Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Raven King (Nora Sakavic)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 23 on My Book List 2021

”He was their family. They were his. They were worth every cut and bruise and scream.”

trigger warnings: torture, sexual abuse, violence, emotional abuse, bullying, sexual assault, dysfunctional relationships

OH MY! I don’t even know where to start with this review! Like seriously! How am I supposed to put all those feelings into words?! T_T It’s been about 3 weeks I finished this book, or should I rather say it’s been three weeks since the book finished me? Because it definitely would be the truth! ARGH!! I’m still not over all the things that happened in here and I probably never will be! Don’t let yourself be deceived by the easy and simple writing style. This book, THIS SERIES, is packing such a punch I’m still gasping for air!

I just can’t with Neil and Andrew!!! They are my precious babies and I suffered so much with them when I read “The Raven King”. Like, so, so, so damn much my heart is still bleeding all over the place and I can’t seem to be able to staunch the wound. >_< There are so many things I need to get off my chest and when I began to write down the quotes for this review I realized that this is going to be one of my super long ones, because there is no way I’ll be able to keep this short. Absolutely no way!

I already said it and I’ll say it again: Nora Sakavic’s writing style might be rather simple and not all too elaborate but her characters!!! Oh, boy! Her characters are everything! Truth be told, I kinda like that Sakavic’s writing is so clean and straightforward. It suits the characters and the mood of the book and it makes it feel real?! So real that I would die for each and every single one of the Foxes. Okay, maybe not Kevin. *lol* I’m not his biggest fan, but the others? Yes, definitely. Jeez! My emotions are still all over the place and I haven’t even begun to write my actual review. So let’s not waste any more time and go straight for my character section! I HAVE THOUGHTS!!!! Oh, and just in case you want to hear them all, here’s the link to my blog post. 😉

2

Welcome to the dorm of the Foxes! Where we trade in punches, barbs and most importantly spoilers! So if you don’t want to purchase either of them you better don’t continue to read. For all the brave out there: Be my guest! ;-P

Neil Josten:

”He forgave himself for being jaded. At eighteen years old, he’d seen more people die than he could comfortably count. Death was unpleasant, but it was a familiar and tolerable ache in his chest.”

I love my precious cinnamon roll boy to bits and pieces and I want to hug him for the rest of my life!!! AADKFASKDFSFAK! I can’t with Neil! On the one hand it was so awesome to see him grow as a character and to see how he started to figure out things and found his place in the team but on the other hand the moments when his past caught up to him killed me! And I’m not only talking about the things that happened to him in the past but also about the new things that happened to him in this book! ARGH!!! I hate Riko so much for what he did to him and I want him to burn in hell!!! But we’re not talking about damn Riko here, we’re talking about my sweet boy and how broken he was by the end of the book. T_T My precious Neil that was so surprised to find out that he was happy with his team and did everything possible in order to keep Andrew and the others safe! My precious Neil that got tortured by freaking damn Riko!! T_T I can’t!!! That scene at the ending when he called Wymack and told him that he’s not okay?! IT FREAKING BROKE ME!!! I cried buckets of tears and almost choked on them. My “I’m fine” boy admitting that he isn’t fine… I’m dead. This was a knife to my heart…. T_T And now excuse me while I cry some more… T_T

”Neil liked outrunning and outsmarting the defense. He liked the rush of a perfect score. He liked the pressure and the triumph. The rest of his life was a frightening mess; Neil needed the power and control of a fierce game.”

”As he listened to them, Neil realized he was happy. It was such an unexpected und unfamiliar feeling he lost track of the conversation for a minute. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this included or safe.”

”I know it’s not entirely your fault that you are mentally unbalanced and infected with these delusions of grandeur, and I know you’re physically incapable of holding a decent conversation with anyone like every other normal human being can, but I don’t think any of us should have to put up with this much of your bullshit. Pity only gets you so many concessions, and you used yours up about six insults ago. So please, please, just shut the fuck up and leave us alone.”

”Would you want it back?” Betsy asked.
“Do you have any idea how much it cost?” Neil asked. “Yes, I want it back.”
“It wouldn’t bother you that it was used as a murder weapon?”
“It didn’t kill anyone important.”

Wymack answered on the fourth ring. “You have a good reason to be bothering me on a holiday?”
“I didn’t know who else to call,” Neil said. He barely recognized his own voice. The last time he’d spoken he’d been screaming; apparently his vocal cords still hadn’t recovered. Neil pressed his forehead to the wall and tried to breathe. He couldn’t remember when breathing wasn’t a chore.
“Neil?” All the gruff posturing left Wymack’s voice that sharp edge was all alarm. “Are you all right?”
Neil smiled. It felt like it tore his face open. “No. No, I’m not. I know it’s kind of sudden, but can you come get me? I’m at the airport.”
“Wait right there,” Wymack said. “I’m on my way.”

”Facing Riko like this went against everything his mother taught him. He’d been raised to run, to sacrifice everything and everyone to ensure his own survival. His mother had never given him ground to stand on. Maybe that was why he hadn’t been strong enough to save her in the end. A jumble of lies had nothing to fight for. But Neil Josten was a Fox. Andrew called this home; Nicky called him family. Neil wasn’t going to lose any of it. If two weeks with Riko was the price to keep his team safe, Neil would pay it.”

Andrew Minyard:

”I think I’m coming down with something. Cough, cough. Best I leave before I infect your team. There’s so few of them left. You can’t stand to lose anyone else.”

Ahh that sounds like my boy Andrew! XD I love Andrew as much as I love Neil and I’ll never get tired of defending him! Andrew is so savage and I love him for it! <333 He might give off the impression of being super tough and hard but the boy that’s underneath the rude attitude and all that bravado has a heart of gold. And he’s thoroughly broken. I never knew how broken he actually was until I read “The Raven King”, but now I know and my heart aches so much for him that I can’t even breathe. AND OH GODS the scene when he got raped by Drake… I felt so sick after reading it and I had to put the book aside for a day in order to digest it. I still feel sick when I think about it and I simultaneously want to cry and strangle the bastard that is (or was) Drake! This scene still has me shaking with anger and boiling with rage and crying angry tears for my boy. And I just… I can’t. I wrote in my update: <i>“I think I stopped breathing… my heart must have stopped beating while I read this. I’m still covering my mouth and I feel sick now…”</i> And I still feel the same way about it. No wonder Andrew didn’t want to get adopted by Cass if he suffered such abuse by her son and no wonder he was so furious Cass had 6 foster children after him. No wonder he hated Luther (Nicky’s dad) so much! My precious Andrew!!! And OH GODS!!! To know he was so drugged by his meds he didn’t even put up much of a fight… that he didn’t even care. I was so glad they decided to take him off his meds after that but I was absolutely horrified when Riko said he bought one of the docs at Andrew’s rehab centre! I’m so scared now… I’m so, so, so, so damn scared!!! T_T

”He was a little more cooperative than his brother in that he answered Dan or Matt if they asked him something, but his answers were lightning quick, borderline rude, and always followed by a redirect to someone else at the table.”

”I know you can’t understand this because you’ve never had a real family, but Nicky has to give his parents another try. If you’re lucky this dinner will be the breaking point. Nicky’s got his hopes up thinking his mother’s come around. If she lets him down again he might be ready to walk away for good.”

Andrew tilted forward as far as he dared. He started to sway, but Neil caught this shoulder to keep him from falling. “Looks like I was right about him after all. Or do you still think this is all a big misunderstanding? Go on, tell me again how I’m too unbalanced to understand normal brotherly affection and love. Tell me this is natural.”

”Better luck next time, Neil,” he said. “I warned you once already, didn’t I? I don’t feel anything.”
“Anymore,” Neil said, barely a whisper.
The old scars up and down Andrew’s wrists were evidence of how far Andrew had to fall to hit this point.

Coach Wymack:

”Wymack didn’t care if he had nine Foxes or twenty-five. He’d stand behind them until the bitter, bloody end.”

I still love this man and I know a lot of people judge him for how he handles his Foxes but I think he’s doing the best he can. He’s trying to give them a nurturing environment using pretty questionable methods but he’s taking good care of his Foxes and he knows exactly what they need! It was really good to hear some of his background story and considering his youth it’s no wonder he decided to start a team like the Foxes. All those broken teens need a place where they can be themselves, find themselves and Wymack is providing it. He’s the secret hero of this story and despite his gruff attitude he’s always there when they need him. The fact he didn’t even hesitate to pick Neil up from the airport says it all. And that he didn’t comment on his wounds and the state he found him in. He accepts and tries to help and I could kiss him for it! <333

”You don’t need me to tell you life isn’t fair. You’re here because you know it isn’t. Life doesn’t care what we want out of it; it’s up to us to fight for what we want with everything we’ve got.”

”Truth was Wymack picked them because he understood firsthand how much they needed another chance. He looked the other way because he knew how badly some of them needed their escapes to survive.”

”If – and that’s a big if, Neil – if Riko really was behind it somehow, the blame is all on him. He chose to take out his petty rage on Seth. He chose to cross a line. You didn’t. You hear me? You didn’t. Don’t ever blame yourself for Seth’s death. That is too dangerous a road to walk down. You keep your eyes on your own path and keep moving forward.”

Wymack looked amused by his tactlessness. “My mother OD’d almost ten years ago and my father lost a prison fight the first year I started here at Palmetto State. I hadn’t spoken to either of them since I left D.C.”

”Look,” Wymack said. “I know I’ve always told you all to take your personal problems up with Betsy or Abby. I’ve said it’s not my place to get into anything outside the court. I hope you’ve figured out by now I’m just blowing hot air. I’m not real good at being a shoulder, but I do have a working set of ears.”

Nicky:

„They’re all women,” Nicky said. “That doesn’t help us.”
“Nicky,” Neil started.
Nicky plucked the list from Neil’s fingers and crumpled it. “Your ignorance is endearing, Neil. You’re nineteen and you’ve never looked at Allison’s tits? There’s no way you’re straight. You and I really need to sit down and talk about this sometime.”

Jeez! Nicky cracked me up so much in this book. I know it’s totally wrong that he always calls out Neil on being gay or at least on the LGBTQ+ spectrum but he obviously isn’t entirely wrong? *lol* Also Nicky has that happy vibe about him and it’s such a nice contrast to all the gloomy sadness of his team mates. He’s like a sunray in the middle of the darkness that’s the Foxes so I’m really glad they have him in their team. Plus he has a heart of gold too! I loved how Neil killed him with being so thankful for everything the Foxes did for him. Also that moment when Neil realized Nicky is his friend. AEFKDAKSDFJSADKFJ! Plus Nicky is wise! Sometimes was totally thrown by his wisdom. Still, the scene with his parents killed me and I hate them for not accepting him the way he is. He deserves to be loved and to be accepted for who he is and the fact his parents don’t love him because he’s gay and want to change him. URGH! I hate them so much for hurting my sunshine! >_<

”Kid, you’re killing me,” Nicky said. “Why do you always get that deer-in-headlights look when someone does something nice for you?”

”That’s what love is about, see? That’s why Exy isn’t ever going to be enough, not for you or Andrew or anyone. It can’t hold you up, and it won’t make you a stronger or better person.”

3

Neil & Andrew:

”Why did you pay for stalls, Coach?”
Wymack lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Maybe I knew you’d need them one day.”
Andrew smiled around the mouth of his bottle. “Neil is a walking tragedy.”
“You’re a pretty pathetic sob story yourself,” Wymack said.

You know, just to write this review has me going through all those emotions again and I’m crying and I’m not okay! T_T But now that I started I can’t seem to be able to stop. So here I go: I LOVE THOSE TWO!!! I love them so much it’s breaking my freaking heart and gluing it together at the same time. They are among my favourite OTPs and they didn’t even kiss yet! But I’m sure they will because there is no way those two broken boys won’t end up together! All the things they are doing for each other, the little moments of trust they show, the infinitesimal gestures. GODS! They are on the same level as Pynch! <333 I adore them and I love how they learn to trust each other. That scene when Andrew convinced Neil to use his phone and the moment Neil allowed Andrew to touch him in order to show him he can trust Neil to take care of Kevin while he’s away! ALSO THAT ALMOST MOMENT WHEN THEY WERE SO CLOSE THEY COULD HAVE KISSED!!!! AHHHH! I’m going to die from this slow burn. Neil is slowly uncovering the true Andrew Minyard and I’m here for it!!! And as horrible as the scene with Drake was… Andrew allowed Neil to touch him and to help him so… as much as my heart breaks whenever I think about it, I still couldn’t help but notice that detail. Plus their team mates are noticing too because they always raise their eyebrows when Neil is getting away with something or allowed to drive Andrew’s car. They will end up together and it will be beautiful and I just wish them all the best and that their scars won’t get in their way. <333 My two precious boys deserve all the love and happiness in the world. T_T

”Who am I supposed to call?”
“Nicky, Coach, the suicide hotline, I don’t care.”
“I’m remembering why I don’t like you.”
“I’m surprised you forgot in the first place.”

”Your parents are dead, you are not fine, and nothing is going to be okay,” Andrew said. “This is not news to you. But from now until May you are still Neil Josten and I am still the man who said he would keep you alive. I don’t care if you use this phone tomorrow. I don’t care if you never use it again. But you are going to keep it on you because one day you might need it.” Andrew put a finger to the underside of Neil’s chin and forced Neil’s head up until they were looking at each other. “On that day you’re not going to run. You’re going to think about what I promised you and you’re going to make the call. Tell me you understand.”

When Neil started to argue, Andrew hooked a finger under his chin and forced his mouth closed again with an easy jerk of is hand. “Ask him, and then tell the busybodies to come along if they dare.”

”Guess she hit him one time too many. I warned her not to lay a hand on him, but she didn’t listen to me. She got what was coming to her. Does that frighten you, Neil?”
“My first memories are of people dying,” Neil said. “I’m not afraid of you.”
“That’s why you’re so interesting,” Andrew said. “How aggravating.”
He sounded amused, not annoyed, so Neil said, “I’ll try to be more boring in the future.”

”Why are you so special?” Matt asked.
“I’m not,” Neil said, confused.
“Andrew doesn’t give ground to anybody. Why does he keep saying yes to you?”

The smile he flashed Neil mocked them both at that near-miss. He withdrew completely, leaving just the memory of his heartbeat against Neil’s mouth, and spun away.”

