Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

The Sea of Monsters – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Rick Riordan)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”We did all the standard numbers: ‘Down by the Aegean´, ´I Am My Own Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandpa´, ´This Land is Mino’s Land´. The bonfire was enchanted, so the louder you sang, the higher it rose, changing colour and heat with the mood of the crowd.”

Sounds like a really nice night at Camp Halfblood, right? I mean who wouldn’t want to sing “This Land is Mino’s Land”? (On a side-note: Uncle Rick if you read this, can I please have the lyrics for those songs? *lol* I’d love to read them!!!) Unfortunately not everything is as it seems, and Percy isn’t only plagued by strange dreams of his best friend wearing a bridal gown (Hey there Grover, you’re looking good! ;-P) but also by a few ancient monsters that apparently feel a need to attack his home.

But worry not! We all know that for every problem there is a solution and of course Annabeth already figured it out. I guess to have a daughter of Athena at your side really comes in handy sometimes. 😉 Especially if you’re a very practical and down-to-earth person like Percy.

”I’ll give you a hint. What do you get when you skin a ram?”
“Messy?”

See, very practical indeed. *lol* Otherwise he probably would have never figured out that you don’t only get messy but also get a “Golden Fleece” as well. (Of course only if your sheep actually happens to be a golden sheep, but that’s another story for another day. ;-P) Anyway, moving on. Camp Halfblood is in trouble and the only thing that’s able to help them to restore their protective barrier is the Golden Fleece. So our favourite demi-gods do what they do best: They go on a dangerous quest! XD

”I thought about it. It did seem a little weird, but, I mean, doughnut shops weren’t really high on my list of sinister forces.”

I totally agree with you Percy, but what about the dangers of the sea? Sirens, hydras, a sinister sorceress, a woman with six dog heads or a sea monster that swallows entire ships? What about guinea pigs? Guess they all count as sinister forces. (Yes, even the guinea pigs! *lol*) Well, I’m pretty sure by now you all realized that Percy’s quest is rather adventurous and I admit it, even perilous. Our favourite hero wouldn’t be our favourite hero if he wouldn’t be able to circumnavigate all those lethal dangers though, (pun, totally intended! XD) and in the end …

4
Well, what did you expect? Did you really think I’d spoil you? *lol*
Nope, I won’t. You’ll have to find out for yourself. ;-P
I’ll only tell you as much: It was a fun ride once again and after that mean cliff-hanger I can’t wait to get a hold of the next book! =)

”Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related, for better or worse … and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.”

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

The Lightning Thief – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Rick Riordan)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

“The real world is where the monsters are.”

Believe it or not, but this was actually my first Rick Riordan book!!!

AND

I really enjoyed it!!! *lol*

This was such an epic adventure and I loved the countless hints and references to Greek Mythology! XD Rick Riordan’s approach definitely was a more than just funny one and I couldn’t help but had to laugh out loud whenever Percy opened his mouth!
I swear that young boy is the embodiment of sass and the more I read about him, the more I got attached to this awesome boy! ❤ I want to adopt Perseus and if Poseidon doesn’t want him it’s his own fault! XD

After reading the first book I don’t really feel a connection to Annabeth, but maybe this is going to change?! She seemed to be an interesting character and I liked their easy banter, altogether she was just too reserved for my taste though, which is pretty sad because I’m more than just certain that she’s actually a very cool girl! (On a side note: I really loved that she gave Percy the nickname “Seaweed Brain”! *lol* I’m fairly certain it could have been worse! ;-P)

And Grover? Well, I guess I liked Grover as well! His habit to eat tin cans was a little unsettling but hey, I’m not going to judge him for his rather questionable diet. XD After all his heart is in the right place and when it comes down to it, this is everything that counts! ;-P I just hope he’ll survive his personal quest and I can’t help but wonder if we’re going to see him in one of the next books!

Since my jump on the “Percy Jackson” train seems to be more than just a little delayed, I finally decided to leave it at that. I guess there is really nothing I could write or say that hasn’t been said already! I mean there are actually 73.916 reviews on goodreads! (Yes, I looked it up! ;-P) So yeah, I guess that says it all! XD

4
If you haven’t had the pleasure to read the book yet I recommend you to do the following though:
Get a copy of “The Lightning Thief”, snuggle into your soft and comfy bed, ignore the bad autumn weather and enjoy the freaky ride! ;-P

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Gilded Ones (Namina Forna)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Trigger warnings: xenophobia, misogyny, abuse and sexual abuse, rape (off page), graphic murder, torture, body mutilation

”The truth is, girls have to wear smiling masks, contort themselves into all kinds of knots to please others, and then, when the deathshrieks come, girls die. They die.” I glance from one bloodsister to the other. “The way I see it, we all have a choice right now. Are we girls, or are we demons? Are we going to die, or are we going to survive?”

