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!

Allgemein, K - O, O, Reviews

Review: One of Us Is Next (Karen M. McManus)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Phoebe Lawton, you’re up first! Text back your choice: Should I reveal a Truth, or will you take a Dare?”

Guess after “One of Us Is Lying” we all know that you better take the dare, right? Well, if you want to find out what Phoebe did you’ve to read the book, because this review is going to be spoiler free. ;-P
So this out of the way, what is “One of Us Is Next” about? It basically plays one year after Simon’s death and the events that followed. This time around there are three different POVs though. One of them is Maeve Rojas (Bronwyn’s sister that already was a side-character in book one) and the other two are Knox Mayers (Maeve’s best friend) and Phoebe Lawton. In this second instalment the plot is all about Truth or Dare. There is a mysterious person named Unknown who threatens to expose a secret of the chosen people if they don’t take the dare. So you either take the dare or your secret gets spilled and everybody and their grandma will talk about it.

”And then I remember why About That was so popular for so long. Because even though I hate Unknown, and it freaks me out that they revealed a secret I thought would never get out, and the idea of another Simon Kelleher prowling around Bayview High is straight-up nauseating – I can’t help being curious.
What’s going to happen now?”

Well, and that’s basically the concept on which this book is built. Who is going to be next and will they choose truth or dare? I’ve to admit this was an intriguing concept and that I really liked the characters. I already loved Maeve in “One of Us Is Lying” and Knox and Phoebe were two really likable voices as well. I loved that Phoebe was a very unapologetic and straight forward character and that she challenged the narrow-minded perception of people. She’s actually a feminist and I loved that about her. XD

”Really? Let me see if I have this straight. If I do what you want, I’m a slut. If I don’t do what you want, I’m a tease. What I want doesn’t count, but you’re the big man at Bayview no matter what. Does that about sum it up?”

Another thing that made me happy was to see more of the Bayview Four and how they did after all the events that happened in the first book. It was so wholesome to see where they are standing now and that despite everything that happened they were all doing good and leading a happy life. =) Also Bronwyn and Nate!!! AHHHH! Still, I kinda wish I would have reread the first book before this one though, because I couldn’t really remember Luis and had a tough time to place him in the events of “One of Us Is Lying”. But that’s just personal preference and doesn’t take away any of the enjoyment. 😉

”I was thinking about this stupid game last night, and how it has everybody dancing like puppets on a string. Whoever’s behind Truth or Dare is on a massive power trip. And the thing is, we’re giving them that power. By caring. Reacting. Spending all our time worrying about who’s next and what’s true. We’re feeding the beast and I, for one, am done.”

4
All told this book was great and entertaining. What made me like it slightly less than its predecessor was the mystery element, though. While I could guess and rack my brain in the first book I didn’t really get a chance to do that in here. I was able to unfold about 50% of the mystery but I would have never been able to discover the other 50%. There just wasn’t enough information to reveal everything properly and this was kind of a letdown. Still, “One of Us Is Next” was a nice book to read in between and I don’t regret it. I just wish I would have gotten a chance to wrack my brain a little more. *lol*

Allgemein, K - O, O, Reviews

Review: On the Come Up (Angie Thomas)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten,5

Book 6 on My Book List 2021

”You’re gonna face a whole lot of Longs and Tates in your life, baby. More than I’d like. But you never let their actions determine what you do. The moment you do, you’ve given them the power. You hear me?”

So I thought long and hard about what to write about “On the Come Up” and to be completely honest I’m none the wiser. I mean I liked the book and read it pretty fast, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have issues with it. I know, I know. A lot of people will be like: “WHAT?” now and I don’t blame you guys for it. I can only give you my honest opinion though and so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Let’s hope I’ll be eloquent enough to put this into words.

”This Glock, yeah, I cock it, and aim it,” I write. Wait, no, something should come before that. Aim it. Ain’t it. Frame it… Claim it.”

This said, first things first. There were a lot of things I enjoyed and one of them was Bri’s thought process and how it was portrayed. I definitely found myself in this because for someone who started to write poetry as a young teen this was very relatable. The way she came up with lines and words and then rearranged them in order to give them an impact and meaning was pretty amazing and for me it was obvious that Angie Thomas is a great lyricist as well. You can’t come up (see what I did there ;-P) with lines like these if you don’t have a feeling for the rhythm and flow of poetry.

”Jay really did leave me and Trey at our grandparent’s house. She couldn’t take care of us and her drug habit, too. That’s when I learned that when people die, they sometimes take the living with them.”

Another thing I enjoyed were the little bits of wisdom you could find throughout the entire book and of course the representation of the characters. Just like in “The Hate U Give” there were a lot of different topics that were explored. This time around the theme of police violence was only broached lightly and the focus was more on drug dealing/abuse, the perception of people, their prejudices and how they react to the characters. No matter if it was the incident with Tate and Long that bullied and picked on black kids in Bri’s school or how the Crowns reacted to Bri’s rap lines, all those moments showed that there’s still a lot of work to do.

”I bite the inside of my cheek. I could take these, but the moment I walk out of here with them, I’m fucked. We’re fucked. It means we’ve gotten to the point that we need shoes that someone decided to give away.
I don’t wanna be that person. Yet I think I am that person.”

Also the representation of being poor was very well done, too. The initial bitterness and shame people feel when they are forced to ask for help, yet they know that they have no other choice than to seek aid. If you ask me, it’s the first step in the right direction though. I’ve been working at an NGO for years now and I know this first step is always the hardest to take. To ask for help is tough, because it means you have to acknowledge the fact that you can’t solve your troubles on your own and it takes a lot of courage to admit this to yourself. I really loved Jay’s character because she did everything she could in order to give her kids what they needed. There is no shame in being poor and about 98% of the human population aren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

”So, Ms. Reporter,” I say, “and anybody else who wanna call ‘On the Come Up’ this, that, or whatever the hell else. Do it. Hell, get the song taken down if you want. But you’ll never silence me. I got too goddamn much to say.”

