Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, S

Review: Solitaire (Alice Oseman)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Trigger warnings can be found at the end of the review! 

”And who are you, Victoria Spring?”
I can’t think of anything to say because that is what my answer would be really. Nothing. I am a vacuum. I am a void. I am nothing.

To write a review about “Solitaire” turns out to be more difficult than I thought it would be. Mostly because I still don’t know where I stand with the book or rather on which side I came out of? About half of the people who read it loved it and the other half seems to dislike it pretty strongly. There rarely seems to be anything in between and I totally get why the opinions about this book are so varied. It’s not an easy book to like, because Tori Spring is not your typical MC. And I don’t even mean that she’s an anti-hero, she’s just not someone you’d like to be friends with and her life and the people she surrounds herself with are all pretty bland and uncongenial.

”There’s a time and a place for being normal. For most people, normal is their default setting. But for some, like you and me, normal is something we have to bring out, like putting on a suit for a posh dinner.”

But well, I guess that’s exactly the point of the book. You’re not supposed to like Tori, you’re expected to question her life, you’re meant to challenge her decisions and you’re expected to scrutinize the way she interacts with her environment. Alice herself wrote that Tori is battling undiagnosed depression and you can feel it on every single page. The people she surrounds herself with don’t get it and Tori herself doesn’t expect anything from life which only makes everything even worse. You can see the spiral she’s in but she’s unable to get out of it herself and so she falls deeper and deeper into it. The people around her notice that she’s unhappy, but they don’t see to which extent. And they decide to ignore her moods instead of confronting her about them because whenever they do she shuts herself off and withdraws.

”I’m not in a biscuit mood today.”
“Well, I’m still coming over, Tori.”
“You don’t have to come over. I’m completely fine.”
“Don’t lie.”

The only person that calls her out on her bullshit and challenges her is Michael Holden, because Michael Holden knows how she feels. He gets her in a way no one else does because he’s angry about a lot of things and he doesn’t know how to get rid of that anger. He learned to cope with it and to live with it, but it’s never truly gone.

Just like a depression, of course you can have good phases in which you’re not depressive and feel positive and good about the world, but there’s always the risk of falling back into a depression. It starts slowly and then more and more things happen and in the end you spiral so hard you can’t get out of it anymore. At least not without any help. And just in case you wondered, yes I’ve a background in psychology, which is probably the reason why I got what Alice Oseman was trying to do with this book. I’m pretty certain the 50% that came out loving “Solitaire” either have a background like that too or they themselves went through it as well. We can relate to Tori, we can understand why she is the way she is and therefore see the book for what it is and what it’s trying to tell us. I’m not saying that the other 50% that disliked the book were wrong, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to things like that, I’m just trying to explain that they probably never had to fight depression and don’t know the signs. If you’ve never dealt with depression and read this book you’ll most definitely think that it’s a super dark one, that everything in Tori’s life is shitty and mediocre and that the book has absolutely no storyline or central theme. Well, for me it does because it shows how Tori lives with her depression and tries to fight it with self-irony, dark humour and by holding onto the good moments in life.

“I don’t want people to try and understand why I’m the way I am, because I should be the first person to understand that. And I don’t understand yet. I don’t want people to interfere. I don’t want people in my head, picking out this and that, permanently picking up the broken pieces of me.“

All the things that happen in the book are what lead to the ending. No matter if it’s the sudden appearance of Michael Holden and Lucas Ryan or the mystery about Solitaire that runs through the entire book like a golden thread. No matter if it’s Tori’s complicated relationship with her mother and friends or her closeness to Charlie and the things she had to witness. They all come together in the end and they collide. I guess you could say all those things and especially Michael Holden and Solitaire work as some sort of catalyst that inevitably leads us to the ending of the story. Just like a musical crescendo. It builds and builds until it finally explodes.

He chuckles again and rubs his eyes. “You do know me.” And he’s right. I do know him. Just because someone smiles doesn’t mean that they’re happy.

As for the way Tori sees her world, I was surprised that despite everything she witnessed with Charlie she still thought that he had a great life and that he’s popular. Sometimes reading her POV felt like I missed a memo, because Charlie certainly wouldn’t have been driven to do the things he did if his life would have been as perfect as Tori thought it was. Then again that discrepancy and stark contrast of what Tori saw and what was the actual truth only emphasized the inconsistency of her perception of the world. (Uff, I never meant that review to turn out so factual and technical. Sorry! XD)

”And you would think that it would be someone like Nick who was at the top of Truham – loud, attractive, house captain, rugby player. But no. It’s Charlie.
What I’m trying to say is that Charlie is a nice person and, despite everything I’ve just explained, everybody seems to love him. And I think that is a modern miracle.”

On a different note: It’s good to know Ben Hope is still a hopeless case (pun totally intended) and as horrible as ever. The things he said to Charlie. Wow. Internalized homophobia that turns against yourself is really bad and if that boy doesn’t come to terms with his sexuality soon he’s going to be in a really bad place. I don’t know if Alice Oseman will ever address his character development but for Ben Hope’s sake I genuinely hope that he’ll have an epiphany one day. This said the last thing I need to address and want to talk about is that it says: “This is not a love story.” on the blurb and I think that this is something that’s up for debate. I personally think that it might not look like one, but that it actually IS one. Or in different words: It isn’t until it is?! *lol* Do with that statement what you want. ;-P

4
Honestly if you read this entire review and followed my reasoning you deserve a medal. I never intended this to be such a serious review but I guess “Solitaire” tackled a couple of serious topics and after reading some of the other reviews I wanted to give my two cents as someone who has a little background knowledge in psychology. So the burning question is: Was “Solitaire” as good as all of Alice Oseman’s other books?
And my candid answer is: Yes and no. I think you just can’t compare it to any of her other works because for one thing it’s her debut novel and for another it’s an entirely different writing style. At least for me it is, because it’s extremely immersive and you see the world through Tori’s perspective and POV. Of course you could argue that you do that with every book and MC you read about but I think this time it was different. You saw the darkness with Tori’s eyes and yes, this is unpleasant, it doesn’t make you happy, it drags you down; it makes it a chore to get through the book and it’s exactly the reason why I think “Solitaire” is brilliant in its own way. I’m a sanguine person, but I appreciated to get a different glimpse at the world and it’s always good to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. A little bit of sensitivity never hurt anyone. With this in mind: Four paws. No more and no less.

Trigger warnings: 

spoilerdepression, self-harm, eating disorder, arson, bullying (on page), suicide attempt (implied) and thoughts of suicide (mentioned on page), homophobia (also internalized), obsessive-compulsive behaviours (on page), assault (on page)
Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 22 on My Book List 2020

”His anger was quiet, not as fierce as it had been the night he’d killed Lord Tresting. But he felt it still, felt it in the itch of his scars and in the remembered screams of the woman he loved. As far as Kelsier was concerned, any man who upheld the Final Empire also forfeited his right to live.”

So I think I’ll be one of the few unpopular opinions when it comes to this book and that’s okay, because to every pro there also needs to be a contra and I guess this time around I’ll be that voice. Not that “The Final Empire” wasn’t a good book, it was actually pretty good, but it also wasn’t exactly what I expected after I went into this series. With all those raging reviews about the amazing world-building and magic system and the talk about a Kelsier and Vin – the strong heroine – my expectations didn’t quite match with what I actually got.

”Plots behind plots, plans beyond plans.
There was always another secret.”

The world-building was quite interesting and I liked the idea of the Lord Ruler winning the war and therefore being their new leader who suppresses the masses. By now it’s not an entirely new concept though because a lot of dystopian books start with the baddies at the pulse of power and with rebels overthrowing them. Still, the world was very vivid and described in detail and it was easy to get lost in it and the mist. (pun totally intended) As for the magic system, I personally wouldn’t say that it’s some sort of magic system. I know lots of people say Allomancy is one of the best magic systems they have ever read about but in a strict sense and from my point of view it’s rather some sort of science instead? I mean we have 10 metals and the elusive 11th metal no one is sure even exists and if it does what it’s supposed to do. The pushing and pulling of the metals, the way Kelsier described Allomancy and taught Vin about it. It sounded more like they have supernatural abilities that are fuelled by the different metals and because of that it didn’t really feel like a magic system to me. Because when I think of magic it’s of the not tangible kind of sort and comes from within the people without having to use any devices to fuel it. To be honest I think for me this book falls more into the category of superheroes and powers. Considering all the other reviewers that talk about Allomancy as a magic-system I’m probably the odd duck, though. I suppose you could start an entire discussion about this, but I’ll just leave it at that and say for me it’s super powers fuelled by metals and science. 😉

Kell leaned forward again. “But, you weren’t born an aristocrat. You’re not noble, Vin. You don’t have to play by their rules – and that makes you even more powerful.”

