Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Now I Rise (Kiersten White)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

2

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

Lada:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radu:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3

Lada & Mehmed:

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

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

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

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

Lada & Radu:

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

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

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

Radu & Cyprian:

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

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

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

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

Radu & Nazira:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radu & Mehmed:

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

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

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

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

Lada & her men:

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

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

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

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

Lada & Hunyadi:

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

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

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

4

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

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 9 on My Book List 2021

”People could only hurt you if you cared enough to let them.”

I think this quote describes the vibe of the book in a nutshell. “A Gathering of Shadows” is all about the characters and their strong feelings for each other. Sometimes those feelings get in the way and make it impossible to grow and to be who they truly are and sometimes those feelings help them to realize what is important. At times to read this book felt like you’re staunching a wound and no matter what you do, it always starts to bleed anew.

The repercussions of what happened in the finale of “A Darker Shade of Magic” are perceptible in every single word of the story and I was hurting with the characters so much it wasn’t normal anymore. While Rhy and Kell are trying their best to ignore what happened to them, while they try to come to terms with their changed reality and their place in the grand scheme of things, Lila and Alucard are just trying to have the time of their lives. And I was thankful for it, because the Lila/Alucard Duo was a really good counterweight to Rhy and Kell.

As for the third plot line… gosh I was so anxious about what would happen. The knowledge that there was a new force at work in White London had me all kinds of worried and it felt like a looming presence above my head. Do you know the expression: “It hangs like a sword of Damocles above/over sth”? Well, I think that about nails the overall feeling of dread I experienced while reading the book. >_< This said I think I’ll head to my characters section now because I need to get rid of a lot of thoughts and they’ll be spoilery so consider yourself warned! 😉

2
Welcome to Red London! If you have magic running through your veins I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Essen Tasch! The finest of our finest will duel each other and not everyone is going to survive the spoilery fun! Tread carefully and try to stay out of trouble. The spoilers? Well, if you continue to read they’ll find you anyway.

Lila:

”People survived by being cautious, but they got ahead by being bold.”

I guess I got the answer to my question: Lila became a pirate, indeed. *lol* I personally liked her more in this book because she finally opened up and we got a good glimpse at her true personality. In the first book I could never get a grasp of her but this time around we were finally allowed to dive a little bit deeper into her personality. She doesn’t like to let anyone in because she is scared of her own feelings, but despite all her cool exterior and bravado she cares a lot about the people she spends her time with. Alucard and his crew grew on her and Rhy and Kell seem to own a special place in her heart as well. Lila’s determination to do whatever she wants is something I totally admire about her. She sets her eyes on a goal and she doesn’t cave until she made it. Her participation in the Essen Tasch was very reckless but I guess she’s one of those people that need to test their own limits and strength. And truth be told, if I would discover magic in myself I’d want to test and try it out too. *lol*I mean, who wouldn’t? ;-P

”Lila was a quick study, and she knew how to keep up a front; but behind the mask of disinterest, she took in everything. She was a sponge, soaking up the words and customs, training herself to see something once and be able to pretend she’d seen it a dozen – a hundred – times before.”

”She wanted to push away from the table and walk out, walk away, break the cords that tied her to this ship and this crew and this life, and start over. Whenever she felt the weight of those bonds, she wished she could take her sharpest knife and cut them free, carve out the part of her that wanted, that cared, that warmed at the feeling of Alucard’s hand on her shoulder, Tav’s smile, Stross’s nod.”

”The thing about freedom, Kell? It doesn’t come naturally. Almost no one has it handed to them. I’m free because I fought for it. You’re supposed to be the most powerful magician in all the worlds. If you don’t want to be here, then go.”

Kell:

” The truth was, Kell’s blood pulsed with a restless beat, while the thing that coursed within it longed for activity. Something had been roused in him, and it didn’t seem intent on going back to sleep.”

Okay, my hope that things would get better for Kell in “A Gathering of Shadows” was crushed the moment I first read his POV. My poor red-head suffered even more than he did in the first book and most of it was due to his connection with Rhy and the behaviour of his “parents”. I hated that they treated him like a criminal and even though I understood that they wanted to keep Rhy save I still detested them for the way they treated Kell. The fact that he could feel each and every single one of Rhy’s emotions and his pain certainly didn’t help to make him feel better and his slow but gradual suffocation was noticeable throughout the entire book. I bled with Kell and I could understand his need to be free. His entire life turned bitter and he realized that he was never truly a part of the Maresh family and only a means to an end. And then this horrible ending!!! ARGH!!! As if he hadn’t suffered enough already! I really hope my boy will be safe in the next book and that Lila will be able to rescue him.

”But that was the thing. Kell would never be free. No matter how far he fled. He’d given up freedom with is life, when he handed it to Rhy.”

”Rhy had always been fickle, but now Kell felt his brother’s ever-shifting temperament, the constant oscillation, and it was maddening. Space meant nothing. They could be standing side by side or Londons apart. There was no escape.
More and more, the bond felt like a chain.”

Rhy:

”He could feel it, whatever it was, hovering in the air around him, waiting until the sun went down and the world got quiet. Quiet enough to think. Thoughts, those were the waiting things, and once they started up, he couldn’t seem to silence them.
Saints, how he tried.”

You know, I’m kinda sad I never got to see more of the carefree and funny Rhy because the ending of “A Darker Shade of Magic” obviously left its traces on his personality as well. The Rhy in this book was very serious and haunted by his past. Then again I suppose to die and to come back to life will do that to a person. His life force is bound to Kell and what one of them does is felt by the other so it’s no wonder the Rhy in this book was more mature and intense. He feels responsible for everything that happened to his people and Kell and he just can’t seem to be able to live with what he did. I really hope someone is going to tell him that it wasn’t his fault and that him wanting to be a better prince and worthy was the thing that caused him to use the necklace. His fault wasn’t to fall for Holland’s trick because he wanted to be stronger; his fault was to try to please his parents and to think that the power he already has wouldn’t be enough. All that self-hatred… it will destroy him from the inside out. I really hope someone (hopefully Alucard) will be able to get through to him.

”Kell. My greatest fear in life isn’t dying. It’s being the source of someone else’s suffering. I know you feel trapped. I know I’m your cage. And I can’t –“ His voice broke, and Kell could feel his brother’s pain, everything he tried to smother until dark and drown until morning. “You will do this,” said Rhy. “For me. For both of us.”