”Hey,” Neil said, or thought he said. He didn’t recognize his own voice. “Andrew. Andrew, are you-“ He couldn’t ask if Andrew was okay. He wasn’t that cruel.

”Neil waited, but Andrew didn’t let go. With so many people watching them Neil couldn’t lift his shirt. He did the next best thing and dragged one of Andrew’s hands under the hem. He pressed Andrew’s palm to the ugly scarring across his abdomen. Andrew’s eyes dropped to Neil’s shirt like he could see Neil’s marred skin through the dark cotton.
“Do you understand?” Neil asked. “Nothing Riko does will make me leave him. We will both be here when you get back.”
Andrew’s fingers twitched against Neil’s skin. “Someone lied to me. These ouches feel a little rough for a child on the run.”

Andrew & Kevin:

There was a heartbeat of silence, and then Andrew turned around with a wide, wicked smile on his lips. “I can’t, Kevin? I’ll show you what I can’t do. Try and put me on your court today and I’ll take myself off it permanently. Fuck your practice, your line-up, and your stupid fucking game.”

So Andrew and Kevin are still an enigma for me. I have no idea what’s their deal but I really hope I’ll find out the in the last book. Well, maybe they don’t have more of a deal than that Kevin transferred to the Foxes because Andrew promised him to play Exy for real?! I dunno. Their relationship is very dubious and I think there must be more to it than their obvious deal. Maybe I’m wrong though. Who knows? Kevin only seems to think about Exy though and he’s still a very bland character. I kinda hate him for wanting to wait another season before Andrew gets off his drugs. Because Andrew needs to get off them! It was so horrible what Drake did to him, yet he only laughed. How could Kevin want him to be on drugs after that?! *grrr* Also WHAT!? Kevin is Wymack’s son?! I can’t believe this was mentioned in passing! LIKE OMG!!!”

”So you’ll try,” Kevin said through gritted teeth, “because Coach asked you to.”
Andrew folded his arms across his knees, tilted his head back, and smiled up at Kevin. “Careful, Kevin. Your jealous streak is showing.”

”Kevin had spent the better part of a year trying to get through to Andrew. He wanted Exy to mean something; he wanted Andrew’s best performance like a dying man wanted one last breath of air. Andrew knew it, and he refused to play along.”

”What’s wrong?” Kevin asked.
“Oh, but you haven’t heard.” Andrew motioned for Kevin to lean closer but didn’t lower his voice. “Time’s up, off we go. She’s going to get rid of this for us.” He dragged a thumb across his manic smile and laughed. “Someone should warn the doctors what they’re in for! They’ll lock the door and throw away they keys by the time I’m done with them.”

Andrew & Wymack:

”They won’t be ready in a week. How long do you think you can keep this up?”
“As long as you can,” Wymack said. “So can you hold the line or can’t you?”
Andrew laughed. “I guess we’ll find out.”

Now the relationship between Wymack and Andrew is also more than meets the eye. I mean they obviously trust each other blindly and the fact Wymack allows Andrew to get off his drugs during the games shows how much he believes in him. I wonder if we’ll ever find out how those two bonded and if yes, I’m more than just ready to read about it. There seems to be an entirely piece of their past we’re missing and I want to know!!! XD

Neil thought about it and asked, “Is it respect of prudence?”
“We’ll go with the latter,” Wymack said. “Andrew likes me about as much as you do.”

Wymack let them get all the way to the door before calling. “Andrew. Don’t leave me alone with these morons for too long. I’m getting too old to deal with their drama.
“Oh, you and me both,” Andrew said.

Andrew & Aaron:

”The strangled noise Aaron made was his best attempt at Andrew’s name. It was barely intelligible but it was enough. Andrew, who’d barely acknowledged Aaron’s existence in the entire time Neil had known them, looked immediately to his brother. Andrew snaked a hand out from under the sheet and curled his fingers in a demand. Aaron clambered onto the bed and reached for Andrew.”

I hated that those two were so at odds and I’m glad Aaron finally discovered that Andrew only tried to protect him. I mean oh gods, he basically murdered their mother because she hit and abused Andrew. That’s a whole new level of f*cked up and brotherly affection but that’s exactly how Andrew works. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for the people he loves and cares about and if it’s to save his brother’s life he obviously isn’t even stopping at murder. Guess that’s why everyone is afraid of him. The way Andrew was worried about Aaron while he himself was so injured and in pain killed me and I died about a thousand deaths when he made sure that Aaron was alright. He was so out of it, he didn’t even realize Aaron was okay and it was him who got hurt. T_T Also can we appreciate how Neil uncovered the truth for Aaron and showed him that Andrew did exactly the same when he got in that accident with their mother. Aaron killed Drake because he hurt his twin and Andrew killed their mother because she was hurting Aaron. I mean, oh my! This is problematic af on so many levels but it leaves no doubt that they love and care about each other! >_<

Andrew touched Aaron’s temple where he himself was injured as if he expected to find an identical injury there. “Did he touch you?”
“What did he-“
Andrew knotted his fingers in Aaron’s hair and yanked to shut him up. “Answer me. I said, did he touch you?”
“No,” Aaron said.
“I’m going to kill him,” Andrew said.

”I don’t care.” Aaron gave a savage jerk of his hand. “I don’t care if Andrew never speaks to me again. I don’t care about Cass or Drake or anyone. What Drake did – no. If I could bring him back from the dead and kill him again I would.”
“Good,” Neil said quietly. “So now you understand why Andrew killed your mother.”

Neil & Kevin:

”No, Kevin. Not here. You and I will talk tomorrow.”
Kevin hesitated. “Does Andrew know?”

Okay, Kevin is mostly a big oaf that only cares about Exy but for the first time I could see a little bit of his true personality get through in this book. He was worried about Neil and it was more than just obvious. For all his “I only care about the game” bravado he actually seems to care about Neil too. I don’t know how that happened but it did. Also that moment when Neil told him that he wants to be Neil and not Nathaniel and Kevin’s reaction was “You should be Court.” I know a lot of people might think he said it because Neil is the Butcher’s son and technically belongs to the Moriyamas (at least according to their logic) but I think Kevin actually meant it in the way of “You should be Court because you’re an amazing Exy player and you’re a good person who deserves to be happy and not to die”.  Well, that’s my interpretation anyway.

”Injuries are not a joke. They are not something to gloss over. If you get hurt out there, you do something about it. You take it easy, you have Coach pull you, you ask Abby for help – I don’t care. If you ever say ‘I’m fine’ about your health again I will make you rue the day you were born. Are we clear?”

”I don’t want to run. I don’t want to be a Raven. I don’t want to be Nathaniel. I want to be Neil Josten. I want to be a Fox. I want to play with you this year and I want us to make it to championships. And in spring when the Moriyamas come for me I’ll do what they’re so afraid I will. I’ll go to the FBI and tell them everything. Let them kill me. It’ll be too late by then.”
Kevin was silent for an endless minute, then said, “You should be Court.”

Neil & Riko:

”You were not running from your father, Nathaniel. You were running from his master.”

And this was another shocking moment! I can’t believe Neil’s father belongs to the Moriyamas! But it somehow made perfect sense. Urgh! I hate Riko so damn much and even though I loved that Neil refused to back down and was always ready to fight him I was so damn worried about what would happen if he took it one step too far. Guess I found out now and it made me sick to my stomach. T_T Riko is a MONSTER!!! And he needs to rot in the nine circles of hell! I can’t believe he is getting away with all of this!! Where is justice when you need it! I want him to get hurt as much as he hurt Neil and oh gods…. my poor Neil! My poor baby! T_T The way he was tortured and the condition in which Wymack found him at the airport… The fact Neil actually admitted that he is not fine. I’m crying just thinking of that scene. I want Riko to burn and I want Andrew and Neil to be the ones that give him back his own medicine. I can’t believe what that monster did to Neil and I wanted to punch him in the face when I found out what he did to Andrew! Andrew went to Easthaven to get off his medicine and to heal from the abuse Drake inflicted and YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT RIKO MADE SURE THERE WERE THERAPISTS WHO WOULD SEXUALLY ABUSE HIM… NOW THAT HE IS TRYING TO GET SOBER AND OFF HIS MEDICINE??!!! I CAN’T!!!! Someone hold me before I bury my fist in Riko’s despicable visage!! If you could fight a fictional character I would be pounding him into the ground right now! And I’m a pacifist who wouldn’t even hurt a fly, but he deserves it!!!! ARGH!!! I swear if I read book three and find out that Neil sacrificed himself for nothing and that they still continued to hurt Andrew I’m going to… I dunno! I’m going to SCREAM and throw that book against my wall. I don’t even care that it’s my e-reader. I’D BE SO ANGRY. =((( I swear if Riko doesn’t get his comeuppance in the next book I’m done with this series. So done.  So, so done!

”You set Andrew up.”
“That isn’t even the best part.” Riko smiled when Neil shook his head and continued. “Did you know I’ve bought one of the doctors at Easthaven, too? Unless you want these little therapy sessions of his to turn into therapeutic reenactments, you will be on a plane to West Virginia tomorrow morning. Jean will give your ticket to Kevin. Do you understand me?”

”I am not a dog, I’m a Fox.”
“You are nothing but what I tell you to be.”
“We talked about your delusions.”
“I warned you to learn your place.”

”No,” Neil said, with a ferocity that had even Matt eyeing him warily. “We’ve got to break him first. If Exy is the only thing he cares about we’re going to take it away from him. First we destroy his reputation, then we destroy him. I don’t want us to lose a single game this spring. Can we do that?”

Neil held up his free hand and showed Riko his steady fingers. “I’m shaking with fear.”
“You should be,” Riko said. “You think you can defy me because I am not your father, but you are forgetting one very important fact: I am the family your father was afraid of. And yes, Nathaniel, he was very afraid.”

”I am going to love hurting you,” Riko said, “like I loved hurting Kevin.”
“You are one seriously fucked-up individual,” Neil said.

”Every time he moved he felt Riko’s hands and blades and fire on his skin. He’d let Riko take him apart time and time again because it was the only way to survive, because bending should have kept him from breaking, but Neil didn’t know if he could pull himself back together one more time. He wasn’t strong enough for this. He never had been. His mother had held him up but she was gone now.”

The found family that is the Foxes:

”Don’t thank us, remember us,” Dan said. “We’re your teammates. We’re here to help you with whatever you need, whether it’s this or games or general stress. We’ve all got different experiences, but we’re used to needing help. We’re just not used to getting it. But you’ve got us now.”

I still don’t understand Renee’s relationship with Andrew but I guess they both have the same background and therefore can relate to each other and understand each other better than the rest? Anyway, the Foxes are so amazing and I loved every second of this found family trope! In their own way they are all special and don’t only contribute their part to the team but also help each other to get better. They are there for each other whenever times get rough and I loved that so much about them. You have this entire team of outcasts and abused kids and together they are strong enough to get through everything that’s thrown their way. Also I love the girls on the team. I mean Dan! *whistles* If she wouldn’t already have Matt as her bf I’d try my luck. I love a woman that can pack a decent punch. (pun totally intended *lol*) I’m sure that Raven couldn’t go to the toilet properly for a while. XD

”Hey,” Nicky said, soft and nice like the two of them hadn’t spent all summer cutting each other down on the court. “Is there anything we can do?”

”Yeah, Hennessey,” Dan said, sounding calmer than Neil thought she should in the face of such treatment. “Treats you right if you’re willing to pay and will fuck you over the morning after if you’re not nice enough to her. Sorry, but this bottle’s got a name on it. Hope you feel that one for a while, you lowlife asshole.”

”They’d never be perfect, but they were going to be all right. They’d come to the Foxhole Court as fractured messes but they were fixing each other one semester at a time.”

”Look, I know we have our differences, and I know we haven’t exactly had the easiest ride. But we’re all Foxes. We’re a team. What happens to one of us happens to all of us, and we’re going to get each other through this.”

4

I’m still so damn addicted to this series it’s not normal anymore. I gotta be honest here though, this book was super heavy and it broke me. T_T My heart is still aching and bleeding and I doubt I will ever get over the last 50% of “The Raven King”. So I already said it once and I can only repeat myself: “This is not a book to read with your mind, this is a book you’ll have to read following your gut instinct. So all told this book is problematic af, kind of unrealistic and definitely politically incorrect in so many different ways and on so many levels… but I still loved it!?” Something tells me this will hold true for the last book as well. >_<

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Impossible Boy (Anna Martin)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

”They’ll let me in,” Stan said confidently. “Do they not know who I am?”
“You’re a drunk Russian with the best legs in Britain,” Tone teased.
“Indeed. They should be honoured to have me in their establishment.”

After finishing “The Impossible Boy” I thought a lot about this book and why I liked it so much. It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for LGBTQ+ books and this might be the obvious reason why I enjoyed this so much. But to say I only loved this because it falls into a certain genre would neither do the book justice nor would it be right. I adored this book for so many different reasons and I thought long and hard about how to put this into words. When I began to read “The Impossible Boy” I basically just hoped to find a decent gender fluid rep and thought that this would become one of my shorter reviews. The more I read, the more I realized that I couldn’t go for just a short review though.

Why? Because this book was amazing and deserves a long kick-ass review that makes people aware of this little gem! So am I biased because this book features a gender fluid rep? HELL, YES I AM! It’s always good to feel represented and I think I finally understand why people are so happy when they find themselves in a book. The thing is, I couldn’t only relate to Stan but to all of the other characters as well. The band life and how they interacted when they made music, the humour, the strong friendships, Ben’s insomnia, Stan’s love for his blog and his choice of clothes! I could relate to this book on so many levels it was kind of astounding! It felt like this book was written for me and it’s really no surprise I ended up loving it so much!

I’m not gonna lie! There will be people who’ll read this book and say: “So what’s the big deal? I’ve read stories like that about a thousand times.” But there will also be people like me that will say: “Yes, but this book portrays life with its ups and downs and is relatable af!” Sometimes you just need books like that and for me this book came at exactly the right time. This said let’s head to my characters section and go into more detail!

2
If you already know my reviews, you know the drill! But if you’re new to them this is the perfect moment to mention that from here on you’ll be spoiled with bits and pieces of the storyline. So if you don’t want to be spoiled you better don’t continue to read! Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉

Stan:

”Coming in early was a habit he’d picked up in Italy, one no one here seemed to share. Some people didn’t stumble in until ten. By that time, Stan was on his second coffee and well into his working day.”

