 😉 I always knew it, but it’s good I was proven right! To hear about how she got out of the prison was heart-breaking though and I can only imagine how she must have felt living in her new body. So much raw power trapped in that small form of hers. I was really shocked when I realized that she betrayed Feyre but she did it for a good reason and after everything that was revealed I can’t hold it against her. Also her and Varian!!! <33 I loved those two and I wanted to see more of them! Varian has guts! Boy, does he have guts to pursue a relationship with her! He’s my hero and once again a character I’d love to see in those other three books! 😉

”You did not fit – the mold that they shoved you into. The path you were born upon and forced to walk. You tried, and yet you did not, could not, fit. And then the path changed.” A little nod. “I know – what it is to be that way. I remember it, long ago as it was.”

”I yielded my grace – my perfect immortality. I knew that once I did… I would feel pain. And regret. I would want, and I would burn with it. I would… fall. But I was – the time locked away down there… I didn’t care. I had not felt the wind on my face, had not smelled the rain… I did not even remember what they felt like. I did not remember sunlight.”

”I wasn’t entirely sure how Varian managed to walk them out of the tent while still kissing her, Amren’s hands dragging through his hair, letting out noises that were unnervingly like purring as they vanished into the camp.”

3

Feyre & Rhys:

”I’m grateful,” he said after a while, as the camp beneath us stirred in the building light. “To have you at my side. I don’t know if I ever told you that – how grateful I am to have you stand with me.”

Their relationship is still solid and wholesome! ❤ I love how they respect each other and talk things out. They don’t have any secrets (well at least none regarding their relationship) and they are the equal of each other, which makes for a really nice relationship dynamic. A lot of YA books have that alpha male vibe going on so it’s refreshing to have a counterweight with Sarah’s books. If there is one thing I feel an urge to point out, then it’s the fact that they are almost too good to be true. *lol* They finally found each other in ACOMAF and they somehow became an inseparable item in ACOWAR. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where Feyre ends and Rhys begins. XD I know that’s some sort of weird criticism but I feel like both of their characters lost their independence and a part of what made them… well them, because of their relationship. It’s something I already noticed in Sarah’s “Throne of Glass” series and it happened in here again. Maybe that’s because Sarah is such a fan of all consuming and encompassing love? Yes, you’re allowed to call me a bean counter. I won’t hold it against you. ;-P This relationships is still one of the best in the entire YA genre so there’s that. XD

“I see all of you, Rhys. And there is not one part that I do not love with everything I am.”

Feyre & Lucien:

”This situation is terrible,” I said, and it was the truth.
A low snort.
I knocked my knee against his. “Don’t let Jurian bait you. He’s doing it to feel out any weaknesses between us.”

Well, yes Feyre, what was your grand plan for Lucien? He would have been fine? Really? IS THAT REALLY WHAT YOU THINK??!! Fine while Ianthe rapes and abuses him, fine while Tamlin hurts him, fine while his only home is destroyed? Nope, no he wouldn’t have been fine and you know it! I think it’s exactly the other way around; Lucien is a better friend to her than she ever was to him! Also Feyre’s holier-than-thou attitude! She’s disgusted by the idea of Lucien being intimate with Elain, because her sister is such an oh so precious flower and he’s got autumn fire in his veins? Really? Seriously? You and Rhys romp around the entire book and you’re disgusted by the idea Lucien might have sex with Elain?!! WTF?! And all that talk about Lucien’s mind being a miserable place to be? Well, you certainly didn’t give him any reason to feel better! GRRRR!!! I’m just angry, really angry at Feyre and I still think Lucien deserves a better friend than that! #FightMe! #I’llNeverGetTiredOfDefendingAndLovingLucienVanserra

”Well? What was your grand plan for me before Ianthe interfered?”
I pulled at a stray thread in the bedroll. “You would have been fine,” was all I said.

”I wish I had been there to stop it. I should have been there to stop it.” I meant every word.
Lucien squeezed our linked arms as we rounded a hedge, the house rising up before us. “You are a better friend to me, Feyre,” he said quietly, “than I ever was to you.”

Lucien loosed a heavy sigh and slid an arm around my waist, the other threading through my hair to cradle my head. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I’m sorry.”
He held me, stroking soothing lines down my back, and I calmed my weeping, those seawater tears drying up like wet sand in the sun.

