Allgemein, K, K - O, Reviews

Review: Kate in Waiting (Becky Albertalli)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten,5

”If I could stop this crush, I would. I’d slam that brake so hard, with the full force of my brain. It’s just that I know it won’t work. I don’t think my brain’s in the driver’s seat.”

The first thing I have to admit before I go into this review is that I have a difficult relationship with Becky Albertalli’s books. I absolutely loved “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” and I really enjoyed “What If It’s Us”, but I was no huge fan of “Leah on the Offbeat” and the other books I read of her were just mostly okay, I think. So yeah, difficult relationship. I never know if I’ll love her books or if they are just going to be an okay read for me. With “Kate in Waiting” it seems to be even more complicated, because I enjoyed it enough to page through it, but there were some things that I think weren’t handled that well?!

And this gets me in a difficult spot, because how to keep this review spoiler free without going into the things that – in my personal opinion – didn’t sit well with me? >_< I guess at the end of the day all I can do is try to explain why the book got the rating it got and to hope that I manage to convey my feelings. I’m going to try to do exactly that, so please bear with me. I think it’s always easier to start with the good things first and because of that I’ll talk about the friendship between Kate and Andy.

”It kind of bugs me, though, the way people get weird about our closeness. If we were a couple, no one would even blink. But people are always saying that if they didn’t know Andy was gay, they’d never believe we were just friends.
It’s such bullshit. First of all, we’re best friends.
Second of all, there’s no just. Friendship isn’t a just. Yes, Andy’s gay. No, we’re not a couple. But Anderson Walker is the most important person in my life, hands down.”

I really loved their friendship and I think it was portrayed well. They both care about each other deeply and it’s obvious throughout the entire book. They are a found family of their own and I really loved how Kate thought about their friendship. That quote above nailed it because I have a male best friend too and nope he isn’t gay like Andy. He actually has a lovely wife now and a kid and we’re still in contact and close. I was at their wedding last summer. XD I think what I’m trying to say is that it’s possible to have a friendship like that and that it’s really one of the best things if you’re so close that gender and sexuality don’t even matter. So to see this on page was amazing and I could relate to a lot of the things Kate thought about Anderson. Still, to see them giving each other the cold shoulder and the fact they were jealous about the time the other spent with Matt made me really sad. I mean they are teens and they are both in love with the same guy. Their feelings get the better of them. I get it, but even when my bestie and I liked the same guy (talking about a different bestie than before) we would just agree that the guy decides in the end.

”Katypie, I’m so sorry. I’m done being an asshole.” He leans over the gearshift and wraps his arms around me tight. “I love you so much. None of this matters. the Matt stuff? Doesn’t matter. I love you.”
I lean into his hug, my eyes prickling with tears. “I love you, too.”

The mere fact they were competing about Matt’s attention and trying to get some alone time with him didn’t sit well with me. I mean it’s okay that they both wanted to spend some time with him, but I didn’t like that they just assumed that Matt would either choose Kate or Andy. Like I mean, come on! There were so many other students at the school, what if Matt decided he didn’t want to be with any of them and just went for someone completely different? Now that would have been a plot twist. *lol* I personally think there should have at least been the possibility of an outcome like that, because it would have been way more realistic than Matt actually being with one of them.

Plus considering the closeness of Kate and Andy I would have thought they would have been able to set their Matt-differences aside, because if life taught me anything then it’s that teen romances come and go, but your true friends? Well, they are the ones that will always stick with you no matter what.

I guess what it comes down to is that I really liked their friendship but that their competition and jealousy didn’t fit with the close friendship they should have had. If that makes any sense? I honestly would never ever think about stabbing my bestie with a paint brush just because she was talking with my crush. And yes, not even in my teens! But maybe that’s just me. I dunno. I liked to read about Kate’s conflicting emotions, because they felt real, but I think her thoughts and actions sometimes were way too dramatic. But hey, at least Kate seemed to have some sort of conscience. We never got to see Andy’s POV but I honestly didn’t like a lot of the things he did. Kate at least tried to keep it civil but Andy? Wow. Never in a million years would I have treated my bestie like that. And I’m not just talking about his obvious jealousy whenever Kate spent time with Matt and the way he completely shut down and gave her the cold shoulder. I’m talking about

spoilerthe shit show that was their conversation in the toilet room. ”Are you serious right now?” I hear Andy step out of his stall, slamming the door behind him. “What was I supposed to do? Matt wasn’t out! How could I have told you?” “You said you thought I knew!” “I did! But I wasn’t sure. And, Katy, it wasn’t my thing to tell.” I agree with Andy that it wasn’t his thing to tell her Matt is gay, but I absolutely and totally don’t get why he ghosted Kate and didn’t even talk to her even though he knew Matt was gay and in love with him?! Yes, Matt is the one to decide if, when, where and how he comes out to other people. It is his decision, his life, his prerogative. BUT why did Anderson have to ghost Kate and ignore her? A sensible friend would have agreed to keep it on the low and to let Matt figure things out. I understand that Andy wanted to spend time with Matt, but he could always have kept it casual at first and still spent some time with Kate. If I’d have been Kate the fact he ghosted me and made me feel like shit would have been even worse than finding out that he didn’t tell me that crucial thing. But no, Kate is angry at Andy because she thinks he told Matt about her crush on him. That’s the only thing you’re angry about girl?! Not that your bestie decided to shut you out of his life because he just wanted to spend some time with his new bf who wasn’t officially out yet?! I know a lot of people might disagree with me here, but I stand by my opinion: If your bestie has a crush on the gay boy you’re secretly dating and that gay boy isn’t ready to come out yet, you tell your bf that you want to give him time to figure things out and that it’s best to keep things casual until he’s ready to come out because you don’t want to hurt your friends feelings by lying to them. There problem solved! He wouldn’t even need to mention Kate’s crush on Matt because to lie to your friends is already a bad position to be in. I’m sure Matt would have understood. But Anderson didn’t do any of those things and I got the feeling if it would have been the other way around Kate would have held back for his sake. So uff. Also the book plays during a time span of, I dunno, 3 or 4 weeks?! And Andy knew for about 2 weeks before Matt told Kate. You’d think he could have kept it casual and on the low for 14 days, right?! It’s not like we were talking about months or years.

Another thing I would have liked to see more of isn’t just Kate’s relationship with her brother but also her relationships with her other friends. I mean Raina and Brandie were her friends too but they were such superficial side-characters that they had no character at all? There would have been a lot of potential to make them more three-dimensional, especially with Raina’s background. And Matt? Why exactly did they like him in the first place?! What made him so unique that they both were crazy about him? The only thing I gathered about Matt was that he was sweet, a good actor and gorgeous. Period. There is no more to the main love interest than those three words. We never find out about his hobbies, why he doesn’t get along with his dad, if he’s good at sports or what actually happened that weekend he spent with his dad. And I mean more than the short answer he gave about it being horrible and him not enjoying to spend time with his father. The best character of the entire book was actually Noah Kaplan and no one can persuade me otherwise.

Noah blinks. „Why are we talking about testicles?“
„You brought them up.“ I blush. „I mean, not up, physically-„
„This conversation needs to be, like, a hundred percent less literal,“ says Noah.

I loved that boy and he was the sweetest thing. His character was multi-layered and funny and I loved the trio dynamic between him, Ryan and Kate. Honestly, Noah Kaplan’s existence saved a huge part of the book for me and I’m very thankful he was a solid part of it even though I think he deserved better than he got.

spoilerI mean it’s obvious that there is something between Kate and Noah, they have chemistry. But I think the change of Kate falling for Noah instead of Matt was too abrupt?! It felt like the moment she found out Matt wasn’t available because he’s gay and in love with Andy she just decided to go for Noah?! Am I the only one who feels like that? She had a crush on Matt for about 80% of the book and then just goes for Noah?! I think the transition of falling out of love with Matt and falling for Noah should have been more transparent and more pronounced. To mention that Noah was cute every once in a while didn’t make me believe that Kate actually had feelings for him. You don’t just fall out of a crush for a boy you had feelings for, for months. It’s not realistic. It’s not how things happen. Up to 80% of the book Kate wanted to be with Matt and after Andy told her that he’s his bf she got used to that fact in 24 hours?! Seriously?! Feelings don’t work like that. You can’t just switch them off. Nope. This sudden development was unrealistic and it made me feel like Noah was always there and had a crush on Kate for years and she just took him because the other guy she wanted to be with wasn’t available. And Noah deserves better than that!!!

4

After getting this all off my chest the only question is: Did I like “Kate in Waiting” or not?! Well, I mostly did. It was a fast and enjoyable read, the chapters are short and the writing style is easy to get into. I liked some parts of the friendship representation and I adored Noah Kaplan. The musical aspect was done nicely as well and I liked to read about how they got their show together. As with most of Becky’s Albertalli’s books there were some things that bugged me though and I just couldn’t overlook them. I have strong opinions (as you all know.*lol*) and when there’s something I didn’t like in a book I just talk about it. All told “Kate in Waiting” gets 3,5 paws from me. Not the best book I ever read but not bad either. I just wish I wouldn’t always feel so conflicted about Becky Albertalli’s characters and the choices they make. >_<

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

Review: Lore & Lust (Karla Nikole)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

”Life handed him lemons. Instead of making lemonade, he packed his suitcase and left the fruit rotting on the counter.”