Vin, Kelsier and all the other characters in the book are definitely a class of their own as well. *lol* I liked the easy banter and how we got to know a couple of personal things about all the different characters. Unfortunately I ended this book feeling not really close to or attached to any of the characters. I don’t know how to express it but to me it felt like Sanderson kept a lot of the characters on a need-to-know-basis. You just get the bits and pieces that are necessary to move the plot along and the rest of it is kept in the dark and whilst this was probably intended as a plot device to keep the reader in suspense it just didn’t work in my case. Because I DO like to get to know the characters I read about and I want them to be multi-layered and complex and to have an interesting background story. I want to understand why they act the way they do, what moves them, which motives they have and how they feel. There were so many characters Dox, Ham, Marsh, Sazed, Breeze, Spook, Elend etc. and even after reading 647 pages the only character I got a good grasp of was Vin. And this only because we see everything from her point of view. Kelsier, his entire background story and his time in the pits is still a mystery to me and I don’t think this will change anytime soon.

”You know,” he said, “it amazes me sometimes that we even try. With everything they’ve done to us – the deaths, the tortures, the agonies – you’d think that we would just give up on things like hope and love. But we don’t.”

I wish we would have gotten so much more about all of the characters, but I guess I’ll have to be content with what I got and see if there will be more in the second book. Two of my favourite characters were definitely Elend and Sazed and they made the bunch of characters even more interesting. Also Elend is truly precious and I wish we would have gotten more of him. I mean his relationship with his father is quite horrible but aside from superficial glimpses we never dove any deeper into their conflict. When I read a 600+ book I usually talk about the individual characters but as I already said, after reading “The Final Empire” I feel like I don’t know any of them nearly enough to write a good analysis about them. Except of probably Vin. She was a special brand of heroine for sure and I really liked that she started out as a street gang member and then became so much more. At the beginning of the book she’s shy, timid and distrustful, but the more she gets to know Kell and his crew the more she becomes strong and independent. The relationship between Kelsier and Vin was actually done pretty nicely and I liked the father/daughter vibe they gave off whenever they were together on page.

”Kelsier,” Vin said quietly. “He’s a good man, isn’t he?”
Sazed smiled. “A very good man, Mistress. One of the best I’ve known.”
Vin nodded slightly. “A good man…” she said softly. “I don’t think I’ve ever known one of those before.”

Another thing I really liked about the book was the heist element and all the intrigues, schemes and plot twists. There were a lot of things I didn’t see coming and it was interesting to see how the crew went about the nearly impossible task of overthrowing the Final Empire. They set themselves a goal that was almost unfeasible but they still worked around all the bumps in the road and made it work somehow. No matter what happened there was always a plan B, another route to go or like Kelsier thought: “Plots behind plots, plans beyond plans.” In some way Kell’s masterplan and his mind kinda reminded me of Kaz Brekker and of course I enjoyed that immensely. 😉

”There was a grim mirth about them – as if they understood that they had a better chance of making the sun rise at night than they did of overthrowing the Final Empire. Yet, they were still going to try.”

4
“The Final Empire” was different than I expected it to be and because of the complex world-building it actually took me quite some time to get into the story. It’s been a while I last read epic fantasy and at the beginning of the book there was a lot of name-dropping and lots of explanations about the world, the social classes and Allomancy. Once you get over that and the story actually starts to move along it was very easy to follow Vin’s journey, though. There weren’t a lot of action scenes but the ones we got were all great and it was fun to read them. I really just wish that the characters would have been more developed. Still, after the ending I really want to know what happens next and maybe Sanderson will dig deeper into the characters and their background stories in the next books. Guess the only way to find out is by picking up “The Well of Ascension” soon. 😉

”… he smiled because that was what he did. That was how he proved to the Lord Ruler – and to himself – that he wasn’t beaten.
No, he wasn’t going to walk away. He wasn’t finished yet. Not by far.”

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Midnight Library (Matt Haig)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten

Book 34 of My Book List 2022

”Between life and death there is a library,” she said. “And within that library, the shelves go on for ever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be different if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

And this is basically already the short summary of “The Midnight Library”. The concept of the book is easily told and it’s not hard to follow Nora Seed’s journey and to get lost in all those different lives she chooses for herself. At the beginning of the book Nora is going through a strong depression and nothing seems to make sense anymore, so she chooses the only logical option for herself and tries to end her life which ultimately causes her to end up in the Midnight Library. In there she finds Mrs Elm, a librarian that was kind to her when she was a kid and that helped her through some tough times.

”You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it.”

So Nora is leaving her “root-life” behind and trying out new and different lives for herself. What if she would have married her ex-boyfriend? What if she would have become a swimmer? Said yes to the music deal her former band was so close to finalize? Every choice alters her path and brings forth a different life but are those lives any better than the one she just left? Will she be happy in them, will she live longer? I really enjoyed how Matt Haig played with all those possibilities and let Nora explore her different lives. Some of them were over pretty fast, in others she stayed a little longer and took her time to find out more about herself. I personally would find it pretty jarring to jump from one life to the next, always knowing that this wasn’t my “root-life” and that I might be stealing the life of another me. If that makes sense?! Also the moment Nora feels disappointment in the life she’s currently living she’s automatically kicked out of it and ends up back in the library.

”Want,” she told her, in a measured tone, “is an interesting word. It means lack. Sometimes if we fill that lack with something else the original want disappears entirely. Maybe you have a lack problem rather than a want problem. Maybe there is a life that you really want to live.”

At first Nora is pretty certain that she doesn’t want to live in any of the lives that are available to her, but the more time she spends in them, the more intrigued she becomes. Could there be a life she actually wants to live? The problem is there are just too many options and in every single one of them her choices have an effect on the people she loves as well. It’s not just her life she’d choose, she’d also make a choice for the people she loves and cares about which ultimately leads to an ethical dilemma. If your own happiness would mean that someone you love would suffer, would you still go for it?

„To be a human was to continually dumb the world down into an understandable story that keeps things simple.“

To be honest this was one of the most fascinating things about the book. As someone who’s currently studying psychology it was extremely interesting to read about all those philosophical approaches and psychological theories. I don’t know if Matt Haig has a psychological background but the way he wrote about those things made me curious about the author behind the book. Nora obviously had a philosophical background so maybe he just did his research? It would be really interesting to know. (Psychology and philosophy are mostly studied to together, just to clarify that here.) Anyway, let’s get back on track. 😉

”Every second of every day we are entering a new universe. And we spend so much time wishing our lives were different, comparing ourselves to other people and to other versions of ourselves, when really most lives contain degrees of good and degrees of bad.“

To watch Nora go from one life to the next, always searching but never finding what she wanted to. To see her come to terms with some of the decisions she made, to follow her journey of figuring out what she wants from life and what is truly important. To see how her regrets got less and less. It inevitably causes you think about your own life choices and if you’re happy with them. And this is – if you ask me – exactly the point of this book. “The Midnight Library” is supposed to make you think, to force you to look at your own life and to consider if you’re happy, if you would do anything differently, if you have need for action to live exactly the kind of life you want to live. It’s not a fast paced book; it’s actually rather gentle while it leads you to come to your own conclusions and it’s definitely a book that makes you think.

“The only way to learn is to live.“

4
All things considered, “The Midnight Library” was an interesting and fascinating journey through all the different lives of Nora Seed. It’s a thought-provoking and very philosophical book and due to that it might not be for everyone. Considering the book tackled such a deep topic, it kind of lacked a little bit of depth for me though. It felt like a lot of the things that happened were only discussed on the surface and handled superficially. Still, if you’re interested in philosophy and psychology, if you like to think outside of the box, if you’re open-minded and enjoy reflecting on your decisions, then this book will most likely be the right choice for you. As for the question if Nora found THE perfect life for herself? Well, I won’t spoil anything. If you really want to know you’ll have to pick up the book and find out for yourself. ;-P

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Extraordinaries (T.J. Klune)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

„Nicky, no.“
“Nicky, yes.”

If I had to sum up the entire book with just one quote it definitely would be the one above, because it’s so accurate and describes the vibe and energy of “The Extraordinaries” so well. I mean the entire book lives of Nicky trying to become an Extraoridinary and his friends trying to keep him out of trouble during this endeavour. And let me tell you this: It was hilarious to read this book! I so rarely laugh when I read a story because I usually tend to read about more serious topics and have a deep love for morally grey and problematic broken boys. So I guess it’s safe to say that my books are mostly pretty sad, thought-provoking and tough to read.

“The Extraordinaries” however had me gasping for air and wheezing from laughter. Seriously at some parts my hubby gave me a raised eyebrow because I was chuckling so hard he couldn’t help but wonder about my reactions. But honestly, I just couldn’t with Nicky and his antics! That boy was so, so, so damn funny and I loved to explore that side of T.J. Klune’s books. “The House in the Cerulean Sea” already hinted at Klune’s great humour but it excels in this series and takes it to an entirely different level. I legit laughed tears!

Despite all those hilarious scenes Klune still managed to bring in his typical brand of serious topics and thought-provoking issues and I really love this about his books. No matter how funny they are, they always have a solid core and it wasn’t any different with “The Extraordinaries”. The plot might have been less intense than the story line of “The House in the Cerulean Sea”, this doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fun to read about Nicky and his friends, though. I really loved them all and I can’t wait to dive into my character section! I have lots of things to discuss so come along for the ride! ;-P

2

Welcome to Nova City! One of the few cities that actually has two Extraordinaries fighting against each other! To live here can be dangerous and there might lurk spoilers at every corner. I wouldn’t count on Shadow Star or Pyro Storm to save you so if you can’t handle spoilers you better leave our nice city asap! Consider yourself warned!