Mor, Az & Cassian:

”And … I think it might shatter him if I revealed afterward that… I’m not sure I can give me entire heart to him that way. And… I love him enough to want him to find someone who can truly love him like he deserves. And I love myself… I love myself enough to not want to settle until I find that person, too.”

And since I’m already in such a ranty mood I’ll tackle the next topic that made me angry af! *lol* I do understand why Cassian is Mor’s and Az’s buffer and as it seems he doesn’t really mind to be in this particular position, what I really disliked was the fact that Mor strung Az along for centuries! CENTURIES! Guys, we’re not talking about only a few months or years here, we’re talking about centuries!!! O_o Just because she was scared to tell him how she felt?! That she’s bisexual and likes both female and male? And what the hell is all this bullshit about not being able to give her entire heart to him?! She didn’t even TRY!!! What if they would have worked out?! What if they would have been happy? I love Sarah’s books but this is such a bad bi rep that it makes me feel sick to my stomach. Just because you like both that doesn’t mean that you can’t be in a serious relationship with only one!!! Just say that you don’t see him as the person you want to spend your entire life with. There’s no shame in admitting that you love a person but don’t love her/him THAT way. If there ever was an example of “how not to do bi reps” it certainly would be this one. Reps like that are the reason why everyone thinks we only want the good things from both sides and can’t settle down. Why people think we can’t be in a serious relationship. Sure sooner or later you’ll have to decide but if it’s the right person it’s not even a decision it’s just LOVE!!! No matter the gender! *sighs deeply* Okay, I’m done with my rant. If you’re an author and read this: Make sure to reach out to beta readers that represent the characters you want to portray. I think this could have been prevented if anyone would have counter-checked the bi rep. (Also bisexual Helion – as much as I love him – was portrayed as a person who only wants fun and can’t have a serious relationship. Ouch, just ouch.)
I’m not okay with Sarah using Mor’s bisexuality in order to explain why she strung along Az for centuries. I’ll never be okay with this. Period! *shakes head*

Elain, Azriel & Lucien:

”It has never failed me once,” the shadowsinger said, the midday sun devoured by the dark blade. “Some people say it is magic and will always strike true.” He gently took her hand and pressed the hilt of the legendary blade into it. “It will serve you well.”

Haha! Okay, as it seems I’m still not done with my rant because here comes the next topic that left a nasty taste in my mouth. (Can we just agree that the relationships in this were kind of maddening? *lol*) I hate how Elain treated Lucien and I’m not okay with Sarah introducing Az as a possible love interest. Not because I think they’d make no good couple, believe it or not, I think they’d make a way better couple than Elain and Lucien, but because this love triangle is so unnecessary! If Sarah wanted Elain to be with Az, why not go in this direction right from the beginning? Does Lucien really need another reason to feel unwanted and unloved? Was it really necessary to hurt that poor man even more? Elain and Az have a harmony Lucien and her will never have, because they are both quiet and rather introvert characters. I’m all for Azriel and Elain, but not at the cost of Lucien’s feelings! And I swear if Lucien doesn’t find another mate and gets a decent HEA I’ll be soo mad! Gosh, I just want him to be happy, is this too much to ask for?!!! T_T

”Well, I never want to fight in another battle as long as I live, but … yes, I’m in one piece.”
A faint smile bloomed on Elain’s lips.

Nesta & Cassian:

”Cassian’s eyes did not leave Nesta’s; nor did hers leave his. There was no warmth, no tenderness on either of their faces. Only that raging intensity, that blend of contempt and understanding and fire.”

And welcome to ranty round four! *lol* I think we can all agree that Cassian deserves better than her, right?! Why does Nesta of all people have to be his mate?! Yes, I know no one ever confirmed that she is his mate but seriously, after all that icy chemistry I’m about 99,9% sure that she is. Or will become in the following books. I just hope that Sarah will give us an amazing and most of all believable character arc, because otherwise I won’t be able to ship this ship! If Nesta doesn’t change her attitude and stays the way she is right now, I don’t see myself boarding this ship. Ever. I know to redeem her character will take a lot of work and I sincerely hope that Sarah is up for this challenge. I want to ship them… the way things are at the moment I can’t though. But hey, miracles happen! So let’s see if this will be the case here. ;-P

”You went off to battle for a court you barely know – who barely see you as friends. Amren showed me the blood ruby. And when I asked you why… you said because it was the right thing. People needed help.” Her throat bobbed. “No one is going to fight to save the humans beneath the wall. No one cares. But I do.” She toyed with a fold in her dress. “I do.”

