Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

Review: Let’s Talk About Love (Claire Kann)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”The bottom line was her body had never shown so much as a flicker of sexual interest in anyone. But that didn’t mean she liked being alone. That didn’t mean she wasn’t lonely. That didn’t mean she didn’t want romance and didn’t want to fall in love. It didn’t mean she couldn’t love someone just as fiercely as they loved her.”

So the ratings of “Let’s Talk About Love” are very diverse and range from 1 star up to 5 stars. I can see why some people would think this book is boring or didn’t do an aro/ace rep justice, but the thing is, every review is subjective and every opinion is too. (At least that’s what I think.) There will always be people that think a book is bad because it didn’t address issues the way they wanted it to – or how they wanted it to – and that’s legitimate. As a writer, as an artist you’ll have to learn that not everyone will like the things you write/create. So this said and all out of my system I’ve to say that I enjoyed this book! A lot, I may add.

”If this guy was on a show, he’d be considered the kind of gorgeous that would cause midseason plot twists and act-two spinouts, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat because their beloved characters were goners after looking into those dark brown eyes.“

The love story between Alice and Takumi was so sweet it basically glued my mouth shut with all the sugar. *lol* I really liked their friendship that developed into more and I could totally understand why Alice was hesitant to give into Takumi’s advances at first. Sure, it probably wasn’t Alice’s smartest move to go for a relationship with a girl that is known for her “sexual energy” but then again you don’t choose who you fall in love with. I think she should have told her ex-gf that she’s asexual instead of keeping it a secret though. It was the thing that stood between them and eventually led to her gf breaking up with her. Plus that former relationship made it hard for her to trust Takumi.

”That’s right. You live with us now.” Feenie beamed, a question forming in her eyes. “Fuck, I love you. I think sometimes my mind blocks out how much, so every time I remember feels like the first time I’m realizing it.”

Another theme that was tackled in “Let’s Talk About Love” was the friendship between Alice, Feenie and Ryan. Which was super problematic (in my opinion) and complicated but at the same time very realistic. I mean it was obvious they loved each other, but they had a really bad communication and that made up at least half of their problems. I know a lot of people think that Alice was too egoistic and self-centred but in my opinion not everything was Alice’s fault. I mean Feenie and Ryan ARE a couple and even though they love Alice, that doesn’t mean that she can’t feel left out.

”How am I doing that? And why is this all my fault? Why do you two have a Get Out of Ditching Alice pass that I’m supposed to accept because you say so? How is that fair to me?”
“We don’t ditch you,” Ryan said.
“You do. You have for years. I just don’t say anything because I don’t want us to fight, but the second I find an actual friend on my own, you two act like this.”

If your two best friends are dating you automatically feel left out. It’s a fact. Because they want time together and you’re just not a part of that equation anymore. Well, and the moment Alice spent time with Takumi, Feenie blames her for neglecting their friendship? Quite honestly if Feenie and Ryan would have left me all alone at a party with strangers because they wanted to have some “alone time” in a room I would have given them hell for their attitude, especially if they made me go there in the first place. Guess it’s just me though. For me, personally, a friendship is going both ways and not a one-sided thing. Feenie giving Alice the cold-shoulder for weeks was not okay and if she would have treated me that way I would have given her a piece of my mind. So yep, I guess you can say that the friendship between Alice and Feenie was a topic that made me angry. Truth be told, I would have never been able to be friends with someone like Feenie. Not that Alice dealt with it any better… Don’t get me wrong, they love each other. Obviously. But I prefer my bestie talking things out instead of giving me the silent treatment. Thankfully we’re all different and friends are actually the people you can choose for yourself. 😉

”First of all” – Feenie pointed at her – “you are not broken and I don’t ever want to hear that again. Second, being attracted to one person doesn’t necessarily change who you are. Maybe you’re graysexual instead of straight up ace. There’s just something about the way Takumi’s genetic code arranged his face and body that appeals to your brain chemistry. It’s insta-lust. Enjoy it for what it is.”

So that leads me to the next topic at hand: Alice’s asexuality. I’m not asexual so I don’t know if it was well done or not, but I think I got a better understanding for what it’s like to be asexual in a world that is full of hormone-driven teenagers and adults. XD As far as I understood it Alice has a cutie code and Takumi exceeded it. She feels sexual attraction towards him but she doesn’t feel a need to go through with it, or to say it even more plainly: She might feel hot all over her body when she sees him but she has no desire to actually have sex with him.

I kinda liked that Alice knew she was on the aro/ace spectrum but still tried to define what this meant for her as a person. I saw a couple of reviews that said the representation wasn’t done right and some reviewers actually defined as aro/ace and mentioned that they don’t feel like Alice. I understand why some people wouldn’t feel represented by Alice, but to be fair I’ve to say that everyone is different and experiences things differently. The aro/ace spectrum has many different definitions/terms and Alice could have also been greysexual, fraysexual or acespike. So what I’m trying to say is that for some aro/ace people Alice’s rep might actually have been on point. Every spectrum on the LGBTQ+ rainbow has different shades and varies so I think it’s safe to say that some people might actually like the aro/ace rep in here. Well, and others will dislike it, but that’s okay. We are all individuals and diverse and beautiful in our own way and as long as we’re aware of that, we’ll be fine. 😉

”Say what?” she whispered.
“That I like you,” he whispered back. “Everything you do and say is so endearing, and it’s ridiculous because I can’t stop thinking I need this person in my life. I need to be near you. If I could stand close enough to you, maybe I could absorb some of your shine.”

And now let’s talk about the best thing of this book: The relationship and love story between Alice and Takumi. I absolutely adored those two and they were so freaking cute I couldn’t stop grinning. Seriously, Takumi is perfect! Like super perfect and I have yet to find something about him that’s not great. *lol* This man always said the right thing and even when he wasn’t perfect he was somehow perfect? XD Does that make sense? I really liked his character and that he was so open-minded and didn’t just assume things. Alice and Takumi were pretty direct with how they felt about each other and their little gestures were everything. <33 Yes, Alice was pretty rude at first but it was because she was already super insecure and didn’t know how to deal with her sudden attraction for Takumi. To be honest Alice had a lot on her plate and I think we can cut her some slack here.

”This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway, partly because I want to, but also because I think you need to hear it. If knowing you’re asexual makes someone see you differently, then they don’t deserve to be in your life. My feelings for you are exactly the same as they were an hour ago. This doesn’t change anything between us.”

4

All told, I really loved this and it was one of those books that always had me craving for more interactions between Alice and Takumi. I was basically living from one chapter to the next, constantly hoping for more of their funny conversations! *lol* So if you want a light and adorable romance that tackles a couple of serious topics as well, you’ll definitely enjoy this! =)  I might have had my issues with Feenie as a character but that didn’t take away any of my enjoyment so four stars it is!

Allgemein, F - J, I, Reviews

Review: I Wish You All the Best (Mason Deaver)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 27 on My Book List 2020

”If you’re queer, your life has the potential to become one long coming-out moment. If I ever want to be called the right pronouns, I’ll have to correct people and put myself out there first and who knows what could happen.”

When I first heard about “I Wish You All the Best” it was August 2019 and I desperately wanted to get my fingers on a copy. Unfortunately at first the book was only sold as an expensive hardcover on Amazon and considering the fact that I don’t have all too much space in my flat I decided to wait for a paperback or ebook version. It was a long wait but I got my copy. Eventually. XD

So I’m sure the question you’re asking yourself now is: Was it worth the long wait? Yes, yes it definitely was! There are so many reasons why to read this was great and the fact that there is (finally!!) a non-binary MC is just one of them! I don’t know many books that feature non-binary characters and the few that did only featured them as side-characters but never truly gave them the spotlight. Mason Deaver however did and I’ll always be thankful they decided to write this book. =) We need more non-binary reps in this world and the mere fact “I Wish You All the Best” exists is already a great achievement. I genuinely hope this book will help to pave the way for a lot of other books that feature non-binary reps and I trust that more and more of them will have non-binary MCs.

It will be a long way but we’ll get there, I’m sure of it. 😉 This said “I Wish You All the Best” has so much more to offer and aside from a great non-binary rep we also got a very diverse and relatable cast. No matter if it’s Mariam who is Shia and wearing a hijab or Meleika who is Korean-American (just to mention two examples) the diversity in this was great! Plus the portrayal of anxiety and mental health as well as the representation of friendships and relationships in this book were very well done as well. The friendship/family dynamics were pretty interesting and it’s definitely a very character driven book. Well, I guess this is the clue to head to my characters section so this is exactly what I’m going to do!

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I guess by now you all know that this is my spoilery spoiler section but for everyone who’s new to my reviews: This is my spoilery spoiler section, in which I usually gush, rant and talk about all the characters in detail! So if you don’t want to be spoiled: Now is your last chance to opt out. ;-P

Ben De Backer:

”I can do this, it’s going to be fine. Everything is going to be okay and this is most definitely the right thing to do. I know my parents, they know me, they deserve to know this thing about me as well.
And I want to tell them, I really, really do.”

