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, K - O, O, Reviews

Review: One Last Stop (Casey McQuiston)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

Book 26 on My Book List 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, 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, Reviews, U - Z, X

Review: XOXO (Axie Oh)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 6 on My Book List 2022

”A silky shirt clings to his shoulders, and his long legs are clad in smooth black pants. His left arm is in a cast, but a Rolex glints from his right wrist – and are those sleeve tattoos?”

If you’re BTS ARMY and didn’t immediately think of Jungkook when you read this description of Jaewoo then I really dunno. *lol* It was my first thought and from then on out I always pictured JK when I read about him. Don’t judge me, I needed to live vicariously through Jenny’s POV. ;-P I mean which k-pop fan doesn’t dream of meeting their idol and actually being together with them? XD Okay, so this out of the way we can finally talk about the actual book.

”If you need help, you only have to ask.”
There’s a short pause, then he says softly. “If I asked you to save me, would you?”
My heart breaks a little. “I can try.”


I absolutely loved how Jenny and Jaewoo met. I mean a karaoke bar is so fitting for a k-pop idol and those two spent quite a nice night together. Their meet-cute was extremely sweet and I can’t believe Jenny didn’t know who he was. She found out soon enough though and to say the revelation kinda threw her would be an understatement. Jenny was such a great character though and I really liked the way she thought about life and idols in general. Her stance on how fans should respect their idols and their wishes was amazing and I really wish the hard-core fans in the fandom would see it like that too.

”I mean… not exactly that. More like, you need to be strong for yourself first, be healthy and happy for yourself first, before you can be strong and give happiness to others. The healthier and happier you are, the more you can give to your fans, right? They should want that for you.”

I think the majority of k-pop stans (and when I say majority I mean about 90%) want their idols to be happy no matter what they do or who they end up with. I’m no exception to that rule because honestly if any member of BTS would find their significant other I’d be super happy for them. They deserve it! They did so much for ARMY and all I want for them is to be happy and healthy. ❤ Unfortunately not everyone in the fandom is like me though and there are the ugly sides of being an idol as well. Stalker fans (saesangs) and people in the fandom that criticize everything their idols do. People that think they can dictate what their idol wears, who they date or even what haircut they should get. (Let alone all those people that constantly give idols hell for getting tattoos or piercings. They are adults and grown women/men and it is their body! They can do whatever they want! You either love them as they are, because tattoos and piercings are an expression of themselves as well or you just don’t stan them. Period!)

I look up to see Jaewoo walk into the cafeteria … with Sori.
I’ve never seen a more striking pair. They look like they stepped out of a catalogue.
“Is it weird if I take a picture?” Angela asks. “Like as a souvenir for myself. I’ve never seen such great visuals.”


So yeah, sorry about that but everyone who is familiar with k-pop knows that there is a darker side to the fandoms as well. It’s not all bad though and there is an even bigger and lovely side to the fandoms as well. As I said before, about 90% of their fans will support their idols no matter what and will always have their back. 😉 I think the book portrayed the good and the bad sides of the fandoms so well and really captured the essence of being a k-pop fan. Alone the quote above with the visuals was so damn relatable.*lol* And don’t even get me started on the shipping. Haha!

”You’re my boyfriend. Don’t think for a second I haven’t seen all your videos, even the fan-made ones that point out all the evidence that you and Nathaniel are a couple.”
“That’s embarrassing,” Jaewoo says. “And here I thought we were being careful.”


I mean that quote!!! It’s every k-pop group that has a fandom! There will always be ships no matter if it’s among the members in the group or with members of other groups. XD And speaking of the k-pop bands themselves. The representation of XOXO as a k-pop group was more than just accurate too! The way the band members cared about and supported each other was so heart-warming and relatable. Everyone who’s a fan of a k-pop group will know that the members are basically family and that they spend a lot of time together. Most of the times even their youth because they become trainees when they are still very young and the other band members kind of compensate for their real family. So by the end of their trainee days and when they have their debut they are actually already a found family that gives each other strength. =)

”He means so much to a lot of people,” Sun continues, “not just to his family, of course, but to everyone here at Joah. He started training at the company when he was twelve years old. It’s been difficult for him, away from his family for all those years. But he kept on working hard. He’d spend hours in the studio training his body and voice.”