So this all said let’s come to the part of the book I didn’t like and that left some sort of bitter taste in my mouth. The first thing I’ve to mention is that I couldn’t really relate to Bri and her actions. I found myself agreeing with her mother and her brother and even though I know that she was angry and hurt by their situation I still think that the way she reacted only made everything even worse. Of course we can say, she’s just a teen, impulsive and doesn’t know better but quite honestly, to go at the reporter like that, to attack that guy in the studio, if she would have just thought about it for a second she would have known that all those actions would only be for her detriment. Plus even her friends, who are the same age as her, told her that it’s not okay, yet she still insisted that her way was the only way. Bri was stubborn, juvenile and completely incapable to reflect on what she did. If everyone in your family and every single one of your close friends tells you, you’re doing something wrong, well, then you might actually DO something wrong! And what truly bothered me, is that there was no character arc that would have shown she realized her mistakes.

”Promise you gon’ get outta the Garden.”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“Promise that you gon’ do whatever you gotta do to make it. Promise like it’s the last thing you’ll ever promise me.”

Quite the contrary, the entire book she fights with her friends because they try to start a movement by using the official channels and work on changing things in a sensible manner, at times she’s downright rude to her mother and to be entirely honest here, she hung out with her aunt Pooh who is a drug dealer (I know she loved her aunt but she was still a drug dealer who obviously did real shady stuff on a regular basis) and even worse she told her aunt about the gang members, knowing exactly how she would react. What did she expect? That aunt Pooh would go to them and ask them nicely? Gangs don’t do things the nice way; it always ends in blood. No one can tell me that Bri wasn’t aware of the consequences this would entail and yet she still did it. I know a lot of people will disagree on this with me but it felt that way while I read the book and this is my opinion. You don’t have to like it or to agree with it, I just want you to respect it.

”If I’m nothing else, I’m them, and they’re me.
That’s more than enough.”

4

All told this was a solid and good book! It tackled a lot of important topics and Angie Thomas did an excellent job at exploring them. She portrayed poverty, injustice and prejudices and conveyed the message that you should always make use of the power of your voice. Unfortunately for me Bri’s voice wasn’t as relatable and strong as Starr’s and I had quite some trouble to understand her actions. There happened so many things in here yet oddly enough I found myself not as emotionally engaged as I was when I read THUG. I guess we could always say it’s not the book it’s me and maybe that’s right, but maybe it’s not. 3,5 paws and a lot of mixed feelings on top.

Allgemein, K, K - O, Reviews

Review: King of Scars (Leigh Bardugo)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten
 
Book 22 of My Book List 2019
 

”I’d like nothing better than another opportunity to talk,” said Nikolai. “But I’m afraid I have more bad news.”
Genya slumped in her chair. “There’s more?”
“This is Ravka,” said Zoya. “There’s always more.”

I swear this quote is SUCH. A. MOOD!!! *lol* The entire book is nothing but bad news and well, yeah this is Ravka. There’s always more bad news to come. XD Leigh didn’t just nail it with those words; she also set the pace for this doulogy! To be honest I had no idea this was going to be a doulogy and after finishing “King of Scars” I have absolutely no clue how she wants to wrap this all up. There are so many things that need to be addressed and the mere idea of facing them all in the next book is already making me look like a copy of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”.  (Which is one of my favourite paintings btw ;-P)

Still, I trust Leigh and I know she’ll write a phenomenal sequel. She did with “Crooked Kingdom” and I have no doubt that she’ll do it with “Rule of Wolves” as well. This said, the pacing of this book was kind of surprising. I mean I certainly didn’t expect it to be so slow at the beginning. There was a lot of information we needed to get in order to understand the current situation of Ravka and to say it’s precarious wouldn’t even get close to the truth. I guess if you’d just say that they are screwed you’d strike home. *lol*

So yes, there’s a lot of build-up and all the new players are introduced and evenly spread on the chessboard. I think in a lot of ways this was a very serious book and even though Zoya’s and Nikolai’s banter was one of the highlights in “King of Scars” there were a lot of severe moments that ultimately forced our beloved characters to grow. Which is always a good thing in my book! You know I’m a sucker for character arcs and to see Nina, Zoya and Nikolai work things out was more than just amazing. Before I spoil anything I better just head over to my character section and write it all off my chest! 😉

2

Welcome to Ravka where bad news are the standard and scary winged creatures turn into kings during the day! *lol* The good news is: There’s a lot to talk about! The bad news is that you’ll be spoiled like crazy if you continue to read. So whatever you do, keep in mind that it was your own choice! 😉

Nikolai:

”I’ll find a way. All his life, Nikolai had believed that. His will had been enough to shape not only his fate but his own identity. He had chosen what he wanted people to see – the obedient son, the feckless rogue, the able soldier, the confident politician. The monster threatened all of that. And they were no closer to finding a way to drive the thing out than they had been six months ago. What was there to do but keep moving? Lesser animals whined and struggled when they’d been caught in a snare. The fox found a way out.”

I know a lot of people said that Nikolai isn’t the charming Nikolai from the Grisha trilogy anymore and that they didn’t like this. In my opinion this was only realistic though. I mean how is he supposed to be his charming and carefree self if there is a monster living inside of him? He’s trying to save Ravka from hostile countries, he’s dealing with a lot of problems in his own country and he’s working really hard on uniting his people. And all this even though he turns into a monster at night. I can’t even imagine how exhausted he truly is. Yet he still keeps up appearances and gives Ravka his all. I love that about Nikolai. He’s a man of his people, his country always comes first and he’d do everything to protect his land and the people within it. So yes, Nikolai might not be as easy-going as he used to be but he has thousands of reasons to be the way he is. My poor boy deserves a break and whenever I read about how much he loves Ravka and how tired he is my heart broke for him. T_T Can we get a happy Nikolai in the next book, please?! <333

”Nikolai looked again at the old map of Ravka – violent, hopeless, unappeasable in its constant need. Ravka was his first love, an infatuation that had begun in his lonely boyhood and that had only deepened with age. Whatever it demanded, he knew he would give. He’d been reckless with this country he claimed to love, and he could no longer let his fear dictate Ravka’s future.”

”That’s what the job requires, Zoya. Ruling is not just about military victories. It’s not even about setting fair laws and seeing them enforced. It’s about these moments, the men and women who choose to put their lives and livelihoods in our hands.”