Nicky:

”His dad had been a cop for longer than Nick was alive and had instilled in him a sense of duty. Of honor. You protected those who needed it. And not that Gibby needed it, exactly, but the principle was the same.”

Oh, Nicky! Where do I even start with him? *lol* That boy is chaos walking on two legs and I loved him so much for it! Like, he has a heart of gold and all the right intentions but the way he goes about reaching his goal to become an Extraordinary… it was so. I have no words. Nicky is such a chaotic, precious, endearing, naive, reckless, fierce, oblivious and iconic character! Honestly, I’d love to be friends with him just to see what he’s going to do next. Haha! AND to try to save him from himself because boy, does he need it. XD I’m just glad he already has Gibby, Jazz and Seth. Also I totally liked how Klune tackled the ADHD and grief rep through Nicky’s character. I don’t have ADHD so I don’t know if this rep was accurate but the way he described how Nicky felt was very understandable and I got a good impression of how it might feel to have ADHD. So for me it was a good rep. As for the grief rep: Amazingly done! And this says a person who just recently got a degree as a grief counsellor. Nicky’s grief after losing his mother, him missing her and trying to fill that void that was left after she died. It was on point and I really felt for him and his dad. I always like it when grief is explored in books and Klune definitely knows what he’s writing about. Kinda makes me wonder if he experienced grief like this too or if he’s just amazing at doing research. Either way Nicky’s character was so realistic and multi-layered that I couldn’t help but be charmed by him. I love Nicky and I really hope to see lots of fluff for him in the next book. He deserves it!

”But that doesn’t mean you still can’t be a good person, right? Just because you did something wrong doesn’t mean that’s who you are. And even if you keep doing the wrong thing, you can still be saved. Maybe they just need someone to listen to them, to hear the storm in their heads.”

”I can do this,” he told her. “You don’t have to help me if you don’t want to. And that’s okay. But I can be more than I am. I can become something better. Something more.”
She looked troubled. “Why do you have to be an Extraordinary to be better? Why can’t you just be extraordinary with what you already have?”

„It was the look. Like Nick had spoken too much. Or had gone too far. Or had said something so stupid and crazy and out there that it was impossible to understand how such words could have come out of a normal, sane person. Yeah, Nick had gotten that look from many, many people in his life, but never from those he loved.
Until today.
Dad. Seth. The two people he counted on most.“

”There were days when everything felt like it was dialed up to eleven, and he didn’t know how to stop it, no matter how hard he tried. For the most part, he’d accepted that some people were born to be Extraordinaries, and some people were born to be medicated so they didn’t spin out of control. Fair? Not really, but Nick was learning that his brain could do things that others couldn’t. In a way, he had his own superpower, even if it was called a disorder.”

Seth:

”It’s not a game,” Seth snapped, slamming his hands on the table. Nick struggled not to move away. “And even when you try your hardest to do good, there are always going to be people suspicious of your motives. Wondering what you’re really trying to do. And it doesn’t help that there’s going to be some jerk who appears out of nowhere and thinks he’s your archnemesis, and does his best to make everything worse.”

I think the first thing I have to say about Seth is that he is so damn PRECIOUS I can’t even!!! The way he was looking after Nicky and tried to help Owen even though he basically did everything possible in order to antagonize him. And then the entire world thinking that he’s the baddie in this story?! My poor, poor baby! I gotta be honest here: I always knew that Pyro Storm and Shadow Star were Seth and Owen. I mean it was so obvious! How couldn’t Nicky see that? *lol* The plot twist however kinda threw me, because just like I was supposed to I actually thought that Seth is Shadow Star. So kudos to T.J. Klune for misleading me like that. Also I can’t believe Seth just watched Nicky moon over Shadow Star for so long and even helped him with his fanfic?! Like OMG! That man is so altruistic and good! Still, in retrospective it was extremely hilarious to think of all those tidbits when Nicky admired Pyro Storms thighs in his fanfic. Haha! I can’t wait to see in which kind of direction the second book will go with him.

3
Nicky & his dad:

Nick barely stopped himself from throwing his fork at Dad’s head. “Why are you like this?”
Dad grinned at him. “Because your adolescent angst brings me joy as a parent.”

THOSE TWO!!! I swear their father-son relationship gave me life! *LOL* I burst into laughter whenever they were on page together and I had chuckle attacks that just wouldn’t stop and lasted for minutes! Minutes! Their interactions were so hilarious, yet extremely wholesome at the same time. You could see how much they loved each other and how hard Nicky’s dad tried to be a good parent for him. His job as a cop didn’t make it easy to be there for him but he really did everything possible to make it work. Also Nicky seemed to be a pretty challenging son at times (alone the things he did in this book. *lol*) and it couldn’t have been easy to raise a child alone after his mother died. After all his dad had lost his wife too, so he wasn’t only grieving as well but also had the responsibility for a young child that depended on him. If you ask me Nicky’s dad is a hero! Truth be told, I so rarely read about good parent-children relationships in YA books and books in general so this was amazing and I was a happy camper. Nicky’s dad tried, he really did and that’s more than most of the parents in other books do. Most of the time they are just standing on the sidelines and not even an active part of the story. In Klune’s books they always play an important part for the MCs though and I just love this! Can’t wait to see more of their hilarious interactions in the next book, now that Nicky and Seth are a thing it will be fun to watch them. But I’m not gonna lie, I’m also worried because sooner or later Nicky will find out that his father didn’t just lie to him but also suppressed his superpowers and I’m really afraid of how this will turn out. It’s such a breach of trust that it will be more than just tough to swallow. T_T His dad might have the best intentions but still…

”I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment to you,” Nick said bitterly, wiping his eyes.
“Dammit, kid. First it was Owen, and I let it go. And then it’s this – this Shadow Star, and this weird obsession you have with him. I just don’t – why do you have to be this way? Why do you have to be the way you are?”
Nick knew the power of words. He knew that sometimes when they landed, they exploded with the force of a carelessly tossed grenade.

„Nick knew his dad loved him, and oh, did he love him fiercely in return. When Before became After, when he went from two parents to only having one, he’d become almost obsessive about keeping his dad safe and healthy and whole. Losing one had almost destroyed him. Losing another would finish the job.“

”Yes, Dad, oh my – I mean no, I’m not having sex, why would you even say that?”
“If it were with a girl, I’d be telling you the same thing. Wrap it, Nicky. Always wrap it before you stick it anywhere.“ He tilted his head and squinted at his only son. “Or if it’s stuck in you. It don’t matter to me one way or another. What’s that called? Bottoming?”

Nicky & Seth:

”Sometimes, Seth worried too much about nothing at all, and it frustrated Nick to no end, because it meant there was something making Seth feel bad that Nick couldn’t tear apart with his bare hands.”

I’ve rarely seen such a love disaster! *LMAO* But boy did it entertain me! I just couldn’t with them! Nicky’s brain is so hilarious when he’s flustered and I can’t believe he didn’t realize Seth’s love for him. That boy would have done anything for him and vice versa. The way they both watched out for each other and how their world seemed to revolve around each other! HOW COULDN’T THEY SEE IT?! I think everyone in the book already knew and yet Nicky was so damn oblivious. Haha! It takes a special brand of obliviousness not to realize how besotted Seth was with Nick so I was extremely frustrated with our adorable moron! *lol* And I have to give special thanks to Bob Gray here because without him spelling it out for Nicky that boy probably would have never gotten it! XD Still not over Bromeo and Dudeliet! I laughed so much I cried tears. ARGH! My babies were so awkward but bless them and their feelings for each other. Their relationship only started at the ending of “The Extraordinaries” though so I’m ready to see how they are going to act in “Flash Fire”. Some part of me is secretly hoping for even more cringy moments because I just love them too much. T_T

”Seth was what he needed, though, and he’d been late, but then the door had burst open, and he’d stood there, cheeks flushed, chest heaving, eyes wide as he searched the living room until he found Nick. Nick made a wounded sound, wanting to get to Seth as soon as possible, but unable to move his arms.
Seth knew, though.
Somehow, he’d gotten Nick upstairs and put him to bed, climbing in behind him and curling around him protectively. Nick remembered thinking that he was safe, then. He was safe, and though everything Before would now be After, Seth was there with him.”

”And then the most extraordinary thing happened, something that caused all Nick’s thoughts to come to a screeching halt.
Seth leaned down and kissed his cheek. Nick felt the quick, hot pulse of breath against his skin, the scrape of lips and then- He turned slowly to look up at Seth.
Seth, who looked horrified by what he’d just done. “I- uh- Holy crap, I’ve got to go.”

Nick stared at him in horror. “That’s not going to happen. I’m going to be with Seth forever.”
Bob’s lips twitched. “How… expected. And if he said the same to you?”
Nick blushed furiously. “I. Um. That would be. Neat?”
“Oh, so I guess the fact that he’s in love with you would –“
“Robert Gray!”