”Every day. I wake up wanting to be a stronger person. A better prince. A worthy king. That want, it’s like a fire in my chest. And then, there are these moments, these horrible, icy moments when I remember what I did …” His hand drifted to his heart. “To myself. To you. To my kingdom. And it hurts…” His voice trembled. “More than dying ever did. There are days when I don’t feel like I deserve this.”

”He’d always envied his brother’s strength.
And now, in a horrible way, it was his.
He was immortal.
And he hated it.
And he hated that he hated it. Hated that he’d become the thing he never wanted to be, a burden to his brother, a source of pain and suffering, a prison. Hated that if he’d had a choice, he would have said no. Hated that he was grateful he hadn’t had a choice, because he wanted to live, even if he didn’t deserve to.”

3
Lila & Kell:

”Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Be quiet.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”
“We weren’t courting,” snapped Kell. “In case you forgot, she left.”

I really like those two and I definitely want more of them! I mean their kiss was … for lack of a better word hot and I think we deserve to see more of this ship. It’s a really slow burn but I actually like that about it. It probably comes with the nature of both of them. While Kell is all restraint and the brooding kind of type, Lila is all recklessness and bravado. Their personalities are quite a contrast but we all know opposites attract. ;-P I guess before we can find out if their ship is going to work out Lila will have to save her man first though! And I really hope she’ll do it fast because my boys are suffering and I need them to survive this!!! T_T

”They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn’t know which of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding. This kiss as Lila pressed into a single gesture. Her brazen pride and her stubborn resolve, her recklessness and her daring and her hunger for freedom. It was all those things, and it took Kell’s breath away.”

Rhy & Kell:

To his surprise, Rhy shot him a scowl. “I’m invested in my kingdom, Brother,” he snapped. “You should be, too.”
“I’m not their prince,” observed Kell. He was in no mood for Rhy’s attitude. “I’m just the one who has to clean up his messes.”

I love their brotherly bond so much but it definitely suffered in this book. Both of them didn’t know how to cope with the situation they found themselves in and both of them tried to atone for what they did in their own way. I wish they would have done it together, that they would have addressed all those things that stood between them more directly. Their relationship was so strained and it hurt to see them together. They were both bleeding and I think the only ones who could stop it are Kell and Rhy themselves. I really hope they’ll talk it out in the last book and that their relationship will be more relaxed again. I mean yes, their fate is bound together but if they are on the same page they could do so many great things. I want them to find peace in the next book and I genuinely hope they will.

”These days, Rhy always seemed to be the source of Kell’s suffering, while Kell himself walked around as if the world were suddenly made of glass, all because of Rhy. It wasn’t even in the end, wasn’t balanced, wasn’t fair. Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.”

”Kell.” Rhy sat forward, elbows on his knees. “I was dead.”
The words hung in the air between them.
“I was dead,” he said again, “and you brought me back. You have already given me something I shouldn’t have.” A shadow flashed across his face when he said it, there and then gone. “If it were lost again,” he went on, “I would still have lived twice. This is all borrowed.”

Alucard & Rhy:

Rhy turned to say something, but Alucard’s mouth was already there on his. Hands tangled in hair, clutched at coats. They were a collision, spurred by the force of three years apart.
“You missed me,” said Alucard. It was not a question, but there was a confession in it, because everything about Alucard – the tension in his back, the ways his hips pressed into Rhy’s, the race of his heart and the tremor of his voice – said that the missing had been mutal.

Now that came as a surprise! I knew there was something between them by the way they acted around each other but woah their romance totally caught me off guard. I guess this is mostly due to the fact that Alucard is a newly introduced character and that we didn’t know much about his past before his ship docked at London. I’m all aboard the Rhylucard/Alurhy?! ship though so please let more of those scenes come way! *lol* It’s so obvious Alucard is totally besotted with Rhy and I’m ready to see more of Rhy’s true feelings for the rakish captain as well. More, please?! XD

Alucard & Lila:

”There was a measure of theatre to everything Alucard did. She wondered how many other parts he could play. Wondered which, if any, were not a part, but the actor beneath.”

”Lila really should have killed him, back when they first met. Back before she could know him. Back before she could like him so much.”

I’m a huge fan of their friendship and I think they should continue to be just friends. Not gonna lie, the chemistry between them was amazing but they are both too reckless and probably would get each other killed. Their flame would burn bright and then blow out. *lol* I can’t blame Lila for giving into Alucard’s advances though. I mean that man is a really nice package! ;-P A deceitful and cunning package but a nice package nevertheless. XD

”Tell me,” he whispered, “was that better than winning a bet?”
She was breathless. “You make a valid argument.”
“I’d love to press the point,” he said, “but first …” He cleared his throat, and looked down at the knife she had resting against the inside of his leg.
“Reflex,” she said with a smirk, returning the weapon to its sheath.”

Lila & Rhy:

Lila’s expression hardened. “Whatever he feels for me, it isn’t love.”
“Because it isn’t soft and sweet and doting?” Rhy rocked back, stretching against the pillar. “Do you know how many times he’s nearly beat me senseless out of love? How many times I’ve done the same? I’ve seen the way he looks at those he hates…” He shook his head. “There are very few things my brother cares about, and even fewer people.”

The bond between those two surprised me as well. Lila and Rhy really seem to care about each other and I loved their tiny interactions. I’m glad Rhy kind of seems to function as a translator between Kell and Lila because I think otherwise those two would always talk past each other. XD Also can we appreciate how Lila’s first reaction, when she saw an upset Rhy, was to ask him who she needed to kill? I loved this so much because ARGH! Coming from Lila this means the world! <33 Lila and Rhy give me a Blue and Ronan vibe and I’m so here for it! I can’t wait to see more of their interactions in the next book and I hope there will be many.

He ducked his head and let out a shuddering sigh. Lila hesitated. She knew she should probably bow, kiss his hand, or swoon – at the very least explain what she was doing there, in the private palace halls, as close to the prison as anyone would let her – but instead she flicked her fingers, producing a small blade. “Who do I need to kill?”
Rhy let out a stifled sound, half sob, half laugh, and sank onto his haunches, still gripping the wooden edge of the table.”

The King & Queen and Kell:

Kell swallowed. “Will they never forgive me?”
“Which would you rather have? Their forgiveness, or Rhy’s life?”
“I shouldn’t have to choose,” he snapped.