So this is one of those rare books that caused me to have really mixed feelings about it. I guess everyone who followed my updates knows that I wasn’t all too happy about how the first half of “The Gilded Ones” played out. Maybe it’s just one of those “it’s me not the book” cases because I read way too many YA books and notice the similarities between them.  A lot of YA books have the same tropes and start out the same way so I wasn’t really surprised about the initial plot line of the book.

”Every girl knows it by heart. We recite it whenever we enter a temple – a constant reminder that women were created to be helpmeets to men, subservient to their desires and commands.”

I mean we have a patriarchal system and girls aren’t even allowed to walk on the streets if they don’t have a man with them. The women wear masks in order to hide their faces and it’s seen as an honour to wear them after they went through the blood rite and became full members of society. Their only goal in life is to get through the blood rite and to serve their men and they are devoutly religious. So yeah, this was nothing new for me and I’ve seen this particular kind of trope in a lot of books. Truth be told after everything Deka went through at the beginning of the book I had a hard time to comprehend how she could still hold on to the beliefs  of her people.

”Even some of the little girls here wear half masks, visible representations of their family’s wealth moulded in gold and silver. A pang of sadness passes over me whenever I see them. I’ll never wear a mask now, never be able to adorn myself in the sacred coverings of purity.”

Then again, change comes slowly and I think this was portrayed really well in here. Because the longer Deka stays with her fellow alaki, the more she finds out about their world and why they are shunned from society. And the more she knows the easier it becomes to let go of the cultural beliefs that have been indoctrinated into her ever since she was a little girl. This said I really liked the friendships in this book and the fact that those girls became true warriors and didn’t take any bullshit anymore. XD I absolutely loved Deka’s friendship with Britta and those two were amazing together!

”I’ve learned many things these past months, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s this: Britta is my dearest friend, and my kinship with her is the foundation I stand on.”

As for the love interest:  I saw this one coming from miles away and I was not surprised that they became a couple in the end. Still, even though I knew they would end up together I really liked that this was a fairly slow burn and that they started out as enemies that became friends and then developed into something stronger and more. I know some people said that it was insta-lovey for them but I guess that’s just because the time line and the world building weren’t all too elaborate. I knew there must have passed quite some time between their training and missions but some pointers as to how much exactly would have been very welcome. XD

His eyes seem to glow as he glances sideways at me. “Am I your friend, Deka?”
“Do you want to be?” I say this part so softly, I don’t think he hears it.
But then he whispers in my ear, his breath stirring the short mop of curly hair above it. “I think I’m something much better. I’m your uruni, now until the day of our deaths.”

Another thing I liked was that the trauma of the girls and how they were coping with it was addressed. A lot of them were abused, raped and hurt in the worst way possible and this just because their blood ran gold and they were considered to be impure. It was good to see that they grew into their strength, that they didn’t succumb to their horrible experiences and fought their way back into life instead. They remembered and they got out of it even stronger than before.

”The physical body – it heals. The scars fade. But the memories are for ever. Even when you forget, they remain inside, taunting you, resurfacing when you least expect.”

White Hands made for a very intriguing character and I kinda liked that we were left in the dark for so long. (Even though I’ve to admit that I still could anticipate a lot of the plot twists. XD) And last but not least I’ve to mention the addition of Ixa to the team! I loved Ixa so much and I hope he’ll be an even bigger part in the next book. As for the ending:  I have no idea where the second book is going to head. I mean yes, I know the general direction but there are so many different ways in which it could play out. There’s – quite literally – a world of possibilities.

4

This said I really liked “The Gilded Ones”! Yes, at first I was very sceptical when I started to read this book but in the end the book surprised me and I started to enjoy it more and more. Despite the rocky start Namina Forna eventually persuaded me to pick up the second book as well and I’m already very curious if I’ll enjoy it even more than the first one. I guess I’ll just have to find out. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 26 of My Book List 2022

”I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I found joy in the things that made me happy.”