”O … kay,” Seth said. “Thanks. I think.”
Nick nodded so hard, he felt bones crack. That probably wasn’t good. “Yep. Just looking out for my best bud. My bro. My brotato chip. My pot-broast. We’re just Bromeo and Dudeliet.” Nick actively forced his mouth shut before he could make things worse.

Jazz & Gibby:

”Now, here’s how this is going to go,” Jazz said, apparently able to ignore the fact that everyone in the cafeteria was staring at her. You didn’t mess with Jasmine Kensington, especially not during lunch. And if you did, you certainly didn’t insult her friends at the same time. “You’re going to apologize. And after you apologize, I will let you go. If any of that sounds too much for you, we’ll see how far your fingers can bend before they snap.”

Gosh, I loved those two so much! ❤ First of all I’ve to point out how nice it is to see an f/f couple as side-characters that actually are an ACTUAL part of the plot. I’m so tired of authors using LGBTQIA+ quota side characters to be able to claim that their books are diverse. *looking at a very particular author here* So to have Gibby and Jazz in this book was so refreshing and extremely satisfying. They are real characters that have their quirks and own thoughts and I lived and breathed for it. Plus their relationship dynamic was amazing. They weren’t just a great couple but also always there for Nicky and I really appreciated this. Also Jazz is such a badass! How could you not love that girl? I can understand why Gibby fell so hard for her because this girl is a freaking QUEEN!!! <333 The way she handled this tragic loser at lunch break? Well, Gibby wasn’t the only one who felt some heat. Okay, let’s stop here before it gets uncomfortable. Haha!

„Aside from the emotional trauma that will probably rear its head when I’m thirty-seven and working at my cubicle in a dead-end job that I hate, just fine,” Nick babbled, unsure why the words coming out of his mouth were the ones his brain deemed necessary to speak out loud.
„I’m fine,“ Gibby said mildly. „Any trauma I might have had is being washed away by the tragic comedy occuring right in front of me.“

Nick shrugged. “A lot beat up.” He swallowed thickly, trying to stay in control. “I didn’t mean to leave.”
“I don’t think anyone’s mad at you for that,” Gibby said. “And if they are, they’ll have to get through Jazz and me first.”
“I can beat up men twice my size,” Jazz said. “I got your back. And your front.”

Owen & Nicky:

”Who punched you?”
Owen smirked at him. “Careful, Nicky. You’re beginning to sound like you care, and we can’t have that, can we? I already broke your heart once. Don’t think we need to do it again.”

Okay, Owen was an ass in many ways but he still was a very intriguing boy and I found it so interesting how Klune played with his character. When you read about Owen in his real life you automatically know that he’s the baddie but as an Extraordinary you thought he was the hero? That was such a good plot twist and I can’t help but admire Klune for what he did there. Good vs. bad and bad vs. good. So well-done. Owen’s relationship with Nicky is pretty fascinating as well and I’m fairly certain that Owen actually loves Nicky in his own weird and twisted way. I mean he wanted him to become an Extraordinary and tried to help him with reaching his goal and I doubt he did it out of pure malice. No, Owen is more complex than that and there are more ulterior motives at work. Very curious where his story will head.

Owen threw his head back and laughed. “Oh, Nicky. Never change. I’m sure it was painfully awkward and so, so sweet. But why in the hell would you want to be an Extraordinary? It seems like such a big responsibility.” He reached out and traced his finger along the back of Nick’s hand. “Think you could handle it?”

4
I loved this book so much and after reading my second T.J. Klune book I can say that he’s becoming one of my favourite authors pretty fast. At this point I’ll just auto-buy every Klune book ever and be happy with it because I know he won’t disappoint. “The Extraordinaries” was an extremely hilarious book that still didn’t shy away from serious topics and themes. For me Klune is legit one of the best authors out there and the fact his books always have wholesome friendships and relationships only makes me love them even more. Not to mention a really healthy dose of LGBTQIA+ reps which I’m always so grateful for. Highly recommended if you want to have a good laugh! I can’t wait to pick up “Flash Fire” next year!

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea (T.J. Klune)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

„They don’t see the children,“ she said. „Not for who they are, only for what they’re capable of.“
“They should be given a chance, as all children should. What hope would they have to be adapted if they’re treated as something to be feared?”

To say “The House in the Cerulean Sea” is hard to review would be an understatement because I’ve thought about writing this review for months, yet I’m still not able to come up with a good way to talk about this marvellous book. How to write about it? How to convey all the feelings I had while I read it? Well, I might just start at the beginning and take it from there and hopefully to write this down will help me to figure things out. Sometimes the beginning is the hardest part. 😉

”They fear what they don’t understand. And that fear turns to hate for reasons I’m sure even they can’t begin to comprehend. And since they don’t understand the children, since they fear them, they hate them. This can’t be the first time you’ve heard of this. It happens everywhere.”

This all out of the way, I’m probably the last person on earth who read this book so I won’t waste a lot of time by speaking about the plot. I guess by now everybody and their grandma knows that “The House in the Cerulean Sea” is about a social worker named Linus Baker who is sent to an orphanage on an island that is taking care of children with magical abilities. His company (DICOMY) sent him there in order to find out if the children on the island are dangerous and if the orphanage needs to be closed. So much for the storyline and what the book is about.  Well, this doesn’t sound all too spectacular, right? Wrong. The story might be pretty unspectacular but believe me the implementation of it is not. There are so many important themes packed into this 400 pages book, it’s really hard to talk about them all. I’m going to try to touch as many subjects as possible but I’m sure no matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to do this book justice so please bear with me. I touched a lot of topics when I did my vlives though so if you’re interested I’ll put the links down below so that you can watch them after reading this review. 😉

”And so when faced with a perceived threat, and even though everything felt topsy-turvy, Linus did the only thing he could: He moved to protect the children.”

Okay, so first things first: This was actually the first TJ Klune book I ever read and I was totally blown away by Klune’s writing style and the way he tackles important topics. It was really easy to get caught up in the flow of the book and to follow Linus’ journey. The thing about Linus is that he might work for DICOMY and follow the rules but he still managed to keep his compassion. He moved within the rules of his company, but he never lost himself. He had a purpose and he wanted to fulfil it so he didn’t just blindly follow the rules but also thought about the consequences of his actions. Honestly, Linus was such an intriguing and honest character and I really loved to get to know him better. DICOMY the company he works for? I hated it with a fierce passion and alone the slogans caused me to get goose bumps. I mean “A Quiet child is a healthy child.” or “We’re the happiest when we listen to those in charge”?! *shudders* DICOMY was extremely totalitarian and of course being the rebel that I am I just couldn’t with this company. I couldn’t help but wonder how Linus was able to work at DICOMY for so long though and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he probably wanted to make a difference from the inside. Unfortunately his boss Ms. Jenkins as well as Extremely Upper Management made it really hard to bring about that change. Truth be told, even Linus neighbour Mrs. Klapper was horrible and if you ask me he lived in an extremely toxic environment before he went to the island.

He took the offered hand in his own. The skin was cool and dry, and as the fingers wrapped around his own, Linus felt a little curl of warmth in the back of his mind. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Mr. Parnassus said. “Regardless of the reason you’re here.”

Which leads me right to the orphanage on the island: I adored all the children so much!! They were all different and each and every single one of them had a distinct voice. I think Klune did an amazing job at describing them and their differences. Those children didn’t just look like children and had their own voice, they all acted like children too and I absolutely loved this about the book. It’s not easy to find a realistic child representation in a book but Klune did it with a lot of passion and a good eye on the details. Even the way they spoke was typical for children and that made me feel like they were actual people. The logic of children is a lot different than those of adults and to see this reflected in the story added such a nice touch and made me enjoy it even more.

She cocked her head at him. “But what about your cat? Don’t you want to find her before she gets eaten and all that’s left is her tail because it’s too fluffy to choke down?”

”When she handed over the bowl, he thanked her quietly before heading toward the table. The others cheered at the sight of him, scooting over to make room. He sat next to Lucy, putting an arm over his shoulders and pulling him close. Lucy laughed and looked up at him, eyes bright. Sal’s arm stayed right where it was as they ate.”

Seriously, I love those children with all my heart and would defend them with my life and I’d do the very same for Linus, Ms. Chapelwhite and Arthur as well. Ms. Chapelwhite had a heart of gold and Arthur. Arthur is the best thing that could have ever happened to those kids! He loves them fiercely and like a father and he did such an awesome job at raising them and supporting them in every way he could. Arthur is incredible and I don’t have enough words to describe the kind of beautiful person that he is. I’m a parent myself and to see how Arthur accepted his children and how he responded to their individual needs and gave them a nourishing environment that was able to catch them whenever they struggled. Ahhh! My heart is so full just thinking of Arthur. <333 Legit the most wholesome and amazing person ever! I adore him so much, you have no idea!

„Hope?“ Linus said stupidly.
“Hope,” Mr. Parnassus repeated. “Because that is what we must give him, what we must give all of them. Hope and guidance and a place to call their own, a home where they can be who they are without fear of repercussion.”

”And I know sometimes you see things when you close your eyes that no one should ever see. But there is good in you, Lucifer, overwhelmingly so. I know there is. You are special. You are important. Not just to the others. But to me. There has never been anyone like you before, and I see you for all that you are, and all the things you aren’t. Come home. All I want you to do is come home.”