I absolutely hated Rhy’s parents in this. His mum didn’t do anything and King Maxim was so unfair to Kell that I wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. I think Kell suffered enough and he did it all to save their son because Rhy got himself into a sticky situation that almost killed him. How is that Kell’s fault? They can blame him for dark magic finding its way into their kingdom and for being a smuggler but they can’t blame him for saving their son’s life. The Dane Twins plot would have fruited no matter what Kell did. It wasn’t his fault that Rhy felt a need to be stronger for his people. Plus Holland could have easily caused trouble without involving Kell. After all he’s an Antari too and can travel between the worlds. If King Maxim would have been fair to Kell and would have trusted him the ending of this book would have never happened. So everything that happens now is on him. I hope he’ll realize this before everything goes to hell. >_<

He stilled. “No. But we both know this isn’t about what’s good for me.”
“You’re right. It’s about what’s good for our kingdom. And if you are loyal to this crown, and to this family, you will confine yourself to this palace until the tournament is over. Am I understood?”

”I can’t keep atoning,” Kell whispered into the king’s shoulder. “I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

4
I really enjoyed “A Gathering of Shadows” and I can’t wait to read the last book of the series. Since the Essen Tasch was a huge part of this story I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Jay Kristoff’s “Godsgrave” though. Both books were the second book of a series and focused on a deadly tournament while the main plot was still running in the background. My weird brain is probably the only one that saw those similarities… Anyway! I absolutely loved the world and the characters Schwab created and I’m very curious where this series will end. I’m definitely more than just willing to find out. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. There is no act more wretched than stealing.”

I’m going to be honest with you. To read this book was a constant struggle, not because I didn’t like the writing style, not because it was bad and not because it was boring. No, if anything “The Kite Runner” was so hard to read because it was so exceptionally painful.

This book made me so sad! I felt helpless and angry and there were times I actually was more than just tempted to stop reading. Some of the chapters were just too hard to bear and the book touched me in a way I can’t even describe. It did something with me… and I’m still not sure whether this was good or bad.

All I know is that the injustice in this book made me furious and that I just have to think about it and already feel sick to my stomach again. There were so many serious topics in this book but I think what really got to me was the central theme of violence, injustice and abuse. To read “The Kite Runner” was so devastating and nerve-racking I actually couldn’t read more than two chapters a day. It was so upsetting that I found it difficult to motivate myself to read it and even though this was such a painful read, I still wanted to know what would happen next.

Amir’s and Hassan’s story was so horrible, appalling, powerful and beautiful at the same time. It left me completely broken and raw and I think my emotions are still all over the place. So if my review sounds a little incoherent and illogical you can blame it on the book hangover I’m currently suffering from. XD

”But we were kids who had learned to crawl together, and no history, ethnicity, society, or religion was going to change that either.

1
Amir and Hassan are best friends who grew up together and live in Kabul. They do almost everything together and one of their favourite hobbies is kite running. One day there is a local kite-fighting tournament Amir is determined to win and with the help of Hassan he is even able to achieve his goal. The victory of the tournament comes with a high price though and in the end their moment of happiness isn’t only short lived but also comes to an abrupt end. What happens after the competition destroys their lifelong friendship and shakes the foundations of their trust, the course of their lives changing as they try to deal with the repercussions of a single day.

”It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime, Amir,“ he said.

2
Beware there are plenty of spoilers lying ahead of you!!!

Amir:

”I pretended I was reading from the book, flipping pages regularly, but I had abandoned the text altogether, taken over the story, and made up my own. Hassan, of course, was oblivious to this. To him, the words on the page were a scramble of codes, indecipherable, mysterious. Words were secret doorways and I held all the keys.”

Puh, what to say about him? I think I never disliked a protagonist as much as I disliked the narrator of this story. I just couldn’t stand his younger self and I thought he wasn’t just egoistic but also spoiled and more than just unethical. The way Amir treated Hassan made me sick and his betrayal towards his best friend hurt so much! I mean how could he let this happen? How could he stand aside without intervening? How could he even think that Hassan is “just a Hazara”?! I don’t understand it and if I’m entirely honest I really think that it was good he felt bad throughout the entire book! His past haunted him and in the end it actually made him a better person. A person that stood up to bad people and a person I was finally able to forgive. It was a long journey for Amir but he eventually did the right thing and when I read the finial sentences of this book I was even proud of him. XD

”It’s all right.” I turned to the general. “You see, General Sahib, my father slept with his servant’s wife. She bore him a son named Hassan. Hassan is dead now. That boy sleeping on the couch is Hassan’s son. He’s my nephew. That’s what you tell people when they ask.”
They were all staring at me.
“And one more thing, General Sahib,” I said. “You will never again refer to him as a ‘Hazara boy’ in my presence. He has a name and it’s Sohrab.”

I waited 331 pages for that to happen!!! XD

Hassan:

”Then Hassan did pick up a pomegranate. He walked toward me. He opened it and crushed it against his own forehead. ‘There,’ he croaked, red dipping down his face like blood. ‘Are you satisfied? Do you feel better?’ He turned around and started down the hill.”

God bless his kind and innocent soul!!! This boy was an angel and I don’t even know how he was able to forgive Amir. As it seems he managed to do it though and my deep respect and love for his character will never cease. I loved Hassan with all my heart and I think his only flaw was that he was just too good to live in this sick and violent world. He would have deserved so much more than life gave him and when I found out about Sohrab’s ordeal I was more than just heartbroken. I was devastated!!! I know Hassan must have turned over in his grave and I felt so, so, so damn sorry for what happened to both of them.

Baba:

”The problem, of course, was that Baba saw the world in black and white. You can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.

Baba definitely was a very flawed character but I still couldn’t help but had to love him for it. There was so much good in him, yet he also had his bad sides. For a person that was described as seeing the world in black and white he actually was all different kinds of grey and in some way that made him extremely likeable and disagreeable at the same time. *lol* I think he was a very contradictory person and after finding out about his secret I was finally able to understand why. Still, I loved that despite everything he tried to be a righteous man and when it comes down to it he certainly had his heart in the right place.

”Ask him where his shame is.”
They spoke. “He says this is war. There is no shame in war.”
“Tell him he’s wrong. War doesn’t negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace.”