Gods! This quote alone was already so relatable because it’s totally me! I’m one of the early birds too and my colleagues come in pretty late as well. I loved Stan’s work ethic and I found myself in it. Just like him my blog is a part of my daily life as well and yes, I also consider it to be work. Unpaid work you love to do in your spare time but work nevertheless. 😉 Also can we acknowledge how at peace Stan was with himself? I loved that he accepted himself the way he is and that he tried to explain it to other people when they asked. It’s not easy to explain being gender fluid but Stan did a pretty decent job of it and I loved him for being so open with everyone. Despite everything he had a dark past though and it was evident that he still struggled with it. >_< Still, just like me Stan is an eternal optimist and didn’t want to let things get him down. Which made him a very strong character in my opinion!

”For the most part, men didn’t like being flirted with by a man who looked more like a girl. A really hot, slightly confusing, slightly wrong girl. Stan knew what he looked like – he owned it.”

Ben:

”He’d gotten used to insomnia as a teenager, the result of a massive shift in his lifestyle and the stress of his parent’s divorce. These days he tried to meditate every night before going to sleep, although some nights he ended up crashing out and forgetting.”

Ben is the friendly bartender everyone needs in their life! I loved his character and I could relate to his life as well. He was working shifts in a pub and playing in a band whenever he had time and his insomnia as well as his band life resonated with me. I adored the bits and pieces of band life we got to see because the musician in me that played in a band a few years ago made exactly the same experiences. This band was a family and they got each other’s back whenever things got tough. Also they were a super chaotic bunch but once they took their instruments and started to play they easily found their rhythm and began to create something amazing! Ben was such a laid-back, easy and honest guy! It was so refreshing to see him interact with everyone!

Tone:

”Tone wasn’t short for Tony or Antony, as most people assumed. His given name was Daniel. He’d earned the nickname for his uncanny ability to lower the tone of a conversation, even when people assumed it was already at rock-bottom.”

Now that boy was incredible! Tone was the epitome of rough edges and a heart of gold! I adored that man so much! <33 His nickname was spot-on and his “I’m so blunt it hurts” attitude immediately won my heart! *lol* That’s exactly the kind of guy I’d love to be friends with! Direct, kind, accepting and painfully frank! XD Plus he was wise! There was more to him than initially met the eye and when he told Stan about Kat I hurt for him. I know how it feels to experience such a loss and I really wish I could have hugged that big oaf and given him some love! ❤ This guy would have done everything for his friends and even though he sometimes appeared to be completely thoughtless there was always a good reason for the way he acted! (cue: chocolate!!)

”I know what it’s like to feel you can’t get out of bed, you can’t wash yourself or feed yourself or even breathe without effort. I also know the only way you can get out of that absolute pit of depression is with the love of your friends.”

3
Stan & Ben:

”If you fancy a bit of rough, I’m sure you can figure out where to find me.”
“Fuck off, Tone,” Ben said with a weary sigh and threw his arm around Stan’s shoulder.
Stan laughed and turned his face against Ben’s chest for a moment, hoping to hide the heat in his cheeks.

Okay, and here comes the moment where I begin to fangirl like crazy and say how much I adored their relationship!! Those two were so grounded and flat out adorable! I loved how realistic their relationship was. I mean they got to know each other when Stan drank a beer at Ben’s bar then they got together and ultimately moved together as well. And they go out and have fun with their friends but when work is stressful and demanding they have no problem to sit in front of the TV and to spend a quiet evening at home! Which was amazing! This was such a normal and healthy way to deal with stress at work that I couldn’t help but love them for it! <33 Plus – and I know this might sound contradictory now because I’m usually a person that loves to address things directly – it made me so happy that Ben just accepted Stan the way he was and only asked him about his sexuality way later on in the book! For him it was no issue, nothing he needed to address because he loved and accepted Stan exactly the way he was. So those two were perfect for each other and I shipped them from the moment they met!

”He sees the girl and he likes her, and can touch the boy and like him too. He doesn’t try and make me `fit` into any tick-box category. He just lets me be me.”

Stan & Tone:

”Alright,” Tone said, obviously summoning bravado. “Are you a girl or a boy? Not your body, I mean. Like, your mind.”
Stan couldn’t help the rush of affection for this man who was trying so hard. He wasn’t the big, offensive oaf the others seemed to think he was. Okay, so his phrasing wasn’t great, but he cared enough to ask, and that mattered.

THIS WAS AN EPIC FRIENDSHIP MADE FOR ETERNITY!! I loved, loved, loved the way those two spoke so openly with each other! <33 And I loved that Tone had no qualms to ask the important questions! Stan knew exactly that he didn’t mean to be offensive and quite honestly I sometimes wish more people would be like Tone. Just say it straight to my head. Ask me and get it over with. It would make things so much easier if people would address those touchy subjects instead of whispering behind people’s backs. Tone might not have gotten it all but he liked Stan for the person he was and he supported him no matter what! Even when Ben and Stan had an argument he tried to understand both sides and sort of mediated between them. Plus he always knew exactly how to deal with his friend’s problems because he listened and paid attention! As I already said, there was more to him than met the eye and he was one of the best and most attentive friends I ever read about in a book!

”There isn’t going to be anyone who comes and asks if you want help, Stan. I’m going to barge right in and be here whether you want me or not.”

”Stan is good, Ben. He’s good. He needs help, he needs support, but he is a strong guy. The hardest thing for you to do now is not to be there for him, but to let him be strong for himself.”

The gender-fluid rep:

”I’m still a boy,” Stan said, tugging at the thick mop of dishevelled hair until Ben looked up at him. “I came to terms with that because it’s something I can’t change.”

Okay this might get pretty personal and very long now but I think it’s always important to write about a decent rep. Especially if you think that it’s done right and you could relate to it as much as I could. The gender-fluid rep in this might not have been a 100% spot-on for me, in fact it was probably about 50% because 1. Stan was physically male and I’m physically female and 2. Because the way I understood it Stan was a constant mixture of both genders and I’m either this or that (one side is always more dominant). At least when it comes to my “state of mind” like Tone put it. XD Still, regardless of those differences I felt totally understood when Stan spoke about being gender fluid and tried to explain it to Tone. The conversation they had about it was so amazing and I loved that Tone offered to call Stan “she” if he wanted it. That was so thoughtful and such a great reaction that I almost found myself weeping with joy. There were so many troubles Stan had to face during the book that sounded so familiar and when he ducked into the girl’s toilet because he wore a dress and was in “female mode” I actually had to smile. Some days the toilet confusion is a real thing, my friends! *lol* What I also liked was that at some point in the book Stan and Ben as well as Stan and Tone spoke about being gender fluid and/or about being transgender. Stan actually thought about changing his gender but he ultimately decided against it because he felt okay the way he was and realized that he didn’t want to go through with the process. He explained that being gender fluid was being stuck between two genders and if he would have changed into a woman there still would have been “male days” so he probably wouldn’t have felt any closer to his true gender than he felt as a boy (physically speaking of course). And he was right, it’s not a story you hear very often. Plus I loved that he said that to change gender is good and right for some people, but that it would have been no option for him. I’m totally with him when it comes to this. I know a few transgender people who changed their gender and who are more than just happy with it now, for me it would have never been an option though. There are days I love to wear dresses and enjoy doing my hair and make-up (just like Stan does) but there are also days I wear my jeans, t-shirts and hoodies and don’t even want to think about putting on some lipstick. And because I read it in some of the other reviews and felt like I needed to say something about it: Yes, Stan loves to choose his clothes and quite a bit of the book is about what he wears and how he presents himself. I don’t think that this is useless information though, for me it actually was additional and important information, because if you are gender fluid and you are in a – let’s say – “female state of mind” you want to be recognized as being a woman and therefore dress accordingly. For me this felt perfectly normal because as I said before I dress differently when I’m female or male too. 😉 I probably could go on and on but I think I’ll just leave it at that. For me this was an amazing rep and I really hope that in future more authors will tackle gender fluid representations and will include them in their books.

”Would you do it now? If you had the chance?”
“No,” Stan said softly. “I’m in a different place now. It was only a couple of years ago, but I’ve kind of learned to accept what I’ve got.”

”I’m a boy, Tone. My body is a male body and that’s okay. It’s more than being femme, though. I’m a boy with a lot of feminine traits, both in how I feel from day to day and how I like to dress, to present myself. I’m a boy and a girl both, in different ways. Some people call it gender-fluid.”

”I wasn’t born the wrong sex for my gender. There is no easy, fix-it success story for being stuck between two genders, so it’s not a story people hear very often. Gay men don’t like me because I look like a girl. Straight men don’t like me because I’m physically male.”

The anorexia rep:

”If just one person told me I needed to lose weight, I know that could send me back on that downward spiral, and fuck no, I’m not going there again.”

Okay so this is a trigger warning. I read a few books that dealt with anorexia but I have no idea if the rep in this book reflected reality. It only became a topic at around 60% of the book because Stan had a relapse when Ben was away on his tour. He ended up in hospital and needed to be tube-fed for quite a while. His recovery was pretty slow and he was told that if he didn’t take care and had another relapse it might easily be his death. Also it was mentioned that Stan had problems with his bones and back because they never really got a chance to develop properly. I only read books about the topic and from what I read this sounded like a pretty accurate rep, as always you might take my words with a grain of salt though.

4
I really loved this book to bits and pieces and for me it was everything! ❤ I loved the humour, the friendships, the band life and Stan and Ben’s relationship. The gender fluid rep was amazing and I really want to read more books like that! XD I’m so glad that there is a second book because I’m so going to read this soon!

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Queen of Nothing (Holly Black)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 13 on My Book List 2021

I’m on BookTube now! =)

”All power is cursed,” I say. “The most terrible among us will do anything to get it, and those who’d wield power best don’t want it thrust upon them. But that doesn’t mean they can avoid their responsibilities forever.”

While “The Wicked King” was kind of slow, “The Queen of Nothing” certainly stepped up the game. I mean there were already some twists and turns right at the beginning of the book and to say they left me reeling would be an understatement. *lol* I certainly didn’t expect the book to head into this kind of direction when I started to read it but of course it was great! Holly Black knows exactly what she’s doing and this book was no exception to the rule.

So yes, this book was more fast-paced than its predecessor and the plot twists always caught me off guard. Like seriously! I never saw some of them coming! Still, since there was a war brewing there were less conniving and well-thought-out interactions between the characters and a lot of their conversations were rather direct and straightforward. Which was logical and understandable but since I’m a sucker for backhanded compliments, puns, evasive comments and back-stabbing moments I kind of missed the faerie-esque vibe in here. (Is that even a word?! *lol*)

Don’t get me wrong, this was still amazing, but for some reason it didn’t persuade me as much as the two other books. XD Maybe I can chalk it up to the last book syndrome? Like the author tries to end a series properly and in a good way and it happens but it also loses some of its magic because all the loose ends are tied but the sudden seriousness takes away some of the enjoyment? Okay, I think I’ll just call it “finishing-touch syndrome” and be done with it. ;-P Anyway! I still love all the characters and you can bet I’ll talk about them extensively now.

2
One more time we’ll head to faerie,
a human like you, you must be weary.
Don’t fret or fear the power of magic,
okay, well maybe this is going to be tragic.
I could spare you the pain
and spoil you just to stay sane.
Some spoilery knowledge,
is it what you want to gain?
Well, then take my generous offer or refrain! ;-P

Jude:

”The wool beneath me is soaked through with blood. Way more blood than I am ready to believe came from me. And around the edges of the cloak, I spot tiny white flowers pushing through the snow, most of them still buds, but a few opening as I look. I stare, not sure what I am seeing.”

If you look at the Jude of the first book and compare her with the Jude in the last one you probably won’t find any similarities anymore. This girl grew so much throughout the series and I love the Queen she’s become! Of course she was always my Queen but to see her grow into the role was just amazing. Jude started out as a weak mortal, turned into the secret power behind the throne and then took a leap to become the Queen ON the throne! Like wow! What a character arc! Also I loved that she finally realized that her love and compassion are no weakness and can be some strength instead. Despite all her fears and troubles as the Queen Jude was still savage and I kinda loved that. *lol* Still, her despair when Cardan was a serpent was so tangible and heart-breaking. To see her like that hurt and I’m just glad that Cardan came back. Also I love the symbolism of this because if you analyse it Jude had to kill a part of herself in order to become a true Queen and to make Cardan a great king. You might say she slayed the vile parts of them. Quite literally. ;-P

”Maybe it isn’t the worst thing to want to be loved, even if you’re not. Even if it hurts. Maybe being human isn’t always being weak.
Maybe it was the shame that was the problem.”

”We’re meant to advise you,” says Nihuar in her syrupy voice. “We are thought to be very wise.”
“Are you?” I ask, and the voice that comes out is honeyed malice, the exact tone Cardan would have used. It spills out of me as though I am no longer in control of my mouth. “Because wisdom ought to urge you not to court my displeasure. Perhaps a stay in the Tower of Forgetting will recall you to your place.”

”I don’t know how to break the curse,” I say, all the tears I haven’t shed welling up in my eyes. “If I could, do you think I would be at this stupid banquet? Tell me what I must slay, what I must steal, tell me the riddle I must solve or the hag I must trick. Only tell me the way, and I will do it, no matter the danger, no matter the hardship, no matter the cost.” My voice breaks.

”And if the serpent grows in monstrousness and corruption, if it poisons the land of Elfhame itself, then let me be the queen of monsters. Let me rule over that blackened land with my redcap father as a puppet by my side. Let me be feared and never again afraid.”

Cardan:

Cardan glances toward me, as though for help. When I am silent, he frowns, annoyed with both of us. “Although I am wearing the cloak Mother Marrow made me, the one that will turn any blade, I still promise to run, tail between my legs. And since I have a tail, that should be amusing for everyone. Are you satisfied?”