It’s been a while I read “Lore & Lust” but I still wanted to add my two cents, because this was one of those books that came exactly at the right time. I wanted to read an m/m vampire slow burn romance in which I could get lost for a little while and that’s exactly what I got. Haruka and Nino were such an amazing couple and I absolutely adored how their relationship went from reluctant acquaintances to friends, best friends and ultimately caused them to end up as lovers. What I really enjoyed in here was the slow burn because right from their first meeting it was pretty obvious that they were both dawn towards each other.

Nino reaches out, his hand firmly resting over Haruka’s fingers. The physical contact abruptly shifts Haruka’s knotted aura again and he inhales sharply. Startled, he snatches his hand away from Nino’s grasp.”

Instead of giving into their nature, they both did their best to hold back though and we slowly but steadily find out the reasons for their restraint. There’s a lot of attraction between those two, yet neither of them wants to give in. It takes a while for the reader to find out why both of them aren’t inclined to go for a relationship and actually would rather prefer to ignore their feelings instead of giving in. Both, Haruka as well as Nino, have been hurt in the past and it’s not easy to get over a severe trauma like that. Honestly, my heart broke when I heard about little Nino’s ordeal and boy, did it break for Haru too. What he survived. Phew! I’m not surprised he tried to steer clear of any sort of romance and would have preferred not to be mated to anyone for the rest of his existence. His special powers made it very hard to avoid other vampire’s advances though and I felt really sorry for him.

”You don’t always need to be perfectly composed and polite,” Nino assures him. “I hope… that after all this is over, you would consider me as a friend? With friends, you can let your guard down.”

What I really loved about this book wasn’t just their close friendship and how they slowly let their guard down around each other, but also how they always spoke about everything. Their communication was amazing and I honestly wish more couples would address their thoughts, feelings and problems as directly as them. They were an excellent example of how important it is to talk when you’re in a relationship and I adored them for it!

Nino sits up straight, focused. “Haru, how … do we feel about sex?”
“Considering my behaviour this morning, I think my feelings should be obvious –“

And most of all what I absolutely loved and appreciated about their relationship was the CONSENT! The freaking consent!!! I mean they both knew about each other’s trauma and they were so very careful with their feelings. No matter what happened between them they always spoke about it and asked if it was okay to take that next step. You have no idea how awesome it was to see a relationship like this on page. They both have been through so much but both of them made an effort to make this work as well. They talked things through; let each other know what worked and what didn’t work for them. Spoke about what was allowed when they were intimate with each other and what wasn’t and they always made it very clear what would be considered to be a red flag. CONSENT. I loved it! Can we have more books like that?

”Haruka gently pulls to feed from him, and in exchange, Nino clearly senses his mind. Warm, quiet thoughts of gratitude and affection are being poured into him. The tenderness of it floods his body, making his breath short. It’s wonderful and singularly the most intimate thing Nino has ever experienced.”

”But he resists. Strictly suppressing the urge each time. Haruka prides himself on his ability to control his nature, and he and Nino are friends. He deeply values their relationship and would never jeopardize it. Haruka has never known anything like it.

It was really nice to read both of their POVs and to see what was going on in their minds while they were together. It helped to understand their feelings and motives and showed how much they truly cared about each other. The book was mostly focused on the development of their slow burn though and if you expect a lot of plot or world building you’ll probably end up being disappointed. Since this is the first book in a series I’m pretty certain that some of the things that were mentioned in here and happened along the way will turn out to be more important in the second book, though. Also I’m convinced that we’ll get to know more about Cellina and Nino’s brother. The chemistry between those two was NICE and I’m sure they’ll end up together as well. Plus I’d really love to hear more about Asao! He was such a cool character and very loyal to Haru which immediately cause me to like him. Yuna however can go to hell! I hate that woman for what she did to Haru and for all I know she can burn in the fierce pits and never return.

”I don’t want us to be apart,” Nino lowers his head, staring down at his thighs. “Is there any way for us to stay together? Would you want that?”
Haruka swallows, his throat tight. “I do want that. But Nino, I would never ask you to uproot your life and established business for me, especially considering… I cannot promise you that we would form a bond.”

4

“Lore & Lust” might not have had the best world building or storyline but boy, did it deliver on the slow burn front. I really enjoyed this so much and I honestly cared more about Nino’s and Haru’s relationship development than about the rest of the story, which is probably the reason why this worked out so well for me. *lol* If you want to go for a quick and pleasant read that won’t force you to overthinking things too much I can totally recommend to go for this book. Also the slow burn and consent in this book are impeccable and if you love tropes like that you should definitely pick it up. 😉

Happy reading!

Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Nick and Charlie (Alice Oseman)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”No, but – “ he shakes his head – “you’re Nick and Charlie.”
I laugh. “What does that mean?”
“It’s …” He laughs too, a nervous expulsion of air.
“You’re … it’s hard to explain. It’s like, if you had to provide evidence for soul mates, everyone would pick you two.”

I can’t believe this were only 159 pages, yet they packed such a punch! Leave it to Alice Oseman to put us through the emotional wringer. *lol* Seriously, to read “Nick and Charlie” was such a roller coaster and my emotional bandwidth went from happy to sad and depressed right smack back into slap happy and cosy territory! It was…. A LOT! XD

”People we know usually message Charlie these days when they want to talk to either of us because I’m horrific at replying to messages. He’s way more organised than me.”

First of all let me tell you how much I loved to see the entire “Heartstopper” crew again! I loved to read about those tiny details like the fact that people will text Charlie because they know Nick is with him. I mean this was such a nice look at their every day life and extremely wholesome to read about! ❤ Also their sweet and fluffy moments. They are just too adorable together and I guess I’m guilty of thinking “They are Nick and Charlie” too! I mean, they are! With some couples you just know that they are meant to be together forever and those two are like the epitome of this feeling!

”After a few seconds I go to move backwards, but he just pulls me further down. I laugh against his lips and I feel him smile too, but neither of us stop and after a minute or so I feel my hand subconsciously reach to run through his hair.“

Unfortunately Nick is leaving for uni soon and that causes quite the trouble between them. They wouldn’t be Nick and Charlie if they wouldn’t be able to manoeuvre around that bump in the road though, right?! Well, I suppose you’ll have to find that out for yourself. Not gonna spoil anything! ;-P What I can say for sure is that I absolutely love Tori and Nick’s mum! They are amazing and I really wish every LGBTQIA+ teen would have people like them in their lives! You need the support of loved ones and those two did an excellent job! As did Aled Last! Gosh! It was so good to see more of Aled in here! I just love my boy and I missed him ever since I read the last page of “Radio Silence”. ❤
Plus can we acknowledge how he is so damn good with Charlie’s feelings? He always said the right things and was the person that gave the best advice.

”You okay though?” he asks. “I feel like you’ve been really down today.”
I pause, a little taken aback. “Oh. Yeah. No. I’m fine.”
“Yeah?” He fiddles with his fingers and gives me a look.
“Yeah. I don’t know. Nick’s just talking a lot about uni, it’s kind of … just makes me feel a bit crap… I don’t know.” I groan and run a hand through my hair. “That sounds so bad when I say it out loud.”
“No, you’re allowed to feel things.” He smiles. “I get it.”

4
This said I really enjoyed reading “Nick and Charlie”! It was a great addition to the main series and it’s always so nice to be back in the world of “Heartstopper”! For me it felt like coming home and meeting a lot of good old friends, which is legit one of the best feelings ever! =)

”I think he just took them because he wanted to remember what this was like. What our life is like now. Chilling round each other’s houses, going on walks, eating together, sleeping together.
It sounds boring but it’s so wonderful.
It is. I feel myself tear up just looking at our life together.
I love this. I love us. I love our weird, boring life.”

Allgemein, K - O, O, Reviews

Review: One Last Stop (Casey McQuiston)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

Book 26 on My Book List 2021

”Does it ever, like … I don’t know. Make you lonely? To love somebody who can’t meet you there?”
She regrets it immediately, but Annie laughs.
“Sometimes. But, you know, that feeling? When you wake up in the morning and you have somebody to think about? Somewhere for hope to go? It’s good. Even when it’s bad, it’s good.”

Let me get this off my chest before I dive right into my review: I really loved this book! There were so many good topics in here and the found family trope was so strong it made my heart feel full! ❤ Funnily enough despite all that, I didn’t write down all too many quotes and I can’t say a lot about the individual characters. When I read RWARB I had so many quotes and wrote such a long review but when I read “One Last Stop” I didn’t feel like marking all too many passages? I think this is mostly due to the fact that RWARB was a very political book (I mean with a relationship between the son of the president of the USA and the English prince it kinda has to be, right?!) and therefore tackled a lot of important topics. Not that “One Last Stop” didn’t do this too. It was just more subtle and woven into the story so effortlessly that you had to pay attention to actually see the fine nuances. Also this story was definitely more focused on the mystery of Jane’s former life and how she ended up on the train than it was on taking a political stance on important themes.