”And now, fifteen years after I’d buried him, I was learning that Baba had been a thief. And a thief of the worst kind, because the things he’d stolen had been sacred: from me the right to know I had a brother, from Hassan his identity, and from Ali his honor. His nang. His namoos.”

Sohrab:

This boy B.R.O.K.E my heart and I don’t even know how I’m supposed to pick up the pieces. He was just ten!! Damn it!! I don’t understand how people can hurt children and I can’t even… *argharghsdfjklmno* I hate what Assef did to him and I’m so glad Sohrab got away from his clutches! Chapter 22 was so horrible to read… It made me sick to my stomach and I swear I was tempted to throw the book against a wall… Urgh… just to think about his hands on Sohrab… My heart aches so much for that little boy!!! He deserved a better childhood than that! Damn no!! He actually deserved a childhood to begin with!!!!

”I miss Father, and Mother too,” he croaked. “And I miss Sasa and Rahim Khan sahib. But sometimes I’m glad they’re not … they’re not here anymore.”
“Why?” I touched his arm. He drew back.
“Because –“ he said, gasping and hitching between sobs, “because I don’t want them to see me… I’m so dirty.” He sucked in his breath and let it out in a long, wheezy cry. “I’m so dirty and full of sin.”

And OMG that beautiful ending! That hopeful, amazing and beautiful ending! It killed me, it was the death of me, it was the final nail in my coffin!!! That sweet and gentle and shy boy!!!! XD I already get emotional just thinking about it! *blinking away tears*

4
I hated the book! I loved the book!

I hated the injustice, the pain Ali, Hassan and Sohrab had to go through, I hated the way the Taliban treated everyone they considered to be wrong and different, I hated to read about the destruction of Amir’s hometown, I hated the violence, I hated the war, I hated to read about the many orphans, the hungry children on the street. I hated the way Amir acted when he was younger!!!

”She had a large purple bruise on her leg for days but what could I do except stand and watch my wife get beaten? If I fought, that dog would have surely put a bullet in me, and gladly! Then what would have happened to my Sohrab?”

But I loved the details about Afghan culture, I admired the bravery of Hassan and Baba, my heart sang whenever they tried to be righteous and good. In a world that had gone to hell they still tried to be decent, they still tried everything possible to stand up for their people, to do the right thing. They still had values and they didn’t just believe in them, they also acted according to them!!!

So yes, for me “The Kite Runner” was a very powerful book. It pushed my boundaries and forced me to fight through it! It made me think about unpleasant things, it forced me to see the bad and ugly things our world is made of, but it also showed me the good in people and their kindness!

If you can live with a broken heart and are able to deal with the pain, this book his highly recommended. If you’re one of the faint-hearted you better give it a wide berth.

As for me, I definitely will never re-read this book ever again! I’m kind of proud that I accomplished to read it though! XD

”For you, a thousand times over.”

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

Review: Lord of Shadows (Cassandra Clare)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just to mention one of them. ;-P

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

3
Emma & Julian:

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

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

Ty and Kit:

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

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

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

Mark/Cristina and Kieran:

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Sixteen years on the streets and you can learn a lot. But all the wrong things, not the things you want to learn. Sixteen years on the streets and you see a lot. But all the wrong sights, not the sights you want to see.”

So this was my first time reading “The Outsiders” and I really don’t get why our teachers never forced us to read THIS book at school! I’m convinced my teenage me wouldn’t only have approved but also would have enjoyed it immensely and I’m kinda sad I had to discover this book so late. Well, my school system obviously failed but that definitely didn’t stop me from reading “The Outsiders” and I’m very glad about it.

Soda threw one arm across my neck. He mumbled something drowsily. “Listen, kiddo, when Darry hollers at you … he doesn’t mean nothin’. He’s just got more worries than somebody his age ought to.”

I swear the moment I read about the interactions and relationships between those boys I was already hooked! It felt like reading “The Raven Boys” all over again; just a couple of years earlier, with other troubles and with a smaller book size. XD I mean alone the fact that Ponyboy and Soda were sleeping together in a bed! Their brotherly relationship was so nice to read! Those brothers cared about each other and their friends and they would have done almost everything in order to help them! ❤

He was stroking my hair and I could hear the sobs racking him as he fought to keep back the tears. “Oh, Pony, I thought we’d lost you … like we did Mom and Dad …” That was his silent fear then – of losing another person he loved.

Darry, the oldest of those three brothers, broke my heart as well. I mean their parents were dead and he had to look after his two younger brothers. I can’t even imagine how much strength it takes to take care of your brothers at such a young age, but he still did it and was even successful. He got a job and looked after them and this alone makes him a hero in my eyes. Who knows; if Johnny and Dallas would have had such family ties they probably would have never even ended up where they did in the end. >_< Johnny… that poor little boy! He didn’t deserve what happened to him and it’s no wonder he was so jumpy after the “Socs” almost beat him to death. I’m right there with Ponyboy when he says that it’s not fair that they were jumped for being “Greasers”.

It wasn’t fair for the Socs to have everything. We were as good as they were; it wasn’t our fault we were greasers. I couldn’t just take it or leave it, like Two-Bit, or ignore it and love life anyway, like Sodapop, or harden myself beyond caring, like Dally, or actually enjoy it, like Tim Shepard. I felt the tension growing inside of me and I knew something had to happen or I would explode. “

The interesting thing about this book is that it acknowledges the fact that the “Socs” fight the “Greasers” because they think they are lowlives, but that none of those two parties actually wants to do anything against it. They accept this injustice, it’s just a part of their life and they all act like they are supposed to fight because it’s only natural. The only three people who truly question their situation are Pony, Johnny and Randy. In one way or the other they are all tired of fighting and try their best to get out of that vicious cycle – some more effective than others. >_<

”Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold …”

Oh my, that line killed me big time! T_T I had a lot of mixed feelings about that ending and I could relate to Ponyboy so much. He was confused, he knew what they had been doing wasn’t right, that the fighting didn’t get them anywhere; that his friend was in trouble because he had done something right and something awfully wrong and that sooner or later he would have to pay for it. I think this book is such a damn good example for humanity. It points out that good people are able to do horrible things and that seemingly bad people aren’t always as bad as they seem to appear. They have their problems and troubles too and there is always a reason why they leash out at others, why they act in a certain way.