I love Cardan so much and I will never get enough of him! This boy is just awesome! ❤ In “The Wicked King” he showed us his cunning and clever side and in “The Queen of Nothing” we were finally able to see his vulnerability. I just loved how he announced that Jude is his wife! *lol* The interesting thing about Cardan was that he might have shown his weaknesses to Jude but he was still strong on the outside. Maybe because he finally trusted someone and as we all know this can change a lot in the grand scheme of things. Still, for Cardan to admit that he loves Jude… it took a huge leap of faith to be so open with her and to admit his feelings. Also the foreshadowing was strong in this one and I should have known the moment Cardan told Jude that he believes she would be able to stop him. XD I’m gonna be honest here, I expected to happen a lot of things, but I certainly never expected Cardan to turn into a fully grown serpent! *lol* That was… unexpected and totally caught me off guard. I was like: WHAT??!!! Let’s hope Jude and Cardan will have a couple of quiet moments from now on.

”Whatever can you mean?” Randalin says. “She’s –“
“She is my wife,” Cardan says, his voice carrying over the crowd. “The rightful High Queen of Elfhame. And most definitely not in exile.”

”I never minded being a minor villain, but it’s possible I might have grown into something else, a High King as monstrous as Dain. And if I did – if I fulfilled that prophecy – I ought to be stopped. And I believe that you would stop me.”

”Seelie and Unseelie, Wild Folk and Shy Folk, I am glad to have you march under my banner, glad of your loyalty, grateful for your honor.” His gaze goes to me. “To you, I offer honey wine and the hospitality of my table. But to the traitors and oath breakers, I offer my queen’s hospitality instead. The hospitality of knives.”

”It’s you I love,” he says. “I spent much of my life guarding my heart. I guarded it so well that I could behave as though I didn’t have one at all. Even now, it is a shabby, worm-eaten, and scabrous thing. But it is yours.” He walks to the door to the royal chambers, as though to end the conversation. “You probably guessed as much,” he says. “But just in case you didn’t.”

3
Jude & Cardan:

”Cardan steps in front of me, pulling his cloak up. The metal needles glance off the fabric, falling to the floor. For a moment, we stare at each other, wide-eyed. He looks as surprised as I am that he protected me.”

Okay, but seriously: This is legit the best enemies-to-lovers and love-hate relationship I ever read in a book! Holly Black outdid herself with Jude and Cardan and I can’t help but ship them together! Like they are afraid of their love for each other but they also can’t be without each other and that makes it impossible to ignore their feelings! ADASDKFASDKFAJSFKASDFJK! The chemistry between those two is off the charts and I could spend the rest of my life just reading their conversations. *lol* I loved how much they trusted each other in here and that they finally realized what they mean to each other. They were fiercely protective and I lived and breathed for their brutal honesty. For once they put all their cards on the table and I was so ready for that to happen! And then when Cardan turned into a serpent, Jude couldn’t find it in herself to kill him. After all this time she wanted to be with Cardan so badly that it hurt. T_T I kinda loved her for deciding to respect his wishes and to try to kill him in the end. It certainly would have been better than to live his life as a bridled puppet by her side. Still, to decide to kill Cardan was no easy choice and my heart bled for her. And boy was I happy when he stepped out of the carcass of that huge serpent! *lol* I really hope those two will finally have some time to deepen their relationship and to live happily ever after! ;-P

”It was terrifying,” he says, “watching you fall. I mean, you’re generally terrifying, but I am unused to fearing for you. And then I was furious. I am not sure I have ever been that angry before.”
“Mortals are fragile,” I say.
“Not you,” he says in a way that sounds a little like a lament. “You never break.”

”I didn’t mean to hurt you.” He grabs my hand, possibly to keep me from hitting him again. Our fingers lace together. “No, it’s not that, not exactly. I didn’t think I could hurt you. And I never thought you would be afraid of me.”
“And did you like it?” I ask.

”Mock me all you like. Whatever I imagined then, now it is I who would beg and grovel for a kind word from your lips.” His eyes are black with desire. “By you, I am forever undone.”

”What was it like?” I ask. “Being a serpent.”
He hesitates. “It was like being trapped in the dark,” he says. “I was alone, and my instinct was to lash out. I was perhaps not entirely an animal, but neither was I myself. I could not reason. There were only feelings – hatred and terror and the desire to destroy.”
I start to speak, but he stops me with a gesture. “And you.” He looks at me, his lips curving in something that’s not quite a smile; it’s more and less than that. “I knew little else, but I always knew you.”

Jude & Madoc:

”I wonder what Taryn would ask for herself and the baby in her belly. Safety, I’d wager, the one thing Madoc believes he has already given us, the one thing he can never truly provide. No matter what promises he would make, he is too ruthless to ever keep anyone safe for long.”

This is still one of the most twisted father-daughter relationships I ever saw. I really didn’t expect Madoc would actually try to kill Jude but wow, he definitely wasn’t above hurting her so who knows what would have happened if the others wouldn’t have stopped him in time. Jude got almost killed by his sword blow so it’s easy to assume his rage and anger would have probably been sufficient enough to actually kill her. And this even if he would have regretted it afterwards. Even though Madoc is both, a person that thinks ahead and acts as well, I still think he might have gotten carried away and gone for the killing blow. At the end they seemed to have made their peace with each other but I doubt they’ll ever be close again. Heaven knows I wouldn’t trust a father that almost killed me because he wanted to seize the throne my husband and I are sitting on. XD

”And if I am particularly kind that evening, particularly deferential, if I laugh particularly loudly, it is because I know I will never do this again. I will never have him behave like this with me again. But for one final night, he’s the father I remember best, the one in whose shadow I have – for better or worse – become what I am.”

He gives me an incredulous look. “Will you defy me to the last? When I get ahold of you, I am going to keep you in chains.”
“I never wanted to be your enemy,” I say. “But I didn’t want to be in your power, either.” With that, I take off through the snow. I do the one thing I told myself I would never do.

Grabbing the cloak, he winds it around his hand, hauling me toward him. The ties choke me, then rip free. His sword sinks into my side, into my stomach.
I look up at him for a moment, eyes wide.
He seems as surprised as I feel.
Somehow, despite knowing better, part of me still believed he would pull a killing blow.”

Jude & Taryn:

”I know there are a lot of things I ought to have told her and a lot she ought to have told me. I know we haven’t been kind. I know she’s hurt me, more than she can guess. But for all that, she’s still my sister. My widowed, murderer sister with a baby on the way.”

Now that was a plot twist right at the beginning of the book that totally caught me off guard! When I read that Taryn killed Locke I was like: You gotta be kidding me!! Like OMG! I expected so many things to happen but Locke’s death definitely wasn’t one of them! We all knew Taryn wasn’t all too happy about Locke being unfaithful to her but OH WOW! I never pictured her actually killing him. So yep, still blown away by that revelation. It’s kinda weird that Locke’s death brought the two sisters together again but then again I suppose he was the only thing that truly stood between them during those last two books. Mhmm… I dunno if I would have forgiven Taryn as easily as Jude though. I mean Taryn wronged Jude in a lot of ways and I’m kind of bitter about the fact she gets away with it all because she killed Locke and is pregnant now. >_<

”While I walked the path of daggers and poison, she walked the no-less-fraught path of desire.”

4
This was a good ending for a great series! “The Queen of Nothing” might not have blown me away as much as the other two books of the series but it was still a great and suitable ending for “The Folk of the Air”! I really enjoyed the Jude and Cardan moments and if things would have gone my way I would have wanted even more of them. XD This said I’ll definitely watch out for Holly Black’s next book! 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Near Witch (V.E. Schwab)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.”

It’s no secret I’m a huge Victoria Schwab fan so I was very curious about her debut novel and how it would be written. It’s always interesting to see how your favourite authors started out and how their writing style developed and changed with time. This said I absolutely loved and adored the atmosphere in here! Schwab’s writing style in „The Near Witch” reminded me a lot of Maggie Stiefvater’s books and I’m so glad I finally decided to read this! There is something magical about the description of the moor and you can almost feel the wind pushing against the window pane, trying to make its way into the house.

”I catch my breath as the stranger’s eyes find mine. Eyes as dark as river stones and yet somehow shining, soaking up moonlight. Eyes that widen a fraction as they meet my own. A single, long, unblinking look. And then in an instant the stranger seems to break apart, a sharp gust of wind tears through, and the shutters slam closed against the glass.”

So what’s “The Near Witch” about? I suppose you could say it’s a tale as old as time. There is this close-knit community of Near and everyone knows everyone. There are no strangers in Near and if someone visits their quiet village the Council makes sure they don’t stay long. It’s the way Near has been run for centuries and it’s the only way they know. So once a stranger appears and children begin to vanish from their beds in the middle of the night everyone already knows who’s the culprit. Of course it’s the stranger and the Council is more than just ready to do what is necessary in order to get their children back.

”Fear is a strange thing,” he used to say. “It has the power to make people close their eyes, turn away. Nothing good grows out of fear.”

It’s that kind of fear that is palpable throughout the entire book and it covers the village like a suffocating coat of fog. The more children disappear, the thicker it gets and with every night, with every vanished child, the villagers get more and more restless and desperate to find the stranger. What I really liked about this book was the fact that Schwab didn’t only create a world you could imagine vividly but she also fabricated an environment that displayed a lot of important issues as well. The atmosphere in this is amazing, the plot might be slow but the characters are more complex than meets the eye and every character has its own story to tell. No matter if it’s Lexi’s uncle Otto who means well but only knows what he’s been taught for years, no matter if it’s Lexi’s mother who lost her husband way too soon, but still tries her best to help her daughters to survive in a world dominated by men. There are so many topics that are tackled it’s actually kind of astonishing. “The Near Witch” covers xenophobia, hostility towards women, prejudices, loss, grief and even some psychological themes like self-hatred and feelings of guilt. And yes, it doesn’t even shy away from ethical issues.

”I choose to believe, Miss Harris, that the Council did what they thought was – not right; right is the wrong word. What they thought was necessary.”
“She didn’t kill the boy.”
He finally looks at me. “I doubt it mattered.”

The quote above is so powerful because it’s the people of Near in a nutshell. Everything that’s foreign is bad and once people set their minds on something there’s no turning back. Their ignorance and prejudices made me so angry and just like Lexi I tried to fight them tooth and nail. Magda and Dreska were two of my favourite characters and their unfaltering wisdom as well as their slightly eerie presence made for a great atmosphere. Can I have a Magda and Deska in my life please? =)

”All Near knows.”
“All Near forgets.”
“Or tries.”
All Near tries to forget? Before I can make sense of it, the sisters’ voices begin to overlap, and the sound is haunting.
“But we remember.”

The Near witch was quite a formidable antagonist and some of the scenes actually caused me to get goose bumps. As for the love story between Lexi and Cole: Well, it was pretty insta-lovey but I didn’t mind because the focus of the book was clearly on other things. 😉 I loved the dynamic between those two though and it reminded me a lot of the relationship between Puck and Sean in Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Scorpio Races”. Lexi was a passionate wild child and Cole more the quiet and composed kind of boy. Guess opposites will always attract. Their gentleness sometimes almost killed me. *lol*

He looks out over my head to the east, eyes shining, but I can see the edge of his mouth quirk.
“Look at me,” I say, running my fingers along his jaw and turning his face back to mine. “I’m still here.”
Cole kisses me once, a quiet, desperate kiss. I can taste the pain on his lips, the hint of salt.

All told I loved to read this intriguing story! The early Victoria Schwab was already a great writer and the atmosphere of this book was amazing! By now I think there is nothing Schwab can’t write and I’m really looking forward to read all of her other books. If you enjoy books with a haunting and gloomy atmosphere, if you like tales of witches and are fond of the moor, if you dig a little dash of romance in your tales, then this one is for you! 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: Tower of Dawn (Sarah J. Maas)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

”There are choices in my past,” he said tightly, “that I have come to regret. But I can only move on – and attempt to fix them. Fight to make sure they do not occur again.”

Where do I even start with this review?
It was different. Different than all the books that came before because the pacing wasn’t as fast as in the former books and Sarah actually took her time to support the development of her characters and the plot. I know some people might think that an entire book about Chaol would be boring or that such a slow pacing would be detrimental for the overall storyline of the series but for me it wasn’t! Quite the contrary!

I think this book was necessary and needed and if you didn’t read “Tower of Dawn” because you don’t like Chaol and think you can ignore his story, it’s your choice, but I think you’re missing out on a lot of fun and important information that is vital to understand the events in “Kingdom of Ash”. 😉

Yes, this is a book about healing and recovering from injuries, it’s a book about guilt and redemption, it’s a story about a broken man who fights his way back into life, it’s about acknowledging the darkness that lives within all of us and about embracing it in order to learn how to move on. It’s about acceptance! Acceptance of the past, the present, the future, about recognizing your fears and faults, about making amends, but most of all it’s a story about a man who fights his inner demons and learns to love himself.

It’s one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read so far and even though the slow burns and pacing killed me I can still say that it fit the atmosphere of the book perfectly. This was a harmonious masterpiece and I can only speak for myself but from me Sarah gets all the stars and even more!!! <333

I loved this and thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope many other people will read and love it too! =))

2

You are now entering my “Spoilery Spoiler Section” and if you want to be spoiled take a seat, grab something to eat and drink and enjoy another one of my endless ToG essays. *lol* If you haven’t read this book yet and plan to dive into it soon you better leg it though. XD Consider yourself warned! ;-P

Chaol:

”Lord Chaol Westfall, Hand of the King.
He hated it. More than the sound of wheels. More than the body he now could not feel beneath his hips, the body whose stillness still surprised him, even after all these weeks later.
He was Lord of Nothing, Lord of Oath-Breakers. Lord of Liars.”

Oh Chaol!!! How much I suffered with him throughout the course of this entire book!!! He was so broken and loathed himself so much. To read his POV was more than just painful and to see how all his actions gnawed on him made me infinitely sad. He was practically flagellating himself and his self-hatred knew no boundaries. >_< This poor, poor man!!! Trapped in a broken body and left with a shattered soul. There were so many things he never worked through and if you ask me, it was about time he confronted his inner demons. (Quite literally I may add) And boy how he did it! I AM SO DAMN PROUD OF MY BOY!!! I CAN’T EVEN PUT IT INTO WORDS!!! Chaol’s journey was worth every second of my time! I finally saw the boy I liked so much in those first two books and it was so good to have him back again! To see his journey, to see how he grew in this book, how he accepted his mistakes and learned from them, how he became a stronger person! Gosh, this was everything I ever wanted and more! ❤ Hands down one of the best character arcs I ever had the pleasure to read about! =)) Thank you Queen Maas!!! *bows*

”A man used to being obeyed, yes, but a man also inclined to care for others. Look after them. Driven to do it by a compulsion he couldn’t leash, couldn’t train out of him. Couldn’t have broken out of him.”