”I wasn’t a builder. I wasn’t a leader. I was a fighter. I cooked people dinner. I took them to hospital. I stitched them up. But I only stayed long enough to take the good, and I always left when the bad got bad.”

I think this quote just about sums it up! As a lesbian Jane was a part of historical change and basically lived and breathed LGBTQIA+ history before she got stuck on the Q line. This is part of her and her life but it wasn’t the main topic of the book and the question of how exactly Jane landed in a time loop on the train was definitely the focus of the story. This made the book very enjoyable to read and it was easy to page through it and to get carried away by the current of the tale. If you ask me this was actually some sort of mystery with a romance element because even though this book is about August’s and Jane’s love story it’s also about solving Jane’s dilemma of being stuck.

”August’s mom saved one tupperware tub of files on her brother and not a single one of August’s baby pictures.”

Of course there are other plotlines as well and August’s relationship with her mum was one of them. It made me really sad to read about the effect her missing uncle had on their lives and the portrayal of people who never get closure was very realistic. If someone goes missing you can’t say goodbye because you always hold on to the hope that the person is still living so while I understand August’s mum, I still couldn’t help but feel sorry for August. The impact on her life was extreme and it’s no surprise her and her mum didn’t have a good relationship.

The top of Wes’s head pops up from under the table, along with one accusatory finger.
“Nobody asked the fucking Long Island Medium.”
Niko smiles. “Lucky guess. My third eye is closed tonight, baby. but thanks for confirming.”
Wes gapes at him. “I hate you.”

Thankfully August moved in with a bunch of adorably crazy people and I loved them ALL! I swear the found family in this was amazing and I really would have loved to be a part of their group too. Alone their conversations had me cracking up so much and the dynamics between them were chefs kiss. *lol* Niko and Wes were so hilarious and Myla was just precious! I think of all of Augusts friends Niko was my favourite. I loved his humour and the fact that he was such an all knowing medium. XD Niko is also a transgender boy and it really made me happy how unproblematic this revelation was. It was so, so nice to see that brief interaction between him and August. It was a quiet and gentle scene and done so well.

And now comes the topic no one ever seems to talk about when they are talking about “One Last Stop”: The awesome drag queen rep! I mean the queens and their community are a constant part of the entire book and yet I’ve never heard anyone talk about the rep! Not only is there something going on between Wes and Isaiah (aka Annie Depressant) but they play such an important role in the plot as well! I absolutely adored finding out about all the different queens and their performances and how they lived off-stage. They were all Queens and I loved each and every single one of them so much! <333 I kinda loved how McQuiston didn’t only tackle different LGBTQIA+ reps but also let us know about their history and just embedded it into the story. This is great storytelling right there! 😉

”Before August can get the threat out, Jane twists her around, backing her into the doors of the train. She pins August at the hips, shoulders braced against hers, hand wrapped around her racing pulse at the wrist, and August can feel Jane like lightning in her veins.”

And now to the part you probably waited for: The romance between August and Jane! First of all, I loved Jane and I can’t blame August for falling for this girl! I mean Jane is the full package! She’s kind, she’s funny and cheeky, she is bubbly and so many other things, plus I could relate to her. That scene when she danced in the train… could have been me. Honestly. *lol* And secondly, I was such a sucker for the f/f rep! Finally a realistic rep between two women! Usually f/f relationships in books feel wooden or sterile to me but this one was amazing! You could feel their love and longing and I gobbled it up like nobody’s business. XD So thank you Casey McQuiston for gifting us with this awesome representation! Finally an author who knows how to write f/f relationships. ❤

”I look at you, and it feels like I’m realer than I’ve ever been, from right here.” She covers August’s hand with hers. “So big it burns. God, August, it’s beautiful, but it hurts so bad.” And, damningly, “You’re the reason I feel like this.”

Still, I feel like I need to warn you about the PDA in this book because some people might not be okay with it. I mean the book plays on a subway train because Jane is bound to it and it’s a romance so it’s pretty obvious that the MCs are spending all their time together in public. I know some readers might be sensitive to content like this so I decided to mention it in my review as well. For me, personally, it worked. I mean yes, they are kissing and touching and one scene was a little bit too intense for my taste (at least when it’s done like that in public) but the other occupants of the train never seem to notice or care and the real steamy scenes actually almost always (except of that one exception) happen when the train is empty and they are the only passengers. If you pick up the book you should be aware of this! 😉

4
All told I enjoyed “One Last Stop” immensely and I can highly recommend it if you’re in search of a good f/f rep! The paranormal element brought a very unique and nice touch to the story and even though it was a fairly slow tale it still managed to keep me interested. The little newspaper articles and reports at the beginning of every chapters added a realistic depth to the story and I really liked to read them and to find out more about Jane’s past. Also the writing style is easier to get into than it was in RWARB. I loved this and I’m sure a lot of people will end up enjoying this book too! =)

Allgemein, K - O, M, Reviews

Review: Mexican Gothic (Silvia Moreno-Garcia)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”I am Catalina Taboada. CATALINA. Cata, Cata come out to play. I miss Noemi. I pray I’ll see you again. You must come for me, Noemi. You have to save me. I cannot save myself as much as I wish to, I am bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin and it’s there.”

If I’d have to describe “Mexican Gothic” with just one sentence I’d say: “It was fun.” Fortunately or unfortunately (it always depends on whether you like my reviews or not) we all know that I’m incapable of keeping my reviews short and simple so as always you’ll get a lot more from me than just one sentence. ;-P This said: What is the book about? Well, if you break it down to the basics “Mexican Gothic” is about Noemí Taboada who is sent to her cousins’ house in order to find out what is wrong with her. After marrying an English man and moving into his house named High Place, Catalina wrote a very disturbing letter and her father entrusts Noemi with taking care of the matter. Or in short he wants her to find out if Catalina needs the care of a psychologist or not.

”She thought that men such as her father could be stern and men could be cold like Virgil, but women needed to be liked or they’d be in trouble. A woman who is not liked is a bitch, and a bitch can hardly do anything: all avenues are closed to her.”

Once Noemi arrives at High Place it seems like her cousin is getting over a heavy illness and that everything is going to be okay, well at least at the beginning. The longer she stays the more crazy things happen. Haunted by reoccurring nightmares Noemi soon realizes that her cousin’s letter might not have been written while she experienced a psychotic episode but actually might turn out to be the truth. Confined to the dark halls of High Place she sees the well maintained facade of the Doyle family crumble and the secrets she discovers behind the walls are enough to unnerve even the bravest socialite.

”A woman’s function is to preserve the family line. The children, well, Virgil is the only one left, but she did her duty and she did it well.”

I can’t even tell you how much I hated Howard Doyle, the patriarch of the family. He was such a horrible and vile man and all his talk about Eugenics, superior races and the roles of women made me sick to my stomach. Not that his son Virgil was any better. The more I saw of his true nature, the more I detested him. Florence, the only female Doyle member, was horrible as well and I loathed her so much for bending to Howard’s and Virgil’s will. This woman was mean and cruel and had no backbone to speak of. And Catalina? Well, her poor cousin barely seems to be able to get out of bed so Noemi is on her own and has to fight for both of them.

She thought Howard looked like an insect and Florence was an insectivorous plant. But Virgil Doyle, he was a carnivore, high up the food chain.
“Florence is right. You deserve to be slapped and taught a few lessons,” he muttered.
“If anyone is slapped in this room, I assure you, it won’t be me.”

The only family member I really liked was precious and frail Francis Doyle. Florence’s son and the only person that truly seemed to care about Noemi’s well-being. I couldn’t help but like Francis but I also felt kind of guilty for trusting him? *lol* I mean at a place where nothing is as it seems and where you find enemies at every corner, would you trust a nice and gentle soul? I for my part had a really strong trust problem when it came to Francis but at the same time, just like Noemi, I wanted to be able to rely on at least one person in this creepy house. XD

”You are right to think that I was grown like an orchid. Carefully manufactured, carefully reared. I am, yes, like an orchid. Accustomed to a certain climate, a certain amount of light and heat. I’ve been fashioned for a single end. A fish can’t breathe out of water. I belong with the family.”

As for our MC Noemi Taboada: I absolutely loved and adored her! This woman is fierce and she never backed down! I really enjoyed to follow her journey and to discover the secrets of the old house alongside her. This woman has guts and I was very glad she gave the Doyle family a run for their money and didn’t allow them to intimidate her. The Doyle’s, especially the male family members, definitely needed someone to reprimand them so I was happy about every word that Noemi uttered with her sharp tongue. *lol*

”This time his gaze lingered on her for one long minute before, skittish, he stepped back and rounded the table again, returning to his original position. A bundle of nerves is what he was. A heart, raw and bleeding, she thought, and the image lingered in her mind.”