I felt so sorry for Ben because what happened to them was really not okay. Here they were trying to open up to their parents and to tell them the truth about being non-binary and what did those parents do? They kicked their own kid out of the house! Like really kicked them out. In the middle of a cold winter night without any shoes or proper clothes! GRRRR! I was so angry when I read that scene. No wonder Ben had trust issues after receiving such a treatment. I felt so much for them and I just wanted to hug Ben and tell them that everything would be okay. My heart bled so much for Ben and the fact that they were hiding their true self after getting kicked out because they were afraid no one would accept them for who they are. T_T Thankfully they made new friends and had a great sister who tried to help them as good as possible. ❤

”I sort of became the punching bag for all of Dad’s issues. He didn’t actually hit me, but overnight, I essentially became an only child, the focus of anything and everything. If I did something wrong, it was blown way out of proportion.”

Nathan Allan:

”Come here.” He pulls me in. At first, I don’t want to move, but he’s so warm, and I’m desperate for a touch right now. His touch. He rocks us both back and forth a little. “If anyone should be apologizing, it’s me.” He’s sniffling. Is he crying too? “I just spent the last half year misgendering you, and you’re apologizing to me?”

I swear Nathan Allan is one of the most precious cinnamon rolls I ever read about! This boy! <333 Seriously! I loved how supportive he was of Ben and how he always tried to get them to talk about things without prying too much. Nathan was so respectful and yet at the same time he showed that he cared. I think everyone should have a Nathan Allan in their life and I’m sure the world would be a better place if everyone did. XD Also I could totally get why Ben chose the colour yellow for Nathan’s portray because it fit so good to his personality! He’s a bright sunray and needs to be protected at all costs. ❤

Hannah:

”And I’ll be in the waiting room if you need me. If you want to leave early, if you need me to sit in there with you, anything at all.”

Hannah was the best sibling ever and even though she left Ben to fend for themselves (?! please tell me if I used that wrongly) I still think she made it up to them in the end. She was very patient with Ben and gave them room to grow into themselves and to become the person they truly were. Also I loved how supportive Hannah’s hubby was. I mean Ben was basically a stranger yet they both just took them in and provided everything for them. Hannah and Thomas deserve and award for being that kind and gentle with Ben! ❤

”Because even when I finally got out of that goddamn house they still had a hold on me. And it’s breaking my heart to see you going through the same thing, Ben.”

3
Ben & Nathan:

”Whatever happens” – his grip tightens a little – “I wish you all the best, Benjamin De Backer.” He says it with a smile. “You deserve it.”

I loved the super slow burn romance between those two. I mean it was pretty obvious that Nathan liked Ben, at least for me it was because you don’t make innuendos like that if you don’t like the other person. *lol* I guess Ben just needed time to realize it though. I mean there was a lot going on in their life and they had to come to terms with everything first and sort things out before they could fall in love and I just loved it. This was such a realistic and healthy approach and I wish everyone would love themselves first before going for a relationship. In YA books this happens way too often. That a character can only love and appreciate herself/himself/themselves if someone else does. And this is the wrong message. I think you should love and accept yourself first. You should know who you are and who you want to be before you go into a relationship because only if you’ve accepted yourself you will be ready to love and accept someone else. So to watch this play out in the book was amazing and to see how those two finally found each other was very sweet! ❤

Me: You’re serious? It’s like two houses away.
Nathan: Alright, but let it never be said that I’m anything short of a gentleman.
Me: Noted. Will you lead the search party if I get lost?
Nathan: Are you kidding? I’ll hang up flyers of that handsome face all over town!”

”Why did you pick yellow?” he asks.
I’m answering before I can stop myself. “Because it’s bright and hopeful.” I wait a beat. “Like you.”

”We’ll have to figure a lot of things out, won’t we?”
“Yeah.” His grip on me tightens. “But at least we can do it together, right?” He leans in and kisses me again, and I never want him to stop.

Ben & Hannah:

”So, what are your pronouns?” she asks.
The question strikes me. Not in the bad way. It’s just weird. Hannah is the first person to ask. The first person who had to ask. “They and them,” I say, trying to sound confident, but even I can tell I’m failing miserably.
“All right. Well, it might take some getting used to, so I want you to correct me when I mess up, okay?”

I just loved Hannah!! She was so great! And she definitely falls into the category of #SiblingGoals! Was it wrong of her to leave Ben like that? Yes, it was and Ben has every right to be angry. Was it the right thing for her to do at the time: Yes, because she needed to do it. We could judge Hanna for leaving her baby sibling in the clutches of their parents but considering what she went through it was best for her to cut the ties. There are moments in life when you have to watch out for yourself and when you’re so emotionally instable that you just can’t take care of others. So when you reach that point you need to accept the help from others and take care of yourself first before you can take care of someone else. Well, and Hannah back then was very young. She was basically a child too and was totally out of her depth. So yes, it was wrong to leave Ben but she felt like she had no other choice than to leave and I can acknowledge that even if it hurt her sibling. Well, even Ben acknowledged it but it didn’t change anything about Ben’s feelings, which is totally legitimate and okay. Still, at the end they managed to overcome their past and began a new part of their lives together and that was really nice and hopeful.

”But that was it. A phone number I couldn’t call, and an address to a place I couldn’t get to. I understand that you had to leave. That you couldn’t take it anymore, I’m not mad at you for that.” I wipe my eyes with my sleeve, and Dr. Taylor slides the box of tissues toward me. “But I was alone. I was alone and scared, and I didn’t really know what’d happened to you. You knew how bad they could get, and you just left me to fight for myself.”

Ben & their parents:

”Please.” I begged them both. “Don’t do this.”
Dad led me to the door, and Mom followed on his heels. I just kept begging and begging, but they never did anything.
“Mom! Please!”
“God doesn’t want this for you, Ben.”
I begged her not to say that, and then I started crying. But that must not have been enough. The door closed, and I wanted it to open back up.

You know, when I read that scene the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Like URGH!!! What does God have to do with this?! Why wouldn’t God love Ben for being non-binary? Like WTH?! I hate it when people justify their narrow-mindedness with religious beliefs! I am part of the LGBTQ+ community and however you call the higher power you believe in, it created us the way we are so it wanted us to be the way we are! Period. Okay, my rant is over. XD This said I really disliked Ben’s parents. A LOT! They treated being non-binary like it was an illness that needed to be cured and you don’t even want to hear what I have to say about people that tell us something must be wrong with us because we are part of the LGBTQ+ community. *lol* Ahh lots of touchy subjects here. No wonder I loathed Ben’s parents so much. What they did was really unforgivable and I can’t even comprehend how someone would throw their own kid out of their house. I’m a parent myself and I would NEVER EVER do such a thing to my kid! I love my child more than anything and I’d do everything for her! <333 So yeah, why parents would do such a thing… I’ll never understand it. *shakes head* No wonder, Ben didn’t want to go back to them and chose to live with Hannah instead.

”You’ll come home after you graduate,” Dad says, and I notice it’s more of a command than a request. „We’ll take you to the therapist we’ve been seeing, maybe he can help you work through some of the things you’ve been dealing with. And help you with this nonbinary business.”

Ben & Mariam:

I don’t know much about Mariam’s parents, but they’ve never had any problem with them being nonbinary or pansexual, so Mariam never really had to worry about hiding their sexuality or their identify from their parents.”

The friendship between Mariam and Ben was so amazing! I loved those two and their conversations and I was very thankful that Mariam was a steady part of Ben’s live. They needed someone like them and I was glad Mariam was able to ground Ben somehow. Also there need to be more Mariam’s in the world as well because people who have some influence and openly advocate for the LGBTQ+ community are still very rare. To be honest, Mariam’s parents sound like #ParentGoals to me and it was really nice to see a positive parent representation too.

”Mariam, how do you get someone to like you?”
They let out a little squeal and I have to put them on mute before Hannah or Thomas think something is wrong. “Sorry, I’ve just been waiting for this day for forever.” They pretend to wipe away a tear.
“Love the vote of confidence,” I add.

The non-binary rep:

”Such a contrast to the other nonbinary people I’ve seen online. Their smooth, hairless, acneless faces, their trimmed hair that always seems perfect. These things I could never be. Because no matter how hard I will it, my body isn’t how I want to see myself. Not that there’s anything wrong with those kinds of enby people, I just … it’s hard to describe. Bodies are fucking weird, especially when it feels like you don’t belong in your own.”

Since this was an own-voices book the non-binary rep was great and I totally understood where Ben was coming from. It’s not easy to make peace with your body, especially if you’re in between somehow. And I should know because being gender-fluid isn’t easy as well. 😉 So yeah, I think the non-binary rep was spot on and accurate. (Take this with a grain of salt though because I’m not non-binary and would never dare to speak for the people who are.) Truth be told, the only thing I had a little trouble with was the fact that Ben got offended whenever someone used the wrong pronouns. I mean it wasn’t like they were out and how were people supposed to know? Sure, it can make you feel sick to be addressed with the wrong pronouns but you can’t hold it against others if you don’t come out to them and correct them. So I kinda would have liked Ben to tell Nathan that it wasn’t his fault for misgendering them. Because honestly, it wasn’t! He couldn’t smell it, right? I personally never hold it against people if they misgender me because I feel like I can’t expect them to know. (Especially because my pronouns constantly change) But oh well, that’s just me so maybe I’m too lenient with others? I dunno. *shrugs*

”Boys aren’t supposed to wear dresses. Even if I’m not a boy, even if clothing shouldn’t be gendered. Whenever anyone looks at me, that’s all they’ll see.”