And here’s the moment when I have to admit that I loved XOXO and that I’d definitely become a fan if they’d be a real k-pop band! *lol* All the four members were amazing and no matter if it was Jaewoo, Nathaniel, Sun or Youngmin all of them totally gave me family vibes. =) The description of their roles in the group was typical k-pop too and I had a really soft spot for Youngmin (the maknae) and Sun (their leader and rapper). Of course Nathaniel and Jaewoo were amazing as well and they all complemented one another and made their group unique.

”I have to go make apologies on behalf of the group. Of course that’s my job as the leader, to protect our members. I’ll always protect them, even from themselves.”

This all out of the way, I guess it’s finally time to speak about the elephant in the room: The love story between Jenny and Jaewoo! Those two were super adorable and I really can’t blame Jenny for dating Jaewoo in secret. I suppose for k-pop idols that’s the only way because as I said not everyone in the fandom will be happy about their idol dating. Not that it’s a lot different in Western countries, but I think it’s become more normal for stars to date people and even though there is always a huge fuss about who is dating who they usually don’t get death threats or shit storms for it anymore. K-pop idols don’t have love interests though (at least not according to their label and in public) and therefore would have to hide their relationships from their fans.

I hook my arms around his neck. “What are we stealing?” I can feel Jaewoo’s grin against my lips.
“Time?” he suggests. He must mean it as a joke, but it’s actually the very thing we’re trying to steal. Moments like this are so few and far between.


I think that’s actually the only negative thing I can say about “XOXO”, it was too realistic! *lol* Jenny and Jaewoo sneaking around and kissing secretly in a broom closet always trying to make room to see each other and to make their relationship work. It was too damn realistic! I wanted to see more of their relationship and what I got was reality smack right in the face. XD They had different schedules and other responsibilities and their little moments were few and far between. So exactly the way it would have been if a real idol would have dated a cello prodigy. On the one hand I really appreciated this realistic approach but on the other hand it kinda dampened my enjoyment of the book a little because I was always left wanting for more. This ultimately resulted in the fact that I got the feeling their relationship developed way too fast for the couple of little moments they actually spent together. Maybe there happened a lot of things off-page but those moments on page were the things I actually wanted to read about and I think because of that imbalance I didn’t ship them as much as I ship other bookish couples.

”You have a schedule too. We need to practice or we won’t be ready for the showcase. I thought you said you needed something unique to stand out in your portfolio. Are you really going to blow your chances of a future, a long-term one, for a guy who can never, I mean never, put you first?”

Don’t get me wrong, they were super cute, but their relationship didn’t really sweep me off my feet and I didn’t get all those gushy sweet romantic feels I usually get when I ship a couple. *lol* You know all those “Awww” or “AKDFASDFLJASLDFAJSDFKS!” moments. XD Speaking of relationships: I really appreciated Jenny’s and Sori’s friendship as well but I didn’t really understand where Sori was coming from when it came to Nathaniel. 

spoilerI mean that boy was crazy for her and definitely wanted to date her and be her bf but she didn’t give in because she was an idol herself?! It was so obvious that Sori had feelings for Nathaniel too and I just couldn’t understand how those two couldn’t date. I mean I got where Sori was coming from but if Jenny and Jaewoo managed to date, they could have easily done the same thing. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I really didn’t get it. Still don’t.

4

“XOXO” was a really great book and a very realistic one at that. I loved all the Korean phrases, food and k-pop knowledge that went into the story and I lived and breathed for the glimpses of Seoul life! The fact that the book didn’t just address the positive but also the negative sides of the k-pop industry was amazing and I really liked all of the characters and their different personalities! If you’re a k-pop fan (or a music trope fan in general) this book is definitely for you and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as well! Happy reading! =)

A - E, Allgemein, C, Reviews

Review: Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Tomi Adeyemi)

trigger warnings:war, violence, genocide, loss, trauma, abusive parents

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Rating: 2 Pfoten,5

”Just tell Zélie what you want,” he says. “She’ll listen.”
“No, she won’t.” I shake my head. “None of them will.”