4
All told “Mexican Gothic” was a really interesting horror book and I enjoyed it even though I’m a scaredy fox and usually don’t read in the genre of horror. At least not all too often. 😉 Still, I loved the atmosphere of High Place, the cemetery next to it, the impenetrable fog surrounding the old house, it’s cold and cruel residents and its desolate walls harbouring dark secrets. If you like books that are mysterious and not all too creepy, books that give you a slightly gross vibe. Well, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one too.

Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Now I Rise (Kiersten White)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Secrets gave everything more power, more potential for devastation and destruction.”

And the secrets in here were huge, which is the reason why the destruction was so big at the ending of this book. >_< Both, figuratively and literally. I swear to read this was … quite an experience. I mean I already knew that this series is character driven and that the scheming and plotting never ends but I think “Now I Rise” raised this to the next level. If you know me, you know that I love this in my books though so to read this story was perfect for me. XD

What was very interesting was that we don’t only have two different POVs in the second book but also two different storylines that are a little bit delayed. We follow Lada who is in Wallachia and desperately tries to become the prince of her country and we are with Radu as he follows Mehmed’s order to infiltrate Constantinople as his trusted spy. Both siblings struggle with their tasks and with what is needed in order to achieve their goals. And while Lada continues to be the ruthless dragon that we know her to be, Radu’s heart seems to fissure under the constant weight of pressure.

I swear, the Dracul siblings couldn’t be any more different even if they tried but they still have such a strong connection and you can feel it on every page. Just like in the first book the longing in here is real, but whilst the main focus of this yearning was Mehmed in “And I Darken” it becomes something different in here. It turns into a longing for peace, for hope, for belonging and into a longing for knowing your place in the world, an almost palpable yearning for acceptance and better days. But before I write even more I’ll just get to my characters section and explain all my thoughts in there. 😉

2

You are now entering the lost city of Constantinople. Where people fight bravely against all odds and spoilers. If you don’t want to fight against a spoiler at every turn I strongly recommend you to leave this place. It isn’t too late; you can still make it out in time. 😉

Lada:

”Lada smiled. She knew that should not please her, but it did. The prince thought her a big enough threat to warrant an assassin. She still had a chance. Where there was fear, there was power.”

My fierce and reckless dragon child! Gosh, I love Lada. I really dislike a lot of her actions and I disagree with her methods but I still can’t help but love this girl. I think I rarely felt so torn about a fictional character but Lada Dracul is definitely something else. Just like in the first book she knows exactly what she wants and she’s still not afraid of doing whatever is necessary in order to achieve her goals. I just gotta admire her tenaciousness and intransigence. This woman knows the price she’ll pay and yet she’s still not afraid of going through with the bargain. Lada still wants Wallachia more than she wants anything else and I think her and Mehmed are pretty similar when it comes to the craving for a country/city. They would do anything to get it and no price would be too big to pay. Even if it took their souls as payment, they would still readily sacrifice them. Lada is already at the point where she’s crossing a line she’ll never be able to return from and I’m kind of worried what that will do to her in the last book. >_<

”Tonight, she felt the full weight of that loss. The loss of a brother who would have stood at her side and fought this battle of manners and politics for her. The loss of a man who would have laughed at her dress and her hair but also been desperate to be alone so he could undo it all for her.”

”For years Lada had nurtured only hatred for her father, to take away the pain that loving him had left her with. But that night in her tent as she drifted to sleep, she let some of it go. Because she, too, was grateful for who she was. She would not wish any part of herself away.”

”Running and abandoning those who needed her as the weakest, lowest thing possible. Lada would not do that. She could not. Whatever else she was, Lada was nothing like the class who could go on living after turning their backs on those who depended upon them.”

”Without a word she shifted and plunged it into the chest of Toma. The man who had used we to talk about their plans, when he meant himself and a foreign king. The man who had thought that through words and advice, he could take Lada’s soldiers, Lada’s power, Lada’s country without ever fighting her. She watched his face as he died, committing it to memory.”

Radu:

”Hope was an arrow that never ceased piercing his heart.”

My precious Radu! In my review of “And I Darken” I described him as “beauty with a sting” and that description still holds true, in “Now I Rise” his character changed a lot though. His armour started to crack and to hide his true feelings got more and more difficult. Mehmed asked him to go to Constantinople and to work as his spy and at first Radu is willing to do what he can in order to offer Mehmed Constantinople on a platter. The longer he stays at the city the more he gets involved in the community though. He makes friends and gets attached to Cyprian, Constantine and his family. He suffers alongside them in the siege and he fights against his own people that try to invade the city. Radu starts to question his role and his blind loyalty to Mehmed, but in the end is forced to realize that neither Mehmed nor Constantine deserve his faithfulness. Both of them would have been able to spare their people’s lives, but their pride didn’t allow them to do what would have been the best for their subjects. Radu is so torn by his own actions and the actions of Mehmed and Constantine that he’s breaking under the pressure. At the end of the book he’s a broken man and I was grieving his lost innocence. T_T I really just want my Radu to be happy! Is that too much to ask for?

”What did he hope his future would be? To stand forever at Mehmed’s side, beloved friend, trusted advisor? He had told Nazira it would be enough. It would never be enough.”

”Radu did not know which filled him with more despair – that everyone had heart this rumor except him, or that the mere suggestion of Mehmed loving women and men was seen as evil. His feelings for Mehmed had never felt evil or wicked. They had been the truest of his life, bordering on holy. To hear his love so casually profaned made him sick to his stomach.”

”Again you have never met my sister. She responded to our torments by getting harder, crueler, further away. It made her stronger, but it was breaking me. So when Mehmed – the sultan – offered me kindness, it was like someone had offered me the sun in the midst of the longest, coldest winter of my life.”

”Where was his heart? Where was his loyalty?”

”Radu had been wrong. There were no good men in this city.
And there were no good men outside of it, either.”

3

Lada & Mehmed:

„Mehmed moved from her lips to her neck, his hands in her hair. “When you left, you took my hear twith you. Kill me, Lada,”he said, with so much longing she could not keep her own hands off him.“

Okay, we legit only got one scene between those two and their sexy time ended rather abruptly when Lada found out that Mehmed could have supported her but didn’t because his own goals were once again more important than Lada’s. I honestly don’t blame Lada for leaving his tent in haste and hating him with a fierce passion. It’s not all hate though and I feel kind of sorry for her because she truly loves him but she can’t get out of her own skin. Those two are the epitome of star-crossed lovers and however their story will end. It won’t end well. >_<

”You could have trusted me and given me those forces instead. Were there ever any troops? Did you ever mean to help me?”
“I am helping you! You are destined for bigger things! With me.” He stepped toward her and she put her hands up.

”She closed her eyes, because she had worked so hard not to think of it. But as soon as she allowed the memories back in, she wanted to kill him. And she wanted to be with him again.
She did not know which impulse was stronger.”

Lada & Radu:

”I ask only what he is willing to do. Nothing more.”
“Then I do know him better, you fool. Radu would do anything for you.”
Mehmed looked away, a dark flush spreading across his cheeks.
“You know…” Lada’s eyes narrowed to thin slits, her fists clenched so tightly they ached. “You know that he is in love with you.”

I love Lada for hating Mehmed because of Radu! *lol* I blame it all on the Slytherin sleeping peacefully inside of me. ;-P But seriously, their sibling relationship is one of the best things about this series. Because they are true siblings in every sense of the word. I hate that Mehmed is still standing between them and I hope that one day they’ll realize that their relationship is more important than any man. Even if it’s the sultan! I really hope they’ll make amends once they meet each other and the Slytherin in me hopes that they’ll both tell Mehmed to go to hell! *lol* I can dream, right?! I guess if it wouldn’t have been for Mehmed their petty rivalry from their childhood would have already been a distant memory, but since they are still fighting for the attention of the same man they aren’t where they are supposed to be. At least not sibling relationship wise. I just hope they won’t realize their mistakes too late.

”Where was he? Was he safe? Of all the things she held against Mehmed, jeopardizing Radu’s safety was the greatest. If Radu was hurt, she would never forgive Mehmed. Radu was not an acceptable sacrifice, not for any city.”

Radu & Cyprian:

”Be careful,” Cyprian said, running a finger as soft as a whisper along Radu’s palm. “We need these hands.” Cyprian looked up and Radu found himself unable to bear the intensity of his gaze. Cyprian released his hands, laughing awkwardly. “We need all the hands we can get.”
“Yes,” Radu murmured, still feeling Cyprian’s finger tracing his palm.