4
All told I really liked “I Wish You All the Best” and I appreciated the non-binary rep. To find a non-binary MC is really rare so I can’t thank Mason Deaver enough for this book. I loved the diversity and the fact that a lot of topics were tackled in here, not to mention that they were always addressed in a very sensitive and genuine way. This said I’m definitely looking forward to read Mason Deaver’s next book. =)

Allgemein, F - J, I, Reviews

ARC Review: If This Gets Out (Sophie Gonzales)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the eARC!

How do I even describe how it felt to read this book? When I first read the blurb of “If This Gets Out” I immediately wanted to read it, because it had all the tropes and topics I crave to read about in a book. A successful boy band that is playing the biggest venues, strong friendships, an LGBTQ+ representation, the best-friends-to-lovers trope with a forbidden love spin and a road-trip through Europe in form of the band’s tour. In short: This sounded too good to be true and I desperately wanted to read it!

Needless to say I was over the moon when I actually got an ARC! I was so ready to dive into this book, you have no idea! Of course I had very high expectations as well and I was a little worried the book wouldn’t be able to live up to them. Looking at it in retrospective, I shouldn’t have worried because this was perfect! I got everything I wanted and even more!

I adored how the close friendship between the band members was portrayed. They laughed and joked, they quarrelled and had arguments, but they were always watching out for each other as well. They were like a family and I lived and breathed for their interactions. Another aspect that was brought into the book were the relationships of the band members with their parents and I was more than just happy to read about actual parents that care about their kids and only want the best for them. Of course not all parents are alike and there was a representation of a dysfunctional parent-child relationship as well.

Truth be told, I was surprised about the sheer amount of serious topics that were addressed in “If This Gets Out”. Drug abuse, emotional abuse, power games, band/label dynamics, the pressure of being famous, band life, the dark side of the music industry and the branding of bands and their individual members that has nothing to do with the real person behind the scenes. And I didn’t even talk about Zach and Ruben’s relationship yet. Which was nothing but amazing!

I loved to see how the feelings of the two MCs slowly started to change and how their friendship grew into something more. It was really well done and I found myself smiling so often that it started to hurt. I shipped those two so hard it was almost like they were an actual couple and not just two fictional characters. Also can we talk about their awesome communication?! Sure, they both had troubles to put their feelings into words and sometimes there was some miscommunication but when push came to shove they always tried their best to talk things out. I can only imagine how hard it must be to realize you have feelings for your best friend, let alone to deal with the pressure of being famous and the fear of somebody finding out. To come out should always be up to you, no matter if you’re famous or not. So I could relate to Ruben and Zach’s struggle.

Their character arc was done so well, though, and I couldn’t help but cheer for them when they finally decided that they had enough and wanted to tackle their problems head-on. They were aware of the consequences but they knew they had to do it order to live the way they wanted to and to witness how they took control of their situation wasn’t just a sight to behold but it also had me at the edge of my seat crossing my fingers for all of them.

4

All told “If This Gets Out” was an amazing book that didn’t only live up to my high expectations but even managed to exceed them! Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich succeeded to write a great story that addresses a lot of the issues people in the music industry have to face and they did it in a sensitive and respectful manner. The romance between Zach and Ruben was everything I ever wanted and even more and the Zuben ship is definitely one of my favourite ships now. 😉

So if you’re a fan of music, if you ever shipped members of a band, if you’re a part of a fandom, if you like books that tackle serious issues, if you love the found-family trope, if you like character driven stories and enjoy great character arcs. Well, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this immensely.

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!

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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, Reviews, U - Z, Y

ARC Review: You’ve Reached Sam (Dustin Thao)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten

*I received this ARC from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read this book!*

When I got an ARC of “You’ve Reached Sam” I had a lot of mixed feelings. On the one hand I was looking forward to read this book because I was very intrigued by the concept and the idea of being able to talk to your loved one even if the person is already dead, but on the other hand I was also worried because I was pretty certain this would hit close to home. I won’t go into detail here but suffice it to say Julie and I have way more in common than I’d like to admit.

This said “You’ve Reached Sam” had the potential to be a great book and in some ways it was, but in others it unfortunately didn’t live up to my expectations. There were a lot of things I liked about this book, like for instance the realistic portrayal of the different ways to grieve. Everyone is different and therefore everyone grieves differently. There’s not just one way to grieve, there are about a million. Some people might throw away the things of their loved ones because they can’t stand to look at them, others might collect every little item that had to do with them and cherish it for the rest of their lives. Some might withdraw from the world and others will decide to live life to its fullest. Everyone is affected differently and every person tries to cope as best as they can. There’s no right way to grieve and I loved that Thao gave us multiple reps and ensured that this was addressed. It was a very realistic approach and I’m thankful for it!

Another thing I liked was that we had an Asian rep in here and that it was done nicely. It’s rare to come across Asian reps in books but Thao provided us with a couple of Asian characters and I’ll always be happy about that! =) The portrayal of the character cast’s healing process was great as well and I loved some of the metaphors that were hidden throughout the book. In many ways this was an easily readable book that kept my attention until the end.

Still, there were some things that didn’t work for me, one of them the simple fact that the storyline began one week after Sam’s death. For me this was way too early and yes, you can criticize me for this statement all you want, but I think it made the entire story less believable. A lot of the characters were already at a point you only reach after a couple of weeks or months have passed, so for me this resulted in the fact that the timing was totally off. There are seven stages of grief and Julie was already at 3 and 4 when the book began. Mind you, we’re talking one week after Sam’s death. Some people might take that at face value and it’s okay if they do, but as a person who basically went through the same thing Julie did, this felt wrong to me. A week after almost everyone is still at stage 1 and to be honest some remain at that stage for a couple of weeks or even longer. (I’m no psychiatrist, I only speak from personal experience here.)

So for me, personally, the timing was off. There were a lot of things about Julie’s behaviour I couldn’t relate to and I’m sure if some time would have passed between Sam’s death and her actions everything would have been more realistic. Maybe due to that the story didn’t hit me as hard as I thought it would. This had all the makings to cause me to cry into my tissues but instead of crying my eyes out I found myself kind of emotionally detached. I had the feeling the entire story was just touched at the surface; that we got to see the tip of the iceberg but that we never got deeper than that. Of course this could also be an “it’s me not the book thing” but I guess we’ll never know.

All told, “You’ve Reached Sam” is still a great book with a diverse character cast and a lot of different and well done grief representations. This book might not have had the impact I expected it to have, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good. Thao’s writing style isn’t only effortless but also easy to read and I’m definitely looking forward to read his next book. For a debut novel this was actually pretty good.

Allgemein, K - O, O, Reviews

Review: On the Come Up (Angie Thomas)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten,5

Book 6 on My Book List 2021

”You’re gonna face a whole lot of Longs and Tates in your life, baby. More than I’d like. But you never let their actions determine what you do. The moment you do, you’ve given them the power. You hear me?”

So I thought long and hard about what to write about “On the Come Up” and to be completely honest I’m none the wiser. I mean I liked the book and read it pretty fast, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have issues with it. I know, I know. A lot of people will be like: “WHAT?” now and I don’t blame you guys for it. I can only give you my honest opinion though and so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Let’s hope I’ll be eloquent enough to put this into words.

”This Glock, yeah, I cock it, and aim it,” I write. Wait, no, something should come before that. Aim it. Ain’t it. Frame it… Claim it.”

This said, first things first. There were a lot of things I enjoyed and one of them was Bri’s thought process and how it was portrayed. I definitely found myself in this because for someone who started to write poetry as a young teen this was very relatable. The way she came up with lines and words and then rearranged them in order to give them an impact and meaning was pretty amazing and for me it was obvious that Angie Thomas is a great lyricist as well. You can’t come up (see what I did there ;-P) with lines like these if you don’t have a feeling for the rhythm and flow of poetry.

”Jay really did leave me and Trey at our grandparent’s house. She couldn’t take care of us and her drug habit, too. That’s when I learned that when people die, they sometimes take the living with them.”

Another thing I enjoyed were the little bits of wisdom you could find throughout the entire book and of course the representation of the characters. Just like in “The Hate U Give” there were a lot of different topics that were explored. This time around the theme of police violence was only broached lightly and the focus was more on drug dealing/abuse, the perception of people, their prejudices and how they react to the characters. No matter if it was the incident with Tate and Long that bullied and picked on black kids in Bri’s school or how the Crowns reacted to Bri’s rap lines, all those moments showed that there’s still a lot of work to do.

”I bite the inside of my cheek. I could take these, but the moment I walk out of here with them, I’m fucked. We’re fucked. It means we’ve gotten to the point that we need shoes that someone decided to give away.
I don’t wanna be that person. Yet I think I am that person.”