And if that isn’t the entire mood of this book, then I really don’t know! People, buckle up because today I’m going to serve some hot tea and not everyone is going to enjoy it. I’m not here to please though so you either read my honest opinion or you don’t. It’s up to you. ;-P Okay, this out of the way let’s talk about why I didn’t enjoy “Children of Virtue and Vengeance”. To cut it down to the basics there was absolutely no “virtue” in this book and if anything the “vengeance” part was extremely pronounced! Like so extremely distinctive I just couldn’t enjoy the book anymore. Honestly after the about hundredth time these “children” (that is actually a very suitable description for the childish behaviour they showed) couldn’t decide whether to make war or not I kinda lost my patience. And I’m a very patient person…

Don’t get me wrong, the first book was great. I mean I had my issues with it but I was really looking forward to read book two because I believed that the author would learn from the mistakes of the first book. Unfortunately what I got was something totally different than I expected. There was so much potential! We had the tîtáns that suddenly appeared after the ritual and we could have had such great character arcs and a really solid and good story line but this wasn’t what we got. No.

”Marked by white streaks, the tîtáns appeared in the nobility and military after the ritual, displaying magic similar to one of the ten maji clans. But unlike us, their powers require no incantation to come forth. Like Inan, their raw abilities are quite strong.”

What we got were immature protagonists that fought amongst themselves at every opportunity. MCs that were incapable of listening to each other and that were so stubborn and stuck in their way of thinking that they didn’t even ponder the idea of peace. I mean honestly, who needs peace if you can make war and kill each other? Why save millions of lives if you can just send them to death? The maji and tîtáns don’t need peace, no, it’s way easier to annihilate each other and to destroy everything. Way to go! Totally good solution! I hope you notice my sarcasm because urgh, I just couldn’t with them. With all of them!! Every single character! It was so frustrating!! And before I go on and on I’ll just head to my characters section and vent my anger over there! Just in case you didn’t notice: I’m still salty. *lol*

2
Welcome to the land of doom aka Orïsha, where we all want to kill each other because happy endings are overrated! Who needs peace when you can have war? Oh yeah, and because we’re nice like that we’ll hand you lots of spoilers to deal with! Be prepared to be drowned in them. ;-P

Zélie:

Who is this girl and where did the real Zélie go?! It’s like her character turned around by 180 degrees and I don’t recognize her anymore. I mean she went through a lot in the first book, really A LOT but by the end of the first book she still was nothing like that! I so couldn’t with this new Zélie and I think fame got to her head. Everyone telling her what a special snowflake she is definitely didn’t do her any good and I wish she would have listened to the people that were close to her before she turned into the “Soldier of Death”. I don’t even have a single quote that would describe Zélie’s character because it was all over the place and there was nothing left of the girl we got to know in “Children of Blood and Bone”. I’m so disappointed by her character, I have no words.

Amari:

”I pick up a navy tunic, squeezing the silk to keep the tears in. What right do I have to grieve when the sins of my family have caused this kingdom so much pain?”

And here we go with the second lead character I didn’t recognize anymore. Amari changed at least as much as Zélie did and I hated to see her blame herself for everything. Where is my strong and determined queen? Where is the girl that always tried her best and never gave up? It’s like Adeyemi set her up for failure from the very first page and the ending was so convenient because by then Amari really became the person every single one of the maji expected her to be. If Adeyemi wanted to destroy Amari’s character she did really well. I’m sure no one likes her after the ending of this book which doesn’t sit right with me because up until the halfway mark Amari tried to prevent a war and then suddenly changed direction just because she felt betrayed by her brother. It was like: I was betrayed by him. I need to answer to violence with violence, it’s the only way. No talk of peace anymore. Sure I mean if I tried to prevent a war for about 1,5 books I totally would change direction from one moment to the next. Wouldn’t we all?! Sorry, I’m getting salty again. But I JUST CAN’T!!