”He’d been sinking and drowning since. Long before his spine.
He wasn’t certain if he’d even tried to swim. Not since that sword had gone into the river. Not since he’d left Dorian in that room with his father and told his friend – his brother – that he loved him, and knew it was good-bye. He’d … left. In every sense of the word.”

”A body on a bed. A dagger poised above his heart. A head rolling on stone. A collar around a neck. A sword sinking to the bottom of the Avery.”

”Life. He had life to savor, to fight for.
And the breaking that had started and ended here … Yes, it belonged to him. He was allowed to break, so that this forging might begin.
So that he might begin again.”

Yrene:

”The day I reached these shores, I cast aside that girl. And I will be damned if I let her reemerge. Or let someone tell me what to do with my life, my choices again.”

Haha! Boy, was I angry at Yrene!!! That horrible behaviour!! *lol* Seriously, the way she treated Chaol at the beginning of the book was so appalling! I mean I understand why she did it and why she hated him so much, but she didn’t even know him and never even gave him the benefit of the doubt. So I was basically bristling with indignation when she treated him that bad. XD Once she started to heal him she realized how wrong she was though and to see how she started to care for Chaol, how she realized that he was a good man. Well, let’s just say it was worth all the trouble they had at the beginning. ;-P Plus I loved that Yrene was so stubborn and headstrong and that she never backed down! That woman had guts! *lol* Especially when she threw Hasar into the water because she insulted Chaol. It takes quite some courage to go to such lengths and if there is one thing Yrene has in abundance then it’s certainly bravery. XD

Nesryn:

”So she’d figured it was better to remain, to be passed over, not for mere pay, but for the fact that there were so few other guards like her, helping those who needed it most. It was for them she stayed on, kept her head down while lesser men were appointed.”

And here I go with another woman that received my anger at the beginning of the book. *lol* Once again I understand why Nesryn acted the way she did and decided to leave with Sartaq, but damn did it bother me that she didn’t even tell Chaol in person. Yes, they had to leave quickly and were pressed for time, but still. She basically left him to deal with this huge pile of crap and that poor boy was already unable to cope with anything that happened. She should have known better than that and shouldn’t have left him to his own devices. Promises or not this was a shitty move and she knew it. 😉 Despite all that I still like her though. I mean Nesryn is a woman who’s self-confident and knows her weaknesses and strengths. She’s comfortable in her own skin and goes her own way. I have to admire that even though it made me angry at the beginning. *lol*

Sartaq:

”There is beauty in my father’s lands,” the prince went on while Kadara ripped into that monstrous carcass, “but there is much lurking beneath the surface, too.”

I LOVE SARTAQ!!! Of all the new characters that were introduced in this book this man definitely was the best!!! GAH! I don’t even know where to start! I loved everything about him! I mean he’s the khagan’s son and he’s a ruk rider and he’s charming, funny, sweet, eloquent, down-to-earth and never hesitates to voice his opinion. He is so honest, honourable, compassionate, caring, courageous and attentive it’s impossible not to love him. <333 Of all the khagan’s children I liked him the most and this right from the very first page he was introduced. XD I really hope we’ll see more of him in “Kingdom of Ash” and I can’t wait to see how all the other characters are going to react to him! =))

”I am sorry – for your loss. As long ago as it was. I … As a warrior, I grew up walking hand-in-hand with Death. And yet this one … It has been harder to endure than others. And my mother’s grief perhaps even harder to face than my own.”

Hasar:

”Hasar was many things, but she was loyal. To her core. To the few, few people whom she favoured. It had always warmed something in Yrene. To have someone who actually meant what they said. Hasar would behead the killer if they were unfortunate to encounter her. She would ask no questions, either.”

I still don’t know if I should like her or if I should dislike her. *lol* On the one hand I admired her brutal honesty and ruthlessness but on the other hand I didn’t like her attitude towards Chaol and Nesryn. Well, truth be told, even towards Yrene. I mean Yrene is her best friend, yet she didn’t even hesitate to use her in order to get some information from Chaol. She didn’t care if her best friend felt threatened by her and she didn’t give a damn about Yrene’s feelings when she basically forced her on Chaol. Right after the motto: The end justifies the means. She seems to be an intriguing character but I didn’t see all too much of her so I’m still undecided. Mhmm… maybe KoA will help me to get to know her better? =)

3

Yrene & Chaol:

”So you may look at me with resentment Yrene Towers, and I will not blame you for it. But believe me when I say that there is no one in Erilea who loathes me more than I do myself.”

To say those two had a bad start would be putting it more than just mildly! *LOL* They were at each other’s throat right from the moment Yrene walked into Chaol’s room, but they both had to go a long way and it was so nice to see them grow. Not just character-wise but also in the sense of growing together. I think that describes it really well. Over time their initial distrust turned into hesitant acceptance, a solid friendship and then into something more. And I LIVE for relationships like that! <333 Those two were so amazing together and there were so many moments that caused me to gasp. For instance the intense scene at the dinner party of the khagan’s children! I swear the air was burning between them! And the moment when Yrene coaxed him into walking towards her? Gosh, such a beautiful chapter and so typical for Chaol. He only started to walk because he wanted to apologize to her. *shakes head* Sweet boy! I have to admit that the ending kind of threw me though. I mean he went all this way, Yrene healed him fully and then he gave his life for her and once again was almost killed in the process. It’s just not fair that he had to suffer again, that he’ll suffer for the rest of his life now that Yrene made that deal with the goddess, but it still … idk it fits?! Their lives are connected now, not just by their love but also by the bond that was forged when Yrene saved him. And considering how deep their love is, this is kind of perfect and suitable? I mean, they probably couldn’t imagine a life without each other anyway so I guess it’s good they are tethered to each other? *lol* I’m making no sense, but I hope everyone who read this book knows what I mean! XD And I really, really, really hope they’ll both survive KoA! >_<

”Everything I thought, everything I had planned and wanted … It’s gone. All I have left is my king, and this ridiculous, slim scrap of hope that we survive this war and I can find a way to make something of it.”
“Of what?”
“Of everything that crumbled in my hands. Everything.”

”I don’t share a bed with patients. And you’re with Captain Faliq,” she added quickly. “And you’re –“
“Not in fit form to pleasure a woman?”
He was shocked he said it. But again more than a tad smug to see her eyes flare.
“No,” Yrene said, somehow going redder. “Certainly not that. But you’re… you.”
“I’m trying not to be insulted.”

Yet Yrene wrapped her arms around herself and said, “I feel safer here.”
Chaol tried not to blink at her. At the words.
With him. She felt safer here with him.

”He didn’t understand – how she could be so delicate, so small, when she had overturned his life entirely. Worked miracles with those hands and that soul, this woman who had crossed mountains and seas.”

Nesryn & Sartaq:

”After last night’s party, I had thought you would be … preoccupied.”
With Chaol. Her brows rose. “All day?”
The prince gave her a roguish smile, finishing off his long braid and picking up his spear once more. “I certainly would take all day.”

BLESS SARTAQ and his unapologetic flirting!!! *lol* I loved him so much and it was so funny to see self-confident Nesryn blush! Those two killed me! Throughout the entire book I may add! GAH! I swear I rarely came across such a slow burn (the only other example that instantly comes to mind is “The Raven Cycle”) and up until almost the last page I was like: “KISS GODDAMIT!! KISS!!! WHY WON’T YOU FINALLY KISS??!!! ADKASDLFSJAJKLMNÖ!” I swear, I was constantly complaining to Gem about them not even holding hands (Thank you for enduring my rants btw! *lol*) and I couldn’t believe that Sarah actually went for such a slow burn! XD I mean when I think about EoS… well you get the idea. Haha! Anyway, those two were so cute together, especially Sartaq, that I just wanted this ship to sail. Badly! And OMG was it a relief when they FINALLY kissed in the end! I hope they’ll have a few tender moments in KoA as well and that this isn’t all we get because ARGH I might actually die if a chaste kiss is everything they are going for. Look at me complaining about all those sexy scenes in EoS and now begging for some with Sartaq and Nesryn. *lmao* Sarah, you clearly messed me up big time… *shakes head*

”It took her another minute to stop trembling. Sartaq patiently waited, stroking her hair, fingers rippling over the ridges of Borte’s braid. She let him, leaned into the touch while she studied the gap they’d now have to jump, the stairs still beyond.”

”But even as the night moved on, as Nesryn sang in that beautiful mountain-hall, she felt Sartaq’s stare. Different from any he’d given before. And though she told herself she should, Nesryn did not look away.”

Sartaq smiled at her – gently. Sweetly. In a way she had not yet seen.
“I loved you before I even set eyes on you,” he said.
“Please,” Nesryn wept.
Sartaq’s hand tightened on hers. “I wish we’d had time.”

Nesryn left her body. Could only manage to breathe.
And when she tried to bow, Sartaq gripped her shoulders tightly. Stopped her before her head could even lower. “Never from you,” he said quietly.

Dorian & Chaol:

”Even as boys, I knew he was not his father’s son. I knew a better future lay with him, if I could make sure Dorian lived long enough. If he not only lived, but also survived – emotionally. If he had an ally, a true friend, in that court of vipers. Neither of us was old enough, strong enough to challenge his father. We saw what happened to those who whispered of rebellion. I knew that if I, if he set one foot out of line, his father would kill him, heir or no. So I craved the stability, the safety of the status quo.”

Those moments when Chaol thought about Dorian were the death of me. So much pain on both sides and Dorian never even blamed Chaol for leaving him in the castle. I can’t wait until those two are reunited again and I’m sure I’ll cry like a baby when they face each other after everything that happened. I just want them to hug and to be happy! <333 This friendship survived so much, I hope it will survive that final war too! They deserve it! *sobs* T_T

”I don’t know. He is free – he is alive. But is he fine? He suffered. Greatly. In ways I can’t begin to…” His throat tightened to the point of pain. “It should have been me. I had always planned for it to be me instead.”

Aelin & Chaol:

”Chaol?”
For wherever you need to go – and then some. The world needs more healers.
There, in her handwriting…
Chaol looked up at last, blinking away tears as he scanned his wife’s face. Every beautiful line, those golden eyes.
A gift.
A gift from a queen who had seen another woman in hell and thought to reach back a hand. With no thought of it ever being returned. A moment of kindness, a tug on a thread…

THIS MOMENT!!! I cried so freaking much when Chaol discovered that Aelin was the woman who helped Yrene all those years ago. This scene was so moving I’m having tears in my eyes just thinking about it. Precious Chaol crying. T_T Ahh, I swear there are so many different feels when I think about this revelation and they make me a crying mess, so I better stop talking about them now. XD

4

All told, I enjoyed this book even more than I expected and to say I loved every single second of it would probably be the understatement of the century. There was never a dull or boring moment and after reading five books (6 if you count “The Assassin’s Blade”) I was actually surprised that I’m still able to fall for newly introduced characters. Thank you, Sarah! ❤

And of course special thanks also go to my precious Gem! I wouldn’t have survived this book (and the slow burns) without you and I’m so glad we’re already reading the last book together! =) I can’t believe we actually buddy read this entire series!!! *lol* What’s going to come next?! We need another long series like that! XD

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Wicked King (Holly Black)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 9 on My Book List 2020

”The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”

I wish I could disagree with Cardan but he’s right! *lol* All this book is about are intrigues, machinations, power games and murder and tell you what? I’m so here for it! Like SO here for it! XD Holly Black knows how to write her faeries and I’ll never get tired of her books. There’s just something about them that keeps me on my toes and forces me to be on my guard. ;-P It’s rare to find this is a book and I appreciate her even more for it.

This said, I’ve to admit that for some people this book might seem to be pretty slow. There is a lot of build-up and it takes a while until the storyline gets into motion. Or rather it’s set into motion right at the start of the book but it kind of trickles in the background. You know something is brewing but you can’t put your finger on it and the more the story unfolds the more you get that feeling of uneasiness. The feeling that something is wrong and the awareness that you’re missing something crucial. 😉

I think this made for a super intriguing atmosphere and my urge to continue to read fought a constant battle against the connoisseur within me that wanted nothing more than to savour this book. XD Especially the Jude/Cardan scenes almost caused me to throw all caution to the wind. *lol* I didn’t give into the temptation though and considering THAT ending I’m glad I took my time to analyse every single sentence. I have theories! A BUNCH of them and I’ll make sure to go into detail in my characters section. 😉

2

Take my hand and follow me,
To the land of faerie,
Where I will spoiler thee.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you in advance,
Come enjoy the revel and let us dance.
You and I, we shall have some fun,
And if you’re scared,
Well, now is your last chance to run! ;-P

Jude:

”Watching his fear ripen fills me with an almost voluptuous satisfaction. I, who have had little power in my life, must be on guard against that feeling. Power goes to my head too quickly, like faerie wine.”

Jude Duarte is one of those characters I can’t help but adore. I love this girl so much! She’s cunning and intelligent which is always a dangerous combination, but she’s also compassionate and even though she tries to hide it, it always shows. Like for instance when she tried to prepare Heather for what would happen in Faerie. Still, Jude has become a force to be reckoned with and I’m in awe of all the strings she pulled. She’s become a formidable faerie which is probably the biggest compliment you can pay her and by running an entire kingdom in the background she’s grown as well. It’s not about gaining power anymore but about holding it (like Madoc pointed out so nicely) and considering it all she’s doing a great job. Or she did until she got betrayed by the Ghost and was spirited away to the Sea. >_<  I couldn’t believe it went into this kind of direction and I think her month as a captive of queen Orlagh changed her profoundly. She was reminded of her limits and she was willing to play along in order to save herself. I guess in some way it made her realize that she’s still so very powerless when it comes to the machinations of the courts. And for our reckless Jude this must have been quite a damper. Cardan at her disposal or not, they could have killed her easily. I think what it will always come down to is that she craves the power to be her own master and as long as she hasn’t achieved that she won’t be able to rest. Speaking of which: OMG!!! That ending! She’s the Queen of Faerie now but no one knows and she’s exiled!!!! WTF??!!!  Jude better come back because I need a happy ending! T_T

”You want to know what I did to make him raise me up?” I ask, leaning toward her, close enough that she can feel the warmth of my breath. “I kissed him on the mouth, and then I threatened to kiss him some more if he didn’t do exactly what I wanted.”