Now that … oh my! Where do I even start?! Radu has got to be one of the most unfortunate book characters I ever came across. This boy has absolutely no luck when it comes to love. At first he fell for Mehmed who only uses him and then he falls for Cyprian whom he betrayed for Mehmed. I can’t with this ship! Honestly! Cyprian and Radu were such a lovely ship and slow burn but ARGH did it kill me to know that Radu was betraying Cyprian every step of the way. It killed Radu too. Obviously! Truth be told, Cyprian is too precious for this world. The mere fact he agreed to protect Nazira and to take care of her even though he was fully aware that Radu betrayed him and was responsible for the death of Constantine… I have no words! Cyprian is an angel! <333 And I really, really hope that he will find forgiveness for Radu in the next book because Radu needs someone like him in his life. But still, the betrayal!!! T_T GAH! Why is their relationship so doomed?!

”I feared for your safety.” Radu embraced Cyprian again, both because it was warm and comforting against the weariness of this long night, and because it was the only way he could hide how touched and sad he was that Cyprian’s first fear had been for Radu’s traitorous life.

”He will not kill me,” Radu repeated, waiting for Cyprian to understand. The foundation in Cyprian’s eyes crumbled like the walls around them.
Cyprian stumbled back, shaking his head. “All this time,” he whispered.

Radu & Nazira:

”You do not need to worry about me.”
“I do not worry because I need to. I worry because I care about you. I want to see you happy. And I do not think Edirne holds any happiness for your.” She emphasized Edirne, making it clear that it was not the capital she spoke of, but what – or rather, whom – that capital held.

Those two! They might only have a fictitious marriage but their friendship and their affection for each other is true and real. I love how deeply they care about each other and how they want each other to be happy! Radu is always watching out for Nazira and tries his best to keep her safe and Nazira has his back and tells him the things he needs to hear. They work so well together and even though their marriage is fake I still think they have a truly beautiful relationship. Nazira is such a precious character as well and I love her so much!! <333 Everyone should have a Nazira in their life. She’s such a nourishing, kind and caring character. XD I love her!

Radu drew her close. “You know I will make certain you are taken care of. No matter what.”
Nazira laughed sadly against his chest. “There you go again, assuming I am worried for myself. You never account for others loving you for you, Radu, rather than what you can do for them. It is my greatest prayer that someday you will know enough of love to recognize when it is freely given.”

”You do not know him. Besides, I do not wish anything more from him than his friendship.”
“You are welcome to lie to me, but please stop lying to yourself. Whatever your hopes are with him, I promise they will never be realized.”
“You have found love.”
“Yes. With someone who could return it. But you refuse to let go of this festering love for a man who is incapable of loving you.”
Radu blinked back tears. “Do I not deserve love?”
She put her hand on Radu’s cheek. “Sweet Radu, you deserve the greatest love the world has ever seen. I simply do not think Mehmed is capable of loving anyone the way you love him.”

”When I am with Fatima, what I feel is pure and good. I cannot imagine a god who hates anything that is love, any way we find to take tender care of each other. I want you to find that same love, and I never want you to hate yourself for any love that is in you.”

”I know it is not rational. None of the people here were responsible for what happened to Fatima. But their mindless hatred of us, their demonizing of Islam, is what let those men do what they did. It was wicked of me to come here with so much hatred in my heart. Hatred makes monsters of us all.”

”You almost make me believe in fate, for how unfortunate yours is.”

Radu & Mehmed:

”I am glad you are here,” Mehmed said.
Radu smiled bitterly. “That makes one of us.”

I hate Mehmed so much for leading Radu on! I guess some part of me always knew that Mehmed was aware of Radu’s feelings for him but to actually get solid proof! To hear that Radu was just the means to an end he used in order to get Constantinople. ARGH! He used and abused Radu’s love and trust and I can’t with Mehmed anymore! Such a foul move! He knew Radu would do everything for him because he loves him and he shamelessly used that love to his advantage. How vile of a creature can you be? Honestly, at this point I just want Mehmed out of the picture so that Radu can finally get the love he deserves. I’m afraid as long as Mehmed is alive Radu will always return to him though. And IT. KILLS. ME.!!! Radu needs to be free of this man but he’s always drawn to him like a moth to a flame.  >_< I have no idea how the last book will end but I hope it will end with a happy Radu.

”I thought this would feel different,” Mehmed said, melancholy shaping his words like a song. He leaned against Radu, finally giving him the contact he had craved for so long.
“So did I,” Radu whispered.

”The ambassador, you mean? He quite liked you. I could see it at Edirne.”
Radu realized with a sickening lurch of his stomach that Mehmed was dancing around a question, trying to determine whether or not Radu cared for Cyprian in the same way. Which meant that Mehmed knew Radu had the feelings for men that he was supposed to have for women.
Which meant Mehmed could not possibly be unaware of the feelings Radu had nurtured for him all these years. Shame welled up in him, but a new feeling came, too. Radu felt … used.”

Lada & her men:

She had left behind love and ridden off to a future devoid of power. “I have nothing,” she whispered.
Nicolae nudged hi horse even closer to hers, until their legs brushed. “You still have us,” he said, his voice soft with understanding. “We will figure something out.”

Did I ever mention that I love Lada and her men? I’m so glad she has them with her and they are truly one hell of a nice company. *lol* Nicolae is definitely still my favourite and I really hope that he’ll survive the last book as well. As for Bogdan: I’m  afraid sooner or later he’ll realize that Lada is only using him and can’t return his feelings for her and I’m kind of worried how this will end. Love and hatred are two emotions that are close to each other and I just hope Bogdan’s unrequited love for Lada won’t kill her. XD Stefan is so precious too! ❤ Anyway, I’m sure Lada’s men will be loyal in the last book too, but I’m worried about Nicolae and Bogdan. >_<

Lada laughed, patting Bogdan’s knee. Then she tossed a handful of dirt and dry evergreen needles at Nicolae. “No one asked for your opinion.”
“My opinions are gifts I distribute freely, asking neither permission nor payment.”
“Take your gifts elsewhere,” Bogdan grumbled.

”What we do now, we do so that someday mercy will be able to survive here.”
“But the children.” Nicolae’s voice was as empty as a boyar’s promise.
“You said you would follow me to the ends of the earth.”
“Gods’s wounds, Lada,” he whispered, shaking his head. “Someday you will go further than I can follow.”

Lada & Hunyadi:

”Hunyadi’s love and trust was a valuable thing; it meant more to Lada than she had thought possible. But he could not get her the throne. And she did not feel the pull of Constantinople that all the men in her life seemed to. Hunyadi, she cared about. Constantinople was only a city.
Wallachia, though. Wallachia was everything.”

I never expected Hunyadi to become some sort of father figure for Lada but it actually happened and I really liked their relationship. It’s a shame Hunyadi died because he was one of the few people that saw Lada’s true self and accepted her the way she is. She would have needed him to stay at her side for a longer time, but unfortunately he died because of Mehmed’s war strategies. I think with Hunyadi’s guidance she would have never come to the point she is at now, but his influence on her is gone and without it I’m kind of worried of what will become of Lada. >_<

”That is how we are alike. We saw everything that was not ours, and we hungered. Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight for everything. Even when you already have it, you will have to keep fighting to maintain it. You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything. Any weakness will undo everything you have accomplished. They will see any crack as evidence that they were right that a woman cannot do what you do.”

4

I enjoyed the second book at least as much as I enjoyed the first one. Maybe even more because the pacing felt a little bit faster than in “And I Darken”. It was interesting to see how the characters developed and how they grew.  The character arc of Radu and Lada… chef’s kiss! Even though I suffered with them I still love how Kiersten White managed to let them grow. This said: If you already liked the first book I’m sure you’ll love this one as well! XD

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

Review: Lord of Shadows (Cassandra Clare)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

When it comes to Lord of Shadows I really don’t even know where to start! I loved the book! I loved it so much I found myself rereading certain passages just because I couldn’t help myself but had to experience them again and again. =)

Cassie has always been one of my favourite authors and the more I read from her, the more I get captured in her world. It’s not just the world of the Shadowhunters though, it’s the entire package Cassandra Clare is giving to us. There were so many details and things I loved about this book and even though I will never have the time to list them all, I’m still going to try to write a proper review.

First of all I have to say that I love the world Cassandra Clare has built and even though it sometimes seems to be more than just cruel (“Sed lex dura lex”) it never fails to captivate me. Well, truth be told most of the time it’s even this kind of harshness that makes it so interesting, the obstacles and problems every single one of the Blackthorns has to overcome making the entire story line even more intoxicating and exciting. Thinking about it in retrospective the plot isn’t even that amazing and if I had to pinpoint why I still loved every line of the book, I would say that it’s the details and the love I found in every single word.

If you don’t like spoilers you should stop to read now, if you’re a sucker for spoilers: please feel free to continue! ;-P

Love, I think that’s actually the word that sums it up. There is love everywhere and all of the characters have plenty of it to give. There are Julian and Emma who try to fight their feelings, there are Ty and Kit who slowly but steadily seem to fall in love and there is the love triangle between Mark, Kieran and Cristina that left me almost breathless and broken. God I can’t even say how much I loved all of those relationships! I had to laugh, I had to cry, I wanted to tear the book apart and throw it against a wall. The ending literally killed me and even though I finished the book about a month ago I’m still far from being over it. Cassie how dare you to make such an ending!?!? I can’t wait to read the next book and the mere thought to wait two years is already enough to leave me in anguish! How could you do this to your follow readers?!?!?!