Also the representation of being poor was very well done, too. The initial bitterness and shame people feel when they are forced to ask for help, yet they know that they have no other choice than to seek aid. If you ask me, it’s the first step in the right direction though. I’ve been working at an NGO for years now and I know this first step is always the hardest to take. To ask for help is tough, because it means you have to acknowledge the fact that you can’t solve your troubles on your own and it takes a lot of courage to admit this to yourself. I really loved Jay’s character because she did everything she could in order to give her kids what they needed. There is no shame in being poor and about 98% of the human population aren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

”So, Ms. Reporter,” I say, “and anybody else who wanna call ‘On the Come Up’ this, that, or whatever the hell else. Do it. Hell, get the song taken down if you want. But you’ll never silence me. I got too goddamn much to say.”

So this all said let’s come to the part of the book I didn’t like and that left some sort of bitter taste in my mouth. The first thing I’ve to mention is that I couldn’t really relate to Bri and her actions. I found myself agreeing with her mother and her brother and even though I know that she was angry and hurt by their situation I still think that the way she reacted only made everything even worse. Of course we can say, she’s just a teen, impulsive and doesn’t know better but quite honestly, to go at the reporter like that, to attack that guy in the studio, if she would have just thought about it for a second she would have known that all those actions would only be for her detriment. Plus even her friends, who are the same age as her, told her that it’s not okay, yet she still insisted that her way was the only way. Bri was stubborn, juvenile and completely incapable to reflect on what she did. If everyone in your family and every single one of your close friends tells you, you’re doing something wrong, well, then you might actually DO something wrong! And what truly bothered me, is that there was no character arc that would have shown she realized her mistakes.

”Promise you gon’ get outta the Garden.”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“Promise that you gon’ do whatever you gotta do to make it. Promise like it’s the last thing you’ll ever promise me.”

Quite the contrary, the entire book she fights with her friends because they try to start a movement by using the official channels and work on changing things in a sensible manner, at times she’s downright rude to her mother and to be entirely honest here, she hung out with her aunt Pooh who is a drug dealer (I know she loved her aunt but she was still a drug dealer who obviously did real shady stuff on a regular basis) and even worse she told her aunt about the gang members, knowing exactly how she would react. What did she expect? That aunt Pooh would go to them and ask them nicely? Gangs don’t do things the nice way; it always ends in blood. No one can tell me that Bri wasn’t aware of the consequences this would entail and yet she still did it. I know a lot of people will disagree on this with me but it felt that way while I read the book and this is my opinion. You don’t have to like it or to agree with it, I just want you to respect it.

”If I’m nothing else, I’m them, and they’re me.
That’s more than enough.”

4

All told this was a solid and good book! It tackled a lot of important topics and Angie Thomas did an excellent job at exploring them. She portrayed poverty, injustice and prejudices and conveyed the message that you should always make use of the power of your voice. Unfortunately for me Bri’s voice wasn’t as relatable and strong as Starr’s and I had quite some trouble to understand her actions. There happened so many things in here yet oddly enough I found myself not as emotionally engaged as I was when I read THUG. I guess we could always say it’s not the book it’s me and maybe that’s right, but maybe it’s not. 3,5 paws and a lot of mixed feelings on top.

Allgemein, P - T, R, Reviews

Review: Radio Silence (Alice Oseman)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 33 on My Book List 2019

”Hello. I hope somebody is listening.”

I think by now this quote made its way into the most epic quotes of all time and I can totally understand all the hype this book got. When I joined goodreads back in 2017 “Radio Silence” was all over my feed and people were raving about it like crazy. I had no idea what all the fuss was about but three years later and countless books in between I finally get it. XD Alice Oseman’s book is amazing, epic, brilliant and most of all it’s relatable af!

As an author it’s not easy to capture the voice of a generation but I think Oseman did it masterfully. Truth be told, it’s more than the voice of a generation, it’s the voice of many generations that all went through the same thing. Did I lose you already? What I’m trying to say is that this book is timeless because it speaks to every teenager and young adult that ever went through adolescence.

“Radio Silence” tackles the strong bonds of friendships you only seem to have as a teen, it addresses the insecurities of young adults, the urgency and intensity of emotions, it shows that our educational system is far from perfect and that good grades aren’t everything in life, it makes room for individualism and it demonstrates that parents can influence their children in the best but also in the worst way possible. It plays with the idea of the internet as a medium that can connect people all over the world but it also illustrates how easy it is to hurt people and their privacy.

Seriously, this book gives so many thought-provoking impulses it’s hard to write it all into a summary, which only seems to emphasise my earlier statement of Oseman’s skill to capture the voice of a generation. People are complex, relationships are complicated and the way to your true self is paved with plenty of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. So just another ordinary day in the life of a young adult, right? ;-P

trigger warnings: emotional parental abuse, depression (implied),  suicidal thoughts (heavily implied), online bullying, teens drinking alcohol

2

This is my spoilery spoiler section and if you haven’t already read the book: Well, pirates ye be warned! ;-P This said: Welcome to Universe City, I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time with Radio and his sidekicks!

Frances Janvier:

”Being clever was, after all, my primary source of self-esteem. I’m a very sad person, in all senses of the word, but at least I was going to get into university.”

I really liked Frances! I mean I was never as good at school as her but I kind of admire her for getting good grades while following her obsession with “Radio Silence”. It’s no small feat and I really appreciated the idea of a character that’s good at school but also has a very creative streak. =) For some reason this is pretty rare in books and I don’t know why. XD Also the distinction between “School Frances” and “Normal Frances “ was amazing and very relatable. As a teen a lot of us are insecure and act differently when they are around their friends so this was such a great way to represent that sentiment. Also now is the moment I have to mention that I want Aled’s and France’s wardrobe! *lol* Seriously, their clothes are amazing! ❤ I would have loved to get my hands on them. Haha! Anyway, back to Frances as a character! I loved her compassion and that she always tried to do the right thing and was very responsible. Plus she was a really great friend! I hope we’ll see more of her in other books but I’m not sure she’s going to be in one of the others?! Guess I’ll have to find out.

”I couldn’t quite believe how much I seriously loved Aled Last, even if it wasn’t in the ideal way that would make it socially acceptable for us to live together until we die.”

Aled Last:

”it’s honestly fine!!!! what’s up?
if you’re feeling crap it’s always better to talk about it“

I really wish Aled would have taken his own advice! I know he’s the silent, withdrawn and broody kind of type but a lot of his problems could have been tackled if he would have just talked about them. Then again his mother certainly didn’t make it easy to develop some self-esteem, let alone to talk about his problems. (I’m so angry at his mom btw!!!) I felt so, so sorry for him and I was glad Frances and Daniel were able to see the true Aled. My heart really bled for this boy and it made me so sad that his mother couldn’t see how beautiful he was! ❤ I mean he made a podcast thousands of people followed and listened to, they even made fanart of it and yet his mother had nothing better to do than to destroy every little piece of him. >_< It killed me. Really. Aled suffered so much and I wish I could have jumped right into the book and saved him! He didn’t want to go to university and he was drowning in despair, which got more and more apparent with every episode he made. Those last few episodes? It just hurt… because they were a reflection of his true life and helplessness. T_T

”Sometimes I think if nobody spoke to me, I’d never speak again.”

”I can take a little beating now and then. I’m a tough one. I’m a star. I’m steel-chested and diamond-eyed. Cyborgs live and then they break, but I’ll never break. Even when my bone dust drifts over the City walls, I’ll be living and I’ll be flying, and I will wave and laugh.”

Daniel Jun:

”We were so important to each other. We’d tell each other everything and anything. We were each other’s first everything. First and only everything. He’s – he’s an angel.”

Daniel might have appeared to be a study machine but deep down he was a really nice guy and it was pretty obvious that he cared about Aled. With his neat appearance and orderly life he’s the complete opposite of Aled, yet he still enjoyed being with his friend. Daniel was so focused on school that it wasn’t easy to see his true self but the longer I read the more I began to warm to him. XD Guess I made the same experience like Frances. 😉

Carys:

Carol raised an eyebrow. “Well, it is how it is. I’m not here to see you and, frankly, I don’t want to. I want to talk to my real child.”
“I don’t think you deserve to,” said Carys, and I could feel the inaudible gasps of everyone in the room.

Okay, I admit it: There was a moment when I wanted to punch Carys in the face! I mean if it would have been my brother suffering so much I would have run to him in a heartbeat. But then again she thought that she was the problem and that Aled would be fine. Thankfully Frances could persuade her to seek him out and the moment she realized her mother was destroying Aled she became the lioness I wanted her to be! XD I loved how she defended Aled and that she gave her mother a run for her money because quite honestly this was what I wanted her to do the entire book! I’m so glad Aled and her reconciled and I was glad Frances and Carys got a chance to talk about the night she vanished.

3

Frances & Aled:

”So why have you been talking to me then?” he said. At the exact moment he said, “I’m so unimpressive,” I said, “Because you’re cool.”
We looked at each other.
Then he laughed softly and shook his head. “This is so weird.”

Boy their relationship was one hell of a rollercoaster! When they got to know each other and started to work on “Universe City” I was so happy for them but the more Aled’s mother and the fandom of Radio interfered, the more their friendship got under attack. I really would have loved for them just to do their own thing and not to be bothered by anything but of course life had other plans. I mean it’s no wonder Aled kind of broke under the pressure. Between the constant emotional abuse of his mother and the personal attacks of the fandom it would have been hard for anyone to keep on swimming. So bless Frances for always trying to reach out to him! Heaven knows Aled’s condition and his character didn’t make it easy to get through to him, but she never gave up on him and that’s what true friends do! Even though I’ve to admit that he said quite hurtful things to her and it’s no wonder she was insecure about their friendship. Still, at the end they found together again and I was very glad they did! =)

He laughed again and hid his face under the blanket.
“Why are you so nice to me?”
“Because I’m an angel.”
“You are.” He stretched out his arm and patted me on the head. “And I’m platonically in love with you.”
“That was literally the boy-girl version of ‘no homo’, but I appreciate the sentiment.”