”I think I can fix it,” he said at last. “I’ve always known Ravka is broken, and I’ve seen the way it breaks people in return. The wars never cease. The trouble never stops. But I can’t help believing that somehow, I’ll find a way to outsmart all of the kings who came before and set this country right.” He shook his head and laughed. “It is the height of arrogance.”

”Nikolai had always understood that he and Ravka were the same. He just hadn’t understood how: He was not the crying child or even the drowning man. He was the forever soldier, eternally at war, unable to ever lay down his arms and heal.

Zoya:

”She intended to find a way to protect Grisha throughout the world so no one would ever have to live in fear or hide their gifts again – a governing body with representatives from every nation to hold their countries accountable, a guarantee of rights and of punishment for anyone who tried to imprison or harm her kind.

I already said it in one of my updates and I’ll say it again: Zoya is like a good wine that gets better with time. She’s an acquired taste and I love her for it! *lol* I kinda lived and breathed for the little snippets we got about her life and her background story was truly heart-breaking. Liliyana sounded like such a great person and it’s so sad that she died when the Darkling expanded the Fold. Also I can’t believe her parents wanted to marry off Zoya at the tender age of 9!!! Like WTH is wrong with you people?! *GRRR* I’m really glad she managed to escape that marriage and became a Grisha instead. I never thought I’d grow so fond of her insulting tongue but haha she really grew on me in this one. Also OMG! Now that she has Juris’s power will she be able to turn into a dragon too?! Because damn it, I’d be so down for a Zoya dragon in the next book! XD That way she couldn’t just spit fire with her sharp tongue but actually well, you know, SPIT FIRE!!! *lol* I’m ready for it Leigh! Just bring it on! 😉

”Zoya did not desire, she was desired. And that was the way she liked it. It was galling to admit that she wasn’t at all sure she could make Nikolai want her, and more galling to think that a part of her longed to try, to know if he was as impervious to her beauty as he seemed, to know if someone like him, full of hope and light and optimistic endeavor, could love someone like her.”

”What will I do with this? Look at my old face?” said Liliyana. “Send it to your mother as a peace offering.”
“It’s a gift for you,” Zoya replied. “So you can look into it each morning and see the most beautiful person I’ve ever known.”

”But the Darkling saw me clearly even then. ‘Is that really what you wish to say?” he asked.”
Zoya pushed a dark strand of her hair behind her ear. “So I told him the truth. I put my chin up and said, ‘They can all hang. It was my blood in the snow.”

Nina:

”Saints, she missed him. The ache of his absence felt like a hook lodged inside her heart. The hurt was always there, but in moments like these, it was as if someone had seized hold of the line and pulled.”

Ahhhhh!!! Nina was so savage in this! And I kinda liked it? XD What’s wrong with me? *lol* On the one hand Nina’s POV repeatedly ripped out my heart because the way her thoughts revolved around Matthias was just painful but on the other hand to see how strong she became also made me kind of proud? I mean Nina was always a very strong-willed character and did things her own way, but the Nina of “King of Scars” was on an entirely new level! I mean WOAH! The way she dealt with the Wellmother and basically everyone else who got in her way. Boy, that girl means business! Yet she’s still compassionate, gentle and kind. I think her experiences just made her a little more… I dunno ruthless? She knows none of the Fjerdans would show her mercy so she pays them back in kind. I’m very curious how she’ll develop and which kind of person she’ll be at the end of this trilogy. No matter what happens I’ll always love my Waffle Queen and that will never change! ❤ (Also to everyone who watched “Shadow and Bone”: I loved Nina in there! I’m totally besotted with Netflix Nina. *lol*)

”I don’t like that word,” Nina said, advancing. “Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.”
Birgir laughed. “Two guns are pointed at you. You think you can kill us both before one of us gets a shot off?”
“But you’re already dying, Captain,” she crooned gently.

”Of course,” she said. “Matthias, your country can kiss my fat Grisha ass.”

”Nina tucked two tiny quail eggs into her skirts in case Trassel had a taste for the finer things, and found herself wondering if they might finish with sugared almond cookies. One could plot violent espionage and still hope for dessert.”

”I told you I would pray for you,” said Nina as she closed the door and issued her final command to her soldiers: Give her the mercy she deserves.
Nina turned her back on the Wellmother’s screams.”

The Saints, Yuri and The Darkling:

”Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are mad of scars instead of wounds. The hive does not grant me the luxury of that lie. I cannot go on this way. None of us can.”

Okay, I admit it: I never saw that plot line coming! Not even in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that Leigh would introduce us to living saints and that we’d actually get to know some of them more closely. So that caught me totally off guard. I didn’t like Yuri right from the beginning because he was your typical religious fanatic and well as it turned out to have him around was a big mistake. I knew something was up with Elizaveta but I would have never expected her to go that far! Like OMG! Why??!! Juris’s and Zoya’s friendship was great and Grigori kind of grew on me too. It’s a shame both of them had to die because Elizaveta wanted to resurrect the Darkling and I can’t believe… I CAN’T BELIEVE she actually succeeded! I swear: The Darkling in Yuri’s body at the ending was… THE. DEATH. OF. ME!!! I can’t even!!! No, no I can’t! I mean I love the Darkling but OH GOSH!!! I think I might need a little time to digest this. *lol*

”Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve. You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world. You are limiting yourself, just as you did with your training.”

”The Darkling could have killed either of them, but he had wanted to punish them instead. He might have been an ancient power, but he certainly had a petty streak.”

3

Zoya & Nikolai:

Zoya batted Nikolai’s quaking hands away from his buttons and took up the work herself. Through the thin cotton, she could feel the chill the night had left on his skin.
“What an excellent valet you make,” he murmured. But she knew he hated submitting to these small attentions, hated that he was weak enough to require them.