”I don’t care what you’ve done.” Ramaya’s attacks subside, a brief reprieve as she catches her breath. “If you want to help the maji, kill your vile family. Kill yourself.“

Roën:

”Thes idiots bleed for you. They die for you. And all you want is to run away and lick your scars –“
“What right do you have?” I whip around. “You left your home!”
“Because I had nothing!” he yells at me. “I had no one. You’re going to win and you still have so many of the people you love! I don’t feel sorry for you. Stop feeling sorry for yourself!”

Roën was legit THE ONLY voice of reason in this book! Honestly, even Mama Agba was such a disappointment. She saw everything that went wrong and didn’t do anything against it?! WTF?! Oh gosh, I loved Roën so much for giving Zélie a piece of his mind! And he was totally right: At first she goaded everyone into war and then she suddenly didn’t want to be a part of it anymore?! I think Roën was the only reason I read this book until the end, because he was the only sane and reasonable character among a flood of stupid and stubborn warmongers. I really wish we would have gotten so much more of him because he seemed to be the only character that was worth my reading time.

Inan:

”One victor shall stand at the end of this war. One ruler shall sit on my throne. I can’t hold back anymore. I have to take out the Iyika no matter what it does to Amari and Zélie.
This war ends with me.”

Good lord give me patience! There was so much potential for Inan’s character and… it all went to waste! Instead of forming his own opinion and doing the right thing he let himself be influenced by his mother and the people around him. Inan had absolutely no – I repeat – no character growth and even though he tried to find a peaceful solution for everyone and wanted to avoid a war it felt like he never really wanted to stop it. If you want to stop a war you take the risk and go through with it no matter the cost. No wonder Inan wasn’t successful; all his attempts at peace were just half-hearted and half-assed! You do things properly or not at all. Period! His stance of “I want peace but I still want to be king” was so illogical and it was no surprise the maji didn’t trust someone who held on to his crown like that. Uff…

3
Zélie & Amari:

„Don’t compare your scars to mine, Princess. You’ll lose every time.“
“I’ll lose?” I charge forward. “I’ll lose? You had two parents who loved you till their dying breath. A brother who stands by your side. Both my parents tried to kill me with their own hands! I took the life of my own father to protect you and the maji!”

All I can say to those two is: WTF?! I mean what happened to their amazing friendship?!!! Did I miss a memo? How did we get from respect, mutual understanding and trust to the sentence above?! I have no idea what I was reading but it definitely wasn’t the kind of friendship I signed up for. I hate what became of those two and I think if Zélie would have just listened to Amari and trusted her they could have found a way to peace. But nope, Zélie decided to be a b*tch and treated Amari like shit. I mean she didn’t even defend her against Ramaya and the things Ramaya said… if someone would say something like that to my friend I’d give them hell for it! And what did Zélie do? Nothing! She let the maji treat Amari like dirt and didn’t care. You know what makes me even more angry is the fact that they all treated Amari so badly and it was so, SO WRONG! And in the end after Amari really steps out of line and does something totally extreme and horrible it’s like: Oh, we were all right and it wasn’t our fault, it was Amari’s because she was wrong from the beginning. Never mind Amari tried to prevent the war from ever happening for about 3 quarters of the book. Never mind that Zélie was a total b*tch and sent so many of her own people to death and actually wanted to abandon them near the ending. Zélie is our precious heroine and she can do nothing wrong. URGH!

”You keep pretending all you want is to kill my brother, but I saw the way you two looked at each other at Chândomblé. I know there’s more in your heart than rage!” I point at her chest. “If you want to lie to yourself about how you really feel, fine. But if you damn us to this warpath, you’re putting innocent lives on the line!”

Zélie, Inan & Roën:

The pit of guilt in my stomach hardens, squashing my fantasy. But that same pit turns to a flutter when Roën slides a hand around my waist.
“Besides, what soul could be better off that far away from me?”
“You have three seconds before I cut off your arm.”
“Three whole seconds?” Roën smiles as the cart swings to a stop.