”I hate the way I cling to him, the nails of one hand digging into his back, my thoughts splintering, and the single last thing in my head: that I like him better than I’ve ever liked anyone and that of all the things he’s ever done to me, making me like him so much is by far the worst.“

”Sometimes, when lying on the cold stone floor, I wonder if there’s a limit to what I will let them do, if there is something that would make me fight back, even if it dooms me.
If there is, that makes me a fool.
But maybe if there isn’t, that makes me a monster.”

”I imagine what it would be like to have my own crown, my own power. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be afraid to love him. Maybe it would be okay. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be scared of all the things I’ve been scared of my whole life, of being diminished and weak and lesser. Maybe I would become a little bit of magic.”

Cardan:

Cardan leans forward as though they are sharing a jest. “Oh, tell me the rest. I like tricks and snares. Even ones I was nearly caught in.”

Okay, Cardan lounging on his throne is my new aesthetic! XD Also that one earring dangling from his ear! Ahh, did anyone else imagine him as the 8th member of BTS? *LOL* Anyway! Let’s talk about my precious boy who became more and more intriguing! I never thought I could be even more obsessed or besotted with him but “The Wicked King” certainly proved me wrong. I love this new calculating Cardan and I was kind of happy to see that he grew into his power. He played them all! And he did it masterly! Every gesture, every move he made, and every single word that left his lips, it was calculated and deliberate. The sings were all there and they became even more pronounced after Jude returned from the Sea. The way he commanded the situation with Queen Orlagh was amazing and it was really surprising to see how clever and skilled he is. I could see it from miles away but what truly gave his game away was the moment when he held council about how to proceed with Queen Orlagh. Cardan acting reasonable and making sense was such a dead giveaway. *lol* I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do now but I’m also kind of worried about him. Without Jude by his side things will get even trickier. >_<

”When he becomes drunk, his subjects become tipsy without knowing why. When his blood falls, things grow. Why, High Queen Mab called Insmire, Insmoor, and Insweal from the sea. All the isles of Elfhame, formed in a single hour.”

”Now, Queen of the Undersea, we will have a truce as you had with Eldred, as you had with Mab. We will have a truce or we will have a war, and if we fight, I will be unsparing. Nothing and no one you love will be safe.”

”When my father sent me away, at first I tried to prove that I was nothing like he thought me. But when that didn’t work, I tried to be exactly what he believed I was instead. If he thought I was bad, I would be worse. If he thought I was cruel, I would be horrifying. I would live down to his every expectation. If I couldn’t have his favor, then I would have his wrath.”

”I wasn’t kind, Jude. Not to many people. Not to you. I wasn’t sure if I wanted you or if I wanted you gone from my sight so that I would stop feeling as I did, which made me even more unkind. But when you were gone – truly gone beneath the waves – I hated myself as I never have before.”

Cardan shakes his head and drinks another cup of tea. “We show her that I am no feckless High King.”
“And how do we do that?” I ask.
“With great difficulty,” he says. “Since I fear she is right.”

Vivi:

”Revenge is sweet, but ice cream is sweeter.” She goes to the freezer and removes a tub of mint chocolate chip. She brings that and two spoons back to the sofa. “For now, accept this delight, unworthy though it is for the Queen of Faerie in exile.”

I can’t believe Vivi truly thought that Heather would come out of Faerie unscathed and I really disliked her for her actions. At first she didn’t tell her the truth and then she added insult to injury by glamouring her after things went downhill. No wonder Heather moved out of their apartment. If someone would have done the same to me I would have moved out as well. I think Jude was right with everything she said about Vivi not being able to understand what it means to be a human in Faerie. She’s a faerie and she never seemed to care all too much about Taryn and Jude’s struggles. So I don’t know if Heather will come back again but if Vivi wants her back she’ll have to do so much better than she did before.

3

Jude & Cardan:

”I wondered if it wasn’t you shooting bolts at me.”
I make a face at him. “And what made you decide I wasn’t?”
He grins up at me. “They missed.”

ADKASDLFKAsDJFASKDFJASDFLKASJDFAKLSDFJASLKDFJSDfH!!! Okay, sorry, but that just needed to get out! *lol* Now I feel better and can write about it! XD So first things first: I love them! Their love-hate relationship is legit one of the best things about this series and I ship them so hard it almost kills me to read their scenes! <333 Their chemistry is off the charts and I just can’t get enough of them. This said: I guess in some way Cardan finally got his revenge for Jude forcing him on the throne. *lol* Well, he certainly did a number on her by exiling her from Faerie! I don’t think it was about revenge though. I don’t even think it was about power. I’m sure he had completely different motives so hear me out and let me explain! I DO believe that he meant every single word he said before he married her and he wasn’t lying because faeries can’t lie. So I think his main reason to exile her was to keep her safe. When she was abducted and imprisoned in the Sea he realized how much he truly loves her and that changed everything. She’s his weakness, the only thing that could be able to hurt him and he’s not holding on to power for himself but for her sake. I mean he trusted her so much that he gave Taryn what she wanted because he thought it was her. His love and trust for Jude will be his downfall and it was the reason why he exiled her even though he loves her. So he tricked her out of her hold over him and now he’s free to do what needs to be done in order to protect her. Which was a pretty clever move on his part. Still, I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY MARRIED AND THAT JUDE IS THE QUEEN OF FAERIE NOW!!! OMG! That totally caught me by surprise and I was speechless! *lol* So whatever happens between those two in the final book, I’m so ready to read it! <333 Give me all that love and hate, because apparently it’s both in their case. ;-P

Cardan steps close to me, his gaze devouring. I am not sure I can bear his cutting me down again. Luckily, he seems at a loss for words.
”I hate you,” I whisper before he can speak.
He tilts my face to his.
“Say it again,” he says as the imps comb my hair and place the ugly stinking crown on my head.

”You believe I planned your humiliation?” He laughs. “Me? That sounds like work.”
“I don’t care if you did or not,” I tell him, too angry to make sense of my feelings. “I just care that you enjoyed it.”
“And why shouldn’t I delight to see you squirm? You tricked me,” Cardan says. “You played me for a fool, and now I am the King of Fools.”

He shucks his cuffed white shirt over his head in a single elegant gesture, revealing bare skin and scars. My hands are shaking. He captures them and kisses my knuckles with a kind of reverence.
“I want to tell you so many lies,” he says.

”But how did she make you agree?” I demand. “She has no power. She could pretend to be me, but she couldn’t force you –“
He puts his head in his long-fingered hands. “She didn’t have to command me, Jude. She didn’t have to use any magic. I trust you. I trusted you.”

”Faerie suffered with us at each other’s throats. You attempted to make me do what you thought needed to be done, and if we disagreed, we could do nothing but manipulate each other. That wasn’t working, but simply giving in is no solution. We cannot continue like this. Tonight is proof of that. I need to make my own decisions.”

Taryn & Locke:

”But you know me too well to bother.” She shakes her head. “When I’m with him, I feel like the hero of a story. Of my story. It’s when he’s not there that things don’t feel right.”

I said it once and I’ll say it again: Those two were conspicuously inconspicuous in. I always waited for their involvement but they made sure to act in the background and not to show their true motives. To be honest I didn’t expect anything different. I knew sooner or later they’d make their move and I was right! XD The way Taryn betrayed her sister. Just WOW! I’m curious if we’ll see more of them in the next book because I kind of missed Locke’s machinations. Yes, he made Jude the Queen of Mirth but that was about everything he did (aside from trying to get her killed) and it certainly wasn’t enough. He can do better than that and I really hope I’ll get more of the cunning fox in the next book.

”I am done with being polite. We’re not going to play word games or make up riddles. Humiliating the High King is a bad idea. Humiliating me is a terrible idea. Running around my sister is just dumb. Maybe you thought I was too busy to take my revenge? Well, Locke, I want you to understand that for you, I will make time.”
His face pales. He’s obviously not sure what to make of me right now.

Nicasia & Cardan:

”Would you marry me, then? Tie the sea to the land and bind us together in misery?” Cardan gazes at her with all the scorn he once reserved for me. It feels as though the world has been turned upside down. But Nicasia does not back down. Instead, she takes a step closer.
“We would be legends,” she tells him. “Legends need not concern themselves with something as small as happiness.”

As it seems Nicasia is still in love with Cardan, but unfortunately (or fortunately, always depends on your POV) he doesn’t seem to reciprocate her feelings. I guess her try to force him into a marriage only made him dislike her even more and those two definitely won’t become a couple anytime soon. That horse is definitely out of the barn. *lol* I think Cardan wants love and the fact he chose Jude tells us everything we need to know. So I’m sorry Nicasia, but you’ve lost the game. 😉 #SorryNotSorry

Jude & Madoc:

”You don’t believe that I could care about you, even after you betrayed me?” He watches me with his cat eyes. “I’m still your father.”
“You’re my father’s murderer,” I blurt out.
“I can be both,” Madoc says, smiling, showing those teeth.

I know this might sound weird but I’m still down for this twisted father-daughter relationship! *lol* They have such an interesting dynamic and the fact they both seem to care about each other yet still don’t give each other an inch is just awesome. When an opportunity arises it is seized no matter the consequences or what kind of repercussion it might entail for the other.  They obviously respect each other though so I wonder if there actually might be a happy ending for those two. As opaque as Madoc is, the genuinely seems to care about Jude and I’m pretty sure she considers him to be her father too, no matter what she tells him. XD Ahh I like them. Guess we’ll find out what will happen in “The Queen of Nothing”.

”I’ve been glamoured and carried into a revel, weeping and alone. As far as I can tell, the only difference between tonight and all the other nights when I endured indignities without complaint is that those benefited you, and when I endure this, it benefits me.”
Madoc looks shaken. “I didn’t know.”
“You didn’t want to know,” I return.

”Does he know?” Madoc asks, grinning in a slightly terrifying yet paternal fashion. “Does our High King have any idea how good you are at running his kingdom for him?”
“Keep hoping he doesn’t,” I say, trying for a breezy confidence that I don’t feel when it comes to anything to do with Cardan or our arrangement.

”Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”

”Orlag and the Undersea we will vanquish together. But when they are gone, it will be us staring across a chessboard at each other. And when I best you, I will make sure I do it as thoroughly as I would any opponent who has shown themselves to be my equal.”

4

This was perfection and I enjoyed “The Wicked King” even more than I thought I would, which is no easy thing to accomplish! I lived and breathed for all the backstabbing and cunning in this book and I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next one. Considering all the scheming and plot twists we witnessed in here (oh what a pleasure!) I’m pretty certain Holly Black will have no mercy in the final book as well! I’m ready, Holly! Destroy me! 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Starless Sea (Erin Morgenstern)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 5 on My Book List 2020


”Far beneath the surface of the earth, hidden from the sun and the moon, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories.”

There are stories that leave you with thousands of questions,
that cause you to topple under the sheer weight of their words.
And then there are stories that leave you with a million questions more,
but each and every single one of them feels like a soft caress.
Like a tender kiss on your longing skin. Like a shiver running through your craving mind.
You don’t want answers to those questions.
You just want to experience what they will do to you.
Which kind of emotions they will evoke, which sort of feelings they’ll drag to the surface.
You want to lose yourself in the story, dive deeper, be a part of it, touch it with your own fingertips…
Never let it go.

“The Starless Sea” is exactly this kind of story and it was an extraordinary pleasure to read it!

”A boy at the beginning of a story has no way of knowing that the story has begun.”

The boy at the beginning of this particular story is Zachary Ezra Rawlins and he’s as relatable as a reader can be. He’s a student, has a TBR he’s trying to reduce, is more comfortable reading a book than being out with his friends and was sorted into Ravenclaw. And one day he meets a mysterious storyteller who draws him into a world of wonder and mystery. Into the world of the Starless Sea.

”You are here because you wish to sail the Starless Sea and breathe the haunted air.”

The mere idea of the Starless Sea was already so intriguing and I loved to explore the Harbour. I mean some sort of labyrinthine underground library that looks like an art museum and seems to go on forever? Show me only one bookworm that wouldn’t enjoy a place like that! Also there were cats everywhere which was such a nice touch because I love all sorts of cats. Moreover there even were mysterious locked rooms and I’m such a sucker for them. I always want to know what’s behind those locked doors and my curiosity knows no boundaries. *lol* In short: I lived and breathed this story!

”You had superior meet-cutes with the others, no wonder you like them both better. You’ve cast me as a villain.”

And of course, like every story, “The Starless Sea” had a villain as well. Allegra was pretty intriguing and I think she was one of those antagonists that fascinate you. She has her principles and methods (for instance “late-night intimidation tea” – I love that term btw ;-P) and she’s convinced that her way is the only right one. It’s hard to dislike a villain like that and I found myself more and more captivated by her character and presence. Speaking of which: Dorian was such a wonderful and complex character as well.

”You’re not wearing shoes.”
“I hate shoes.”
“Hate is a strong emotion for footwear,” Zachary observes.
“Most of my emotions are strong,” Dorian responds and again Zachary doesn’t know how to reply and Dorian saves him from having to.

I just loved that boy! And the moment he got introduced into the story is definitely among my favourite bookish moments ever! It was mysterious, amazing, intriguing and shiver-inducing. Gosh how I wish I could have heard that story right from Dorian’s lips. I probably would have died. XD He sounds like a man I could easily fall for and he was described so vividly that I could imagine myself listening to his stories while taking in his appearance and gestures. He’s a character that seduces with his voice and words and up until now I didn’t even know that I’ve a weakness for men like that but apparently I do. As does Zachary. *lol* But to everyone who thinks this is going to be a love story: Be warned! This is one hell of a slow-burn and a very unconventional one at that. 😉 Also it’s not the focus of the story. This tale is more intricate and multi-layered than you might expect.

”It is there, still,” he says and pauses for so long that Zachary thinks perhaps the story has concluded but then he leans closer. “This is where the moon goes when she cannot be seen in the sky,” Dorian slowly breathes each word against Zachary’s lips.