You know, the more I think about this book, the harder it is to review it properly. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is definitely one of those books that – for lack of a better word – smoulders after you finished the last page. It’s one of those stories that needs to sink in and slowly but steadily digs its claws into your mind. It’s kind of funny how you don’t even notice the effect while you read the book but experience it afterwards once you have time to actually think about it. The book is a pretty fast read and it didn’t take me long to page through it, the “aftereffects” are an entirely different matter though.

”Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everything.”

It are wisdoms like that, which cause you to think and to reflect on the story. I’m sure a lot of people already wrote about a million of words about this book but I guess I’ll just throw in a couple of thoughts I had after finishing “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”. The first thing I noticed is that the story has a lot of fairy tale like elements. We have a boy that sees the world with different eyes than the adults around him and because of that the grown-ups don’t believe him. The narrator of the book might only be seven years old, but in a lot of ways he’s more open-minded and perceptive than all the adults around him.     

”Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.”

For me the fight against the antagonist of the story was so frustrating because basically no one of the adults believes the boy when he says that the person is bad. And I guess it’s something a lot of adults do. They don’t understand the thoughts of their children and most of them don’t even bother to try to understand their perspective. Quite honestly, if my kid would tell me that there’s a horrible person that is evil I’d ask why? And yes, I’d try to see it through my child’s eyes. I haven’t lost that inner child of me yet and I hope I never will. I still make up stories and live in a fantasy world with my kid and I think it’s very important to give them this precious room to grow into themselves. They learn things playfully and it’s crucial to take them seriously when they are so insistent on something. As a parent you should protect your child and the things that happened to the poor boy in this story. Well, for me some of the scenes were extremely shocking.

”She was power incarnate, standing in the crackling air. She was the storm, she was the lightning, she was the adult world with all its power and all its secrets and all its foolish casual cruelty.”

This quote! It sums up everything I just said. Children might live in their own world but to them our adult world is at least as mysterious and incomprehensible as their world is to us. I hated Ursula Monkton with a passion, because she was the embodiment of the cruel adult world. She represented everything that made life complicated and miserable. It’s very interesting that Ursula wasn’t actually a bad person/being, she wanted to make people happy but she was ignorant to the fact that happiness always comes with a price. You can’t make everyone happy because one person’s happiness will probably turn out to be the cause of another person’s misfortune. There’s a balance in life and if you disrupt it things will get out of hand. 

”Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good.”

And before that could actually happen, Lettie Hempstock and her mother and grandmother stepped in. Those three women were so interesting and I love what Neil Gaiman did with them. I mean it’s kinda obvious they stand for the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. All three of them have been around as long as the universe itself and time has absolutely no meaning for them. Their existence in the book was very particular because they neither lived in the narrator’s world nor in the adult one. They lived somewhere in between and no matter how hard the boy tried to understand what they were talking about he couldn’t really grasp their world. Which was such a nice and subtle way to describe the discrepancy between childhood and adulthood. At least for me it did. I’m pretty sure a lot of people might have a different opinion about this aspect of the book and I’m also convinced that every take on this is valid. How you interpret and rate books is completely subjective so the same book will mean different things for everyone who reads it. 😉

”You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.”

As for the ending? Well, it made me sad. It’s obvious the things that happened changed the course of the narrator’s life and it’s not entirely clear if it was for the better or for worse. And I’m sure this is exactly what Neil Gaiman wanted us to wonder about. Some experiences are good and some are bad, but you always grow through them and they change and shape you into the person you are now. Some things you can influence and others are beyond your influence and just happen to you. It’s always up to you how you deal with it though.

”I make art, sometimes I make true art, and sometimes it fills the empty places in my life. Some of them. Not all.”

4

All told, I really enjoyed this book and to say it was thought-provoking would be an understatement. I guess you can already tell by my review that “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” will stay with me for a long time and that I’ll continue to think about it for quite some time. It was a very strange book, but also a good one. I definitely didn’t expect it to be so creepy but I suppose adult life can be pretty grim and creepy as well so it kind of fit the mood of the story. If you like books like that I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one too. =)

 

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: Tweet Cute (Emma Lord)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 38 on My Book List 2021

“You know, for someone named Pepper, you’re pretty salty about losing.”
She groans at my pun as she shoves her hair back into the cap, but then counters, “For someone named Jack, you’re pretty bad at knowing when to hit the road.”
“Wow, Burger Princess, sick burn.”