This was the most unnecessary love triangle I ever came across and I read so many books with unnecessary love triangles you have no idea. I mean seriously, what was the point of this?! We all know there’s no way Zélie and Inan will ever get together because they hate each other with a fierce passion. And that’s all the passion that will ever be between them. And after reading this book I can honestly say that Roën is way too good for Zélie. Just to think that he believes he isn’t good enough for her. Like excuse me: WHAT?! But you know: Having read so many love triangles I can already guess how this one might end: Zélie will get together with Inan despite all logic and Roën will most certainly die somehow. Because that is how you solve a love triangle like that. One person has to die. If anyone of you reads the third book please let me know with whom Zélie ends up with. I’d really love to hear about that one. *lol* Am I bitter about this love triangle, yes, yes I am.

Roën’s steps slow as he exhales, pressing his fingers to his forehead. I watch bewildered as he turns back to help her; metal drifting towards its magnet.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers, tears brimming in her silver eyes. One spills out and Roën wipes it with his thumb, his unbandaged hand lingering on the side of her face.
They stare at each other, and it’s as if we all disappear. Unspoken words pass between their eyes. Roën’s shoulders slump when he rises to his feet. “Me too.”

”Your mistake wasn’t falling for a monster, Zïtsõl. It was falling for the wrong one.”
“Are you supposed to be the right one?”
Roën smiles, but it doesn’t hold any joy. “I’ve never been the right anything.”

Amari & Zane:

”Of course.” Tzain grins. “I live to serve, my queen.”
Though he jokes, his words heat my skin. He’s the only one who looks at me like I deserve that title. The one person who believes I can lead.”

I said it after reading the first book and I’ll say it again: Their love story came out of nowhere and it’s still irritating af. *lol* Amari clearly was in love with Binta and no one can persuade me otherwise. I find it weird that she would fall for Zane like that and that he’d become her safe haven in such a short time. Also their love ended as abruptly as it started, which only causes me to be even more irritated by their relationship. At first she is everything for him and the moment she does something horrible and stupid he drops her like a hot potato because that is EXACTYLY what we do with the people we love! We can turn our feelings on and off like a light switch, don’t you know?! It must have been true love! Oh jeez, my sarcasm is showing today. I just can’t with this book! I can’t!

Amari & Inan:

”I only asked for one thing when I joined this fight,” she cuts me off. “All I wanted was to end Inan.”
“He’s my blood.” I narrow my eyes. “You know I could never agree to that.”

I really liked their sibling relationship … well up until the moment Amari didn’t even give her brother a chance to explain himself and decided to go into full war mode. What happened to the benefit of the doubt? I mean of course we wouldn’t even listen to our sibling. Why should we? We want war, so we’ll throw all caution and every reasonable and sensible thought out of the window and just go for it! Despite us trying to find a peaceful solution for 3 quarters of the book! Sure. Totally logical, right?! Can you still follow me? Nope? Well, I guess that might be because I couldn’t follow that logic as well. But here we go!

”Everything that’s passed between us flashes behind my eyes as I run. I see every way we’ve been hurt. Every face that we have lost. Binta. Admiral Kaea. Father. But worst of all, each other.
the moment I place my head against his chest, I don’t know who weeps harder. Me, or him.”

4
I hate to say it but “Children of Virtue and Vengeance” so wasn’t for me and it was a real struggle to get through the book. I just couldn’t with the constant back and forth between making war or making peace and the fact that the characters themselves just couldn’t seem to be able to decide for a clear path made this impossible to enjoy. The MCs were so inconsistent in their decisions and they were nothing like the characters from the first book. Characters I may add that had a lot of potential and could have had great arcs. I’m sorry but this book really wasn’t for me. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it and that’s totally okay. I really wish I would have enjoyed it too, but I just didn’t and I guess that has to be okay as well.

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

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Almond (Won-Pyung Sohn)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me.”

It’s been ages I buddy read “Almond” with my friend Katja but I really wanted to write a review about the book. Unfortunately my life got in the way and I neither read as much as I wanted to nor did I manage to write reviews about the books I finished. I’m going to rectify that now though and after I wrote this review there will follow a couple of other reviews as well. So watch out for them. It’s about time I write them down. 😉 This said, let’s head right back to the actual review and speak about “Almond”.