The relationship between Arthur and his charges is legit one of the most wholesome things I ever had the pleasure to read about and I probably could go on and on, filling this review with remarkable and brilliant quotes. Not that Linus’s relationship with them isn’t at least as beneficial as Arthur’s. I loved how Linus came to the island, not only afraid of the children but also trying to keep his distance and objectivity, just to be won over by them with every passing day. The kids were so sceptical at first as well and didn’t want Linus to snoop around their home, but the more time they spent in each other’s company the more they began to trust each other and this was such a beautiful thing to read about! I think most of my favourite scenes were with the kids and Linus, because it might have been gentle and brief moments but they were incredibly beautiful and heart-warming at the same time. So precious and important for him and the kids. T_T No matter if it was Phee, Chauncey, Lucy, Sal, Talia or Theodore, they all formed a deep connection with Linus and I was so there for it.

Linus shook his head. “I could never be mad at you. Not for this. If I sound angry, it’s at this … this man, not you.”
“Oh. Because you like me, huh?”
Yes. God help him, yes. Very much so. All of them, really. „Something like that.“

”Did he tell you that?”
“No. I don’t think he’s allowed. But we know. We all know. Just like we know what you both did when you left the other day. He’s one of us. Just like you.”
„I’m afraid I don’t have magic.“
„You do, Mr. Baker. Arthur told me that there can be magic in the ordinary.“

My heart!! Seriously, I’m going through all the feels again while writing this review, but I need to get it out of my system so I’ll keep on writing and talk about the last thing I need to speak about when it comes to this lovely book: The relationship between Arthur and Linus! ❤ I swear, those two killed me! If you like a slow-burn then this book is definitely for you, because it mostly focuses on the kids but there are also a couple of sweet and gentle moments between Linus and Arthur and I lived and breathed for them. Their affection for each other is so subtle and cute I soaked up every moment between them like a rare sunray on a rainy day.

„I meant what I said.“ Arthur’s voice was hushed.
“About?”
“Liking you the way you are. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought that more about anyone I’ve ever met.” Linus gripped the door knob. “That’s … thank you. That’s very kind of you to say. Good night, Arthur.” Arthur chuckled. “Good night, Linus.” And with that, Linus fled the bedroom.

”They listen to every single thing you say. They look to you because you are their family. You are their –“ He stopped, breathing heavily. He shouldn’t say it. It wasn’t right. None of this was. It wasn’t – “You are their father, Arthur. You said you love them more than life itself. You have to know they feel the same about you. Of course they do. How can they not? Look at you. Look at what you’ve made here. You are a fire, and they need to know how you burn. Not only because of who you are, but because of what they have made you into.”

I probably could go on and on about “The House in the Cerulean Sea” but I think I’ll draw the line here before my review gets out of control. XD There are still so many things I would have liked to talk about but I’m afraid if I do you’ll never hear the end of it so this is where I write down my final thoughts and hope that it will be enough.

4

“The House in the Cerulean Sea” was definitely one of the most wholesome and precious books I ever read and this despite the fact that it tackles so many serious topics. No matter if it’s xenophobia, prejudices, abuse or fascism Klune tackles it all with a fierce determination that’s not only unique but also demanding. He challenges his characters to do the right thing, to look at situations from a different angle and to follow their own heart and he does it with so much finesse and care that it’s difficult to pinpoint when their change actually began. Well done, Mr. Klune! Well done! This might have been my first TJ Klune book, but it definitely won’t be the last. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky (Mackenzi Lee)

Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Someday, you little twat, I’d tell him, it’s going to be more. It’s going to be better, and so will you. Where we start doesn’t have to be where we end up.”

This might have been a very short novella but it was so good and kinda heart-breaking but also very hopeful?! I really loved to be back in the Montague sibling’s world and it was so good to see more of Percy and Monty. This story played right after the events of the first book and we got a brief glimpse at their lives on the island. They are still waiting for the ships departure and Felicity as well as Scipio’s crew are a part of this short story as well. As for what it is about:

”It’s only been a month.”
“Only?” She arches an eyebrow. My regret that I even toed this subject with her intensifies. “I expected that once you and Percy were in agreement about living in sin, you would lean hard into it.”

Haha! Yeah it’s basically about Monty and Percy finally going for the huge task of spending a night together. Seriously, Felicity’s and Monty’s conversations always give me life and those two siblings are just hilarious. It’s kinda sweet to see that despite them being super awkward around each other when it comes to the topic of love, they still find a way to talk about it anyway. Neither Felicity nor Monty are keen on exploring that topic with anyone, but their sibling bond is strong enough to be able to talk about it together. And this was extremely heart-warming and wholesome to see. =)

”I was almost always with someone because I was bored and hated myself, and it was something to do that wasn’t thinking about either of those things. I’ve never been with anyone because I loved them and wanted something more together. So this has never required any sort of emotional component, and I don’t know how to do that. I don’t even know if I can. Maybe I’m too far gone.”

But oh, Monty’s trauma runs so deep it was really sad to hear him speak about his feelings and initial motivations for sexual encounters. T_T I could understand why he felt nervous about spending a night with Percy and it made me very sad to hear him talk about himself. For someone who always came across as extremely confident there are a lot of hidden wounds our poor boy has to heal. I still haven’t read the last book but I’m kinda afraid I will come to dislike their father even more. And I already hate him with the fierce fires of hell for everything he did to Monty! *GRRR*

”You don’t owe me sex. You don’t owe me anything. I’m with you because I want to be. And if we’re together, it’ll be because we both want to be. And we are going to London together because we want to. And it’s going to be a disaster. But that’s all right, because we’ll have each other, and there’s no one on this goddamn planet I’d rather be a disaster with than you.”

I’m just glad Percy and Monty are so close they can talk about everything because boy, for a minute there I was really worried about how things would develop. *lol* It’s so rare to find a relationship like the one of those two and it was so, so, so good to finally have two YA characters that actually TALK about their problems and don’t fall for the typical miscommunication trope. Honestly, it was very refreshing to see how they solved their troubles. And the way Monty feels about Percy!? It was so beautiful I almost cried! I really wish we would have gotten Percy’s POV too but I suppose you can’t have everything. XD

”I want to breathe him, let him fill up my chest until my ribs strain and I break open like ripe fruit beneath a paring knife. I would be raw. I would freckle and blister in the sun. I would teach my body to regrow my heart each time I gave it to him, over and over and over again. Heart after heart after heart – every one of them his.”

We did get a little bit more about Scipio though and I swear this man is my hero! Why can’t the world have more Scipios? I absolutely adore this man and the way he talks to Monty! I wish Monty would have had him as a father instead of the vile and cruel creature that actually fathered him. But then again I guess that Scipio is more of a father to Monty and Felicity than their real father ever was. He is accepting and kind and he has his heart at the right place. Get yourself a Scipio and his crew to support you! ❤

I laugh – one short, humorless burst. “What would I have said – could you vacate the apartments for a while so Percy and I can engage in illegal activities?”
“Not illegal.”
“They are where I come from.” I shake my head, staring down at my feet. “I couldn’t have. I’ve been struck too many times.”
“Then maybe I should have said it to you sooner – you needn’t hide around us,” he says. “I’m sorry you ever felt you had to. And that the world makes you feel as though you have to.” I finally mange to look up at him, and he smiles. I almost start to cry.

4
This said I really enjoyed this short story and I loved to be back in their world! It was so good to see more of Monty and Percy and to find out how they eventually ended up in London in book two. “The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky” was the little puzzle piece I needed in order to fill in the blanks and to go happily into book 3! If it’s not already on my TBR I’ll place it there for 2023! 😉
All told, I can recommend reading this novella because it ultimately will end up giving you all the warm and wholesome vibes you wanted to get after finishing book one.

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Kingdom of Back (Marie Lu)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten,5

”Music is the sound of God, Nannerl, he would say. If given the talent, it means God has chosen you as an ambassador for His voice. Your music will be as if God has given you eternal life.
My father, God … there was little difference between them to me. A frown from Papa might as well have been a frown from Heaven, for what it did to my mood.”

This story was unlike anything I ever read by Marie Lu and even though her tale about Mozart’s sister Nannerl had a couple of weaknesses I still enjoyed this beautiful book. As someone who comes from Mozart’s country and basically grew up with his legend ever since I started to think, Marie Lu certainly didn’t have it easy with me. I mean it’s always difficult to write about a topic if there’s an audience that knew about it before they were even out of their diapers. Mozart’s tale is such an integral part of our history and culture that little kids like my own already know about him and collect stickers for their sticker album. So yes, Marie Lu definitely didn’t have it easy with a critical audience like me, she did manage to capture my interest though.

His smile widened at that. He looked like he had heard every thought unspoken in my mind. “It’s immortality you seek, then,” he said. “You burn with the ambition to leave your voice in the world. You fear your father will forget about you if you cannot do this. All your life, you have ached to be seen.”