”We’re all we’ve got left. We ought to be able to stick together against everything. If we don’t have each other we don’t have anything. If you don’t have anything, you end up like Dallas …”

They are all human, whether it are “Socs” or “Greasers”, they all just want to live their lives, they want to be happy and accepted for who they are and in the end they actually aren’t as different as they seem to be. It’s an epiphany us readers experience while we read this book, but it’s a lesson not all of the characters learn. >_<

To say it with Martin Luther King Jr. words:
“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness.”

And I think this quote describes the book more than just well. The ending made me sad, because there’s only one way this could have ended and it was exactly the way I expected it to be. Not all of it, but most of it anyway.

4
If you haven’t read “The Outsiders” yet, you definitely should give it a try! It’s a great book which teaches an important lesson and I can recommend it to everyone. This book will make you think and feel and it will continue to do so even after you finished reading the last page. 😉

Allgemein, F, F - J, Reviews

Review: Felix Ever After (Kacen Callender)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

Book 14 on My Book List 2021

”If the world was perfect, maybe we wouldn’t need labels. But the world isn’t perfect, and labels can really be a source of pride – especially when we’ve got to deal with so much crap.”

I rarely say this about books, but every once in a while – when a book is really, really good – I make an exception and actually tell everyone and their grandma that they should read this book! So I’m sure you already guessed it: “Felix Ever After” is exactly that kind of book! It is so, so, so good and I want everyone to read it because it’s not only important but also tackles so many different topics. Every issue, every rep and every single topic that is addressed in here is handled so carefully and with so much respect that I couldn’t help but fall head over heels for this book!

Kacen Callender didn’t just write a book, they also wrote characters that will stay with me for a long time and I find myself unable to express how meaningful this is! “Felix Ever After” was such a thought-provoking story and it made me think a lot about my own identity and how others perceive me, how I see myself and how I want to be seen by others. If that makes sense?! My poor Yoongi received a lot of very deep WhatsApp messages (sometimes at the oddest hours) while I read this book because it really made me reflect on my own identity and how I define myself! XD

I have no idea if other people who read this made the same experience but for me it was definitely somewhat cathartic?! *lol* Also I think that Kacen might be ARMY because they mentioned BTS twice in this book and the message of “love yourself” is very strong in “Felix Ever After”. And everyone who knows BTS knows that they have been preaching to “love yourself” for years! ❤ No matter if Kacen is truly a fan of BTS or not, I really loved the strong message of accepting yourself the way you are and of not being afraid to show the world your true self! =) So alone because of this “Felix Ever After” is amazing and needs to be read! This said let’s finally head to my characters section, because I have lots of things to talk about!

2

I don’t know if I still have to say this but for everyone who’s new to my reviews I’ll just give the usual warning: Welcome to my spoilery spoiler section in which I talk about the characters in depth and discuss important parts of the book! If you don’t want to be spoiled: Well, that was your official warning. Make haste! ;-P

Felix:

”I mean, I WANT to be in love. That’s something I’ve always wanted to feel. What’s it like, to be in love and have that other person love you, too? Is it another level of friendship? Another level of trust, vulnerability, always telling that person your thoughts and feelings, sharing every little thing with them so that you’re so in sync that it’s like you’re one person? Is it like every time you see them, your heart goes wild, and you can’t think because you’re so effing happy?”

Felix Love was such a sweet character! I loved the way he saw the world and how he could get lost in his art! Felix’s longing to fall in love and to find out who he truly is was so palpable and I found myself rooting for him so much. He had to deal with a lot of crap just because he wanted to be who he really is and I admired him for his strength to go through with it and to stand firm to his opinions and believes. What I really could relate to was his journey of self-discovery and that he continued to question his identity. I think that’s such an important thing to do if you’re uncertain where you stand on that huge spectrum called LGBTQAI+! We are all so diverse and it’s so important to make peace with yourself and to accept yourself. Sometimes you need labels to do that I was glad Felix found the perfect definition for himself. =)

”I was hurt this summer, hurt more than I thought I ever could be. It could’ve been easy to say I was hurt because I’m trans, because someone singled me out for my identity, but there’s something weird about that – something off, about suggesting that my identity is the thing that brought me any sort of pain. It’s the opposite. Being trans brings me love. It brings me happiness. It gives me power.” Ezra’s biting his lip as he grins at me. I shrug a little. “It makes me feel like I’m a god. I wouldn’t change myself for anything.”

Ezra:

”Never mind,” I say quickly, hiding my head in my folded arms, lying down on my stomach.
“No, hey,” Ezra said. “Okay, I don’t really know what you mean, because I’ve never really questioned my gender identity before – but that doesn’t mean I’m not listening. It’s okay to keep questioning, isn’t it?”

Okay, I admit it: I am in love with Ezra!!! He’s one of the best besties I ever read about. Like seriously! Everyone should have a bestie who is as supportive and loyal as Ez! No matter what happened, he always got Felix’s back and he did it without expecting anything in return. This is the definition of unconditional love and if you look it up in the dictionary you should see Ezra’s name next to the word! Even when he didn’t exactly get what Felix meant or where he was coming from he still tried his best to understand him and that’s #friendshipgoals right there!! The only time he was acting awkward, was when his feelings got in his way and quite honestly I can cut him some slack there because he’s just human and it couldn’t have been easy to deal with everything that was on his plate! Ezra is the best! Period!! Go find yourself a bf like him! *lol* <333

Declan:

”I look at the moon, and I can’t help but think of everyone else on the planet who’s looking up at it, too, and how alone I am, even though we’re all here on the same Earth. I think about the fact that we should all be connected, but we’re not. We’re too preoccupied trying to hurt each other. It makes me think of how hypocritical I can be, and the mistakes I’ve made, and the ways I’ve hurt people, too.”

I think Declan might be the epitome of “Still waters run deep.”  At the beginning of the book I would have never thought that he would be such a deep person but the more we got to know him through Felix’s chats with him, the more I started to like him. He was just a very confused and lonely boy and he basically wore his armour in front of everyone else so no one could get to him and hurt him. I think Declan is a very tragic character because his dysfunctional relationship with his parents caused him to shy away from the world. His grandpa made up for all of his parents faults though! Gosh, I loved his grandpa and how he supported his gay grandchild with everything he had! Please, the world needs more grandparents like that! <333

”He was pretty abusive. Not physically, but emotionally. He always made me feel like I was worthless, you know?  He does the same shit to my mom, and she doesn’t fight back. She just does whatever he says. She didn’t fight for me when he kicked me out. It took a while to heal from that. I’m still kind of healing, I guess. And it’s stupid, but – even though he hurt me so much, and even though I know he isn’t healthy for me, I still want him to love me. It’s so fucked-up, I know it is.”

grandequeen69:

”I heard that your mom abandoned you.
I would, too, if I had a daughter that was pretending to be a boy.”