I think I don’t want to go into more detail because this is definitely a story you’ve to experience for yourself.  Just like “The Night Circus” it’s a tale I can’t describe. You just have to read it, feel it, get immersed in it. All those stories within stories, mesmerizing dreams turning into grotesque nightmares, little pieces that merge into one story and questions that might not always be answered. Succumb to the temptation and allow the narrative to drown you in the depths of the Starless Sea. If you give yourself to the story, I can guarantee the story will give you something back. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

ARC Review: Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love (Kim Fielding)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten


**I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for approving me!**

First of all I’ve to say that this book was really cute and that Teddy and Romeo were just adorable. When I started to read this book I was in dire need of something sweet and fluffy and this was exactly what I got. So on that front “Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love” delivered exactly what I was looking for. It was a fast and very enjoyable read and it had me smiling while I read the book.

Secondly I’ve to mention that I loved the reps in this book. We have Teddy who is gay, Romeo who is black and pan and we even have a functioning polyamorous side-character relationship which truth be told, is a pretty rare treat to find in a contemporary romance book. This said I’ve to note that in my opinion the romance between the two MCs doesn’t fall into the category of the enemies to lovers trope. It’s pretty obvious that Teddy is attracted to Romeo and all their initial animosity is due to the fact that they don’t know each other and just assumed things. So it’s no wonder that once they hit it off they do it big time. 😉

I guess that’s the main reason why their relationship didn’t feel like insta-love for me and why it also didn’t feel like it was progressing too fast. They’ve been working in the same company for quite a while and they’ve been attracted to each other for months so to be head over heels when your feelings are finally reciprocated isn’t all that unrealistic. Plus we all know how fast you can fall in love.

As for Joyce Alexander and her crazy tasks that seemingly don’t have to do anything with either the two boys or their commitment to their product: She’s an elderly eccentric fashion icon that had enough years and especially enough freedom to develop her quirks so I wasn’t the slightest bit surprised by her actions. Quite the contrary, people like her actually DO exist and it felt pretty realistic she’d do something like that. *lol*

All things considered I thoroughly enjoyed “Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love” and even though the ending was kind of fast and felt slightly unrealistic I still found enjoyment in it. From the tasks they had to tackle up to their very fair and loyal boss at Reddyflora and right to the sleeping-in-one-bed trope this was super cute. Yes, there could have been more depth to the characters but since this is supposed to be a short and light rom-rom I didn’t really mind it. After all there’s only so much you can pack into a 250 pages book. All told, I liked it and I hope a lot of other people will enjoy it too! =)

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The School for Good And Evil (Soman Chainani)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten


”Tonight she would be taken into the woods. Tonight she would begin a new life. Tonight she would live out her fairy tale.”

And what a fairy tale it would turn out to be! *lol* I wasn’t all too sure what to expect when I went into this, because all I knew was that one of my favourite bloggers loves this series to bits and pieces and has been raving about it for months. XD I dunno how you usually choose your next book, but for me this was the main reason to finally pick up “The School for Good and Evil”. If one of my fave bloggers loves it, it’s pretty likely I’ll enjoy it too. (Yes, I’m a simple soul when it comes to things like that. ;-P)

Turns out my gut feeling was right! *lol* I loved and enjoyed this so freaking much! I mean this is middle grade yet it still had that typical fairy tale vibe going on. Truth be told, Sophie’s and Agatha’s story is actually pretty cruel sometimes and the punishments they get for failing are quite harsh. Just like you’d expect it from a brothers Grimm fairy tale. It will never cease to amaze me how children hear those horrible stories and take everything for granted. I mean as a kid we were all okay with the witch from Hansel and Gretel burning in the stove, right?

”No matter how cruel children are to each other, nothing can prepare them for how cruel their stories can be.”

Anyway, I probably could write an essay about fairy tales and their meaning for children (actually did that at school *lol*) but I think I’ll leave it at that. 😉 Suffice it to say that the typical stereotypes of fairy tales are more than just strong in here. We have plenty of princesses who act like a damsel in distress, we get to know princes who are born to rule and to save those aforementioned damsels and we have evil witches and their henchmen. So just your ordinary fairy tale, or not? Not really, Agatha and Sophie are doing quite a thorough job at turning their world upside down and I just loved them for it! XD This was such a fun ride and I enjoyed every crazy minute of it.

This said, let’s get to my characters section so I can finally get all those thoughts out of my mind! 😉

2

As you all know by now this is my spoilery spoiler section so if you don’t want to be spoiled you better return to Gavaldon. If you’re naughty enough to actually want to be spoiled, well, welcome to the School for Evil! I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun! ;-P

Sophie:

”You’re lucky that someone would come see you when no one else will. You’re lucky that someone like me would be your friend. You’re lucky that someone like me is such a good person.”

I think statements like the one above were the reason why Sophie ended up in Evil. I mean if she would have truly been a good soul, she wouldn’t have befriended Agatha as part of her good deeds. It doesn’t matter that they became actual friends in the end, the reason why she started to hang out with her was a selfish one and I knew exactly why Sophie would have never made it into The School for Good. Sophie might have looked as pretty as a princess but her soul? Well, let’s just say it was as dark as the night. *lol* And tell you what?! I loved it! I mean there’s this girl that wants so desperately to be good that she’s actually turning out to be more than just a little evil. All the things she did, all her seemingly good intentions were no good intentions at all. And I’ve to agree with Lady Lesso here: What we do matters! Not what we are! Still, I felt really sorry for Sophie because some of the punishments were pretty harsh and her desperation to get in the right school was so palpable. Also to watch her metamorphosis into a witch was quite something. It started out with little things, like trying to get into the School for Good, talking Tedros into a bargain and trying to seduce him, cheating with Agatha’s help, etc. Well, and then it turned into bigger things, like killing the Beast when it cut her hair in the dungeons and I suppose from that moment on her way to Evil was paved into the ground. In the end Sophie became a witch and boy, she was a sight to behold! I loved her so much!! *LOL* She’s definitely one hell of a character and I can’t wait to read more about her in the next book! =)

”Sophie smoothed her hair and walked toward the light, swallowing the sickness in her throat.
The good forgive, said the rules.
But the rules were wrong. They had to be.
Because she hadn’t forgiven.
She hadn’t forgiven at all.”

”You see, it doesn’t matter what we are, Sophie.”
Lady Lesso leaned so close she just had to whisper.
“It’s what we do.”

”Sophie threw down the glass, threw back her head, and unleashed a horrible crackle that promised Evil, beautiful Evil too pure to fight.”

Agatha:

”At first Agatha found it dumb, but now it was scary. This was what Good souls craved? Boys they didn’t even know? Based on what!”

Haha! I agreed so much with Agatha’s POV! She was probably the only feminist in the entire School for Good and I could relate to her thoughts so much. I wouldn’t have wanted to go into lessons like that either. Funnily enough, all the “real princesses” that ever made it into storybooks were no damsels in distress at all. I mean just look at Arielle , Belle, Cinderella, Mulan… yes they were all very coy at the beginning of their tales, but in the end they all fought for what they believed in. And they fought for their freedom! So if you think about it like that Agatha was kind of a typical princess! *lol* The real princesses don’t wait for their princes to do something, they take things in their own hands and do it themselves! XD Which Agatha did! I really liked Agatha and I think she was one hell of a friend! I mean she studied both: The Good & the Evil lessons just to help Sophie out and she would have died for Sophie and her friends. Also by the end of the book she began to love Tedros but she still did everything possible to help Sophie to win him over. She put her friend before herself and that’s so altruistic that she could only end up in Good. XD I’m really looking forward to see more of her and how things are going to turn out. Especially after THAT ending!!!

”I wish I could help you,” she said. “I wish I could help us all go home.”
The gargoyle lay its head in her lap. As the burning menagerie closed in, a monster and a child wept in each other’s arms.

”I’d set them all free if I could, but his magic is too strong,” Agatha said, voice cracking. “I just wish my talent had a better ending.”

Tedros:

”Hair a halo of celestial gold, eyes blue as a cloudless sky, skin the color of hot desert sand, he glistened with a noble sheen, as if his blood ran purer than the rest.”

I’ve to admit I wasn’t a huge Tedros fan at the beginning of the book. He kind of gave me “Gaston vibes” and I hated Gaston! *lol* But the more I read about him, the more I could understand why he was that way. Tedros’s character is really complex and there is more to him than meets the eye. It was good to get an occasional glimpse at his thoughts and they were completely different to what he showed on the outside. Well, most of the time. When it came to Agatha and Sophie he disliked them both; at least at the beginning of the book. XD And yes I even felt sorry for him because to be between Agatha and Sophie couldn’t have been easy. Poor guy got really confused by them. >_< I’m sure we’ll get to see more of him in the other books and I’m pretty sure sooner or later he’ll show us his true self instead of what everyone expects him to be. =)

”The best villains make you doubt.”

”That’s what makes us Good, Hester. We trust. We protect. We love. What do you have?”

Hort:

”So I definitely can’t love,” Hort said.
“Colder than you thought possible… Then say these words…”
“But if I could love, I’d love you.”

Okay, Hort might be at the School for Evil, but that boy is so damn precious!! *lol* I mean he’s a side-character but he’s still sweet and amazing! He helped Sophie even though she was really mean to him and his black pajamas with green frogs?! Cute as hell! Haha! Also I think there’s way more to him as well. He’s obviously a very sad soul and I think he deserves someone super nice! He seems to love Sophie but I’m afraid she’ll only use him and won’t reciprocate so I’m kind of worried about him. #PreciousHortDeservesLove !!! <333

The Three Witches:

Hester looked up at Agatha. “She flooded our floor.”
“To do her makeup,” said Anadil.
“Whoever heard of anything so evil?” Dot grimaced. “Song included.”

I absolutely adored those three witches! Anadil, Dot and Hester were awesome! I loved how they were obviously evil but still so compassionate! At first glance Dot seemed to be the only compassionate one but the more I read the more Anadil’s and Hester’s soft sides showed as well. They were great and I loved that they thought Sophie’s morning routine was evil! XD I really want to know more about all of them and I hope they’ll have bigger roles in the next few books.

Dot’s eyes misted. “You were so pretty.”
“It’ll grow back,” Sophie said, trying not to cry.

3

Sophie & Agatha:

”Agatha wanted her only friend back. But a friend wasn’t enough for Sophie. Sophie had always wanted more.
Sophie wanted a prince.”

The friendship of those two was quite something! It had a lot of ups and downs, but in the end they always found back to each other. Even when they ended up in different schools, even when everyone told them that a princess and a witch can’t be friends they still defied the rules and held on to their connection! I loved their friendship so much, even though I’ve to admit that Sophie really took advantage of dear Agatha! Their friendship had that one-sided dynamic and I think that was their problem all along. Sophie did quite a few awful things yet Agatha still stood by her, but the moment Agatha did something Sophie didn’t like she went all nemesis on her. Still, this was the goal of the book. Both, Sophie and Agatha had to learn what it means to be a true friend. They needed to find a balance and in the end they did. It’s kind of sad it had to end with Sophie turning into a witch but I suppose that was the price they had to pay in order to get their fairy tale ending. XD I really dig the fact that their fairy tale shows that a friendship is a lot of work and that you shouldn’t take it for granted! It’s a really realistic approach and I love it!

”You are Good,” Sophie panted, head on Agatha’s shoulder.
“I won’t let them hurt you,” Agatha whispered, holding Sophie tight.
Sophie touched her cheek. “I wish I could say the same.”

Sophie & Tedros:

”When I’m #1, you’ll ask me to forgive you.”
“You get to #1 and I’ll ask you anything you want,” he snorted.
Sophie turned to him. “I’ll hold you to that.”
“If you’re still awake.”

I always knew those two wouldn’t work out because Sophie only loved Tedros for what he represented. She didn’t really love him as a person, only his good looks and his status as the prince of princes. She was so set on the idea of him being her prince that she didn’t even bother to get to know him. All that mattered was that he fell in love with her and saved her from the School of Evil and this was such a selfish notion, that it’s really no surprise she didn’t succeed. Sophie didn’t want to put any real effort into winning him over so it was Agatha he actually fell in love with and of course his love for Sophie turned bitter as soon as he found out the truth. So by the end of the book there was no love lost between them and things took their course.

”Even if it means waiting for a lifetime for a kiss.” Tedros answered, taking her hand. Then he cocked his head. “I’m assuming this is a hypothetical question.”
Sophie laughed and buried her head in his shoulder in time to hide the tears. She’d explain one day. When their love was strong enough.

”Heart throbbing, Sophie smelled the bitter black thorns laced with a scent she knew so well.
So this was her reward for Love.
She crushed the rose, spitting Tedros’ words with blood.

”Tedros glared down at her form inside the glass castle. In the weak sun, his milky face had a glint of red.
Sophie met his eyes, steeling her heart.
He’d love her back. He’d have to.
Because she’d destroy him if he dared love anyone else.”

Agatha & Tedros:

”You think he’s your prince? He’s just a puffed-up windbag who can’t find anything better to do than prance around half naked and thrust his sword where it doesn’t belong!”

So I guess Agatha and Tedros were a really, really, really slow burn that kind of bordered on love at hundredth sight. *LOL* Still, you could feel that they were meant to be together by the animosity they felt. XD The enemies-to-lovers trope was strong with those two!!! Funnily enough it was exactly the other way around with Sophie. Tedros and she were a typical lovers-to-enemies trope. ;-P Anyway, I loved some of the conversations between Agatha and Tedros. *lol* When Agatha scared him with a made up curse I had to laugh so hard! I mean seriously the “Hopsocotl Spell”??! XD Plus they were really cute when they finally admitted their feelings. It breaks my heart that Agatha and Sophie vanished in the end and that Tedros never got to say goodbye to her and I really hope they’ll see each other again. I also hope that Tedros will share some of his testosterone in the next book though. The way he decided things over Agatha’s head was not okay and if he truly loves her he should have accepted her opinion. If they become a couple in the next few books he’ll have to change his attitude. XD

”Put me down!”
Tedros obeyed and Agatha pulled away.
“I’m not a princess!” she snapped, fixing her collar.
“If you say so,” the prince said, eyes drifting downward. Agatha followed them ot her grashed legs, waterfalls of brilliant blood. She saw blood bluring –
Tedros smiled. “One … two … three…”
She fainted in his arms.
“Definitely a princess,” he said.