I think the fact that she only lent the characters and wove a unique story around them worked in her favour here. It’s historical fiction after all and with that in mind it was easier to overlook some of the historical facts being bent or not entirely accurate. I don’t know if Marie Lu ever visited Austria and actually went to see Mozart’s birth house in the Getreidegasse but she managed to write about it convincingly and to me it almost felt like I was there myself. (I actually was there myself so knew exactly what she wrote about) The only thing that was extremely jarring was the use of “Woferl” instead of “Wolferl”. If you look up Mozart on Wikipedia “Woferl” is mentioned as one of his nicknames but let me tell you this (and this says an Austrian who grew up with Mozart) no one over here would ever call him like that. If you talk about Mozart in Austria people will always say “Wolferl”. It comes from Wolfgang and “Wolferl” is the nickname everyone here would use. I guess Marie Lu might have used “Woferl” because it’s probably easier to pronounce for people that don’t speak German but for me, personally, it got kind of annoying. My brain always automatically corrected it to “Wolferl” and even when I reached the ending of the book I just couldn’t get over the use of this nickname. I’m not saying it’s wrong, because Wikipedia clearly states it as one of his many nicknames, none of us Austrians would ever call him like that in a conversation though. Just to get this out there into the world because correct representation is so important. I don’t know if Marie Lu’s editor or publisher ever asked a fellow Austrian to proof read this but I’m sure if any of them did they would have pointed this out to them. Well, at least I would have. 😉

”He made Woferl play so late into the night that my brother could not concentrate anymore, then slapped Woferl’s hands when he saw my brother’s eyes drooping at the clavier.”

Anyway! This out of the way we can go back to focusing on the story instead. I really loved how Marie Lu turned this into a magical tale and added so much depth to it. I mean for one we have a mysterious land named “The Kingdom of Back” in which a faerie princeling desperately tries to reclaim his throne. Hyacinth was such an interesting character because he represented so many different things. On the one hand there is his function as Nannerl’s patron and confidant and on the other hand he is a person Nannerl doesn’t really trust and is weary of. I just loved how Hyacinth had the role of conveying Nannerl’s deepest feelings and thoughts. Without Nannerl’s jealousy and resentment the faerie princeling wouldn’t have been more than a passing thought, but the more the young girl gives into her feelings the stronger he becomes. It shows in the way the Kingdom is growing and thriving and I really have to give kudos to Marie Lu for this amazing allegory. The more Nannerl resents her brother, the stronger Hyacinth becomes and once she realizes what he’s really up to its almost too late.

”He tells you to play, so you play. He tells you to curtsy, so you curtsy. He tells you what you are meant to do and what you are meant not to do, so you do and you do not do. He tells you not to be angry, so you smile, you turn your eyes down, you are quiet and do exactly as he says in the hopes that this is what he wants, and then one night you realize that you have given him so much of yourself that you are nothing but the curtsy and the smile and the quiet. That you are nothing.”

The thing is, nothing of it was ever Wolferl’s fault and I’m sure if their father wouldn’t have been so strict she would have never even been tempted to make that Faustian bargain with Hyacinth. What Nannerl truly wants is to be recognized for her talent and to be appreciated, but because she was a girl her father didn’t even find it necessary to give her the means to develop and evolve. While her brother gets the best tutoring and tools to improve and work on his music Nannerl has to fight for every little scrap. It was so unfair to see their different treatment but unfortunately it was a pretty realistic representation of the difference between women and men at that time. While men had all the opportunities and the world was open to them, women were only seen as future wives and mothers. Their only value in how well you were able to marry them off. Nannerl is fighting against that tooth and nail and almost breaking under the pressure.

”You and I are one, Nannerl. I am your friend. Firends help each other, and dislike seeing each other in distress. I can help you become what you want to be, help you heal, or I can let you die tonight, mourned only by your father and mother and brother. But I can only be your guardian if you let me help you. Now, what is it you want?”

Torn between what she wants for herself and what is best for her brother she is forced to make a decision and it’s definitely the hardest one she ever had to make. I just love how Marie Lu turned “The Kingdom of Back” into an extension of Nannerl’s inner turmoil, how Hyacinth represented her envy, anger and jealousy and how she’s ultimately forced to confront herself. Because in the end all that matters is if you’re able to live with the decisions you make and if you got there by yourself or if other’s forced your hand. The kingdom itself is such a beautiful place, all the potential Nannerl holds showing in every character and the unique music they emit. This was something I really loved about the book. Every single person Nannerl encounters in the kingdom has their own melody and voice and the descriptions were so lovely.

”Her touch, colder than the wind of a winter night, froze me in place. I wanted to cry out. Instead I focused myself staring at her, overwhelmed by the sound of music that came from deep in her throat. The melody flowed through her body and into my hand, wrapping itself around my skin, refusing to let go. I closed my eyes, unable to tear myself away from her.”

I swear sometimes to read this felt like the combination of a fever dream and a fairy tale. The scenes in the kingdom were an integral part of the story, yet at the same time they were few and far between. The biggest part of the narration was still playing in the real world and showed the struggle of the Mozart family while they tried to make a living of their talents. Still, the moments between Nannerl and her father always had an urgency to them and even though the story was a rather slow one you could always feel the tension in the air. Honestly, the injustice of Nannerl’s situation really got to me and it was kind of sad that the further the story progressed the harder it became for her to catch a break. Whenever she went to the Kingdom it felt like a fever dream and I didn’t know if I wanted to continue to dream on or would have rather preferred to wake up instead.

”And what if something were to happen to me? I can do everything that he can!” I had started to shout my words now. I no longer cared. “I can take care of our family! There are those in the audience who love me too, and who I can please. We are the same, Papa! Why do you not take me with you?” Papa slapped me. I gasped, suddenly dizzy, and touched my cheek with my hand.

4
The story might have been slow in general but it was relentless in its urgency and eventually turned into a crescendo. I don’t know if I liked the ending but I know that despite the magical nature of the story its end actually turned out to be realistic and comprehensible. Nannerl and Wolferl got older and grew up and this was reflected in the outcome of the story. Was it a good ending? I honestly don’t know, but I suppose it was at least one I could live with. So there’s that.
All told I really enjoyed “The Kingdom of Back” and ended up liking Marie Lu’s take on Mozart’s tale. If you love music, magic and fairy tales this might actually turn out to be a good pick for you. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, S

Review: Spinning Silver (Naomi Novik)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

“A power claimed and challenged and thrice carried out is true; the proving makes it so.”

Do you remember those fairy tales your parents read to you when you were a kid? The Brothers Grimm kinda thing that was a little bit scary, but also had some wisdom in it and made you wonder what you would have done if you’d have been in the same situation? Well, I guess you could say Naomi Novik writes stories like that. “Spinning Silver” was my first Novik book and it definitely won’t be the last, but she’ll be one of those authors I’ll pick up when I’m in the right mood to go for one of her books. I can see why a lot of people loved this book and why others seemed to be disappointed. I honestly don’t know where I stand with this story. On the one hand I really enjoyed it and loved to be a part of this fairy tale. It was interesting enough to keep me engaged but on the other hand the ending kinda… I wouldn’t say it dragged, but it also didn’t stop at its climax. *lol*

I guess what I want to say with this is that it had some sort of… LotR kinda feeling?! Like there was an ending to the story, a climax everything and every character in the book worked towards to, but then it happened and the book just continued?! Do you get what I mean? XD For me things like that are always hard to digest, because they are kind of jarring and sort of cause the story to deflate. Aside from that I really enjoyed the story though and I had a lot of fun guessing how everything would turn out in the end.

“My mother had enough magic to give me three blessings before she died,” I said, and he instinctively bent in to hear it. “The first was wit; the second beauty, and the third—that fools should recognize neither.”

The two main characters were amazing and I really liked to follow Irina and Miryem’s story. They were both very different characters but they also were similar in some regards. I really liked that they were both strong women and tried their best to deal with the cards they were given. For a fairy tale this book addressed a lot of serious topics and we don’t only have forced marriages and anti-Semitism but also the suppression of women in a world that is dominated by men. Still, despite everything Irina and Miryem are determined to make their own way and this was awesome. Both of them didn’t have it easy and certainly expected their marriages to be different but they used their wits in order to survive and I was in awe at how well they played their cards.

“But the world I wanted wasn’t the world I lived in, and if I would do nothing until I could repair every terrible thing at once, I would do nothing forever.”

It was really interesting to see how both of them got to know their husbands better and how the relationships between them changed. I personally would have liked the change to be more visible though. It was very subtle and this made it kind of difficult to believe. Of course both of them had a hard time. Miryem as well as Irina struggle with their new roles, the expectations of others and their own reality which is so different to everything everyone else sees. Still, while reading the book I always had the feeling that both women did what they did for their families and people and not for their husbands which was okay, but also not the best way to go for a believable relationship?! I’m probably the only person who sees it that way. Maybe that’s just a typical fairy tale thing?! I mean considering all the fairy tales I heard and read when I was a kid there never was a lot of emotion to it. So yeah, I guess that makes me a bean counter once again. XD

“So the fairy silver brought you a monster of fire for a husband, and me a monster of ice. We should put them in a room together and let them make us both widows.”