He wrenched his hand back. “It’s fine. She’s always like this.”
“Does she hurt you?” I said. “Tell me if she hurts you. Right now. I’m serious.”
“No. I swear she doesn’t. He waved his injured hand. “This was an accident.”
“That’s not right. She can’t just – She just – What the fuck, I mean …”

”I’m just the replacement. You’re obsessed with me. Just the same as Carys, and you’ve managed to fuck up the only thing I had, the only good thing I fucking have, just like you managed to fuck up Carys’s. D’you fancy me as well?”

”Do you want to be famous?”
“I just … want to be special.”
“You are special.”
He laughed and said, “Shut up.”

Frances & her mum:

”Don’t let him escape!” said Mum. “This could be your only chance at securing a spouse!”

I swear Frances’s mum is kick-ass! I strive to be as cool as her once my little one is in her teens! I mean that woman wore a unicorn onesie and was basically an angel! I loved that Frances could talk with her about everything and that she always listened to her daughter’s troubles. She didn’t judge and let Frances figure out things for herself and most importantly: She accepted her the way she was!!! Even when Frances told her that she didn’t want to go to university she was totally okay with it and respected her daughter’s decision! I just loved that she was so supportive! She was the total opposite of Aled’s mum and I really liked that parents weren’t just mentioned as a footnote in “Radio Silence” but actually were a part of their children’s lives! =) This is really rare in YA and I appreciated it immensely!

”I don’t think I want to go to university.”
“Oh, Frances.” She didn’t sound disappointed. “That’s okay.”
“Is it okay?” I asked, because I wasn’t sure.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s okay.”

Aled & his mum:

”She looked terrifying, in that classic white, middle-class mum sort of way. Dyed cropped hair, slightly round physique, a smile that said ‘Can I get you a cup of tea?’ and eyes that said ‘I will burn everything you love.’

I really hated this woman! So, so much! GRRR!!! She stands for everything a parent shouldn’t do and be and URGH! I just couldn’t with her! I mean who ruins their children’s life? Who takes a scissor and cuts their son’s hair even though he said he doesn’t want to cut it?! Like seriously!?? And don’t even get me started on her changing Aled’s room! That was his personal space his safe haven and she destroyed it because she thought it was too messy?! WTF?! YOU. DON’T. INVADE. YOUR. CHILD’S. PRVIVATE. SPACE. EVER.!!! You let them put up posters, you let them scribble poetry on a white board, you idk give them room to breathe and to be who they are!! You don’t destroy their home! And then the thing with Aled’s dog Brian?! WTH?! Which mother does things like that?! I’m outraged and furious about this behaviour from a person that should lover her child unconditionally! The emotional abuse this woman put her children through isn’t normal and it’s extremely appalling! She might have never raised her hand against them but the emotional scars her actions left are at least as severe as if she would have hit them. All throughout the entire book I just wanted to call the youth welfare office! >_< I can’t with this woman. I just can’t! I’m so glad Carys and Aled aren’t with her anymore. They suffered enough! And this from a woman that birthed them and should have loved them… *shakes head*

”Aled was going to cry when he saw this.
She had taken his private space – his home – and destroyed it.
She took everything he loved and ruined it.”

”But we were sitting under the streetlamps and Aled was shaking in my arms and this was real, this was happening. She was taking everything Aled had and burning it. She was burning him, slowly, until he died.”

Daniel & Aled:

”I think we were so caught up in each other that we just… missed all the heteronormative propaganda that’s thrust at you when you’re that age.”

Ahh those two were actually kinda cute! Daniel broke my heart when he spoke about their relationship with Frances though. I think for him it must have been very difficult to deal with Aled. On the one hand he was his best friend and knew him better than anyone else but on the other hand he had no idea how he truly felt about him. I could understand why Aled was insecure about outing himself as demisexual. A lot of people never heard of it and he had only just begun to figure out what this meant for him as a person. I’m sure he didn’t want to hurt Daniel and so he rather pushed him away instead of talking things out. Anyway. It made me happy that they eventually managed to speak about it and I hope that one day they’ll reach the moment when they’ll both feel comfortable enough to show the world. =)

”It was all just for us in private, like we had to protect it, because we didn’t want the rest of the world to ruin it. I don’t really know why… I guess it didn’t feel like we were in a relationship at all. Because we were best friends, first and foremost. So we never knew how we’d explain it to people.”

”I think everyone’s a bit bored with boy-girl romances anyway,” he said. “I think the world’s had enough of those, to be honest.”

The reps and diversity:

This is an Alice Oseman book so the reps and the diversity were amazing! We have Frances who’s bisexual and English/Ethiopian; then there is Aled – the second MC – who is demisexual and his best friend/boyfriend Daniel who is South Korean and gay! Rain a friend of Frances is Indian and last but not least there’s Carys – Aled’s sister – who is a lesbian. So you just gotta love the diversity in this book! Also I think Aled is showing signs of depression but it’s never really verified. (though pretty much implied!)

4

This is probably the best contemporary book I ever read and considering it’s a genre I rarely dive into this should tell you enough! Alice Oseman is a genius and the characters she created, their struggles and friendships, their hopes and dreams, their fears and doubts; they all felt real and more than just a little relatable! “Radio Silence” is the accurate voice of numerous generations, describing the one thing every one of us has to experience in order to become who we truly are: Adolescence! 😉

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Charm of Finches (Suanne Laqueur)

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Rating:5 Pfoten

”Listen and learn it, learn to tell it, and tell it to teach it.”

I think I’m just beginning to realize that no matter what I say about Suanne’s books, it will never be enough. I feel kind of unworthy to talk about her stories because they are just so, so, SO good and believe me when I say that in all the years of my existence I never read anything like them… EVER. There are books that are epic, there are stories that have wisdom, there are tales that take you to another world and narratives that make you think and feel, but there is nothing, I repeat nothing that even gets moderately close to how I feel when I read Suanne’s wonderful books.

I can try to describe them but all the words in the world won’t do them justice. Nothing I say will suffice. They are filled with so much humour, with relationships that are so real you can taste them on your tongue and feel them in your heart, they make you ache and bleed, but they also console you and hold you when you’re breaking down. They are pure joy and your darkest hour! They are all the good and bad things and all the nuances in between. They are life! In all its facets and with all its ups and downs. They feel like a living and breathing thing, like a beating heart you’re holding in your palms while you read it.

Suanne’s books are everything and even more and I can’t believe I just discovered them because quite honestly I can’t even imagine a life without them anymore. (I already dread the day when I’ll run out of them, because sooner or later I will. At least when I continue at this pace. *lol*) I love “An Exaltation of Larks” and I adore “A Charm of Finches” and if all of Suanne’s other books are that good I’ll probably die about a thousand deaths until I’ve read them all. It will be worth it though. XD

This said I decided to make this one of my long reviews because I have so many thoughts and feelings that need to be written down. I know this is going to be a huge mess with lots of emotions that will run all over the pages but it needs to get out. XD So to all of you who don’t want to be spoiled: You better stop reading now! I’ll only say one more thing before I go for the real deal: READ THIS SERIES!!! You won’t regret it, because it’s so damn good!!!! ❤

2

Warning: Don’t cross this border! There’ll be lots of emotions, even more feels and plenty of spoilers. Of course it’s up to you if you continue or not, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉

Javier Landes:

Jav exhaled heavily. “Twenty-three years I had this perfect social life. Perfect date after perfect date. I’m really becoming aware of what an act it was. What a repertory of roles I played and none of them were really me. It’s kind of put me in a mini existential crisis. I have moment s when I don’t know who the fuck I am.”

My review about “An Exaltation of Larks” was an ARC review so I was careful not to spoil anything but since I read this without the aid of NetGalley I can finally gush about Jav!!! I love this man so damn much and I think that’s mostly due to the fact that we’re very similar. Jav experienced so many things, he was hurt, he was lost, he knows loss and pain and even though my experiences might be different than his, the feelings and emotions we share are still the same. I can relate to him and there were countless moments my heart truly ached for him. It was so beautiful to see his journey, to see that he finally accepted himself and was ready to fall in love with Stef. Jav is such a compassionate and wonderful man and it was so good to see that he was finally loved back!!! I just love the way he thinks and feels and when he zoomed out writing things in his head or used his journal I was like: This is me when I write! XD I adore him for always being there when someone needs him, the way he helped Geno out even though they were kind of at odds at the time and how nervous he was! He didn’t want to screw up and this only made me love him even more. ❤ I swear, when he opened up to Stef after meeting his aunt… Oh gods!!! I cried buckets reading that scene!! Jav was hurt so badly by his family’s actions and he suppressed it for so many years. I was so glad Stef was with him and was able to catch him when he fell. >_< This man deserves all the love and I just want him to be happy for eternity!!! <333

”Why do you do it?“
„Why?“
Jav’s shy smile unfolded. “Asking people what they do is boring. Asking why they do it is so much more interesting.”