I hated grandequeen69 with a fierce passion and I can’t believe how the person behind the account could write things like that! They were hurtful and disrespectful and just cruel and mean! How could you do something like that to a person who’s just trying to be who they are?! UGH! I don’t get it! I was not surprised about the identity of the person behind grandqueen69, but I was very surprised that someone who has to fight against prejudices every day would actually believe and say things like that. It was disappointing and just like Felix I felt this like a physical blow. >_<

Marisol:

”Well,” she said, “you deciding to be a guy instead of a girl feels inherently misogynistic.” She told me, “You can’t be a feminist and decide you don’t want to be a woman anymore.”

And once again I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this! I mean Marisol is a lesbian! How could she even believe something like that?!!! What does being a woman have to do with being feminist??!! You don’t have to be a woman to be feminist! I know plenty of men that are feminists and support women and their rights! Like what the hell!!!?? And how is transitioning into a man misogynistic?! I mean EXCUSE ME LADY BUT I’M GOING TO KICK YOUR BUTT FOR A STATEMENT LIKE THAT! Seriously if I would have been Felix I would have given her hell for this. I was really glad Ez did that for me! XD

3

Felix & Declan:

”I hope you tell me who you are.
Because this is what’s weirdest of all. Sorry in advance.
But I think I might be falling for you.”

I had the slight feeling that this ship wouldn’t sail and I was right. Felix and Declan were just too contrary and the way their “love story” began was too complicated to actually go for the real deal. I mean Declan had every right to be hurt by Felix’s actions and if you go into a relationship with preconditions like that nothing good can come out of it. I was a huge fan of their developing friendship though and I really hope that they’ll be friends in future. =)

”He’s watching me again. I’ve never seen anyone look at me like that – so unabashedly, so unapologetically, so like he doesn’t give a fuck that I know he wants me, like he’s almost laughing at me, because he knows I want him, too.”

Felix & Ezra:

”Ezra sees me clutching myself against the ice-cold air, so he puts an arm over my shoulders. He’s my best friend – only friend, since I started at St. Catherine’s three years ago. We’re not together like that, not in any way, shape, or form, but everyone else always gets the wrong idea.“

I LOVED THOSE TWO SO MUCH!!! <333 Alone the way they acted when they were around each other. They were so familiar with each other and the way the other moved, they knew exactly what the other needed when they were stressed and they were so gentle and sweet! Like OMO! They were totally in sync and I basically shipped them from page one when they were in the subway and everyone thought they were a couple. *lol* Truth be told I was kind of surprised Felix never realized that Ez is in love with him, because for me as a reader it was so obvious! Then again it probably was supposed to be like that. XD Also can we appreciate the slow-burn from friends to lovers trope in here! Which is one of my favourite tropes ever but is so rarely portrayed in books! ❤ Kacen did an amazing job with those two and they gave me all the butterflies in my stomach! Ahh Felix’s and Ezra’s relationship/friendship was so wholesome I could cry! T_T

„I don’t want Ezra to see, but of course he notices. He throws an arm over my shoulder, pulling me close to his side, making it difficult to walk as I keep stumbling into him. He doesn’t say anything. Just kisses the top of my head.“

”I love Ezra. I know that I do. It’s been a slower realization, since Ezra told me he has feelings for me – a realization that just as long as Ezra’s been in love with me, I’ve probably been in love with him. The sort of love I have for Ez – it’s the kind of love that fills me so much that I can’t stop thinking about him. It’s the sort of love that makes me wish that I could touch him, hug him, kiss him again.”

”I liked the way my heart started beating harder, liked Ezra’s fingers on my waist… Now, suddenly, everything feels different.”

”I wanted to fall in love, but I didn’t want to risk the kind of love that’d fill me with excitement and joy. I know that love. It’s the kind of love I feel when I think about Ezra – when he laughs one of his loud-as-fuck laughs and when he says stupid shit when he’s high and when he holds me to his chest while we sleep. I love Ezra. I love him so much, it scares me.”

Felix & his father:

”We never talk about it. How he doesn’t like saying the name Felix out loud. How he’ll always slip up and use the wrong pronouns, and not bother to correct himself. How some nights, when he’s had a little too much whiskey or beer, he’ll tell me that I’ll always be his daughter, his little girl.”

I know Felix’s father might have had his faults but at the end of the day he’s still a good father because he supported his son with everything he had. He might not have been able to understand the importance of Felix transition and how crucial it was for him to be addressed with the right pronouns but he was trying really hard to do everything he could in order to support his son. I guess if you’re a parent it’s not easy to come to terms with your child’s gender or identity. At least if you’re the old generation that didn’t know about things like that. Yes, he misgendered his son, but he never did it on purpose and I think it’s important to acknowledge that. He didn’t do it out of spite or because he wanted to hurt Felix, it just happened because he had a daughter for so many years. It’s easy to judge people for things like that but I think you should always keep in mind that it is a change for them too. I mean I’m gender fluid and I’m addressed with the wrong pronouns very often because not everyone can tell when I’m in a female/male or neutral mind-set. I don’t hold it against people though because quite honestly my gender is so fluid I really can’t blame them for not always getting it right. So I think what I want to say is that we have to be patient with the people in our lives. Change happens slowly and if we want others to accept us the way we are, we also have to accept that it might take some time for them to adapt and to actually change their patterns. It might take a little while and a lot of effort on both sides, but it will be worth it in the end! 😉

”It’s easier, I think, to love someone you know won’t love you – to chase them, knowing they won’t feel the same way – than to love someone who might love you back. To risk loving each other and losing it all.”

”I’m trying,” he tells me. “I’m trying to understand. I want to understand. There’s a lot that I don’t know, and I’ve been slow. I know I’ve been slow to get it, and I know it’s been frustrating for you, so I’m sorry. I really am. I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you. I’m sorry if you think my slowness has something to do with how I feel about you. Because I love you , kid. Don’t ever think that I don’t love you.”