Cassian grunted in pain, but lifted his bloodied hands – to cup her face. “I have no regrets in my life, but this.” His voice shook with every word. “That we did not have time. That I did not have time with you, Nesta.” She didn’t stop him as he leaned up and kissed her – lightly. As much as he could manage.

4

I really hoped that I’d love this more after my reread, but if anything to read ACOWAR a second time around only helped me to be able to point out its flaws. I’m glad I decided to go for a second round though. There were so many details that got lost when I read it for the very first time because back then my focus was rather on paging through the book instead of appreciating its many details. This said ACOWAR was a fun ride with quite a few flaws and even though I love most (if not all) of the characters I still believe that a lot of things should have been handled differently or at least could have been done better. It’s just my opinion though and who knows? Maybe Sarah will work on all those flaws in the next three books? I’m definitely ready to find out! ;-P

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (V.E. Schwab)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 10 on My Book List 2019

”Magic was a truly beautiful disease.”

And it was such a pleasure to read about it! XD I can’t say how much I loved and adored this book! Alone the magic in this was everything and it was so dark and twisted that it was a delight to read about it. In “A Darker Shade of Magic” magic is a living and breathing thing and it can help and heal at least as much as it can corrupt and destroy. In my opinion this was a really great concept and I lived and breathed for the execution of it.

”The words themselves were less important than the focus they brought to the speaker’s mind, the connection they helped to form, the power they tapped into. In short, the language did not matter, only the intention did.”

Still, it wasn’t only the magical aspect of this book that kept me glued to the pages. The mere idea of four different parallel Londons that exist next to each other was more than just intriguing as well. Sure, we didn’t get to see an awful lot of them because the characters travel through them and don’t stay all too long, the little I saw was enough to keep me hooked though. 😉 London is my favourite city and the mere idea to explore four different versions of this town already made me feel like I won the jackpot. *lol*

And last but not least “A Darker Shade of Magic” had its fair share of intriguing and complex characters that caused my eyes to sparkle. We all know that I can’t resist the temptation of morally grey and ambivalent characters so it’s no surprise that I savoured this like a delicious gourmet dinner. Alone the villains of this book!!! The Dane Twins were such evil creatures yet I couldn’t help but want to read more about them. Ohh and Holland! Don’t even get me started on Holland! ❤ Or well, maybe I actually should start to talk about him. In the characters section, of course! ;-P

2

Good afternoon, fellow Antari! It’s a good day to travel between the worlds but be careful nevertheless. There is always a shadow lurking at the next corner of the street and if you’re not cautious it will not only attack you but also spoil you big time as well! Tread carefully, my dear friend! You’re being observed by dark forces. 😉

Kell:

”Kell tipped his head so that his copper hair tumbled out of his eyes, revealing not only the crisp blue of the left one but the solid black of the right. A black that ran edge to edge, filling white and iris both. There was nothing human about that eye. It was pure magic. The mark of a blood magician. Of an Antari.”

I’m such a sucker for red-heads and Kell is really yummy. ;-P I can’t help it! Really! They are my kryptonite. Ask Lucien. *lol* Anyway, Kell is a really interesting character and he definitely has more depth than initially meets the eye. On the outside you might think that he’s the typical hero, but the more I discovered about his life, the more I felt sorry for him. He is part of the royal family and might seem to have it all, but when push came to shove his true status among the royals was revealed and my heart ached for him. I know Lila didn’t understand what he meant but by the end of the book it became pretty clear that he wasn’t really a family member but rather a valuable asset. At least when it came to his “parents”. Despite this he still had his own moral code and acted according to it, even if it meant that he was at a disadvantage when he had to face Holland and the Dane twins. Poor Kell! I had the feeling in some way or another he was figuratively and quite literally bleeding throughout the entire book. *lol* Let’s hope things will get better for him in “A Gathering of Shadows”! 😉

”Magic was a living thing – that, everyone knew – but to Kell it felt like more, like a friend, like family. It was, after all, a part of him (much more than it was a part of most) and he couldn’t help feeling like it knew what he was saying, what he was feeling, not only when he summoned it, but always, in every heartbeat and every breath.”