A beat of silence that felt like a gamble, then Jav said, “I know what it means. I’m on my way.”
“Jav, I’m sorry,” Geno said. “About-“
“It’s all right,” Jav said. “None of that matters tonight. Let’s just get you the hell out of there. You stay with Ed. I’m coming.”

”This is how I was born to love.
The world can call me whatever label they want. I know who I am.
I’m Stef’s.”

”Everyone just leaves,” Jav said. “I don’t get to say goodbye to anyone. I don’t get a say at all. They leave and I just sit around making up stories to explain why.”

Stef Finch:

”I didn’t choose this particular road, it kind of chose me.”

I never thought I’d love another character in “Venery” as much as I love Jav but then Stef came along and I had to revise my opinion. *lol* This man is perfect in every sense of the word! I even told Suanne as much! XD But I don’t mind because ahh he’s so great and I just adore him! I don’t know how he does his job but I’m glad there exist some Stefs in the world because they are needed! I mean he passed out after he saved a girl that wanted to kill herself and even scarred his left eyebrow when he fell. That’s a true hero right there!! Also can we appreciate his love for books?! I mean one of his first thoughts when he met Jav was ”Dude, if you don’t read, we ain’t got no future anyway.” *LOL* Of course he didn’t know that it was Jav’s book he was reading so yeah. XD There are so many things that make Stef special and his compassion, his calm nature, his way to deal with problems, they are just a few of them! =) Plus I loved how self-confident he is. Stef takes everything in stride and knows exactly who he is, which was wonderful and made him a perfect man for Jav! So at the risk of repeating myself: Stef is perfect! Period! <333

”Connect, he thought. I want to connect.
His heart closed around the thought like catching a firefly.
I’m lonely and I want to connect with someone. Mind and body. Something that means… something.”

”He was wearing a grey shirt today. It would fucking have to do. He went straight from work to the bar. No going home to shower, shave, pick a blue shirt and hang out in front of the mirror like a twink.
Dig me, dig my crappy shirt.”

”It’s all right,” Stef said. “You cry as much as you want.”
Max moaned and wept harder.
“I’m right here. I got you.”

”Sometimes,” Stef said slowly. “I come home with part of a case sticking to me, and I don’t want anyone or anything. I don’t want to be touched until I deal with it. But other times, the only way I can deal with it is being touched. Sometimes I can only shake off the echo of a sexual abuse story by making love.”

Geno:

Someone has to be in charge. I am Mos, rhymes with dos, and I’m in command here. I have the strength of two now.”

Geno’s story moved me so much I can’t even put it into words. This boy went through something no one should ever go through and even though it broke him, he came out of it stronger in the end. I don’t know how he did it but I agree with Stef: ”they didn’t get the best of him”.  I’m not going to sugar coat it: The first 10% of this book were so damn hard to read, because we get a good glimpse at Geno’s ordeal and it was tough to read. Rape is horrible and for Geno… it was pure torture. What those men did to him, what he had to endure… I can’t even imagine what this must have done to him. There is this 17 year old innocent boy and they raped him until he almost died. T_T And believe me when I say that I want them all to rot in hell for it! To hurt a young boy like that! It’s unforgivable! Geno suffered so much! This poor boy! His twin died and he had to live with the aftermath, with knowing that his own brother brought him to them. I could understand why Mos came into being, why it was better to let it happen to someone else. >_< Carlito’s death, his own ordeal, the death of his father… gods it was just too much for him to endure. I have no idea how Geno managed to survive but he did it, he fought, he clawed his way back into life and he’s one of those characters that will stay with me forever. Whatever he’s doing now, I hope he’s happy! And that he’s still friends with Micah, because their friendship was everything. Two different generations that survived ordeals no one should ever have to survive and they still made the best of it. When they hugged and Geno cried in his arms I was crying with them. T_T

”All of it still hurt so much.
Lying in the dark, a soft, sleeping girl in his inked arms, he blinked through irritated tears and feared it would always hurt.”

”I’m all alone here.
He stood again, his view free of the bars but still feeling just as caged.
I want to go home.
I want all this to be happening to someone else. Why can’t this be someone else?“

Micah rocked him, a hand stroking Geno’s head. Inked numbers in his dusty skin. Strong arms and a stronger heart.
“Hijo querido,” he said. “You and I know what it’s really about.”

3

Jav & Stef:

„Hey there, handsome.“
Stef looked back.
Hey there, indeed.
A guy was at the top of the gallery’s stairs. Tall and built in jeans and a black blazer. Taking off aviator shades to show his face.
Whoa.“

There is so much I want to say about those two men and I’m really afraid it will become an essay! lol* BUT oh boy!!! They were so great together!!! After everything Jav went through it was so good to see him in such a solid and healthy relationship! It was a great contrast to the heavy parts of Geno’s story and Suanne managed to find a balance which is searching for its match. (Suanne, did I ever tell you that I love you? No? Well, I do! ;-P) I loved to see their first meeting from Stef’s POV and haha his reaction to seeing Jav for the very first time was priceless! ❤ They were so truly and madly in love it was overwhelming and made me giggle like crazy. I loved how they got to know each other, how they accepted each other’s boundaries and talked things out! Yes, they spoke about their problems and fears and it was AMAZING!!! They were so attuned to each other they noticed the smallest gestures of discomfort from a mile away. XD And their conversation about how being bi feels for them! It felt so true and real that I found myself speaking to the pages saying: Yes!! Yes, that’s it! They were each other’s safe haven and whenever the sea got unsteady and tempestuous they could rely on each other. ❤ That moment Jav broke down in Stef’s arms?! Ahh it hurt so much but I was so happy he was with him guiding him through the rough sea! Those two men! I can’t get enough of them and I’ll make sure to read all the accompanying stories I can find. I need more of their happiness! So, so much more! XD

”Crying out loud, Landes, what?” he said.
“What?”
Stef’s smile broke apart laughing. “Stop looking at me.”
“No puedo dejar de mirarte,” Jav said, tackling him. Because he was a fucking hot mess and couldn’t keep his hands off the guy.

”The attraction is tougher?” Jav said. “More tenacious?”
“Yes,” Stef said, his voice rising. “Tenacious. Exactly. It can take my weight. I can push on it hard, be rougher with it. It’s not a connection I overlap or fall into. It’s something I lean on. Hard.”

”I like you so fucking much,” Stef said. He’d never in his life said such a thing to a man.
“I like you, too,” Jav said, as if the words were bubbles on his tongue.”

”When Stef locked arms around Jav’s waist at the stove and leaned on him, Jav had to stop cooking and taste the moment. Close his eyes and hold it tight, unable to remember the last time he felt this content. This complete.“

”The last chapter.”
Stef blinked. “You lost me.”
“You’re the last chapter,” Jav said. “I went from the prologue to you. I skipped everything in the middle and now I’m in love with you and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”
A rush as everything in Stef’s body dilated, returned to normal levels, and then rose up. “Jesus Christ, Jav,” he said, rubbing his face. “I swear, I’m going to kill you or fuck you. Pick one.”

”You didn’t know I’d end up fucking for a living. Making me waste twenty years of my life when I could’ve been something to somebody…”
Then he was crying.
Stef pulled him in tight and stood still against the storm, his hand running in slow circles between Jav’s trembling shoulders. “You’re something to me,” he said. “You’re everything to me.“

”Mm.” Jav fitted his thumbnail into the scar across Stef’s eyebrow. “Man, I don’t know how you do what you do.”
“I don’t know how you write books.”
“I make up bullshit. Your work is so much more important. You know how men make love with each other and you know how men make war on each other.”

Stef, Jav & Geno:

”They got him.”
“It’s over.” Geno slid off the couch, onto the floor and into Stef’s arms. “It’s over.”
Stef caught him up tight, a hand on Geno’s head. “They got him,” he said, rocking their bodies side to side.

Now the three of them certainly had an interesting dynamic. Especially because Stef had a professional relationship with Geno and Jav’s relationship with him was rather a friendship. And once again I’ve to praise the fine nuances of Suanne’s stories. Their relationships to each other were so palpable and they felt real and true. I loved that Stef got all protective of Jav when he discovered that Geno had read his journal and therefore his personal thoughts but I also loved them both for still being there for Geno even though he violated Jav’s privacy. I always knew that Geno finding out about Jav and Stef’s relationship would end badly, but after everything he went through it was no surprise. Still, I’m glad they managed to sort things out in the end and I’m so happy Geno has those two as his friends now. Stef being there for him as his therapist was so important but I think Jav being his friend was at least as vital for his healing process as Stef’s therapy. ❤ You need friends in your life and with Jav and Stef at his side Geno kind of won the friendship lottery. =) True friendships between men! I think the bookish world needs more of them.

”I’m on guard, little brother.
You fought hard and brave. Rest your heart now. Don’t be afraid.
I’m here.
They’ll have to come through me to get to you this time.”

”Geno took a long swig of ice water and asked Jav, “Do you believe everything happens for a reason?”
“I do,” Jav said. “But not everyone gets the privilege of liking the reason. Of feeling the reason was worth the ordeal or the experience.”