”You’re happy. And brave. You’ve been so courageous, just by being yourself, even knowing that the world won’t always accept you for who you are. You refuse to be anything but yourself, no matter what. I look up to that. I admire that.”

The transgender rep:

”It took a lot of convincing, and my doctor’s help, but almost a year ago now, my dad even helped me get top surgery. I know how lucky I am for that. Not everyone who wants surgery can afford it. My dad had to do a lot of paperwork with letters and providers and everything, and he had to figure out my health insurance to make it happen.“

I’m not transgender so here comes my usual warning to take everything I say with a grain of salt. XD So this said I’m going to say that I think the transgender rep was really good and very realistic. I really liked that we got a glimpse at how much effort it takes to get surgery and that Felix knew how lucky he was for being able to go for one. I think a lot of people underestimate the work and money that go into the preparation for a transition and I really liked that Kacen Callender acknowledged this in their book. In most of the books with transgender MCs I read the characters already had surgery and it was never even mentioned. I think it’s an important side of the rep though so kudos to Kacen for giving it room in their book. Also the problems, prejudices and issues a black transgender person has to deal with were portrayed very well as well. Kacen has all my respect for writing about such important topics in a sensible and palpable manner.

”I always see it on the news. The ways the government is trying to erase me, the ways politicians try to pretend transgender people don’t exist, even though we do exist, and always have, and always will. I see the articles, the stories about transgender people being refused health care, students like me bullied and forced into the wrong bathrooms, teens my own age being kicked out of their homes, adults being fired from their jobs just for being who they are, so many of us attacked and killed just for walking down the street – so many of us deciding to take our own lives because we aren’t accepted.

Finding your identity rep:

”Changing this world, yes – we need people who will fight for our rights, fight for justice in the courts so that it will be better for the next generation. But creating our own world, not just for ourselves in our bubble, but one that can spread to those who need it most – one filled with our stories, our history, our love and pride – that’s just as beautiful. That’s just as necessary. Without that, we forget ourselves. Crumple under the pain of feeling isolated, unaccepted by others, without realizing that, above all else, we need to love and accept ourselves first.”

I swear that moment when Felix finally found out as what he/they define himself/themselves, was relatable af! I remember myself sitting in front of my computer and feeling so relieved. Like finding a missing puzzle piece you’ve been looking for ages and there is a single word, an explanation for who and what you are and it’s so liberating you could cry! I was there with Felix and I felt as excited and thrilled for him/them to find out as I was excited and thrilled when I found out myself. XD I really loved that aspect of the book and I adored the discussion about identity and labels. It was very respectful and it caused me to think about how other people find their identity, how some people don’t want to label themselves while others thrive when they finally figure out who they are. Kacen did an amazing job at representing every aspect of finding your identity and loving yourself and I lived and breathed for it!! <333

”I smile a little. I smile, and then outright laugh, and I might even begin to cry a little, because I know what Bex was talking about now. The confidence that spreads through me. I know that this is right. It’s kind of amazing, that there’s a word that explains exactly how I feel, that takes away all of my confusion and questioning and hesitation – a word that lets me know there are others out there who feel exactly the same way that I do.”

4

“Felix Ever After” is an amazing and very important book! I loved every second of it and the fact that it caused me to think about so many things only made me adore it even more. The reps were great, the discussions and debates it stimulated were thought-provoking and Kacen’s gentle but steady approach of difficult topics was inspiring. In short: I absolutely loved this and it’s definitely among my favourites of 2021!!

Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Ninth House (Leigh Bardugo)

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Book 1 on My Book List 2020

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

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

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

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

2

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

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

Galaxy “Alex” Stern:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel “Darlington” Arlington:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dawes:

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

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

Turner:

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

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

3

Alex & Darlington:

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

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

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

Alex & Mira (her mum):

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, K - O, M, Reviews

Review: My Dark Vanessa (Kate Elizabeth Russell)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 34 on My Book List 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, P - T, R, Reviews

Review: Railhead (Philip Reeve)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”The trouble with friends was, sooner or later he’d have to tell them about Ma’s troubles and his life on Bridge Street, and those were sadnesses which he preferred to hold close and secret. It fitted the image he had of himself, too – the lone thief, all stray-cat-cool, walking solitary down some midnight street.”

So the first thing I have to say about “Railhead” is that it’s unlike any other book I’ve ever read, which is pretty rare and definitely an accomplishment. I mean I read a lot of books and to find something unique that still surprises me is like winning the lottery jackpot. But the world Philip Reeve built? It’s amazing! I don’t know why so many people put this into the genre of “young adult” because I think it’s actually middle grade, but I guess this is a discussion for another day. 😉 Right now I just want to speak about the awesome world Reeve built and how cool it was to dive into it.

”I will not leave without Zen Starling,” said the Damask Rose.
“But you have the painter,” said Uncle Bugs. “Zen Starling means nothing to you.”
“He is brave,” said the train. “He came all this way to save his friend. I will not leave without him.”

I absolutely loved the idea of portals and railways that exist between different worlds and I adored the concept of sentient locos! Like OMG! This is ingenious! Every single loco that was mentioned in this book had its own voice and I loved to discover how different they were. They were very human and some of them even were in love like the “Time of Gifts” and “The Wildfire”.

”They tease each other, and sing, and talk about old times, other worlds they’ve seen. I don’t think they know I’m listening. It’s sweet. People say they’re twins, but they aren’t. They’re lovers. They come from different engine shops. They met on the Network. And they love each other so much…”

Okay, go ahead, tell me that feeling and speaking locomotives aren’t one of the coolest things ever. *lol* Also there are motoriks in this world as well and they are basically very human looking robots (I suppose you could say they are humanoids). One of my favourite characters was Flex! She/He wasn’t just a really sweet character but also some sort of gender fluid motorik and if you think I’m biased now: Well, yes, I am. XD I can’t help it though, I mean how often do you find gender fluid reps in a book and how many of them are cute and talented motoriks?

”Why do you keep switching?” he asked. “Male to female, female to male…”
Flex looked up at him and smiled. “Wouldn’t you, if you could?”

And if that isn’t enough to persuade you to read this book: We also have Hive Monks which are basically bodies that are made of a million bugs and somehow gain a conscience once they are enough to form a body. I know a lot of people might be repelled or horrified by the mere idea of creatures like that but for me they added a really nice sci-fi element to the story and I actually found it very interesting to read about them. They acted very human and Nova the motorik girl that helped Zen with every task that was given to him by Raven was an amazing character as well.