”Granny, why do people call me weird?”
Her lips loosened.
“Maybe it’s because you’re special. People just can’t stand it when something is different, eigoo, my adorable little monster.”
Granny hugged me so tight my ribs hurt. She always called me a monster. To her, that wasn’t a bad thing.

I wanted to read this book for a while and when my dear friend Katja asked me to read it together for the #Koreadathon I immediately said yes. We picked it for the “read a book recommended by a Korean celebrity” prompt and the fact that RM as well as SUGA of BTS read it and enjoyed it was enough reason to go for it as well. I trust my boys taste in books and I’m really glad I decided to go for “Almond” because it was an intriguing read and very thought-provoking. The plot of the book is easily described: It’s about a boy named Yunjae who was born with a brain condition named alexithymia which basically means that he can’t feel emotions. The part of his brain that is responsible for our feelings (and formed like an almond, hence the book title) isn’t fully developed and that causes him to have troubles to understand human emotions. Our MCs mother and his grandmother tried their best to teach him how to cope with his lack of emotions but then one day tragedy hits and Yunjae is left to fend for himself.

”People sometimes say how cool it’d be to be fearless, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. Fear is an instinctive defense mechanism necessary for survival. Not knowing fear doesn’t mean that you’re brave; it means you’re stupid enough to stay standing on the road when a car is charging towards you.”

I had so many thoughts when I read this book and a lot of them had to do with the way Yunjae was raised. I know his mother and grandmother only had the best intentions and wanted him to blend in with everyone, but I think to some extent their constant efforts made it even more difficult for him to deal with his condition. Emotions are something you can’t learn because human feelings are very complex and some people will cry because they are happy while others will laugh even though they are sad. You might be able to explain the general reasons behind behaviour like crying but every person is an individual and we all react differently when we’re overwhelmed by our feelings. The fine nuances of emotions… well they are something you can’t learn. So even though I understood where Yunjae’s mother was coming from I still didn’t agree with her methods. It felt like Yunjae was under a lot of pressure to learn “the proper reactions” and I kinda felt sorry for him.

”Dr. Shim was right – being ordinary was the trickiest path. Everyone thinks “ordinary” is easy and all, but how many of them would actually fit into the so-called smooth road the word implied?”

Well, and then his grandma died and his mother was out of the picture as well, leaving him to fight through all the troubles on his own. Okay, almost all on his own because Dr. Shim was amazing and I loved that he helped him out! Honestly, bless his soul because he just accepted Yunjae the way he was and tried to help him as best as he could. ❤ But Dr. Shim isn’t the only one that helped him to find his way and Gon as well as Dora had an impact on the MCs character development.

”Dora. Dora was exactly the polar opposite of Gon. If Gon tried to teach me pain, guilt and agony, Dora taught me flowers and scents, breezes and dreams.”

I loved the way this was put, because it sums up their different personalities and essence so well. With Dora Yunjae discovered the soft feelings of first love and attraction and with Gon he learned about true friendship and hardships. Some might say Gon was a catalyst and I’m inclined to agree with that, but I also think that Dora’s appearance was at least as vital to Yunjae’s development as Gon’s. Both played a very important part in the MCs life and contributed to his experiences.

”About what?”
“About destiny and time.”
“What a surprise to hear those words from you.”
“Sheesh, did you know that even when you say the simplest things, you sound like a dick?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Now you know.”
“Yes, thanks.”

I really loved the bluntness between Gon and Yunjae! They took each other the way they were and they didn’t try to pretend to be someone else when they were in each other’s company. I think this might have actually been the main reason their friendship could bloom and evolve because the way they met definitely wasn’t the best start. (And that’s an understatement right there.) I’m not going to spoil anything here though. 😉 Despite being unable to feel emotions the same way other people do Yunjae was quite a wise person sometimes and could look through people’s disguises with surprising ease. I suppose you could also say that because of his disability to feel emotions he was probably more perceptive than others?

”She said families walk hand in hand. Granny would hold my other hand. I have never been abandoned by anyone. Even though my brain was a mess, what kept my soul whole was the warmth of the hands holding mine on both sides.”