I SHIP IT! Badly! I never thought I’d say this but Zoya and Nikolai are made for each other. They both know how to deal with court problems, they are strong and independent and they obviously have a soft spot for each other! ❤ I loved the level of trust that is between them and they had so many little moments together. Their love is something that grows slowly like a delicate flower and I can’t wait for them to realize how much they mean to each other. Nikolai comparing her to a strong drink was everything! *lol* We all know Nikolai could handle her and I want them to kiss and confess their love for each other! Also their banter!!! It’s superior! I think Zoya might be exactly what Ravka needs and who knows, now that she’ll be some sort of saint people will probably accept her at his side? I really hope those two will have a HEA because they both deserve it! Nikolai needs a woman like Zoya and I’m convinced Zoya needs a man like Nikolai. So can they already kiss, please?! *lol*

”He’d come to recognize the bizarre phenomenon of Zoya’s beauty, the way men loved to create stories around it. They said she was cruel because she’d been harmed in the past. They claimed she was cold because she just hadn’t met the right fellow to warm her. Anything to soften her edges and sweeten her disposition – and what was the fun in that? Zoya’s company was like strong drink. Bracing – and best to abstain if you couldn’t handle the kick.”

”But when he thought of choosing a wife, the branches crowded in on him and he found himself glad to be left alone in the dark. Perhaps not alone, precisely. He very much enjoyed the quiet of this room, the warmth of the fire, and the steel-spined harpy seated across from him.”

”Zoya, say something spiteful.”
“Why?” she asked faintly.
“Because I’m fairly certain I’m hallucinating, and in my dreams you’re much nicer.”
“You’re an idiot, Nikolai.”
“Not your best work.”

”In that moment, he wished things might have been different. That he might not die tomorrow. That he could be led by his heart instead of duty.
Because Zoya was not kind and she was not easy.
But she was already a queen.”

”Of course I’ll come back,” he said. “I don’t trust anyone else to deliver my eulogy.”
A smile curled her lips. “You’ve written it already?”
“It’s very good. You’d be surprised how many synonyms there are for handsome.”
Zoya closed her eyes. She turned her face, letting her cheek rest against this palm. “Nikolai –“

Nina & Hanne:

”Nina studied her. There was something relentless in her features – the cheekbones sharp, the nose rigorously straight. Only the full thrust of her lips gave any hint of softness. It was a challenging face, stubborn in its lines. Beautiful.”

Mhmm… To be frank I don’t know how I feel about this new ship. I mean we all know I love a good f/f rep in my books and Nina deserves someone who will lover her the way she is. I’m just not sure that person is Hanne. I wasn’t convinced by their chemistry and it came out of nowhere. Like suddenly there is Hanne and Nina thinks she’s beautiful but she’s still grieving for Matthias so idk. *shrugs* And then she’s Jarl Brum’s child?! I mean I’m currently very fond of K-Dramas but Nina having a relationship with Brum’s child? I’ve a tough time imagining it. Guess only time will tell if I’ll be persuaded by this ship or not.

”If I had just been a boy. If I had been the son my father wanted …”
Nina gripped Hanne’s shouders. “You are perfect, Hanne. That your father can’t value your strength speaks only to his weakness.“

Ehri & Isaak:

”A reasonable gambit, but not one I was prepared to make.”
He studied her. “Not when you could simply wait for a pensive king to amble by and find you looking like a painting in green silk with flower in your hair?” Her golden eyes shifted away guiltily. “How long were you waiting, hoping I might stroll by?”
She bit her lip. “Two hours and twelve minutes. Give or take.”
He was both annoyed and pleased that she’d actually been frank.”

This was straight out of a Greek tragedy and I was really shook by this turn of events! Isaak grew on me and I really liked that boy and then BAM! Leigh killed him through Princess Ehri who wasn’t even Princess Ehri to begin with. They were both posing as someone they were not and actually fell in love. This love story was nothing but tragic and I’m still sad about it. They both deserved better and at another place and at another time they might have even been able to become lovers. T_T It’s so heart-breaking. It’s on the same level as Romeo and Juliet and ahhh my heart is still bleeding for those two. RIP Isaak! You did well, you were a great king and you could have been so much more! <333

”The things I imagine, the things I would hope for are not the musings of a queen.”
“A princess, then.”
Ehri smiled. “More like an artless girl. And end to war. A chance for the common people to choose their own futures. A world in which families aren’t torn apart by hardship … or duty. I must sound very foolish to you.”
“Not at all,” said Isaak. “If we don’t dream, who will?”

She pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “My only comfort is that you never could have been mine. But know that I would have gladly been yours.”
“Ehri,” he moaned as the world began to go dark.
“Not Ehri.”

”I’m not the king of Ravka, just a lowly grunt trying not to perspire in his fancy clothes. No, that was definitely not the right reply. Isaak supposed he should say something flirtatious, but he wasn’t sure which secrets belonged to him and which belonged to the king.”

4

“King of Scars” started out way more slowly than I thought it would, but the last couple of chapters totally made up for the slow beginning! My mind is still reeling from all those revelations and it might take a couple of days until I digested this ending. All told, I enjoyed this immensely and I can’t wait to dive into the next book. Now that the stage is set I expect an epic finale in “Rule of Wolves” and tell you what? I’m ready! 😉

Allgemein, K, K - O, Reviews

Review: Kingdom of Ash (Sarah J. Maas)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

“Once upon a time, in a land long since burned to ash, there lived a young princess who loved her kingdom …”

And once upon a time there was a reviewer that loved this story and its characters so damn much that it broke her when it ended. Yes, believe me, it did. I was so thoroughly heartbroken that it took me TWO years to write this review.  Two entire years! This isn’t only a testimonial to how destroyed I was after finishing this series but also to how strongly I felt about it. For a while I didn’t even know if I wanted to write a review, but the more time passed and the longer I thought about it, the more I realized that I just had to get it out of my system. My heart and mind persisted that I write it down and who am I to deny my souls biggest desire?

So here I am, finally facing this review and no longer denying those words that craved to spill out of my fingers for such a long time. And the first thing I have to say is that “Kingdom of Ash” was a masterpiece that will probably never find its equal! Sarah outdid herself with this one and the conclusion to this series was incredibly breath-taking! I loved how all those loose ends were tied together, how she managed to give each and every single character not only the time to shine but also the necessary space to develop, to grow.