”Her face was very beautiful, he thought. He hadn’t been sure before, but he was now. The mind that lived behind it made it beautiful, the same way that the flame inside a lantern makes the lantern beautiful.“

Truth be told, the slow romance that formed between Nova and Zen was probably one of the most intriguing things about “Railhead”. Nova is a motorik but if you compare her to the other human beings that appear in this book she seems to be the most human of them all. She is compassionate, she is kind and she feels more deeply than most of the people that made an appearance in this book. Which brings me right to Raven. I can’t say I liked him, but I kinda understood where he came from and what he wanted to achieve. The way he went about it was wrong though and I think I’ll never forgive him for what he did to Nova.

”Things need shaking up, Zen. Everything keeps repeating itself, century after century. Empires rise up and grow old, and there’s always some new would-be Emperor waiting in the wings to take their turn. Dark ages come and go. People are born and people die. It’s so pointless. The Guardians mean well, but they have shunted the whole human race onto a branch line of history, and we keep trundling round in circles. It’s time someone changed that.”

Malik, Zen’s and Raven’s antagonist was a super interesting character as well. I loved to find out more about him and his complexity added a lot to the storyline. I mean he’s a man on a mission and he has his own codex of right and wrong. He is confident and knows exactly where he stands and he stands firm in his convictions. I had to admire that about him and I kind of hope that he’ll make an appearance in book two. (Him and his husband, because wow, that tidbit of information was just mentioned in passing and I loved it!!) As for Zen Sterling: He made for an interesting MC and even though I didn’t agree with all of his actions I was still able to see the good in him. In fact Zen is a very complicated character too and I can’t wait to find out how he’s going to change in book two. There is a lot of potential for character growth and I’m so here for it. 😉

4
“Railhead” was such an amazing read and I enjoyed it immensely. Mind you this is someone speaking who isn’t even moderately close to the age of middle grade. *lol* This however didn’t take away any of my enjoyment and I still loved to dive into this world. So if you want something different, if you want sci-fi and unique locos that travel through worlds and wormholes, if you want a young hero and his amazing side-kicks. Well, then this book is for you! 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: To Kill a Kingdom (Alexandra Christo)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”You are a little heartless today, aren’t you?”
“Never,” I say. “There are seventeen under my bed.”

I asked for a blood thirsty, dark and twisted siren that lures princes and collects their still warm and dripping hearts. And I wanted a strong human prince that hunts wicked sirens and sea witches for sport. Well, I guess “To Kill a Kingdom” did a great job at delivering all this and even more. ;-P

”Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.”

I went into this book expecting a fast and enjoyable read and if you’re looking for a story like that this book definitely is the right choice for you. I know the reviews for this are about 50:50 when it comes to the ratings but I think that’s mostly due to the expectations you have when you go into a book. If you’re looking for a mind-blowing reading experience you might be disappointed because this story is a lot of things but certainly nothing that will cause you to rethink your life choices. It’s fun, it’s easy, it has plenty of snark, banter and a really great character cast. In short it has everything you need when you want to escape your own world for a little while.

”Lies aren’t answers.”
“But they sound so much better than the truth.”

This said I really liked our two MCs and I was a huge fan of their interactions. Those two were both confident in their own skin and it was really refreshing to have two characters that know exactly what they want. Lira wants Elian’s heart and Elian wants to destroy all sirens. The best makings of a good partnership, right? XD Well, almost! If their attraction wouldn’t have gotten into their way things certainly might have been a lot easier. 😉 But I AM a sucker for the “enemies to lovers trope” and it was done really nicely in here so I have nothing to complain about. *lol*

”They’re eyes of lost innocence, greener than seaweed and constantly searching. Even the empty ocean is prey to him, and he regards it with a mix of suspicion and wonder.”

Prince Elian was quite something and to me he was the perfect embodiment of a lost boy. There was no way I wouldn’t love him and his easy nature as well as his love for his crew and ship immediately made him my favourite. Yes, I admit it, I’m a sucker for handsome, sassy and broken pirate boys. They are as much my kryptonite as redheads are so I wasn’t really surprised I ended up liking him so much. Lira on the other hand was pretty awesome too! That girl might have been turned into a human but that did nothing to disguise the feral and deadly siren inside of her. And this brings me to another thing I really enjoyed about this book: Lira and Elian might have been deadly enemies but they still had mutual respect for each other and acknowledged their weaknesses and strengths.

”How wicked this one is, stripped of the innocence I’ve seen in all the others. This is not a prince of inexperience and anxious potential, but one of war and savagery. His heart will be a wonder to behold.”

”I could have killed her, but I didn’t, because she’s a wonder. A creature that has eluded me for so long and then, finally, appeared. Let me be privy to a face few men live to speak about.”

They were fascinated with each other and it showed throughout the entire book. Also can we take a second to appreciate how self-aware they were? Both of them knew exactly what they were capable of and where they would draw the line and even though they questioned themselves and their own decisions they always knew who they were. And the banter!!! Did I already mention the delicious sarcasm and banter? *lol*

”Lira,” I say. “I don’t suppose you’d be kind enough to translate?”
“I’ve never been accused of kindness before.”

”What would you be losing?” he asks.
“If I married you?” I stand to tower above him, pushing away the unraveling thing inside me. “I suppose it would be my mind.”

I loved that they didn’t give each other an inch. They were equals and it wasn’t only easy to see but also palpable. I don’t know how to describe this but there are a lot of books out there that make it seem like the couples in them are equipollent when in fact they are not. Even with kick-ass heroines the male MCs are always stronger somehow. It’s something I noticed in many books and I hate that those amazing women can’t stand on their own feet once they fall in love with their “true love”. It’s something that didn’t happen in here and I was very grateful for it! Lira might have fallen in love with Elian but that didn’t make her go all mushy and lovey-dovey. In fact it only made her even more adamant and relentless, which was AWESOME to behold! XD

4
All told “To Kill a Kingdom” was exactly the kind of quick and entertaining reading experience I needed and I’m glad I finally decided to give it a shot. It took me long enough to get here but it definitely was worth the wait. And just in case you wondered: Yes, I rediscovered my love for “Ariel – The Little Mermaid” once again. *hums under the sea and leaves the room* ;-P