Haha! I really loved those two and their “enemies-to friends-to lovers” relationship was amazing! This is how it’s done, people! ;-P Still, before I go into more detail about this book I’ve to give you a fair warning: Don’t read this when you’re hungry because you’ll regret it! I didn’t have such strong cravings for sweet food ever since I read “Heartless”! And I mean it!!! All the talk about Monster Cake or Kitchen Sink Macaroons! AHHH!! *drools* See! I’m already craving sweets again. XD So whatever you do, don’t read this when you’re hungry!

”Just one more bite?”
I grin into my locker door, so he can’t see. “You sound like a junkie.”
“I might be one now, and it’s kind of your fault. So you have a responsibility to keep supplying. Or I’ll go into withdrawal.”

Please can someone supply me too? Haha! Anyway! Regardless of my cravings this book was super cute and the characters were extremely adorable together. When I started to read this I wanted a light rom-com that would be fun and fast to page through and I guess I got exactly what I needed. Well, truth be told, I got a little more than that though. Some of the topics that were addressed in here were actually pretty serious and I’ve to give Emma Lord kudos for including them so effortlessly into the plot.

”And that’s my grandma’s legacy. That’s my entire family’s livelihood. Don’t you dare stand there and tell me it isn’t personal.”

So aside from the fierce Twitter war that’s been going on throughout the entire book “Tweet Cute” also tackled a lot of topics you wouldn’t expect. Like for instance the matter of a family business when you have two heirs that could inherit it. The troubles of one sibling that always feels left out because the other one seems to be the centre of the universe everyone is revolving around, the struggle of getting by with a small business, and the struggle of maintaining a huge business while trying to remember your roots and originals. Not to mention all the family dynamics that are a big part of this book as well. 😉

”It’s the fact that my dad can flip from telling me he expects me to run this place and then treating it like a punishment in the next heartbeat that really gets me. To me, it’s yet another spoken confirmation of an unspoken thing – that Ethan’s the twin destined for greatness, and I’m the one who will stick around and deal with whatever he leaves in his wake.”

If I’m entirely honest I kind of disliked Pepper’s mother for a long part of the book because I just didn’t understand her actions and why she would let her teenage daughter deal with such things. Even after finishing the book I still think that the relationship between Pepper and her mom was imbalanced and somehow off. I mean I would have never done that to my daughter. She expected so much of Pepper and put her under a lot of pressure without even thinking about what this would entail. And even when she realized her mistake she blamed Pepper’s bad grades on her friendship with Jack instead of acknowledging the big elephant in the room, namely that her obsession with the Twitter account was responsible for Pepper slacking off at school. Like how can you be so blind and unfair? I guess I’ll never become a fan of her.

My mom holds up a finger. “Hush. I’m having a moment over here.” Pepper snorts as my mom finishes having said moment, and then turns to Pepper, her fingers still sticky with cake, and says, “You are welcome to this kitchen any day of the week for the rest of your damn life.” Before Pepper can respond, she turns to me and says, “But if you don’t clean up this disaster, yours, my dear, is over.”

Jack and Ethan’s mom on the other hand! *lol* I loved that woman to bits and pieces! ❤ She was such a great mom and she really tried her best to be there for her sons while running a business and providing for her kids. Their father was okay too but he obviously made quite a lot of mistakes. Unlike Pepper’s mom he learned from them though and tried to make it better. Also can we acknowledge the amazingness of Grandma Belly?! That granny is made of awesome sauce and she always made me laugh! <33

”They’re here for your grilled cheese,” I told her.
She fixed me with a look, crossing a leg on the massive armchair she spent most of her time in and raising a single eyebrow at me. “Not unless you changed my secret ingredient to cocaine, they’re not.”

You just gotta love her directness and no bullshit attitude! *lol*

4

All told, I really enjoyed “Tweet Cute” and it was exactly what I needed. I was looking for a cute and light rom-com and that’s what I got. The fact that it also touched on more serious topics was the icing on the cake! And now excuse me when I finally give into my cravings and eat a delicious cupcake. ;-P

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Gravity of Us (Phil Stamper)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten

”Look, I’m sorry you won’t be able to play on social media anymore, but this is real life.”
I choke back a laugh. “Real life? I have to give up my journalism, plus my entire life, because a reality show says so. You really think what I do is less ‘real’ than StarWatch?”