Well, enough of the ranting and back to the good stuff! Relationships are definitely something Cassandra Clare truly excels at and the more I read from her, the better her books seem to become. It’s obvious that she put a lot of effort into her characters and their world and the little hints at some of the other books never cease to amuse me.

“There were valuable first editions of books in the enormous library, most of them had been scribbled in by some idiot named Will H.”

Just to mention one of them. ;-P

So yes, since I liked the love relationships the most I’m going to get into detail now:

3
Emma & Julian:

I adore Julian, I really do! He has the soul of an artist and he’s so complex that I can’t help but have to love him for it. I never met another character that was so driven by his love for his family, the fact he would do everything in order to protect his loved ones something that sometimes even gave me the chills. He is neither black nor white and his love for Emma only seems to emphasise his inner conflict. The tension between those two is almost tangible in the air and whenever I read about them I was reduced to a squealing fan girl. I really hope that they manage to find a way to break their parabatai bond and I don’t even want think about what will happen now that Livvy died…

“Why all these paintings of you? Because I’m an artist, Emma. These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.” – Julian Blackthorn

Ty and Kit:

I love, love, love and love those two!! Every time they interacted I had a smile on my face and felt oddly peaceful. Ty is such a gentle boy and Kit understands him so well. It’s so obvious that the two of them care about each other deeply and even though Cassie is careful never to give us a palpable proof of their love, I was still able to read it in every single line. I liked all the parts that were from Kit’s POV and since he’s a Herondale I automatically loved him! *lol* I really hope there is going to be more of those two in the next book and I can’t even say how much I ship them! =)

“He let the shirt fall and grabbed a Tupperware container of cookies out of the fridge. Maybe he could frustrate the Shadowhunters by refusing to work out and sitting around eating carbs. I defy you, Shadowhunters, he thought, thumbing the top off the container and popping a cookie in his mouth. I mock you with my sugar cravings.” – Kit Herondale

“He grinned, and the grin changed his face completely. Ty when he was still and expressionless had an intensity that fascinated Kit; when he was smiling, he was extraordinary.” Kit about Ty

Mark/Cristina and Kieran:

Oh my god! I don’t even know how I should put their love triangle into words! I guess first of all I have to say that I’m usually no fan of love triangles and don’t like them because they always seem to be so cheesy and tedious. This time however I wanted them to be together so badly that it almost hurt! XD I can understand why Christina is kind of falling for both of them and even though I initially shipped Mark and Kieran in LM I have to admit that I’m all on the new ship right now! Of all the three of them I somehow loved Kieran the most and therefore truly hope that Mark will be able to forgive him for what he’s done. Since Kieran was taken to the Scholomance at the end of the book I don’t know how their love triangle is going to work out, I certainly hope that I will read a lot of them in the next book though!!! XD

“I do not love you as I love Cristina. I love you as I love you,” said Mark. He bent his head. “I wish that you could see my heart. Then you would understand.”

4
I probably could go on and on about all the other awesome couples and their relationships! Dru’s friendship with Jaime, Diana and Gwyn (I loved how Gwyn reacted to her outing!!!), Jace and Clary, Alec and Magnus, they all were so awesome! For the sake of the poor person that actually decided to read through this review I’m going to end it now though! ;-P

All told I relished and loved every single moment of this book and I really, really, really would appreciate it if Cassandra Clare would write just a little bit faster! *LOL*

Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Ninth House (Leigh Bardugo)

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Book 1 on My Book List 2020

”The Ancient Eight have yielded some of the most powerful men and women in the world. People who literally steer governments, the wealth of nations, who forge the shape of culture.

Okay, I’m going to be honest here (am I ever not?! *lol*) and I’ll admit that this was my first foray into the genre of “dark academia”. I’ve never read in this genre before and if I ever did I obviously can’t remember it. So this said the entire concept of “Ninth House” was super intriguing for me. I know a lot of people who already read in this particular genre and most of them apparently were bored and found too many typical tropes in this book. As someone who’s new to this sort of thing I can’t complain though. I mean for me as a newbie it totally worked.

As for the book and the plot itself: It’s a slow one and the story takes quite some time to develop and to gain traction. At the beginning there is a lot of info dump and for me it felt like the start of Sarah J. Maas’s “House of Earth and Blood”. There are many details and an entire hierarchy and system you have to understand in order to be able to continue with the storyline. All the different student unions (secret societies), their special brand of magic and how they are imbedded into the well-oiled machinery named Yale were just a part of it though. We also get a thorough look into Lethe House and how it works as a controlling body for the Ancient Eight. Not gonna lie, it was A LOT to take in at first, but once you get the hang of it the magical world starts to spread out in front of you. 😉

Another thing I’ve to mention are the characters in this book. Alex Stern is probably one of the most unlikely heroines I ever came across. Well, in fact she’s actually an anti-hero, but this only makes her even more likable. Darlington is such a darling (pun totally intended) and Dawes is some sort of quiet force that works in the background. Those three make up Lethe House and it was super interesting to find out about how it works. I think it’s safe to say that the book is very character driven and lives from their complexity, which is always a plus in my book. Still, there were a couple of very disgusting and graphic scenes so if that’s not your cup of tea I wouldn’t recommend reading “Ninth House”.  I’ll definitely make sure to write them all in the trigger warnings below! Anyway, before I write another essay I’ll just leave it at that and jump right into my characters section aka the spoilery parts! XD

2

Welcome to Yale Campus and all the secret societies it harbours. If you don’t want to dive into this dark chapter of history and don’t want to get spoiled you better head my warning and don’t continue to read. For all the brave of you who don’t mind spoilers: Be my guest and go ahead! ;-P

trigger warnings (and there’s a whole list!): violence, gore, rape, blood, drug use, drug dealing & addiction, overdosing, death, abuse (mental and physical), rape of a child, sexual assault after making people compliant with a magical drug, drowning, suicide, blackmail, self-harm, forced consumption of human waste

Galaxy “Alex” Stern:

”The idea that there could be hot food just waiting for her three times a day was still shocking. But it made no difference what she ate or how much of it; it was as if her body, starved for so long, was ravenous now.”

Where to start with Alex?! Well, she’s definitely not your typical heroine. Alex’s past is pretty messy and there happened a lot of heavy stuff that’s still haunting her. She could always see ghosts (they are called Greys in here) and even got attacked by them. Not just physically but she was also sexually abused by one as a child. And yes I think it was actual abuse and not just an attempted one. The way the scene was described she actually got assaulted. Alex was just a child when it happened and she could not explain the things she saw because no one else could see the ghosts as well. So in the end she lost her way and started to hang out with people that used drugs. Which led her into addiction until her friend died and she was offered a job at Lethe House in Yale. What I really liked about Alex’s character was that she wasn’t one of those super strong characters. She was afraid and she tried to stay out of trouble, but as the book continued she realized that she needed to stand up for herself in order to live her life the way she wanted to. Everyone already believed her to be that tough girl so she finally decided to actually become one. XD So at the end of the book it was revealed that Alex is a wheel and I’m very curious to find out what this actually means. Guess I’ll have to wait for book two though. >_<

”Take courage. No one is immortal. Do you know what it would have meant to me to know those words when I was a kid? It would have taken so little to change everything. But no one bothered. Not until I could be useful to you.”

”What do you want? Belbalm had asked her. Safety, comfort, to feel unafraid. I want to live to grow old, Alex thought as she pulled the curtains closed. I want to sit on my porch and drink foul-smelling tea and yell at passersby. I want to survive this world that keeps trying to destroy me.”

”Mors irrumat omnia,” Alex whispered. Death fucks us all.”

”What could she say? Help me. Protect me. Except no one could. No one could see the things hurting her. They might not even be real. That was the worst of it. What if she’d imagined it all? She might just be crazy, and then what? She wanted to start screaming and never stop.”

Daniel “Darlington” Arlington:

”I c-c-class p-p-profanity with declarations of love. Best used sparingly and only when wholeheartedly m-m-meant.”

Mhmm… I’m having a difficult time to say something about Darlington because we only got to see flashbacks of his character. He disappeared when he went to that house with Alex and we have no idea where he actually went or if he’s even still alive. Alex believes him to be in hell so I’m not sure if I should hope that he’s still alive. I’m pretty certain he’d suffer in hell so yeah… Anyway! Darlington seemed to be a really nice guy, yes probably too posh and refined but deep down it looks like he had a good heart. He was like the golden boy of Lethe House and everyone was drawn to him. Throughout the entire book we get to see more and more of his past and what caused him to end up at Yale and Lethe House and why he’s bound so tightly to Black Elm. Still, we only get little bits of his life and the rest is a mystery. So I’m very curious about Darlington now! Especially because Alex thinks he became a demon and the only way to become one is if you killed someone. Maybe he killed his grandfather? I dunno. I really want to find out though because nice and friendly Darlington didn’t seem like he could hurt a fly.