I’m pretty sure it was due to this that he was able to see who Gon truly was. The way Yunjae described Gon was simple yet beautiful and I guess this is also how I would describe Won-Pyung Sohn’s writing style: Beautiful simplicity with many layers. The author never beats about the bush or hides information. It’s all there and you get exactly what you read which was a very refreshing approach and even though the conversations between the characters are pretty unexcited, they still have some sort of beauty to them. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the writing style so much but I did. =)

”I said, shut the fuck up.”
“You are not that kind of person.”
“Fuck,” he shouted, half crying. A nail on the wall must’ve pricked my leg, because it was bleeding. Gon saw and started weeping like a child. Yes, this was who he was. The kind of person who tears up at a drop of blood, who feels pain for other’s pain.

4
As for the ending of the book: I liked it but it almost felt too smooth? I don’t know if I’d have done anything differently but I’ve to admit that I still don’t know how I feel about it. I thought a lot about my final reaction to Yunjae’s story but all I can come up with is that the ending felt too convenient. Still, I really enjoyed “Almond” and I can recommend reading it if you want to go for something different and thought-provoking. I still think about the book and in my book this is always a good thing. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Titan’s Curse (Rick Riordan)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

My mother pursed her lips. “I’m telling you that … you’re getting too old for me to tell you what to do. I’m telling you that I’ll support you, even if what you decide to do is dangerous.”

And this kind of settles in which direction this third book is heading. If you’re already familiar with Percy Jackson (which I’m pretty certain you are, because otherwise you wouldn’t read this review, right? *lol*) you know that the first two books were fun and had a lot of jokes in them. The third one? Not so much. Whilst it’s true that “The Titan’s Curse” was very entertaining and full of Uncle Rick’s trademark adventures I still have to point out that it was way more serious than its predecessors.

”It’s cool. No sword. See? No sword. Calm thoughts. Sea grass. Mama cows. Vegetarianism.”

Yes, we still have Percy’s funny remarks but just like the Harry Potter series this series is growing as well. The characters get older and their quests get more dangerous and grim. The stakes are higher and our characters are forced to realize that not everyone can be saved by a hero. For instance we’re barely a few chapters into the book when Annabeth disappears with the enemy. There’s no trace of her left and for all they know she even might be dead. Not that Percy would consider such an outcome! He has to save Annabeth because he just knows that she’s still alive! 😉 So what to do when you’re stranded on a cliff? Right, you call for the sun gods help to hitch a ride. XD

”Wow,” Thalia muttered. “Apollo is hot.”
“He’s the sun god,” I said.
“That’s not what I meant.”

I totally agree with Thalia btw! *lol* I loved that Apollo was a recurring part of this book and I can’t wait to read his series! He seems to be such a fun guy and I was more than just intrigued by his character. ❤ Artemis and her Hunters were a great addition to the cast as well, and the Di Angelo twins? I think we’ll read more about them in future books! 😉 I’m really looking forward to this because I already like little Nico and took him to my heart! The true star of this story is Bessie the cow serpent though and if you don’t know who that is you better read the book and find out! *lol*

”This is why I don’t use mortals,” Luke said. “They are unreliable.”
“They are weak-minded, easily bought, and violent,” the General said. “I love them.”

But of course there need to be real enemies in “The Titan’s Curse” as well and this time around they are pretty decent and smart. Next to Luke we have to face the General and this adversary is as dangerous and cunning as they come. Knowing my myths I wasn’t surprised about the story behind the man, but as a kid I probably would have been shocked. *lol*

Anyway, there was a short appearance of a character that helped Percy and I’ve to admit that I’m pretty curious about Rachel Elizabeth Dare. I can’t help but wonder if she’ll make an appearance in later books. The way she was introduced seemed to be very significant and Uncle Rick usually has a reason if he does things like that so… yeah. ;-P

”Seven hundred feet tall,” I said. “Built in the 1930s.”
“Five million cubic acres of water,” Thalia said.
Grover sighed. “Largest construction project in the United States.”
Zoe stared at us. “How do you know all that?”
“Annabeth,” I said. “She liked architecture.”
“She was nuts about monuments,” Thalia said.
“Spouted facts all the time.” Grover sniffled. “So annoying.”
“I wish she were here,” I said.