I think in many ways “The Gravity of Us” was different than I expected it to be and after thinking about it for a while and letting the book sink in I decided to give it 3 stars. Don’t get me wrong, 3 stars is still good and when you look it up in my rating system it will say that the plot and the characters were good but that I had some minor issues with the book. Which is exactly what happened in here. I really enjoyed the book but there were also some things I can’t overlook and need to address in my review. I have no idea if other people already did that but since this was Phil Stampers debut I’ll just add my two cents and hope that if he ever stumbles upon this review it will help him to write even more amazing books in the future. Because when it comes down to it “The Gravity of Us” was really good and a great debut. =)

So this said let’s talk about the awesome things in the book! First of all I’ve to say that I loved to get an inside look into press work. We didn’t just get a good glimpse at what it means to be an influencer/journalist on social media but also an idea of how big TV channels handle the stories they talk about. I really liked the ambivalence of a social media channel that is focused on telling the truth and trying to give people an inside look at the scientific facts vs. a TV show that only aims to get the hottest gossip and the highest click rate. And I’m not gonna lie, John Farrow and his Shooting Stars show really made me angry. It’s the perfect example of how inhuman people can become if they only see dollar signs. (view spoiler)

”I start taking note of everyone’s expressions: crisp, practiced, perfect. Are they all that good at faking it? Or do they actually buy into all this? I’m looking for a flaw, but I can’t find the reality behind the show.”

The second recurring theme of the book I really enjoyed was the background history of space travel and all the science that was a part of the story line as well. Whenever his father spoke about NASA and the history of space travel you could feel his enthusiasm and what it meant for him to be a part of this Mars mission and project. I found this to be very interesting and as someone who only heard the legends of the moon landing but never really knew about all the details – like for instance the fact that there was an entire village for the astronauts and their families – this was super intriguing. “The Gravity of Us” got me so curious that I decided to dig a little bit deeper into the history of space flight and to find out more about it. It’s definitely an interesting topic to dive into. =)

”But with Leon, the burning in my chest has never been so perfectly bright. So clear.”

As much as I enjoyed the focus on media, science and history I still have to say that this was probably also the reason why some of the other topics of this story fell kind of flat. For instance the love story between Leon and Cal felt very insta-lovey and didn’t have a lot of substance. I’m aware there’s only so much you can do when you want to write a believable relationship in a 300+ pages book, but those two were just going way too fast for my taste. Plus Cal never asked Leon if he was okay with revealing their relationship like that and consent (especially when all eyes are on you and you belong to the LGBTQ+ community) is very important. Another topic I would have liked to read more about was the mental health representation (anxiety & depression). It was broached with Cal’s mother and with Leon but Stamper never really dug any deeper. It was mentioned on the surface but in the overall story it was more like a footnote than an actual rep. I mean they both got help and therapy which is a good thing, but considering how severe the anxiety of Cal’s mom was I found it a little bit unrealistic? I know I’m probably a bean counter now, but I think that if you bring up a topic you also have to dare to address it and to dig deeper. Then again this is probably personal preference and I’m sure a lot of other people didn’t see it as an issue.

”I’m the one who does the fixing. I’m unfazed, unbothered. My resolve is a freaking rock.
But the rock is breaking. It’s cracked and worn, and I know it. But if Dad comes home and things get okay again, I can handle it.”

Which brings me right to the characters. I know Cal had a lot on his plate but I still can’t get over the fact that he basically ignored his best friend from the moment he became part of the Mars mission. I mean Deb was his bestie and went through so much but he didn’t even think about her? It’s something I really couldn’t relate to because my besties know about everything that happens in my life. (I’m being a bean counter again, aren’t I? *lol*) Anyway! The last thing I need to mention is the relationship between Cal and his father. I still don’t know how I feel about it because there was such a massive shift in where it started and where it ended that I have no idea if I liked it or not. I mean at the beginning of the book I couldn’t understand how Cal’s father could disregard his son’s life and social media presence so much because fathers should always support their children. But at the end of the book I realized that Cal and his mother didn’t support the dream of Cal’s dad either. They didn’t even believe that he would be able to become a part of the mission and when he did they were angry at him for uprooting them from their lives. So yeah, I understand both sides and I don’t know on which one I would stand. I guess it’s good I don’t have to choose sides because it worked out well for everyone in the end?! *lol*

4

All told “The Gravity of Us” was a really good story and I read it pretty fast. It’s was an enjoyable read I could pick up whenever I felt like it and no matter how long it took me to get back to the book, I never lost the thread. XD I loved the science, space travel history and the social media angle and I’m definitely looking forward to Phil Stampers next book! He’s an author to watch out for and I’m sure his next book will be even better! =)

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Lost Apothecary (Sarah Penner)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”The apothecary was a friend to all of us women, the brewer of our secret: the men are dead because of us.
Only, it did not happen as I intend’d.
It was not her fault, the apothecary. It was not even mine.
I lay blame unto my husband, and his thirst for that which was not meant for him.”