”He saw the city differently because he knew it, and his knowledge was not casual. It was adoration. But no amount of love could make him see Grays. Not without Orozcerio, another hit from the Golden Bowl. He shuddered. Every time was a risk, another chance that his body would say enough, that one of his kidneys would simply fail.”

”Beyond that, he had nothing. But he couldn’t let go of Black Elm, he wouldn’t, not so someone could put a wrecking ball through its walls. Not for anything. This was his place. Who would he be untethered from this house?”

”This was why he had done it, not because of guilt of pride but because this was the moment he’d been waiting for: the chance to show someone else wonder, to watch them realize that they had not been lied to, that the world they’d been promised as children was not something that had to be abandoned, that there really was something lurking in the wood, beneath the stairs, between the stars, that everything was full of mystery.”

”I don’t know,” Darlington had said meditatively. “Suffocating beneath a pile of books seems an appropriate way to go for a research assistant.”

Dawes:

”Alex has indicated her own concerns regarding her assault, and instead of hearing her out, you’ve chosen to question her credibility. You may not have meant to imply anything, but the intent and the effect were to silence her, so it’s hard not to think this stinks of victim blaming. It’s the semantic equivalent of saying her skirt was too short.”

For a long while Dawes was just a side-character that only appeared every once in a while but as the plot picked up pace she became a bigger part of the book as well. I really liked her and I was very thankful Alex had her on her side! Who would have thought shy Dawes would give Dean Sandow a sermon about victim blaming! XD I really loved that and Dawes totally grew on me! She’s a fierce bookworm and we definitely need more of those in our books! *lol*

Turner:

Turner shook his head. “And let me guess, it isn’t a regulated substance because no one’s ever heard of it to regulate it.” He had the same nauseated expression he’d worn when he saw Alex healed by the crucible. “All you children playing with fire, looking surprised when the house burns down.”

Turner is also a character that grew on me and I really like him. He’s just doing his job and trying to make sense of all the magic and craziness that is Yale campus. *lol* Not easy if you’re a man that believes in facts and the things he can see. I guess Alex will teach him a lot of things in the next book and I’m sure he’s going to regret the day he started to work for Lethe, that is, of course, if he isn’t already doing it. XD

3

Alex & Darlington:

”Alex would have liked to be immune to it – the pretty face, his lean frame, the easy way he occupied space as if he owned it. He had a way of distractedly brushing the brown hair back from his forehead that made you want to do it for him.“

And here is the one million dollar question: Was there something between Alex and Darlington or not?! I have no idea! I think they were attracted to each other but nothing ever happened? At least I got the feeling that there was some chemistry but that they didn’t get a chance to give into it. I’m kind of scared to find out how Darlington is going to be once he returns from hell. I’m pretty certain he won’t come back the same way he went into it and I’m sure it will bring an entirely different dynamic to his relationship with Alex. Also there is still North the ghost. He bonded with Alex in the most particular way and I don’t know how this is going to affect Alex in the future. Since the thing with Daisy happened he obviously steered clear of her, but they are bound now and I think he’ll be a part of the next book too. Mhmm.

”Either way, Alex didn’t like that it would be so easy for Lethe to close Darlington’s chapter. He had been a lot of things, most of them annoying, but he had loved his job and Lethe House. It was cruel that Lethe couldn’t love him back.”

Alex & Mira (her mum):

”They would ingest a little bit of arsenic every day. It made their skin clear and their eyes bright and they felt wonderful. And all the while they were just drinking poison.” When Mira turned her eyes back to Alex, they were sharper and steadier than Alex ever remembered them being, free of the usual determined cheer. “That’s what being with your father was like.”

Alex’s mum really seemed to care about her and I couldn’t help but wonder how it even happened that they got so estranged. I suppose Alex didn’t want to explain that she could see ghosts and what they did to her and therefore sought her relief in drugs instead. I had the feeling like her mum tried to reach out to her but Alex just couldn’t accept the help? Maybe I’m wrong. I think as a parent her mum should have been more persistent though. If my kid would go through some stuff and I knew she was falling apart I’d do everything possible in order to reach her. But then again maybe Mira did exactly that and it just wasn’t shown in the book. >_< What caused my ears to prick up though was that little bit when Mira spoke about Alex’s father. To compare him with poison already says enough and I’m pretty certain that Alex inherited her ability to see ghosts from him. Maybe he was some sort of demon? I dunno. All the little bits we got about him indicate that he wasn’t entirely human. I’m definitely ready to solve that mystery in the next book. xD

4

“Ninth House” was my first time reading “dark academia” and even though some of the scenes in this book were pretty repulsive and disgusting I still found myself wanting to know what would happen next. If you don’t have a tough stomach I certainly wouldn’t recommend you to read this, but if you like intriguing characters that are morally grey and enjoy a little bit of mystery this book could be for you. I definitely don’t agree with all of Alex’s actions but she was an interesting MC and I’m curious enough to go for the second book whenever it hits the shelves. =)

Allgemein, K - O, M, Reviews

Review: My Dark Vanessa (Kate Elizabeth Russell)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 34 on My Book List 2021

”I loved the math of it, three times my age, how easy it was to imagine three of me fitting inside him one of me curled around his brain, another around his heart, the third turned to liquid and sliding through his veins.”

trigger warnings: pedophilia, grooming, sexual assault, rape, manipulation, gaslighting, victim shaming, abusive relationship
Fair warning: Might contain slight spoilers.

I’ve been sitting here for half an hour, staring at my screen and I still don’t know how to begin this review. “My Dark Vanessa” is certainly a controversial book and I suppose it just comes with the nature of the story and the topic that is addressed. A fifteen year old girl having an affair with her teacher is not something that’s easy to digest, especially if that mentioned teacher is three times her age as well. So what did I think about this book? Well, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t even know how I feel about “My Dark Vanessa”. Conflicted? Appalled ? Disgusted? Nauseated? Sympathetic? All of those words and so many more. I’ve an entire bandwidth of emotions when I dwell on Vanessa’s story.

”I think we’re very similar, Nessa,” he whispers. “I can tell from the way you write that you’re a dark romantic like me. You like dark things.”

What I can tell you for sure is that I hated Strane – Vanessa’s teacher and affair – with a fierce passion because he’s not only a manipulative ass, but mostly because he knew exactly what he was doing and yet he still did it. He made me so angry and I just couldn’t with him. Whenever he spoke with Vanessa, whenever they hooked up I just wanted to slap him and drag Vanessa away. And we all know that I’m a pacifist but damn the mere idea of a kid ending up in the manipulative fangs of such a vile creature like Strane – it makes me see red! >_< Every action, every single one of his words was calculated and at times I really wished I could have jumped into the book and saved Vanessa from him. I think the worst thing was that Vanessa suffered so much from the things he did to her but that she didn’t even realize it.

”Ah, working girl,” he says. “Still at that hotel, I take it.”
“I could call in.”
“No, don’t do that.” He sits back in his chair, his mood instantly darkened. I know what’s wrong; I should have jumped at his offer , said yes right away. Hesitating was a mistake, and with him, one mistake is enough to ruin the whole thing.

Even years after the happenings at Vanessa’s former school she’s still in contact with him and tries to please him and I … I just have no words for how f*cked up that is. I was horrible to see the effect all this had on Vanessa and how brainwashed she was until the very end. Strane always paints himself as the victim of their story but in fact he’s the villain and it made me feel so angry and helpless that Vanessa couldn’t see it and even felt sympathy for him.

”Listening to him, I want to cry. I see him so clearly now, understand how lonely it must be for him, wanting the wrong thing, the bad thing, while living in a world that would surely villainize him if it knew.”

What really got me was that some part of Vanessa KNEW that this was all wrong. It shows in the way how repulsed she feels by his appearance, how she is ashamed of having an affair with him, this old man that is such a constant of her life. No matter what she does, she can’t really escape him and this was at least as tragic as it was horrifying. Vanessa IS a victim even if she doesn’t see herself as one because what Strane did to her was wrong and scarred her for life. And at times she’s aware of it, she acknowledges the wrongness of it all in her private thoughts, but it’s not enough to truly drive her away from him.

”Good. That’s good.” He reaches for my hands. “You’re in charge here, Vanessa. You decide what we do.”
I wonder if he really believes that. He touched me first, said he wanted to kiss me, told me he loved me. Every first step was taken by him. I don’t feel forced, and I know I have the power to say no, but that isn’t the same as being in charge. But maybe he has to believe that. Maybe there’s a whole list of things he has to believe.”