This moment was so great because it showed how much those characters love and care about each other even if they occasionally get on each other’s nerves. *lol* It made me sad that Annabeth wasn’t a big part of this story but considering the main plot it was okay that she only played a minor role. Let’s just hope she’ll play a bigger part in “The Battle of the Labyrinth” again. =) And last but not least I want to say how much I love Percy! XD

”Fight us,” I said. “And let’s see.”
“Have the gods taught you nothing? An immortal does not fight a mere mortal directly. It is beneath our dignity. I will have Luke crush you instead.”
“So you’re another coward,” I said.

Haha! Is it just me or is there actually no god he didn’t challenge already? XD No matter which goddess or god appears, Percy seems to be ready to fight them all and I love it! ;-P I think by now he’s so pissed that he just doesn’t care anymore. At this point he might even take them on for just looking at him the wrong way. *lol* I can’t help but wonder what this means for the next two books and I’m so ready to read “The Battle of the Labyrinth”!!! Next one, please! XD

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Map to You (Rachel Stockbridge)

Trigger warnings:parental neglect, drug abuse, addiction (of a parent), heavy drinking

 

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

**I got this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for giving me a chance to read this book! All the quotes mentioned in my review are from the ARC and might not be in the final version of the book.**

Kinsey allowed herself a slight smolder as she leaned in another inch. “What would you do if I was?”
“I – What?” Sasha stammered, her gaze dropping to Kinsey’s lips.

When I requested the ARC for this book I wanted to read a fluffy and light f/f romance and the cover of the book looked like it would be exactly the kind of book I was searching for. So the big question is: Did I get fluffy and light-hearted? Well, yes , to some extent I did, but I also got some serious topics I didn’t expect and this certainly made the book an even more interesting read. At least for me it did. I always enjoy it if bookish characters have a background story and both characters; Kinsey as well as Sasha delivered on that front. Both in a very different manner, but still in a way that added quite some substance to the story.

”She just had to focus. Stay in control. Get Kinsey to Charlotte, stop being so damn weird, and maybe she could stop things from deteriorating further. Or at least refrain from grabbing Kinsey by the waist and kissing her as best she knew how.”

What I really loved about this book was the flirty and easy banter between the two MCs. It’s so rare to see an f/f couple flirt like that on page and I personally lived and breathed for it. Honestly, there could have been even more of those scenes and I’d have been an even happier camper. The author made sure to give us the right mixture of push and pull though so I can’t really complain about it. Another thing I liked was the fact that Kinsey and Sasha were friends long before they became a thing and since the friends-to-lovers trope is still so rare in literature I really appreciated that the author went for it. It was extremely wholesome to see a couple that knew each other’s habits and quirks and had absolutely no problems to handle them. =)

”The Hans were everything Sasha always wished her own family could have been. Everything she’d given up on. That feeling of belonging. Of safety. Of easy, unconditional love. She’d stopped wishing for it so long ago she’d forgotten how much she’d wanted it.”

But of course not everything in the book was sunshine and rainbows and the darker and serious topics were a constant presence that wove like a red thread through the entire storyline. Sasha’s bad experiences made her the person she was though and they made her character even more real and complex. Whenever Sasha’s past was mentioned I felt really sad for her and I think no kid should ever have to suffer the way she did. Of course it was also very frustrating to see how she tried to shut everything out and sometimes I became as exasperated with her as Kinsey. There were really some moments I just wanted to make her listen so that she’d finally understand, yet at the same time I totally got where she was coming from. With a past like that it’s not easy to trust others and Sasha’s constant struggle to open up and to fight against her inner demons wasn’t only comprehensible but also palpable throughout the entire book. 

4

All told I really enjoyed reading “The Map to You”! I didn’t expect the book to have such heavy topics and some parts were really stressful to read, the strong friendships and the two MCs did a great job at managing to balance the serious topics though. So if you want to read a book with a cute love story that also has some rough edges to it this one might be the perfect fit for you. 😉