I think the older I get and the more books I read the more I want to feel something. A book is good when it attacks me emotionally and I guess that’s why I have troubles with some authors and their writing style lately. If it doesn’t move me, it doesn’t leave a lasting impression. I mean “Spinning Silver” was good! It was loosely based on “Rumpelstiltskin” and I obviously rated it 4 stars. I missed to be emotional invested though and that’s the reason why it didn’t get 5 stars from me. If that makes sense? Plus I had no idea why Wanda’s story line was so pronounced. She was basically the third main female character in the story but her story didn’t contribute a lot to the main plot. If it did and I missed how, please someone let me know in the comments down below. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Wanda as a character and the close bond she had with her brothers was really lovely but there didn’t seem to be much more to her story than the huge problem with their father. If her character actually had an important function it was totally lost on me. Sorry?! I suppose I just had the feeling that her story didn’t fit in with Miryem’s and Irina’s. *shrugs*

“There are men who are wolves inside, and want to eat up other people to fill their bellies. That is what was in your house with you, all your life. But here you are with your brothers, and you are not eaten up, and there is not a wolf inside you. You have fed each other, and you kept the wolf away.”

4
I probably could talk even longer about “Spinning Silver” but since I’ve such a backlog of reviews already I’ll just leave it at that. XD It was a good fairy tale and I felt conflicted throughout the entire book and found myself in a real moral dilemma near the ending. I had no idea which side I pulled for and well, if you know me you also know that that’s always a good thing in my book. 😉 All told “Spinning Silver” was a very enjoyable read and I can recommend it to everyone who loves fairy tales that feature strong female characters. Happy reading!

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Fever King (Victoria Lee)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 32 on My Book List 2021

”Governments didn’t have to listen to the people until the people made it hurt not to listen.”

The backlog of reviews I still have to write is no joke; I mean I finished this book in May and only managed to sit down and write my review now. Regardless of my review backlog I really wanted to write about “The Fever King” though because WOW, this book deserves a proper review! I wanted to read this book for ages and it always reappeared on my feed with people raving about it. So I was intrigued enough by the plot to put it on my TBR and when I discovered that my library actually had a copy, I couldn’t help but borrow it! And let me tell you this: I regret absolutely nothing!

This was amazing and legit one of the best books I read in 2022 so far! I didn’t expect to fall head over heels for this story and its characters but at some point I realized that all my thoughts revolved around this book and that it stayed with me even when I didn’t read it. And this even though the story line is nothing new. I mean, people with special abilities is a trope that’s been used very often in YA literature. One of the main differences in here is the fact that those abilities come with a virus that either kills the people it infects or grants them special powers if they survive. That concept alone was already very intriguing and definitely made this an interesting story to read. What really made this special were the characters though.

So many secrets, so much political intrigue, such interesting and complex characters and two very broken boys that tried their best to survive in a cruel world. I just loved everything about it. Noam and Dara were just wow! I love it when books make me think and cause me to feel conflicted about the characters and this was exactly what happened in here. I had no idea which side I was on and this was great. XD Anyway, before I accidentally spoil anything I’ll just head to my characters section and continue to rave over there. 😉

2
Welcome to Carolinia! Where manipulation thrives and political intrigues are a daily occurrence! Take care and beware not only of the virus but also of all the spoilers! They’ll get you when you least expect it! ;-P

Noam Álvaro :

”And I meant it when I said I wasn’t gay,“ Noam said.
Ames looked disbelieving, but she didn’t pull away.
Noam smirked. „Bisexual isn’t gay.“

Where to start with Noam?! I really liked his character and it was interesting to follow his POV. I felt the same confusion Noam did when it came to Dara’s and Lehrer’s relationship and I tried really hard to understand it. There are so many things Noam isn’t aware of and we get to experience everything through his eyes. I felt really sorry for him though because he tries his best to find his way in a world that hasn’t been kind to him and as a refugee and the son of undocumented immigrants his life has never been easy. Well, and then his father dies and Noam is basically an orphan with super powers he has no control over. I swear Noam is the embodiment of a lost boy and I really liked his character. Also can we appreciate that he’s openly bisexual and calls people out when they assume his sexuality?! XD I really loved that about him because despite all the things he’s been through he knows exactly who he is and where he stands and this is pretty amazing! =)

”Everything worth doing had its risks.
And sometimes you had to do the wrong thing to achieve something better.
Noam was willing to gamble with Lehrer’s persuasion if it meant securing a future for Atlantians. What kind of person would he be if he didn’t?”

Dara Shirazi:

„Dara’s eyes were black wells, pupils bleeding into iris.
„You can study all you want,“ he said softly. „It isn’t going to make a difference.“

Oh Dara, my beautiful, beautiful Dara!!! T_T My heart breaks just thinking of him and I can’t even fathom what he must have gone through all his life. His character was written so well and you know that something about him is off but you can’t exactly pinpoint it and you keep wondering until the end. And then BAM! Oh my! The more I read about his character the more I got on the right track but to actually read it and to have all my suspicions confirmed was an entirely different thing. Dara just tried to protect himself and Noam and he did it the only way he could. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough and the ending had me reeling! I really need to know if he’s okay and if he survived and I’m planning to read book two very soon because I just can’t wait any longer! I’m very scared of what I’ll read in the next book though because I’m pretty certain we’ll get more details and uff… this is going to be tough. I just want to hug Dara and tell him everything is going to be okay. T_T

He hesitated for a moment, darting a quick glance at Noam from beneath his lashes. Then: “I’d like to live out on a farm somewhere. With a garden, and maybe some goats. Somewhere I can see the stars.”

”There was so much more to Dara than the cold, bitter facade he’d presented. He was that, too, but he was also Dara: the effortless genius, the political critic and poker cheat, the boy who analyzed everything he read according to poststructuralist theory and kept fresh flowers in a vase on his bedside table. Dara, who claimed he hated everything but secretly dreamed of counting the stars.”

Calix Lehrer:

”Clever?” Lehrer said. “So are you. And you’re curious, as I was. You’ve lost a great deal, as I had. And you believe, as I did, that if you are powerful enough, no one will ever be able to hurt you again.”

Lehrer…. THIS manipulative, horrible man!!! I always knew that something about him was weird and extremely off, but urgh nothing prepared me for the revelations at the ending of the book. Damn! Some part of me admires how well he crafted his net of lies and machinations and yes, I admit it, I can’t help but marvel at his manipulations as well! But boy! This man is so, so, so bad and everyone is dancing after his pipe even though they don’t know it. What a brilliant and manipulative son of a b*tch! I think Adalwolf was totally right when he said that Calix’s trauma did irreparable damage to his mind. He clearly has no regard for people’s lives anymore and he uses them like he’d use chess pieces to win a match. I hate him. I despise him. But I can’t help but be intrigued by him. ARGH!!! Thanks for making me a conflicted mess Victoria Lee! *lol* Still, I think in his twisted mind he thinks he’s actually doing the right thing and truly believes that he cares about Carolinia. The things that happened to him though… my heart broke for the little boy he was. T_T It was horrible and inhuman and those scientists created a monster…

”Adalwolf was of the belief,” Lehrer said, “that what I experienced in the hospital made me ill suited for leadership. He believed the trauma did irreparable damage to my mind.”

”Now, even though he occupied one of the most powerful positions in the world, Minister Lehrer could walk into the courtyard of the government complex utterly alone, without bodyguards, and not spare a thought for safety. He was untouchable, more myth than man. To look at Lehrer was to see a man who was everything Chancellor Sacha was not: Revolutionary. Principled. Witching.”

”I used my power on Sacha because he had to be stopped,” Lehrer said. “At any cost. I care about nothing as much as I care about this country. I was there when this nation was born, Noam, and like hell will I watch it die at the hands of a baseline.”

3
Noam & Dara:

”What did Lehrer tell you?”
“He said you were troubled and that I should stay away from you.”
Dara’s smile was bladed. He had Noam captured there as thoroughly as if he’d tied him down, because Noam couldn’t imagine moving when Dara was looking at him like that.

My two soft boys!!! T_T I really loved them together! Even though they kinda made me mad! *lol* There was so much tension between them and so many little gestures, but they both didn’t know how to be close to each other because their entire life they always tried to protect themselves from harm. To see their struggle was so heart-breaking. They wanted to be together but at the same time they couldn’t. There was so much distrust between them and they felt so conflicted about their feelings. Noam as well as Dara were hurt in so many ways… two broken boys that tried their best to get through the day and then Lehrer added even more fuel to the fire by manipulating them both. This only made it even harder for them to understand and to trust each other. From Dara’s POV it must have been so heart-wrenching because he knew exactly what Lehrer was capable of but he just couldn’t do anything against it. >_< My poor boy!! Also: I can’t believe we went from “I love you.” to “I hate you and don’t care about you.” right to “I love you.” again! Phew! Their relationship was such a rollercoaster and I really hope it will have more consistency in the next book?! Gosh, I just hope Dara survived the virus! T_T

”There was no way to look without sliding off his armrest and moving into Dara’s space. But Dara seemed to want that. His hand caught Noam’s wrist and tugged him closer, until Noam was leaning over him with his free hand braced against the windowsill, Dara’s left thigh perilously close to Noam’s groin, and, fuck.”