She always went looking for the truth in his right eye, as if it were a scrying board, something to be gazed into, seen past. But what she saw, she never shared. Kell took her hand and kissed it. “I’m fine, Your Majesty.” She gave him a weary look, and he corrected himself. “Mother.”

”I said Rhy forgave them.” Kell pushed to his feet. “I never said I did.”

Lila Bard:

”Death comes for everyone,” she said simply. “I’m not afraid of dying. But I am afraid of dying here.” She swept her hand over the room, the tavern, the city. “I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

I’m not entirely sure if I like Lila or not. XD I mean I admire her resilience and stubbornness but I think sometimes she was way too sure of herself and that got her into a lot of trouble. *lol* But oh well, when it comes down to it there is no denying that I actually like her. Her character seems to be somewhat of an acquired taste and I’m curious if she’ll truly become a pirate in the end. Also I could relate to her when it came to her choice of clothes. I would have gone for the boy’s clothes in a heartbeat as well. ;-P (Could it be that Lila is non-binary or gender fluid?!) Generally speaking I think it wasn’t easy to relate to her because she kept everyone at a distance and didn’t let anything get too close to her. For me this made it kind difficult to gauge her character and I hope we’ll get a better grip on it in the next two books. Now that I think about it, I had the same feeling when it came to Blue Sargent throughout the first two books of “The Raven Cycle”. I only really got to know her in “Blue Lily, Lily Blue” so I hope the same will happen with Lila in the next book. XD

”What are you?” he asked, amazed.
Lila only shrugged. “Stubborn.”

”Love doesn’t keep us from freezing to death, Kell,” she continued, “or starving, or being knifed for the coins in our pocket. Love doesn’t buy us anything, so be glad for what you have and who you have because you may want for things but you need for nothing.”

Holland:

”He didn’t know if it was the evenness in the man’s tone or his strangely faded appearance or his haunted eyes – one black, of course, the other a milky green. Or perhaps it was the way he seemed to be made more of water and stone than flesh and blood and soul.”

I love Holland, okay?! I know he’s supposed to be one of the villains but seriously, how could I not adore him?! ❤ His character was so multi-layered, complex, calculating, determined and cruel. It was so nice to watch him in action. *lol* I just can’t resist a decent villain and Holland had all the makings of one. XD Especially an intriguing background story. I really wish we would have gotten more of it though. I mean we only got the necessary details to keep the story moving but there are so many things I would have loved to read about. I guess it was Schwab’s intention to keep us in the dark, because this might sound paranoid but I’m CONVINCED that Holland will reappear in the next book! I don’t buy his death!!! There’s no way he died! He said it’s hard to kill an Antari and he was still breathing and alive when Kell sent him to Black London. THE SOURCE of black magic! Hell, this has trouble written all over it! If you ask me Kell basically handed him the means to come back even stronger! >_< Kell is so going to regret this!

”Looking into Holland’s eye made her skin crawl. Dark things swirled just beneath the smooth black depths. One word whispered through her mind. Run.”

”Hesitation is the death of advantage,” mused Holland and Kell fought in vain against the metal pinnings.

”I hope you made him suffer,” she spat, turning towards the looming castle.
No, thought Kell as they set off. He suffered long enough.

Rhy:

“Yes. Because unless you plan to wed me yourself – and don’t get me wrong, I think we’d make a dashing pair – I must try and find a mate.”
“And you think you’ll find one traipsing around the city?”
“Goodness, no,” said Rhy with a crooked grin. “But who knows what fun I’ll find while failing.”

Rhy is such a precious bean! He gave me Nikolai and Hypnos vibes so it’s no wonder I almost instantly adored him! *lol* He sounds like a lot of fun but unfortunately we didn’t get to see all too much of him in this book. I hope that will change in the next one though. (Also he seems to be unapologetically bi and I live and breathe for characters like that!!!) Still, judging by the little we saw and heard of him I can already tell that he loves Kell like a brother and would never do anything to harm him. I can’t help but wonder what he thinks about his parent’s reaction though. If Kell wouldn’t have been bound to him they would have either killed him or sent him to prison so it’s pretty obvious that Kell was right about their intentions all along. I can’t wait to see more of funny, caring and kind Rhy so there better be more scenes with him in “A Gathering of Shadows”. Also was it just me or did Holland and Rhy actually flirt with each other? It’s such a shame he was merely a means to an end for him. I bet from now on Rhy won’t trust people as easily as before.