Jav & Ari:

”Oh my god, T, are you crying?” Ari said. He called Jav T, for Tio. Spanish for uncle.
“Shut up.”
“Come on, I bet you have an absolute surplus of toilet paper now.”
“This is true. One box of cereal lasts forever and I only have to buy a half-gallon of milk.”
“See? You don’t miss me at all.”
“You’re right. Glad to have you out of my hair. Don’t ever come back.”

I still adore this uncle-nephew duo! =) Jav and Ari’s relationship was one of the best things about “Larks” and it continued to be amazing in “Finches”. They might have found each other under difficult circumstances but they made the best of it and formed a bond that will connect them forever. Also can we acknowledge how supportive Ari is?! That boy is still so young but he already knows what’s important in life! Their conversations were once again some of the best in the book and I had to laugh so hard when Ari told Jav that he shouldn’t have sex in front of his dog. *LOL* Poor Roman! I’m sure he appreciates Ari’s concern. ;-P

”I hope you find someone,” Ari said. “You deserve it. Male or female, it’s about fucking time you had someone you can be yourself with.”
“Thanks.”

Jav & Gloria:

”When Jav lost Flip, he found in Gloria the one person who loved him unconditionally. The woman who had taken him in when his own people cast him out. He went to court and legally changed his surname to Landes. He would never think of her as his mother. He chose her name because it was the thing he respected most in the world.”

As you can see my relationships and ship section is huge this time around and the reason for it is that Suanne writes them like no other! I mean for instance Jav and Gloria!! Gloria was probably the only person that cared about him when he was alone and lost and even though to help him to become an escort might have been kind of harmful for Jav on the long run it was still something he enjoyed to do when he was younger. Gloria guided and comforted him. She provided a safe haven and helped him to help himself so for that alone she deserves respect. Plus she’s his voice of reason and a very wise woman. I love that they still have contact and that she’s the first person he comes to when his heart is troubled. ❤

”You’re right. As usual.”
“Often wrong, never in doubt.”
“Which is why I love you.”

”Love doesn’t always play nice. Love plays games you haven’t had to deal with before. Love is going to serve up a buffet of emotions you neatly avoided for decades.”

Alex, Jav & The Larks:

”And if you met someone, and it feels easy and you’re waiting for the axe or the shoe or the whatever to drop, it’s because you think you don’t deserve easy. What did I tell you about that?”
“Yeah, I know,” Jav said, exhaling.
“Say it.”
“I’m worth more and I deserve it.”
“Damn right you do.”

Ahh the tension between Alex and Jav is still tangible. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll ever get over it or if it will be one of those relationships that will always have that special spark. Sometimes you meet people that draw you in and no matter how much you try to get some distance between you, it’s bound to fail. You’re drawn like a moth to the flame or like a moon that’s pulled into the orbit of a planet. So you either find a way to live with that involuntary attraction or you don’t and put some distance between you. And let me tell you this as someone who’s tried to live with it, it’s tough!!! I managed to do it for a few years but then the contact broke because it was just too much to handle. For both of us. >_< So I can’t help but wonder how the relationship between Jav and Alex is going to develop. Still, despite all the things that are going on between them and Val basically watching them like a hawk they are a family and support each other. Which is truly amazing! Val definitely has all my respect for forgiving Alex and Jav and for trying to give them space. This woman is a saint!!! Period!

”Well, maybe I’ll meet them someday.”
Jav smiled at the safe, gender-neutral pronoun. “Maybe you will,” he said. “If I don’t fuck this up.”
“Oh my God,” Alex said. “You’re still the same idiot.”
“The only one allowed in the room,” Jav said, laughing.

”Let go now,” Alex said, slapping Jav’s back, then his ass. “Or I won’t.”

Jav hugged them both. “Thanks for coming.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Alex said.
“We’re your family, dumbass,” Val said. “We’d do anything.”

Stav & Stef:

”Is this the guy you called me about the other day?”
“Yes.”
“Dude, does he have a brother? Named Rav?”
“No.”
“Where did he come from?”
“The fucking sky.”

Haha! I LOVED this sibling relationship!! Stav and Stef were so much fun to read about and they reminded me of my sister and me. I swear, we have conversations like the one above too and I love spending time with her and to be silly. We do that frequently and have been told that we’re like a comedy show when we’re together. (I swear sometimes it’s like people get their popcorn to watch us. Well, my brother-in-law actually did but that’s another story for another day. *lol*) So yes, I adored this sibling rep and could relate to it! Stav and Stef are two amazing people and even though Stav went through a lot of heavy shit she’s still a very optimistic and funny character! Which is remarkable! The world definitely needs more Stavs too! =))

4

“A Charm of Finches” was INCREDIBLE and I just couldn’t get enough of it. The many thoughts, ideas and feelings that went into this, the way Suanne managed to put this on paper! How she writes life the way it is and creates characters that feel like real people! (For me they actually are!) The heavy topics she’s addressing! With so much respect and care. I’m in awe of Suanne Laqueur’s mind and writing style and I’ll never get tired of advertising her books! Seriously, more people need to read her books because they are so, so, so GOOD! All the stars! All the stars, por siempre jamás!

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Foxhole Court (Nora Sakavic)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 15 on My Book List 2020

„Easy, easy.” Andrew lifted his hands in a careless shrug. “Why bother? It’s a cruel world, right Neil? You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.”
“It’s not the world that’s cruel,” Neil said. “It’s the people in it.“

trigger warnings:drug abuse, a character being drugged against his will, physical child abuse, violence, emotional abuse, bullying, dysfunctional relationships, sexual assault

I don’t know why I waited three freaking years to read this, but I could really kick myself for procrastinating so long! Then again maybe it’s good I waited so long because I’m pretty sure my younger self would have gobbled this book down like nobody’s business and then would have regretted not giving it the attention it deserves! *lol*

So yes, I’m three years wiser now and even though I learned to savour books I still had a really tough time trying not to rush through this, because people! THIS IS SO GOOD!!!!  Yes, I know, I know! It’s no Shakespear or Wilde, but even though there isn’t a lot of plot or background to go with this fictional world there is something it definitely has going for itself! Its amazing characters and Exy!!! And boy did I love both! XD It’s been a long time I got so consumed by a book and I think it’s mostly due to the super intriguing characters.

“The Foxhole Court” is nothing but character driven and ahh do I love books like that! *lol* I mean if you’re looking for logic or sophisticated words this most definitely isn’t the right book for you, but if you decide to leave your logic at the front door and dive into this without overthinking it too much instead: Well, then you’re in for a real treat! I guess to some degree you should actually read this book like it’s a game. Enjoy the rush of the moment, follow your instincts, trust your heart and thoroughly ignore the voice at the back of your mind.  ;-P If you follow those instructions you might be able to enjoy it as much as I did. *lol*

And since I can’t wait to gush about all those lovely characters I’ll call it a day now and just jump into my character’s section instead! XD

2

You are now a student at Palmetto State University, so tread carefully and don’t enter the Foxes dorms. If you don’t head this well-intentioned advice you’ll be confronted with a bunch of spoilers that might ruin the fun for you! Coach Wymack says: Don’t say I didn’t warn you! ;-P

Neil Josten:

”This was the only thing he had left that was real. Now that he’d had a taste of it again, he didn’t know how to walk away from it.”

I swear Neil Josten is a precious baby bean and everyone who wants to hurt him will have to go through me first! <333 I mean it! This boy is so sweet and innocent and this even though so many horrible things happened to him. He needs to be protected at all costs and I’m ready to defend him with my life! I love Neil so, so much and I hated that he was so down and broken at the beginning of the book. I mean that boy didn’t even have any hope and then the Foxes found him and BAM his life took a 180 degree spin and never stopped moving ever since. Also his character development was amazing! At first he’s so very careful and guarded, he’s so afraid of taking a wrong step that he doesn’t even allow himself to breath. Well, and then he joins the Foxes and his true character gets a chance to come out. And boy, did I love the boy he hid inside!! Neil can be so sassy and vigorous! I had no idea! ❤ I want more of this Neil and to be entirely honest I can’t wait to pick up the next book! 😉 My kicked puppy is turning into a true lion  fox and I need that new Neil like I need air to breath! XD

”Keys meant Neil had explicit permission to be here and do what he liked. They meant he belonged.”

”Neil stepped over it and went to stand in front of Wymack: within arm’s reach but just barely. He’d perfected that trick as a kid. He could look at anyone’s arms and judge the safe distance from them in a heartbeat. If they had to move to hit him, he had enough time to dodge. Either way he wouldn’t catch the full intended force of their blow.”

Riko’s smile could have frozen hell. „I am not scared of Kevin. I know him.“
„You’re going to eat those words,“ Neil said. „You’re going to choke on them.“

Andrew Minyard:

”Oh,” Andrew said. “Oh, you might actually turn out to be interesting. For a little while, at least. I don’t think the amusement will last. It never does.”