This is how the ending of a series should be done! This is how you write a stunning and harmonious ending! This is how you make your fans so happy they cry tears of joy! THIS IS IT! Period! I’ve never read such a brilliant ending to a series and I think I never will read anything like it ever again. Nothing will be able to be a match for it. I’m convinced of that. So before I continue to praise “Kingom of Ash” even more I’ll just jump right into my characters section and write it off my chest. I have so many thoughts and feelings… This is going to be a long, long review. *lol*

2

I’ve had A LOT of time to think about those characters so people buckle up and get ready for the freaky ride! This is going to be another one of my long-ass reviews, probably the longest one you’ll ever read from me. (It might be book length, no kidding! *lol*) So you can either leave it at that or join me on this super long and spoilery journey! It’s up to you! 😉 Here goes nothing!

Aelin:

”You do not yield.”

I DIED at the beginning of this book!! I just died! To see Aelin so throughly broken and weak! I just couldn’t take it! I suffered with her and I just wanted Cairn to die! He was a monster and he deserved every bit of pain he got from Rowan! Every single bit! My poor Aelin! She didn’t deserve this… no one deserves this! >_< I hated Maeve for what she did to her and I was praying for Rowan to arrive at the camp. I really thought Aelin would be broken after this but even though she was, she somehow found the strength to move on. It was such a heart-breaking journey and I believed every single bit of it. Sarah made it so palpable and real. I could see Aelin fight through it. She struggled, she fell, she got back up again, fell again, dragged herself with the mere strength of her hands. It was so painful to watch. T_T But in the end she succeeded, she faked it until it became reality. Until the parts of her that had been broken were able to mend. ❤ Aelin is my heroine! <333

”She’d fight for it, claw her way back to it, who she’d been before. Remember to swagger and grin and wink. She’d fight against that lingering stain on her soul, fight to ignore it. Would use this journey into the dark to piece herself back together – just enough to make it convincing.”

”I wanted to die by the end, before she ever threatened me with the collar. And even now, I feel like someone has ripped me from myself. Like I’m at the bottom of the sea, and who I am, who I was, is far up at the surface, and I will never get back there again.”

Rowan:

”Every horizon he’d gazed toward, unable and unwilling to rest during those centuries, every mountain and ocean he’d seen and wondered what lay beyond… It had been her. It had been Aelin, the silent call of the mating bond driving him, even when he could not feel it.”

And here is another character that killed me… slowly. Rowan’s search for Aelin was so gut-wrenching. I wanted him to find her so badly and I could feel all his anger, despair and the little bit of hope he held on to. He craved to find her, to save her from her fate at the hands of Maeve and Cairn and the longer his search for her continued the less I could take it. It hurt so much to read his POV. T_T When he finally found her I cried tears of joy and I prayed that he would be able to mend what had been broken. His compassion and his faith in her were one of the best things about this book and I’m so glad he was there for Aelin when she needed him the most. ❤ Also: He had no pity to spare for Cairn and I was fine with that. Rowan was every bit the relentless and strong fae warrrior I wanted him to be and I’m glad he was an individual in this book too. =)

Dorian:

”Dorian’s sapphire eyes churned, the hand on his sword tightening. Manon tensed at that contemplative, cold stare. The hint of the calculating predator beneath the king’s handsome face.”

YESH!!! Dorian didn’t die and became a force to be reckoned with instead! And I was so HERE. FOR. IT.!! I absolutely LOVED to see him so strong and uncompromising!! THAT’S MY BOY!!! What Sarah did with him here was everything I ever wanted and I was so damn happy with his character arc! He finally became what I always knew him to be: A strong and powerful king who used his abilities and skills in order to save the people he loved and cared about! <333 YES! I absolutely adore this precious cinnamon roll and I’m so glad he was able to hold on to his playful and gentle side. Dorian turning into a witch was definitely among my highlights of this book. *lol* PLUS the way he dealt with Maeve? Perfection! Utter perfection! All the scheming and plotting ahead. I AM IN AWE!!! The deal he made with Maeve and then the betrayal when she thought she had won! Ahhh! I swear Dorian betraying Maeve by trapping her in his mind and crumbling Morath almost as an afterthought is my new aesthetic!!! Like seriously! That’s so kickass! I can’t even! <333 #TeamDorianForeverAndForAlways

Dorian gave the witch one of those charming smiles and sketched a bow. “Dorian Havilliard, at your service.”
“The king,” one of the Crochans murmured from near the wyverns.
Dorian winked. “That I am, too.”

”This is war,” he said simply. We’re past that sort of thing.”
And it wouldn’t matter, would it, when his eternal soul would be the asking price to staunch so much of the slaughter? He’d already had it wrecked enough. If crossing line after line would spare any others from harm, he’d do it. He didn’t know what manner of king that made him.

”A sword of truth, yes, but also a reminder of what Adarlan had once been. What it might become again. If he did not falter. Did not doubt himself. For whatever time he had left.
He could make it right. All of it. He could make it right.”

”Who do you wish to be?
A king worthy of his crown. A king who would rebuild what had been shattered, both within himself and in his lands.”

Manon:

”I care,” she hissed. “I care if we lose this war. I care if I fail to rally the Crochans. I care if you go into Morath and do not return, not as something worth living.”

It’s been two years I finished this book and I’m still weeping whenever I think about Manon’s character arc! It was so beautifully done and I loved to see her fall in love with her people and with Dorian. ❤ Boy, did it break my heart though! I ladored that she finally admitted that she cares about her people and friends and her relationship with Abraxos will always be perfect! Manon realizing that she has feelings and even pretty strong ones at that made me so damn happy! It came at a high price for her though. That scene when she fell on her knees in the ashes of the Thirteen. I still get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes whenever I think about it. T_T  My heart aches so much for her. So many lives … her Thirteen that stood by her until the end. Ahhh I’m weeping again. *sobs* I’ll never forget that scene… and all the people with their white flowers. T_T *cries uncontrollably* Two freaking years and it still feels like I read it just yesterday. <333 My heart is in pieces… >_<
#StillRidingWithManonANDDorianIntoTheSunsetThough

”There is a better world out there,” she said again. “And I will fight for it.” She turned Abraxos away, toward the plunge behind them. “Will you?”