“The Lost Apothecary” is one of those books that is hard to describe. I mean the overall story is pretty simple: We have a pharmacy in 1791 London and we have a woman that helps other women to get rid of their men. The apothecary. What was super intriguing about this book was the way she went about it. Every poison she gives away is only meant for men and there are so many different reasons why the women that come to her want to poison them. I’m not gonna lie, the idea of killing your husband because he’s unfaithful felt truly wrong and even though I understood where those women were coming from I was still revolted by the idea of murder.

I mean if we’d poison every man who ever cheated on his wife, had an affair with a married woman or lusted after someone he shouldn’t lust after, well, I guess we’d have to get rid of at least 50% of our male population. XD (Mind you, women can also be unfaithful and do all of those things. ;-P) Of course to live as a woman in 1791 was way different than to live as a woman now, some of the troubles never seem to change though, no matter in which time you live.

”Why did we suffer to keep secrets? Merely to protect ourselves, or to protect others? The apothecary was long gone, dead for more than two hundred years. There was no reason for me to stand guard over her.”

Which brings me right to the second time line we have in this book. It’s modern day London and the story revolves around Caroline who found out that her husband has an affair. To add insult to injury he even had it while they were trying to go for a baby. Of course Caroline doesn’t want him around her anymore and needs time to think which results in her going on their anniversary trip to London on her own. She leaves her husband behind and goes “mudlarking” with a tourist group and stumbles upon one of the apothecary’s vials in the mud of the Thames. And this is the moment where the two storylines connect. 😉

”For many of these women,” Nella whispered, “this may be the only place their names are recorded. The only place they will be remembered. It is a promise I made to my mother, to preserve the existence of these women whose names would otherwise be erased from history. The world is not kind to us … There are few places for a woman to leave an indelible mark.”

On the one hand we have the story of Nella – the apothecary – and Eliza a young girl that was sent to get a poison for her mistress’s husband and on the other hand we have Caroline who is trying to find out where the vial originated while figuring out what she’s going to do now that she knows the truth about her husband’s infidelity. Both women have their own struggles to deal with and I was very intrigued by the concept of this book. I loved that Nella and Caroline had totally different lives yet they were connected somehow. What made this book really interesting was the moral dilemma I faced while I read it. I understood Nella and the pain she went through. I got why she decided to help all those women by selling them poison, I pulled for her and didn’t want her to be exposed, yet at the same time I couldn’t condone what she did. And I think to some degree not even Nella could stomach the truth of what she did to those men.

”The discomfort in my joints had crawled through my body for years; it had grown so severe, I lived not a waking hour without pain. Every poison I dispensed brought a new wave of it upon me; some evenings, my fingers were so distended and stiff, I felt sure the skin would split open and expose what lay underneath.”

I don’t want to go into too much detail because this book had me really glued to the pages and I don’t want to spoil anything. I went into it mostly blind when I borrowed it from my library and only knew the basics of the plotline because one of my favourite BookTubers spoke about it in one of her wrap ups. XD Also can we briefly acknowledge how gorgeous the cover of this book is? It immediately drew me in and whenever I picked up the book I had to look at it! =)

”The best apothecary was one who knows intimately the despair felt by her patient, whether in body or heart. And though I could not relate to this woman’s place in society – for there were no gatehouses or footmen to be seen in Black Alley – I knew, firsthand, her inner turmoil. Heartache is shared by all, and favors no rank.”

4
All told I really enjoyed “The Lost Apothecary” and the fact I managed to finish it, even though I was in one of the biggest reading slumps I ever experienced while reading it, should already tell you enough. The idea of the story might sound simple but the interesting writing style and the characters kept me engaged until the very end. I really wanted to know how the story ends and I guess when it comes to books you can’t ask for more than that. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amir:

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

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

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

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

Hassan:

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

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

Baba:

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

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

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

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

Sohrab:

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

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

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

4
I hated the book! I loved the book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

”For you, a thousand times over.”

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

”Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold …”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: To Kill a Kingdom (Alexandra Christo)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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