Not even when he actually rapes her. And it was rape, everyone who thinks this book is putting a gloss on a wrong relationship like that didn’t read between the lines because for me it was plain as day that she didn’t do this willingly. Vanessa hurt and didn’t want to have sex with him, yet he still forced her to and didn’t even stop when she started to cry. That is called rape! Period. And we can tell by Vanessa’s feelings in that scene that she isn’t okay with it. That she doesn’t want it, that she wanted him to stop but just didn’t dare to do anything because she thought she owed him to have sex with her. Which is just another testimonial for how disgusting and manipulative Strane is. He doesn’t even notice she’s crying, he just goes on and ignores her reaction, he forces himself on her and is only focused on his own pleasure. I WAS SO DISGUSTED BY THIS SCENE…. I can’t even tell you how much. >_<

”I want to tell him I’m tired, to roll over and never look at the thing ever again, but that would be selfish. He said me naked is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. It would be cruel for me to counter that with disgust. It doesn’t matter that my skin crawls from touching him. It doesn’t matter. It’s fine. He did that to you, now you do this to him. You can handle a few minutes of this.”

Strane is a horrible, horrible person and he would have deserved to go to jail for this – or if you ask me – to end up in the fiery pits of hell. To take advantage of a 15 year old girl that has no idea what she’s getting herself into is wrong and the fact he painted himself as the victim of Vanessa’s charms just made me want to vomit. Worst thing, Vanessa believes him. For years and always suppresses the little voice in the back of her mind because she knows it was wrong but she just can’t bring herself to acknowledge the truth because then it would be real. To ignore all the others that came after her was easier than to face the bitter truth.

”I just really need it to be a love story. You know? I really, really need it to be that.”
“I know,” she says.
“Because if it isn’t a love story, then what is it?”
I look to her glassy eyes, her face of wide-open empathy.
“It’s my life,” I say. “This has been my whole life.”

4
All told I still don’t know how I feel about “My Dark Vanessa”! For me it was a very dark, disturbing, revolting and thought-provoking book. The fact that we get to see Vanessa’s side, the side of a victim, only made me feel even more conflicted about it all. The ending… well the ending is not what I expected it to be. It’s neither a redemptive ending nor a fair one and it actually left me feeling very indignant about it. So yeah, there’s that. I guess “My Dark Vanessa” will be on my mind for quite a while…

”The excuses we make for them are outrageous, but they’re nothing compared with the ones we make for ourselves.”

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

Review: Let’s Talk About Love (Claire Kann)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”The bottom line was her body had never shown so much as a flicker of sexual interest in anyone. But that didn’t mean she liked being alone. That didn’t mean she wasn’t lonely. That didn’t mean she didn’t want romance and didn’t want to fall in love. It didn’t mean she couldn’t love someone just as fiercely as they loved her.”

So the ratings of “Let’s Talk About Love” are very diverse and range from 1 star up to 5 stars. I can see why some people would think this book is boring or didn’t do an aro/ace rep justice, but the thing is, every review is subjective and every opinion is too. (At least that’s what I think.) There will always be people that think a book is bad because it didn’t address issues the way they wanted it to – or how they wanted it to – and that’s legitimate. As a writer, as an artist you’ll have to learn that not everyone will like the things you write/create. So this said and all out of my system I’ve to say that I enjoyed this book! A lot, I may add.

”If this guy was on a show, he’d be considered the kind of gorgeous that would cause midseason plot twists and act-two spinouts, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat because their beloved characters were goners after looking into those dark brown eyes.“

The love story between Alice and Takumi was so sweet it basically glued my mouth shut with all the sugar. *lol* I really liked their friendship that developed into more and I could totally understand why Alice was hesitant to give into Takumi’s advances at first. Sure, it probably wasn’t Alice’s smartest move to go for a relationship with a girl that is known for her “sexual energy” but then again you don’t choose who you fall in love with. I think she should have told her ex-gf that she’s asexual instead of keeping it a secret though. It was the thing that stood between them and eventually led to her gf breaking up with her. Plus that former relationship made it hard for her to trust Takumi.

”That’s right. You live with us now.” Feenie beamed, a question forming in her eyes. “Fuck, I love you. I think sometimes my mind blocks out how much, so every time I remember feels like the first time I’m realizing it.”

Another theme that was tackled in “Let’s Talk About Love” was the friendship between Alice, Feenie and Ryan. Which was super problematic (in my opinion) and complicated but at the same time very realistic. I mean it was obvious they loved each other, but they had a really bad communication and that made up at least half of their problems. I know a lot of people think that Alice was too egoistic and self-centred but in my opinion not everything was Alice’s fault. I mean Feenie and Ryan ARE a couple and even though they love Alice, that doesn’t mean that she can’t feel left out.

”How am I doing that? And why is this all my fault? Why do you two have a Get Out of Ditching Alice pass that I’m supposed to accept because you say so? How is that fair to me?”
“We don’t ditch you,” Ryan said.
“You do. You have for years. I just don’t say anything because I don’t want us to fight, but the second I find an actual friend on my own, you two act like this.”

If your two best friends are dating you automatically feel left out. It’s a fact. Because they want time together and you’re just not a part of that equation anymore. Well, and the moment Alice spent time with Takumi, Feenie blames her for neglecting their friendship? Quite honestly if Feenie and Ryan would have left me all alone at a party with strangers because they wanted to have some “alone time” in a room I would have given them hell for their attitude, especially if they made me go there in the first place. Guess it’s just me though. For me, personally, a friendship is going both ways and not a one-sided thing. Feenie giving Alice the cold-shoulder for weeks was not okay and if she would have treated me that way I would have given her a piece of my mind. So yep, I guess you can say that the friendship between Alice and Feenie was a topic that made me angry. Truth be told, I would have never been able to be friends with someone like Feenie. Not that Alice dealt with it any better… Don’t get me wrong, they love each other. Obviously. But I prefer my bestie talking things out instead of giving me the silent treatment. Thankfully we’re all different and friends are actually the people you can choose for yourself. 😉

”First of all” – Feenie pointed at her – “you are not broken and I don’t ever want to hear that again. Second, being attracted to one person doesn’t necessarily change who you are. Maybe you’re graysexual instead of straight up ace. There’s just something about the way Takumi’s genetic code arranged his face and body that appeals to your brain chemistry. It’s insta-lust. Enjoy it for what it is.”

So that leads me to the next topic at hand: Alice’s asexuality. I’m not asexual so I don’t know if it was well done or not, but I think I got a better understanding for what it’s like to be asexual in a world that is full of hormone-driven teenagers and adults. XD As far as I understood it Alice has a cutie code and Takumi exceeded it. She feels sexual attraction towards him but she doesn’t feel a need to go through with it, or to say it even more plainly: She might feel hot all over her body when she sees him but she has no desire to actually have sex with him.

I kinda liked that Alice knew she was on the aro/ace spectrum but still tried to define what this meant for her as a person. I saw a couple of reviews that said the representation wasn’t done right and some reviewers actually defined as aro/ace and mentioned that they don’t feel like Alice. I understand why some people wouldn’t feel represented by Alice, but to be fair I’ve to say that everyone is different and experiences things differently. The aro/ace spectrum has many different definitions/terms and Alice could have also been greysexual, fraysexual or acespike. So what I’m trying to say is that for some aro/ace people Alice’s rep might actually have been on point. Every spectrum on the LGBTQ+ rainbow has different shades and varies so I think it’s safe to say that some people might actually like the aro/ace rep in here. Well, and others will dislike it, but that’s okay. We are all individuals and diverse and beautiful in our own way and as long as we’re aware of that, we’ll be fine. 😉

”Say what?” she whispered.
“That I like you,” he whispered back. “Everything you do and say is so endearing, and it’s ridiculous because I can’t stop thinking I need this person in my life. I need to be near you. If I could stand close enough to you, maybe I could absorb some of your shine.”

And now let’s talk about the best thing of this book: The relationship and love story between Alice and Takumi. I absolutely adored those two and they were so freaking cute I couldn’t stop grinning. Seriously, Takumi is perfect! Like super perfect and I have yet to find something about him that’s not great. *lol* This man always said the right thing and even when he wasn’t perfect he was somehow perfect? XD Does that make sense? I really liked his character and that he was so open-minded and didn’t just assume things. Alice and Takumi were pretty direct with how they felt about each other and their little gestures were everything. <33 Yes, Alice was pretty rude at first but it was because she was already super insecure and didn’t know how to deal with her sudden attraction for Takumi. To be honest Alice had a lot on her plate and I think we can cut her some slack here.

”This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway, partly because I want to, but also because I think you need to hear it. If knowing you’re asexual makes someone see you differently, then they don’t deserve to be in your life. My feelings for you are exactly the same as they were an hour ago. This doesn’t change anything between us.”

4

All told, I really loved this and it was one of those books that always had me craving for more interactions between Alice and Takumi. I was basically living from one chapter to the next, constantly hoping for more of their funny conversations! *lol* So if you want a light and adorable romance that tackles a couple of serious topics as well, you’ll definitely enjoy this! =)  I might have had my issues with Feenie as a character but that didn’t take away any of my enjoyment so four stars it is!