”She would beg, she would crawl, if it bought him the chance to live.
Her warrior-hearted mount. Who had saved her far more than she had ever saved him. Who had saved her in the ways that counted most.”

”Not a trace of the Thirteen, or their brave, noble wyverns.
Manon fell to her knees.
Ashes rose, fluttering, soft as snow as they clung to the tears on her face.
Abraxos lay beside her, his tail curling around her while she bowed over her knees and wept.”

Chaol:

”I don’t make bargains with bastards,” Chaol said, smiling again as he entered the hall beyond. “I’m certainly not going to start with you.”

Now that’s the Chaol I love and I’m so glad he found back to himself in “Tower of Dawn”. He’s become so much stronger than he ever was and he’s finally the person he should have always been. I loved that his father wasn’t able to get to him anymore and that he was so at peace with himself. Nothing could shake him and he was a firm and formidable force in the final war. ❤ We all know how much he suffered in ToD, but boy was it worth it! I love this new Chaol and I hope he’ll be happy with Yrene! =)

Yrene:

“Your son spent the last several months forging an alliance with the khaganate, and now all of the khagan’s armies sail to this continent to save your people. So while you sit here in your miserable keep, tossing insults at him, know that he has done what no other could do, and if your city survives, it will be because of him, not you.”

Ahhh I loved how the story of her became full circle in here! It all started with Yrene and Aelin meeting at an inn years ago and it turned into so much more than that! It shows how a little kindness can change the entire course of someone’s life and I lived and breathed for the moment those two met again! <333 I suppose in some way Aelin is the reason why Chaol is happy now because she helped Yrene find her way so many years ago. XD And this is just beautiful! ❤ Yrene has come such a long way from the young girl she was (truth be told, Aelin did too) and I adore the strong woman she has become. The way she put Chaol’s father in his place was marvellous and I’m sure she’ll be a great mom! =)

”I went to the Torre,” Yrene said, her voice cracking. “I took the money you gave me, and went to the Torre. And I became the heir apparent to the Healer on High. And now I have come back, to do what I can. I taught every healer I could the lessons you showed me that night, about self-defense. I didn’t waste it – not a coin you gave me, or a moment of the time, the life you bought me.” Tears were rolling and rolling down Yrene’s face. “I didn’t waste any of it.”

Yrene folded the queen’s fingers around the paper. “It is yours, as it always was. A piece of your bravery that helped me find my own.”
Aelin shook her head, as if to dismiss the claim.
But Yrene squeezed Aelin’s closed hand. “It gave me courage, the words you wrote. Every mile I travelled, every long hour I studied and worked, it gave me courage. I thank you for that, too.”

Lysandra:

“I was once forced to crawl before men. And gods above, I nearly crawled for you these months. And yet it takes me nearly dying for you to realize that you’ve been an ass? It takes me nearly dying for you to see me as human again?”

I’m still besotted with Lysandra! That woman is amazing! ❤ AND I’m glad she stood her ground and didn’t give into Aedion’s stupid bullying! Like seriously! What was he even thinking!? Lysandra risked so much for Aelin and her court and my heart broke for her when Aedion pushed her away. She really didn’t have it easy in this book and the mere fact she came out of it alive tells us everything we need to know. Lysandra is such a strong woman and she endured so much, yet she never broke! XD She’s my role model and I just love her! ❤ I was so glad that Falkan Ennar and her met at the end of the book and that she finally has an uncle that loves her as much as she deserves to be loved! The scene of their reunion was so heart-warming! =)))

”Whatever you wish,” Falkan said. “You shall never want for anything again.”
Lysandra was crying, and it was pure joy on her face as she flung her arms around Falkan and embraced him tightly.

Aedion:

”He’d said such horrible things to her that day she’d taken down the ilken. Where are our allies? he’d demanded. He was still trying to forgive himself for it. For any of it. All that he had was this one chance to make it right, to do as she’d asked and save their kingdom.”

AEDION YOU STUPID EEJIT!!!! I just couldn’t with Aedion in this! LIKE ARGH!!! That man made me so damn angry I can’t even!!! I get that he was worried and angry about Aelin that he was desperate to save his country and to survive, but none of it can justify how he behaved towards Lysandra! I mean he forced her to leave his tent when she was wounded and weak and she had to CRAWL in the snow to get out of it! CRAWL! In front of their men! WTF!? He humiliated her because she did what she had to do and that’s not okay! There is no excuse for his behaviour and if I would have been Lysandra I would have kicked him in his balls and served them for dinner! I really loved Aedion in the former books but in this one I hated him and if you ask me his redemption arc should have been more pronounced.  I can’t forgive him for what he did… actually I’m surprised Lysandra could. >_<

”You agreed to let Aelin go to her death, and leave us here to be slashed to bloody ribbons. You two told no one of this plan, told none of us who might have explained the realities of this war, and that we would need a gods-damned Fire-Bringer and not an untrained, useless shape-shifter against Morath.”

Fenrys:

”Let it kill him, wreck him. He would not serve. Not another heartbeat. He would not obey.
He would not obey.
And slowly, Fenrys got to his feet.”

MY PRECIOUS BABY!!!! <333 I love Fenry’s to bits and pieces! He deserves so much better than he got and what he had to go through in here was so horrible! Maeve didn’t just take his brother away from him, she also did it permanently by killing him and she even made him watch! Which was so wrong and cruel on so many different levels. T_T Fenry’s was at least as broken as Aelin but he continued to fight and against Maeve’s power over him. The pull to follow her and Cairn’s orders must have been so strong but he didn’t cave and I just about died when he got to his feet! Fenrys is precious he needs to be protected at all costs. ❤ With or without scars he’s my baby! Period!

Fenrys just nodded. “I haven’t been able to stomach it since then. I – I’m not even certain I can use it again,” he said, and repeated, “I’m sorry.”

3

Aelin & Rowan:

”He prayed that fire, that rage, had not broken. He knew how many days it had been, knew who Maeve had promised would oversee the torture. Knew the odds were stacked against her.”