4

This was one hell of a bookish surprise and I certainly didn’t expect to love it so much! Agatha’s and Sophie’s world totally won me over and I just couldn’t get enough of it. The mere fact that I read this book in the span of a week shows how much I enjoyed it! This modern fairy tale was such a wild ride! Cool, cruel and crazy with all the necessary ingredients to make it a truly remarkable read! XD

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Suzanne Collins)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten
 
Book 33 on My Book List 2020
 

”Being a hero at home had its limitations; he needed a larger audience.”

So, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” made it into the “Goodreads Choice Awards 2020” and is probably one out of 3 books I actually managed to read this year. *lol* Taking a closer look at all the reviews that have been written about it, I have no idea how it ended up as a nominee in the awards but I suppose the main reason why it made its way in there is because it’s popular and provoked very conflicting emotions. I mean, all publicity is good publicity, right? 😉

I can see why so many people didn’t like it. The expectations for this were probably sky high and if you expected something similar like “The Hunger Games” it’s no wonder people ended up hating the book. As for me? Well, I went into this completely blind and all I knew was that it was going to be about President Snow. And tell you what?! I enjoyed it immensely! XD This book was right up my alley and the carefully hidden Slytherin/Dark Court faerie in me was a happy camper! ;-P (As was the part of me that loves to collect hints that are linked to the main trilogy.)

Yes, Coriolanus Snow is neither a hero nor an especially likable person but he’s cunning and knows how to use his strengths. I loved all the machinations and lies, the countless manipulations and the back-stabbing attitude of the tributes as well as their mentors. It kept the story going, it forced me to take a closer look at some of Coryo’s classmates and it helped me to understand Snow a little bit better. Mind you, I still hate him! *lol* But you can enjoy a book and still dislike its protagonist. 😉 So if you’re looking for a slow book whose focus is on the art of schemes, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this. If you’re looking for action and a good redemption arc, well, I’m sorry to say it, but you won’t get it in here. This is no story in which the heroes win; it’s a murky, morally grey and ambitious tale. And it ends with: “SNOW LANDS ON TOP. ;-P

2

You’re entering the Capitol! Make sure to leave all your good intentions at the front door because you certainly won’t need them in here. Be prepared to read some spoilers and to discuss them with our host Lucky Flickerman! Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Once you enter this spoilery arena all bets are off!

Coriolanus Snow:

”A tendency toward obsession was hardwired into his brain and would likely be his undoing if he couldn’t learn to outsmart it.”

I have so many mixed feelings about this boy! On the one hand there were moments I could relate to him and on the other hand he did a lot of things I didn’t agree with. To say he’s a fascinating character would be the understatement of the century. Is he good? No! Is he bad? No. If anything Coryo is one hell of a multifaceted character and I’ve to give Suzanne kudos for managing to make him this way. So who is Coriolanus Snow while he’s the mentor of Lucy Gray Baird in the 10th Hunger Games? He’s a boy driven by the will to survive! The lengths he’s going to just to ensure that his family “stays on top” are kind of remarkable. I mean there’s a boy who knows hunger, who has nothing but his family, a fancy apartment and his good name. War hardened him, showed him his limits and taught him that sentimentality has no bearing once you’re faced with the decision to either burn your beloved books or to freeze to death. Still, while his cousin Tigris is working hard to keep food on their table, Coryo’s job is to attend the academy’s classes. All in the hope that he’ll become big and earn them enough money to keep them afloat. That’s the boy at the beginning of the book, but the longer I followed his journey, the more it became apparent that he’s also an exceptional egoist and opportunist. Everything he did was calculated, every move he made was deliberate. All of his actions had an ulterior motive, even if it was as simple as not to anger Dr. Gaul. This boy is trying to survive and as long as the end justifies the means everything is allowed! The most fascinating thing for me was the fact that Coriolanus knew Dr. Gaul was trying to manipulate him into a certain direction, but that he still decided to let himself be formed by her. It was way easier than to swim against the tide and to lose everything. There were so many road junctions, so many different routes he could have taken, yet he always, ALWAYS chose the one that made life easier for him. Even if it meant to betray his friends. In the end this led to him being the perfect pawn in Dr. Gaul’s game and it eventually culminated in the poisoning of Dean Highbottom. His first real and intentional murder; the very first cobblestone that paved the way for his cruel future. Well, I don’t know about you, but I think Dr. Gaul won in the end!

”He buried his head in his hands, confused, angry, and most of all afraid. Afraid of Dr. Gaul. Afraid of the Capitol. Afraid of everything. If the people who were supposed to protect you played so fast and loose with your life… then how did you survive? Not by trusting them, that was for sure. And if you couldn’t trust them, who could you trust? All bets were off.”

”I keep asking myself why you did it.”
Not much choice, really, thought Coriolanus. “He’s my friend,” he said.

”What awaited him farther down that slope if he was unable to stop his descent? What else might he be capable of? Well, that was it. It stopped now. If he didn’t have honor, he had nothing. No more deception. No more shady strategies. No more rationalization. From now on he’d live honestly, and if he ended up as a beggar, at least he would be a decent one.”

”He’d continue the Games, of course, when he ruled Panem. People would call him a tyrant, ironfisted and cruel. But at least he would ensure survival for survival’s sake, giving them a chance to evolve. What else could humanity hope for? Really, it should thank him.”

Lucy Gray Baird:

”You can’t take my sass.
You can’t take my talking.
You can kiss my ass
And then keep on walking.
Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.”

I absolutely loved Lucy Gray Baird! She was one hell of a girl and I couldn’t help but admire her for her strength. She was scared and alone, but she still refused to back down. Some might say she’s a survivalist and that would be true. In contrast to Coryo she still has compassion and a good heart though. I think those two were pretty similar but what distinguished them were their different moral concepts and convictions. Coriolanus was like a wind chime always going in the direction of the least resistance without regretting (most of) his decisions while Lucy Gray had to do horrible things in order to survive and despised herself for them. She had to do those things to stay alive, but she neither enjoyed doing them nor did she accept her situation as an excuse. Quite the contrary, she didn’t excuse her actions; she lived with the harsh reality of them! Maybe it was her being a part of the Covey that helped her to get through the Hunger Games. I mean she was exceptionally resourceful and she knew how to work a crowd. Both qualities that worked in her favour. And let’s be honest here, the fact Coryo fell for her gave her an undeniable edge over the other tributes as well. He cared for her wellbeing, gave her food and helped her to avoid the deadly poison of the snakes. Guess Lucy Gray Baird might not only have been sassy and charming but also a little bit manipulative as well. ;-P

”Why? Are you asking?” said Lucy Gray seriously. He looked up in surprise. “Because I think this could work.”
Coriolanus felt himself blush a little at her teasing. “I’m pretty sure you could do better.”

Dr. Gaul:

”If you’re familiar, if they have pleasant associations with your scent – a warm tank, for instance – they’ll ignore you. A new scent, something foreign, that would be a threat,” said Dr. Gaul. “You’d be on your own, little girl.”

Dr. Gaul is one of those characters you can’t help but despise. She has no regard for life, or at least not as long as it isn’t useful for her purposes. This woman was ruthless and cruel, using her position in order to threaten, bully and hurt the people that got in her way. The handful of mentors she took an interest in all either ended up dead or were sent on their way to madness. For her the tributes were as much a part of the game as their mentors and she saw them all as tools. I don’t know why but for some reason the picture of Tilda Swinton in “Snowpiercer” always came to my mind when I thought of Dr. Gaul. *lol*It just seemed to fit her personality and the weirdness of her character. The thing that happened with Clemensia?! Oh boy! Dr. Gaul was one hell of a manipulative witch and it’s no surprise Snow turned out the way he is now after ending up under her tutelage. >_<

”How quickly civilization disappears. All your fine manners, education, family background, everything you pride yourself on, stripped away in the blink of an eye, revealing everything you actually are. A boy with a club who beats another boy to death. That’s mankind in its natural state.”

Sejanus Plinth:

”They’re not animals, though,” said Sejanus. “They’re kids, like you and me.”
“They’re not like me!” the little girl protested. “They’re district. That’s why they belong in a cage!”

Sejanus Plinth was too precious for this world and that’s exactly what cost him his life in the end. He was too trusting, too compassionate; he saw the tributes as people and not as animals like everyone else. Sejanus was brave but also so very innocent and naive. I think he underestimated the power, wiliness and cruelty of the people he was dealing with. On the one hand that made him braver than any of his classmates but on the other hand it also painted a target on his head. Someone like Sejanus had no place in a world like the Capitol and I think the only three people to ever realize this were his mother, Coryo and yes, unfortunately also Dr. Gaul. I think Sejanus was an idealistic dreamer and I really liked him for it. But dreaming will only get you as far and he didn’t have the necessary slyness to go about things the right way. It pained me to see where his way was heading but as a reader there was nothing I could have done to stop it. Which is another reason why this book was so intriguing. It made me pull for him, but at the same time I knew he wouldn’t make it.

”The only thing I loved about the war was the fact that I still lived at home. If you’re asking me if it had any value beyond that, I would say that it was an opportunity to right some wrongs.”

”You never miss a beat, do you? I remember that from school. Watching you watch other people. Pretending you weren’t. And choosing the moments you weighed in so carefully.”

3

Coriolanus & Lucy:

”So you didn’t have a second thought about diving into a cage of tributes?” prompted the reporter.
“A second, a third, and I imagine the fourth and fifth will be hitting me sometime soon,” admitted Coriolanus. “But if she’s brave enough to be here, shouldn’t I be?”

I really think those two loved each other. The way they fell in love might have been pretty fast but considering their circumstances I think it was realistic. I mean Lucy could have died any second and Coryo’s life was dangerous as well.  Not to mention that they were both very young and at least for Coriolanus it was his first love. If he wouldn’t have harboured real feelings for her he would have never even considered giving her his mother’s compact. It was, after all, his most precious possession. This said they barely knew each other and never had the time to spend all too much time in each other’s company. It’s no surprise they didn’t work out in the end; I’ve to admit that I was sort of thrown by the events at the ending of the book though! I mean OMG!!! After everything they went through together he actually wanted to kill her… just like that?! O_o But that’s Snow for you. He was always way too practical for his own good and he saw an opportunity to get the life he dreamed of. Lucy was the only obstacle left in his way so his logical conclusion was that she had to go. I’m glad Lucy was so smart and figured it out before he got a chance to kill her, but I’ll always wonder what happened to her. Maybe Katniss is her descendant? Who knows?

”You matter to me, Lucy Gray,” he repeated. His words drew her eyes back to him, but she still seemed distant.

”You’re not alone.” He took her hand. “And you won’t be alone in the arena; we’ll be together. I’ll be there every moment. I won’t take my eyes off of you. We’ll win this thing together, Lucy Gray. I promise.”

”It really would be like having you with me, wouldn’t it?”
“Go on,” he urged her. “Take me with you. Take it.”

Coriolanus & Sejanus:

”That’s not your fault,” said Coriolanus.
“I know. I know. I’m so blameless I’m choking on it,” said Sejanus.

Was it friendship or not? I think everyone who read this book might have asked themselves this question at some point. I think it was and then it wasn’t. The only reason Coryo saved Sejanus so often was because he would have probably died if he didn’t. I mean it’s not like Dr. Gaul gave him any choice in that matter. For Sejanus it was definitely friendship, he trusted Snow and considered him to be his best friend. For Coryo? I think some part of him actually cared about Sejanus, but it just wasn’t enough to put his friend before himself. When faced with the choice between his or Sejanus’s life Snow would have always chosen himself. And he did it in the end. He knew exactly what he did when he sent Dr. Gaul that voice record and even though he tried to reason with himself he ultimately knew that he had made the wrong choice. He knew about the consequences, no matter how hard he tried to convince himself into believing that he didn’t and yet he still did it. What really struck me as tragic was that nothing would have happened if he would have let Sejanus disappear with the rebels. I mean all they planned was to run away and to seek refuge in another district. So why did he do it? An ingrained sense of duty? To curry favour with Dr. Gaul? Aside from that he had absolutely no reason to turn on his friend. So if you ask me it was some combination of stepping over his friend to get where he always wanted to be and some twisted kind of payback for all the times he got into trouble because of Sejanus. That’s just my opinion though. If you have another theory: Hit me! I’d love to discuss this! XD

”Thanks. You’re quite the rebel,” said Sejanus as they carried their trays to the conveyor belt that ran to the kitchen.
“I’m bad news , all right,” said Coriolanus.

”The one thing Coriolanus had never questioned was Sejanus’s honesty. If anything, he’d have welcomed a little less of it. But this was a bald-faced lie, delivered as naturally as the truth. Which meant that now anything he said was suspect.”

”Coriolanus buried his face in his hands. He had killed Sejanus as surely as if he’d bludgeoned him to death like Bobbin or gunned him down like Mayfair. He’d killed the person who considered him his brother. But even as the vileness of the act threatened to drown him, a tiny voice kept asking, What choice did you have? What choice? No choice.”

Dr. Gaul and Sejanus:

”Possibly on his way to freedom,” said Sejanus in a strained voice. “Possibly captured and under wraps. Possibly injured and hiding. Possibly dead. I’ve no idea. Do you?”

Honestly, I was kind of impressed that Sejanus was able to defy Dr. Gaul for so long. That boy had guts to stand up to her like that and to question her in front of his entire class. Truth be told I was surprised she didn’t shut him up immediately, but then again he probably was another one of her experiments. She enjoyed to be challenged by him and for a while it seemed to amuse her. Also she would have had plenty of opportunities to harm him but she chose a public execution AFTER the Hunger Games in a district that was so far off that no one even noticed. Talk about revenge. Dr. Gaul got her payback alight. >_<

”That’s our right,” Dr. Gaul countered.
“No, it isn’t! I don’t care what you say. You’ve no right to starve people, to punish them for no reason. No right to take away their life and freedom. Those are things everyone is born with, and they’re not yours for the taking.”

4

Since this was Snow’s story I didn’t expect to be all too invested in it, but the more I read the more I was intrigued by the book. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” was definitely a surprise in this regard and I don’t regret picking it up. Backstabbing, cruelty, machinations and complex characters, this book has it all. I can recommend it to everyone who can’t help but appreciate a well-crafted and thought-provoking intrigue. ;-P