Rhy’s hands curled into fists. “How could you?” he said, and Kell worried that the prince was bitter about being tethered to him. Instead, Rhy said, “How could you carry that weight?”

Rhy laughed silently. “I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”
“I apologize for shooting you in the leg,” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”
Rhy broke into his perfect smile.
“I like this one,” he said to Kell.

The Dane Twins:

”Jealous?” he asked. Holland’s two-toned eyes held Athos’s, the green and the black both steady, unblinking. “He suffered,” added Athos softly. “But not like you.” He brought his mouth closer. “No one suffers as beautifully as you.”

Okay! Can anyone please tell me how exactly Holland suffered?!!! I mean it’s indicated that there was something sexual and cruel going on between Athos and him but WHAT EXACTLY??!!! Apparently the Dane Twins had a reputation of torturing and forcing people to do their will. And Holland was under their spell as well so I can only assume that he suffered kind of “Rhysand/Amarantha style”? Also there was only a brief mention that Holland didn’t win the throne because he wasn’t cruel enough to take it before the Danes did. What exactly happened before they ascended the White throne?! I really wish we would have gotten more details here, because this really sounded like an interesting story! Either way the Dane twins gave me the creeps. Astrid even more than her brother Athos. Magic and malice indeed. *shudders* They made for pretty intriguing villains for sure. XD I’m just glad Kell never became Astrid’s toy. He certainly wouldn’t have survived it.

”Astrid Dane is made of magic and malice.”

3

Lila & Kell:

”You don’t know anything about these worlds,” he said, but the fight was bleeding out of his voice.
“Sure I do,” countered Lila cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.”

Is it just me or was Kell ending up on Lila’s bed TWICE in one night some sort of a broad hint? The first time it was even BDSM style! *lol* I guess we all know in which direction their future relationship is going to head. Haha! ;-P Also they kissed at least twice for good luck as well and they both had more luck than brain. Right after the motto “Fortune favours fools!” So they didn’t need the luck but obviously were looking for an opportunity to kiss. XD They were very different but for some reason they still worked. Maybe it’s because they balance each other and magic is all about balance as we already learned. Plus they are both Antari. I wonder how their relationship is going to continue. There is a lot of potential that only needs to be explored. ;-P

”I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”
Kell smiled back. And then Lila brought her free hand to his jaw and tugged his mouth towards hers. The kiss was there and then gone, like one of her smiles.

A wry smile cut across Lila’s mouth. “You’re a smuggler.”
“Says the pickpocket,” snapped Kell defensively.

Rhy & Kell:

”What sons our parents have,” said Kell gently. “Between the two of us, we’ll tear the whole world down.”

They might not be brothers by blood but they are brothers by heart! ❤ I loved their relationship so much and I was so glad that Rhy truly cared about Kell! Which is more than can be said about his parents, but Kell already knew that. >_< I felt so sorry for him but at least he has Rhy and he wouldn’t allow anything to happen to him. Those two seem to balance each other as well and I’m kind of beginning to see a pattern here. *lol* In their relationship dynamic it seems like Rhy is the daredevil who gets into trouble though and Kell is more the mature and responsible one. I can only imagine in which kind of mess they’ll get in the next book. One thing is for sure, I can’t wait to read more about this brotherly duo! ;-P

”He looked up and saw me crouching over him, bleeding, and the first thing he said wasn’t ‘What happened?’ or ‘Where are we?’ He touched the blood on his chest and said, ‘Is it yours? Is it all yours?’ and when I nodded, he burst into tears, and I took him home.”

4

I absolutely LOVED this! “A Darker Shade of Magic” had everything I’m looking for in a book. There was (dark) magic, there were four parallel Londons and there were lots of complex characters I couldn’t help but want to read more about. Yes, the world building and some of the characters themselves might have been rather sketchy, but knowing Schwab I’m certain that we’ll get more details in the following books. This was only just the beginning and what a marvellous one it was! XD