”I know you. And I love you.”
Two weeks ago, Noam would have been the happiest person in the world. Now those words were poison. Noam tasted venom like heat on his tongue.
“So read my mind,” Noam said, brandishing a hand toward his own temple. “I believe you, Dara. I just don’t care.”

”He was crying, Noam realized. Dara was crying.
Very carefully, Noam wrapped his arms around Dara’s body and just … held him there, while both of Dara’s hands took fistfuls of his shirt and clung on tight. He was feverish hot; Noam could feel it even through the sweater Dara wore. It was like holding on to a live coal.”

”I know,” Noam said. He tried to grin, but it felt weak. He said, “I love you too.” and he grasped Dara’s face between both hands and kissed him on his shocked mouth. Dara didn’t resist. Dara didn’t say a word, even when Noam pushed him back and into the car and slammed the door shut behind him.

Noam & Lehrer:

”I can’t be anywhere near this. You know that,” Lehrer said, hand tightening slightly on Noam’s wrist. “It has to be you.”

URGH!!! I absolutely hate how Lehrer manipulated Noam. We get to see everything through Noam’s POV and it was so … I dunno. Disgusting to read about how Lehrer found a way into his mind and nudged his thoughts in the “right direction”. I felt so violated just reading about it and I don’t even want to know how Noam feels. Lehrer’s power… it’s horrible and the worst thing is that you only realize it very slowly. A little thought here and a small seed there and before I even knew it Noam and his thoughts were completely manipulated by him. Nothing he did at the ending was of his own will and I hated this so much!! ARGH!! Lehrer is such a cruel piece of … ! The only thing that was truly Noam was when he saved Dara and organized a transport for him. The rest… well it was all Lehrer and considering how much he hurt Dara and manipulated him I don’t even want to know what he’s going to do with Noam in the next book. T_T I’m afraid I’ll be in for a world of suffering and pain. >_< Or well, Noam will be and I’ll live through it alongside him.

Dara & Lehrer:

Dara, sick with fevermadness, his hands on Noam’s face. Saying, “You have to listen to me.”
Over and over.
Lehrer, pulling Dara away like it was easy.
Dara screaming. Don’t let them and Please and Noam’s name, like someone praying the Shema.

This scene broke my heart into tiny little pieces! Noam was the only good thing that ever happened to Dara and Lehrer made sure to take him away from him as well. My poor boy! Dara was so ill and weak and he couldn’t even fight him. Did I already mention that I hate what Lehrer did to Dara?! I always got bad vibes from Lehrer and he failed my vibe check the moment I read about him. What finally settled it was that disturbing scene with the dead bird though. After that I was totally on guard when it came to Lehrer. And the abuse Dara suffered from Lehrer… It wasn’t just physically but also mentally and I have no idea how he could live like that for so long. No one ever noticed and it’s just so horrible. To think that Lehrer should have been his guardian and parent – a person he could trust and rely on – and what he did instead. And we only just discovered the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure there’s so much more to come in the next book and I really don’t think I’m ready for it.

4
I rarely say this about books but “The Fever King” was really such a well thought-out book. The characters were multi-layered and complex and the storyline kept me on my toes. All the intrigues and secrets caused me to constantly rethink and readjust my theories and thoughts and the love story between the two MCs broke my heart. I guess you can already tell that this was definitely a 5 paws read for me. Highly recommended if you’re like me and appreciate character driven books that feature political intrigues and give you a headache because you’re trying your best to figure out the MCs motives. 😉 I can’t wait to dive into book two, but I gotta admit I’m kinda scared of reading it too.

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

”Somewhere close by, a man is moaning; he’s been trampled or thrown or bitten. He sounds resentful or surprised. Did no one tell him that pain lives in this sand, dug in and watered with our blood?”

I really don’t know where I should start with this review because just like any of Maggie’s other books this one wasn’t only magical but also so damn atmospheric that it’s more than just hard to put my feelings into proper words. There is something in the way she writes that always captures the emotions and the essence of a certain season or time. In “Shiver” it was winter, in TRC it’s that foggy, otherworldly atmosphere of Cabeswater and in “The Scorpio Races” it was autumn and the daily life on an island.

I swear I could feel the cold autumn wind on my skin and I could smell the leaves and the sea with my nose while I read this book. It was done so perfectly that I immerged into a totally different world and just like Puck and Sean (and Craig ;-P) I couldn’t help but fall in love with the capaill uisce. Those water horses were so awesome, I can’t even! <333

”The capaill uisce plunged down the sand, skirmishing and bucking, shaking the sea foam out of their manes and the Atlantic from their hooves. They screamed back to the others still in the water, high wails that raised the hair on my arms. They were swift and deadly, savage and beautiful. The horses were giants, at once the ocean and the island, and that was when I loved them.”

I love how Maggie described them and I also love that she researched the myths and folklore of water horses. They are indeed very fascinating and if you want to delve a little deeper you just have to look them up under “cabyll-ushtey”. Anyway, back to the actual water horses of this book! They were amazing and I loved their beautiful, violent and graceful nature! It’s kind of obvious Maggie has some experience with horses because I think otherwise she would have never been able to write about them so convincingly. There’s a deep respect in her words and you can feel it whenever you read Sean’s or Pucks POV! And tell you what? I loved that aspect of the book! It made it so good and realistic that I was almost convinced those horses actually exist. *lol*

And this ultimately brings me right to the two main characters of “The Scorpio Races”. Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick! <333

”And then I see him. A dark-haired boy who is made of all corners. He is standing next in line by the counter, silent and still in his blue-black jacket, his arms folded across his chest. He looks out of place and wild in here: expression sharp, collar turned up against the back of his neck, hair still windblown from the beach.”

”My mother always said that I was born out of a bottle of vinegar instead of born from a womb and that she and my father bathed me in sugar for three days to wash it off. I try to behave, but I always go back to the vinegar.”

I adored them both! XD Sean Kendrick was a mystery to everyone but himself and Puck Connolly was an open book that had its own secrets. They were two really intriguing characters and before I even knew it, I was already pulling for them. *lol* Even though they both had a rather rough life they still decided to fight for their dreams and they truly did everything possible in order to achieve their goals. They really dealt with every blow that came their way and they did it with fierce determination! ❤

”The truth is this: for eleven months of the year I make myself valuable to Malvern, and then for one month, I make myself invaluable. Would he be willing to give up that one month to keep the other eleven? Am I willing to risk it?”

”Why is it that going away is the standard? Does anyone ask you why you stay, Sean Kendrick?”
“They do.”
“And why do you?”
“The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr.”


This is such a perfect quote because Sean and Puck ARE the embodiment of the island. They are deeply rooted in its sand and unlike so many of the islands other inhabitants they can’t even imagine to leave it one day. It’s their heart, their home and the place they belong to and I think Maggie conveyed that feeling more than just well. =) Still, the island is its own entity and there are people that make it hard to enjoy the wilderness of this land. First and foremost Benjamin Malvern and his demon of a son called Mutt.

”And I told you before, I’ll sell you any of the thoroughbreds.”
“I didn’t make any of those thoroughbreds. I didn’t make them what they are.”
Malvern says, “You made all of them what they are.”
I don’t look at him. “None of them made me who I am.”


”Mr Kendrick was born on a horse and he’ll die on one, and maybe that’s not something you can breed for. He’s one of those rare men who can make a horse work for him but never asks for more than they have.”

It was so obvious that Benjamin Malvern had a deep respect for Sean, yet at the same time he refused to let him go. Ever the business man he tied him to his stable making him just another one of his precious horses. I hated Benjamin Malvern so much for that and I despised him even more for being aware of Sean’s talent and keeping him under his thumb. And I don’t even want to speak about Mutt Malvern that – excuse my crude language – sadistic douche bag! Gosh, there were moments I wanted to slap some sense into him and I am a pacifist and actually never slapped anyone. (My only weapons are words! *lol*) ARGH! Just to think about Mutt makes my blood boil, such a despicable a******!!! >_<

”At the sound of them, the red stallion flinches, as if the bells are physically painful, and I find myself unexpectedly blinking away tears.
Sean Kendrick turns his face away.
There’s something so wretched in that that I can’t just leave him there by himself.”


I swear Sean and Puck had to put up with so many things before the races and I loved them so much for never giving up! Plus I also liked that Puck was the first woman to ever take part in the races! Thank you Maggie for inventing a strong female character people are able to look up to! We still need more of those! ❤ And last but not least another thing I’m very thankful for: A slow, realistic burn and a relationship that was built on mutual respect and the love for their horses and home!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT!!! <333

I say, “I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.”
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, “It’s late for that, Puck.”

4
All told I really loved this book! “The Scorpio Races” was an awesome “ride” and the ending was as bittersweet as dark chocolate with a pinch of salt in it. T_T
Highly recommended and definitely once again an amazing Maggie Stiefvater book! 😉

Since this was another buddy read with my amazing Sugar Bun I want to use the chance to thank him for this cool and funny BR! I think our next one is already pending. Do you still have a copy of “Linger”? *lol* I have the feeling that you’ll need a yucky romance soon. Haha! ;-P