Those two broke my heart! T_T Aelin prayed Rowan would find her and he was looking for her all over the world. I hate Maeve so much for taking Aelin from Rowan and for hurting both of them in such a cruel way! Aelin’s torture was awful and atrocious and just like her I wanted it to end. I hated that she was so broken by what Cairn did to her and I knew there was no way she would get out of something like this without having physical as well as mental scars. When Rowan finally found her and she wanted him to take off that mask I was crying along with her. It broke my heart! T_T To be in his presence eased some of her pain though and even though she barely spoke a word after what happened to her it was so good to see that slowly but deliberately she came back to him. Rowan was so damn gentle with her… and I was so glad he was there for her. ❤ Those two had a really amazing relationship and I hope they can finally be happy now. They deserve it! After everything they had to go through they deserve a peaceful life in Terassen! The more I think about it the more I’m sure Sarah only gave us that corny relationship in EoS so that we could hold on to something when bad things happened to Aelin in this book. XD They are together now though and I hope their HEA will last! ❤

Aelin sobbed, her body shuddering with the force of it. “Take it off.”
Rowan’s eyes flickered, panic and heartbreak and longing shining there. “I will. But you have to be still, Fireheart. Just for a few moments.”
“Take it off.” The sobs ebbed, tricking into something broken and raw. Rowan ran his thumbs over her wrists, over those iron shackles. As if it were nothing but her skin. Slowly, her shaking eased.

She didn’t bother arguing. Not as she admitted, “I want it to be over.”
He went wholly still, but granted her the space to think, to speak.
“I want it to be over and done with,” she said hoarsely. “This war, the gods and the Wyrdgate and the Lock. All of it.“ She rubbed her temples, pushing past the weight, the lingering stain that no fire might cleanse. “I want to go to Terrasen, to fight, and then I want it to be over.”

Dorian & Manon:

”Only with her did he not need to explain. Only with her did he not need to be a king, or anything but what he was. Only with her would there be no judgement for what he’d done, who he’d failed, what he might still have to do.”

Ohh those two had to work through a lot in this book! They both had scars from the former books in this series and it was really great to see them work through their issues. Especially because they tried to do it together. They didn’t give each other an inch and both of them didn’t shy away from pointing out the truth. I think their dynamic was good for both of them and being the stubborn people that they are they probably needed each other more than they were willing to admit. Still, when push came to shove they could always count on each other. I loved their relationship so much, like seriously! So, so damn much! Their respect and the fact that they are each other’s equal, that they knew exactly what the other thought and felt and that they didn’t want to turn the other into something he couldn’t be. Just amazing!  They’ll always be my OTP! My sexy and playful power couple! <333 I will go down with this ship!!! Enough said! <3333

”I care about more than I should. I even care about you.”
Another wrong thing to say.
Manon stood – as high as the tent would allow. “Then you’re a fool.” She shoved on her boots and stomped into the frigid night.

Dorian leaned in close, tipping his head back to stare into her eyes as he purred, “Because while you might be older, might be deadly in a thousand different ways, deep down, you’re afraid. You don’t know how to ask me to stay, because you’re afraid of admitting to yourself that you want it. You’re afraid. Of yourself more than anyone else in the world. You’re afraid.”

He could have sworn fear entered her eyes. Yet she didn’t rage at him, roar at him – didn’t so much as snarl. She only asked, “You’re not afraid to go alone?”
“Of course I’m afraid. Anyone in their right mind would be. But my task is more important than fear, I think.”

”Dorian twined a wave of her silver hair around his finger. For a heartbeat, he allowed himself to drink her in. She would be his wife, his queen. She was already his equal, his match, his mirror in so many ways. And with their union, the world would know it.
But he could see the bars of the cage that would creep closer, tighter, every day. And either break her wholly, or turn her into something neither of them wished her to ever be.”

Chaol & Yrene:

”Yrene is the finest healer of her generation,” Chaol said with deadly quiet. “Her worth is greater than any crown.” And in this war, it might very well be.
“You don’t need to bother proving my value to him,” Yrene said, her icy eyes pinned on his father. “I know precisely how talented I am. I don’t require his blessing.”
She meant every damn word.

It was so beautiful to see their relationship thrive! To see how content they were around each other and how bravely they tackled every challenge that was thrown their way. It made me kind of sad to realize that they didn’t get all too much page time in KoA but I guess after they got an entire book for their relationship to develop and grow Sarah figured she could let them be happy with the way they are. She certainly wasn’t wrong with that because the little moments we got were all precious and I adored seeing them on page. XD Also Yrene is pregnant with Chaol’s child!!!! YESH!! Finally a ToG baby! *lol* They’ll have one hell of a fierce and stubborn child! <333

Chaol turned to where Dorian sat with Elide atop the shifter, the love on her husband’s face hardening to something fierce and determined.
“Keep her safe,” was all Chaol said. Perhaps the only order, Yrene realized, he would ever give his king. Their king.
It was why she loved him. Why she knew that the child in her womb would never spend a single moment wondering if it was loved.

Lysandra & Aedion:

”She had lied to him. Deceived him so thoroughly that any moment between them, any conversation… he didn’t know what had been real. Didn’t want to know. Didn’t want to know if she’d meant any of it, when he’d so stupidly left everything laid out before her.”

My heart was bleeding on the pages whenever I read about them. I swear, every word from Aedion’s lips was poison, every accusation thrown at Lysandra another twist with the knife that seemed to be stuck in my chest. I felt so bitter about my second favourite ship drowning or… well, tbh it rather crashed and burned without the sexy parts. T_T I never got my sexy scene, all I got was heartbreak and pain and I hated Aedion for it! I still can’t believe Sarah wrecked my ship so thoroughly. I know she tried to redeem him in the end but it was too little too late and I can’t really ship them anymore. At 60% of the book I would have been totally fine with – little kids, please don’t read this – Lysandra ripping out his balls and eating them for breakfast! How could he hurt her so much when he knew how she felt about him??!! And it wasn’t even like he wouldn’t have had her in the end. Sure she would have looked like Aelin but she still would have been Lysandra underneath. So if he wanted to blame anyone he should have blamed Aelin or Maeve or stupid Cairn. But certainly not Lysandra! She was ready to give up her life for his country and that’s how he repaid her for it? Not okay! I’m happy Lysandra is happy now but I don’t think I can truly ship them again. >_<

”After Wesley, after all of it, I wanted it to be you. What Aelin asked me to do had no bearing on that. What she asked me to do never felt like a burden, because I wanted it to be you in the end anyway.” She didn’t wipe away the tears that slipped down her cheeks. “And you threw me into the snow.”

Aedion’s grin turned predatory. “May I ask something of you, then?”
“I don’t think you’re in a position to make requests, but fine.”
That wolfish grin remained as he whispered in her ear, “If I don’t die tomorrow, may I kiss you when the day is done?”

Elide & Lorcan:

”I didn’t crawl after Maeve.”
She halted, hair swaying. Slowly, she glanced over her shoulder. Imperious and cold as the stars overhead.
“I crawled…” His throat bobbed. “I crawled after Aelin.”

I think we can all agree that those two had one of the most epic scenes in the entire book! I mean OMG! Them outrunning the flood was so damn suspenseful!!! Farasha was carrying them both and I was quite literally holding my breath for all of those pages!!! I had to know how it ended!!! XD And thankfully it ended good! I’m so glad they managed to sort things out and yes, Lorcan had to go through a lot to make up for his actions but in their case I could forgive him and Elide for being stupid for a little while. *lol* Their love story was such a nice slow burn and Elide riding like the wind in order to rescue her fae warrior will always be one of my favourite parts of this book! I can’t help but laugh about his title though. Lord Lorcan Lochan! *LOL* It’s epic! XD Ahh my heart feels all warm and fuzzy just thinking about them. ❤

”I love you,” he whispered in Elide’s ear. “I have loved you form the moment you picked up that axe to slay the ilken.” Her tears flowed past him in the wind. “And I will be with you…” His voice broke, but he made himself say the words, the truth in his heart. “I will be with you always.”

”I will marry you, Elide Lochan. And proudly call myself Lord Lorcan Lochan, even when the whole kingdom laughs to hear it.” He kissed her, gently and lovingly. “And when we are wed,” he whispered, “I will bind my life to yours. So we will never know a day apart. Never be alone, ever again.”
Elide covered her face with her hands and sobbed, at the heart he offered, at the immortality he was willing to part with for her. For them.

Aelin & Fenrys:

”Beyond words, unsure her throat would even work, Aelin blinked three times. Are you all right?
Two blinks answered. No.”

Their friendship was so pure and deep it almost broke me! <333 Even though they were in the clutches of Maeve and Cairn they still had each other and I loved Fenry’s for being there for Aelin and for Aelin trying to give him at least a little bit of comfort. They went through so much… through so, so, so, so damn much together and it forged a bond that will never be broken. The moment when Fenrys broke his oath to save Aelin I was crying. He gave his life for her and she sobbed his name until they finally got him out of Cairn’s camp and brought him to her! I was so relieved when he took the blood oath and she commanded him back to life because I probably would have died if he wouldn’t have come out of it alive! The moment he hugged her… ahh my heart!!! <333 I love them and their friendship. Such a deep and meaningful bond.

”A small sigh broke from Fenrys before he folded Aelin into his arms, a shudder rippling through him. Rowan couldn’t see her face, perhaps he didn’t need to, as her hands gripped Fenrys’s jacket, so tightly they were white-knuckled.
A good sign – a small miracle, that either of them wished, could be touched.”

Aelin, Chaol & Dorian:

”But Aelin was only staring at him. Staring and staring at him.
No one spoke as tears began sliding down her face.
Not at his being here, Chaol realized as he took up his cane and limped towards Aelin.
But at him. Standing. Walking.
The young queen let out a broken laugh of joy and flung her arms around his neck.”

Okay, I admit it I’m still a weeping and crying mess!! Those THREE! THOSE THREE!!! AHHH! I cried an ocean when they met again and I cried even more when they had to part at the end of the book! Their friendship was everything and even more and it was so good to see them all together again. After everything they went through, after everything they survived, after everything that happened, their friendship is still going strong. <333 They’re the original trio that started it all and to see them together on one page reduced me to being an emotional and babbling mess! I’ll never get over the love those three feel for each other and I’ll love them forever! <333 And now excuse me while I weep some more! T_T

”But Dorian stared at the rider before him. At the posture of the body, the commanding seat he possessed.
And as Chaol Westfall dismounted and ran the last few feet toward Dorian, the King of Adarlan wept.”

Aelin looked at Chaol and Dorian and sobbed. Opened her arms to them, and wept as they held each other.
“I love you both,” she whispered. “And no matter what may happen, no matter how far we may be, that will never change.”
“We will see you again,” Chaol said, but even his voice was thick with tears.
“Together,” Dorian breathed, shaking. “We’ll rebuild this world together.”

Nesryn & Sartaq:

”We’ve a battle to launch tomorrow. Again.”
“And a day of death has made me want to hold you,” the prince said, giving her that disarming grin she had no defenses against. Especially as he added, “And do other things with you.”

Nesryn and Sartaq is another couple I would have loved to see more of but unfortunately they were just side-characters in this one. As I already said with Yrene and Chaol I understand Sarah’s decision to let them be in the background though. Still, I love Sartaq! ❤ He’s still his disarming flirty self and Nestryn and he got at least a few moments together. So I’ll count my blessings and be happy that this super, super slow burn finally turned into a solid and good relationship! *lol* I can’t picture Nesryn as an Empress but I know she’ll be a great one. Just like Sartaq will be an awesome Khagan! XD

”Empress? Really?”
Sartaq’s dark eyes glittered. “We won the war, Nesryn Faliq.” He tugged her close. “And now we shall go home.” She’d never heard such beautiful words.

4

Just in case those last 5.598 words didn’t already make it abundantly clear: I LOVED “Kingdom of Ash”!! It’s one of the best endings of a series I ever read and I’m in awe of Sarah’s genius! She managed to do something not many authors are capable of doing and actually tied up all her loose ends. Her impeccable writing style leaves noting to be desired and after two years I can still say: This is a masterpiece! <333 So read it, enjoy it, cry over it, laugh and weep with your favourite characters and know they’ll always have a special place in your heart – even if you close the final page of this book! <333