I know about half of the people who will read this will be like WTH?! But I’ll still say it anyway: I LOVE AND ADORE ANDREW MINYARD THAT LITTLE SHIT!!!! *lol* Yes, his character is problematic and shady af but I don’t care! XD That controlling, bitchy and crazy bastard won over my heart the moment he appeared on page and even though I hated that he drugged Neil I still kind of get why he did it?! Most people will say he’s a psycho and even though that might be true, he’s still a psycho with a big heart. Andrew loves his family and he would do anything for them! Yes, he’d even go to the length of drugging a person he sees as a threat just to make sure that she/he isn’t. Andrew is fiercely protective of the people he loves and cares about and I can relate to that. So you might say I understand the person that’s hidden behind all those carefully crafted layers of craziness. His character is very intriguing and I’m sure there is so much more to him than initially meets the eye. Is it totally illogical and unrealistic that a person that’s so small (5ft, we’re talking 5ft here, people) is as intimidating and dangerous as Andrew? Yes, but it’s fun nevertheless and we all know that even the smallest person can pack a punch. ;-P I want more of him. Period!!! ❤

”Let Andrew give you things if he wants to. He’s not normally the gifting type, so it’s kind of fun.”

„Oh, he made it,“ Andrew said. „That’s interesting.“
He pressed two fingers to Neil’s throat,checking his pulse. When Neil tried to bat him away, Andrew caught his wrist with his free hand. His smile was small and fierce as he leaned forward into Neil’s space.
„Remember this feeling. This is the moment you stop being the rabbit.“

Coach Wymack:

”Did you think I made the team the way it is because I thought it would be a good publicity stunt? It’s about second chances, Neil. Second, third, fourth, whatever, as long as you get at least one more than what anyone else wanted to give you.”

I really liked Coach Wymack because even though his players don’t seem to see it, it’s obvious that he has a big heart! This man cares for his team and he’s providing them with a safe environment to spread their wings. Something tells me that someone gave him a second, third or even fourth chance when he was younger and that he’s trying to do the same for the members of his team. I hope we’ll find out more about his past in the other books and I’m definitely ready to dive into his background story. =) Coach Wymack is the best!

Kevin Day:

”Tetsuji took Kevin in and took over his training, but he also gave Kevin to Riko – literally. Kevin isn’t human to them. He’s a project. He’s a pet, and it’s Riko’s name on his leash. The fact he ran away is a miracle. If Tetsuji called tomorrow and told him to come home, Keven would. He knows what Tetsuji would do to him if he refused. He’d be too afraid to say no.”

I’m going to be honest here: Kevin is still an enigma to me and even though he’s an integral part of the story because of his connection to Neil I still didn’t get a feel for his character. If you ask me that’s mostly due to the fact that he rarely talks and that he lives in his own world. Exy is everything for him and everything else that’s around him isn’t important if it doesn’t have to do with the sport. *lol* So yep, all I know is that Exy is Kevin’s life and that he was raised as Riko’s peronal toy. Maybe that’s even the reason why his character is so bland. He never got a chance to do what HE wanted to do and therefore never was able to develop his own character. Guess I’ll have to continue with the series to see some of his true self. 😉

”If you won’t play with me, you’ll play for me,” Kevin said. “You’re never going to get there on your own, so give your game to me.”

Riko Moriyama:

Riko jerked back a bit in surprise, started to school his expression into something more civil, and gave up when he realized who had joined them.
„We were just talking about you,“ Riko said.
„With your fists, it seems,“ Andrew said. „Don’t touch my things, Riko, I don’t share.“

Now here’s a character I instantly disliked! XD Riko is so smug and full of himself that I just wanted to punch him in his face! Thankfully Neil already did that for me. Verbally but still! *lol* I can’t believe Kevin was raised with Riko and I feel very sorry for him. To be in the shadow of such a guy must have hurt and the fact that he broke his hand… *shakes head* Some part of me really hopes that Riko will be put in his place and I’m about a 100% sure we’ll say way more of him in those other books than we actually want to. >_<

3

Neil & Andrew:

„Your loose ends aren’t adding up.“
„I’m not a math problem.“
„But I’ll still solve you.“

THOSE TWO!!!! I SHIP THEM SO HARD AND I SHIP THEM LIKE THERE’LL BE NO TOMORROW!! *lol* I mean honestly!! Their chemistry! The way they interact, all those little subtle nuances in their conversations, those seemingly insignificant and infinitesimal touches. I saw it between Ronan and Adam and I’m seeing it here!!! This ship is going to sail and BURNNN BRIGHT!!! And I’m so here to see it! <333 Also I kind of love how Andrew always seems to be pulled towards Neil when he’s in his orbit!! Did anyone realize how often he’s leaning closer to him because I certainly did!!! I want those two to give into their feelings … badly… very badly! *lol* And I hope that Andrew will let Neil in as much as Neil let him in. I mean at the end of the book he basically entrusted him with his life and I want … no actually I NEED Andrew to open up to Neil! Gosh I just need more of them and I’m beginning to realize that I’m total Neil & Andrew trash! *LOL*

Neil tensed as Andrew’s fingers wrapped around the back of his neck, but Andrew only wanted to pull Neil’s head down. Neil focused on Andrew’s cheekbone so as not to go cross-eyed and let Andrew study his eyes.
“Another bit of unexpected honesty,” Andrew said. “Any particular reason?”
“Nicky asked nicely. You might try it sometime.”
“We already talked about this. I don’t ask.” Andrew gave Neil another slow once-over and let go.

”What would it take to make you stay?”
The question was so unexpected Neil had to turn back. “What?”
Andrew laughed quietly at his shock and leaned forward. “Name it and it’s yours. It doesn’t matter what it is so long as you stand your ground here with us.”
“I can’t.”
“You can. You have everything you need to survive. You’re just too afraid to see it.“

”He knows what it’s like to hate every day of his life, to wake up afraid every day, but he’s got you at his back telling him everything’s going to be okay. He has everything, even when he’s lost everything, and I’m – “ Neil didn’t want to say it, but the word was already there, broken and pathetic between them, “nothing. I’ll always have and be nothing.”
Andrew reached up and forcibly uncurled Neil’s fingers from his mouth. He pushed Neil’s hand out of the way and stared Neil down with nothing between them. Neil didn’t understand the look on his face. There was no censure over Neil’s crooked parents or pity for their deaths, no triumph over having backed Neil into admitting so much, and no obvious skepticism for such an outlandish story. Whatever this look was, it was dark and intense enough to swallow Neil whole.

”A group of people shouldered their way up to the bar counter at Neil’s back, pushing him into Andrew. Andrew didn’t budge beneath his weight. He was something solid to lean against, something violent and fierce and unmoving. Neil couldn’t remember what it felt like to have someone hold him up. It was terrifying and liberating all at once. His life was out of his control now; he was giving it to Andrew and hoping Andrew would keep it safe.”

Kevin & Andrew:

”Help me,” Kevin said, almost a whisper.
Andrew clucked his tongue and cocked his head to one side. “Help you? Help a man who lies to my face for a month? How?”
“I want to stay,” Kevin said. “I’ll ask you again: don’t let him take me away.”
“You’re the one who would tell him yes,” Andrew said. “Maybe you forgot.”

Those two have such an intriguing dynamic! I really don’t know what’s going on between them and why Kevin trusts Andrew so much but I’m more than just ready to solve that mystery! Also I hope one day it will be explained why everyone has so much respect of Andrew. Even Riko has respect and considering he’s the baddie of the story this is interesting! What did Andrew do??!! And what exactly is his deal with Kevin?! Because they definitely made some sort of deal, I just have no idea what it might entail. I need answers. XD

Neil & Riko:

”I will ask you only once to tone down that animosity.”
“I can’t,” Neil said. “I have a bit of an attitude problem.”
Riko’s smile was all ice. “A bit?”

And here comes my favourite part of the entire book! I LOVED how Neil put Riko into his place during the TV interview!!! GOSH! That scene was EVERYTHING and if that’s Neil’s true self I’m really desperate to see more of him! ❤ I swear Neil giving Riko a run for his money is my new aesthetic! *lol* I, for my part, wouldn’t mind to read more about Neil’s “attitude problem”, yet at the same time I’m kind of afraid what Riko will do. He won’t accept this and some part of me is worried that he’ll hurt my precious baby bean. >_< Ahh! I really need to read book two!

4

I never expected to love this so much but right from the very first sentence this world drew me in, locked the door and threw the key away. In short: I’ve been a goner the moment I started to read this and I’m afraid my addiction will only get even worse. XD Yes, this sometimes reads like fan fiction and yes, the mental health rep in this is more than just a little sketchy (if not completely unrealistic, weird and – I’m no expert – wrong) but as I already pointed out earlier in my review: 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!? O_o On to the next one! *lol*

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, S

Review: Sadie (Courtney Summers)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten
 

”For some people, the future ahead is opportunity. For others, it’s only time you haven’t met and where I lived, it was only time. You don’t waste your breath trying to protect it. You just try to survive it until one day, you don’t.”

My first reaction when I finished this book was:

THIS BOOK WILL HAUNT ME FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

And I still stand by my initial response. Never in my entire life have I read a book that haunts me as much as “Sadie” does and quite honestly: I hope I’ll never ever read another book like it ever again. >_<  This book was so tough to read and whenever I picked it up I found myself taking a deep breath before I could dive back in. I had to prepare for this story because it’s such a heavy one and believe me when I say that I barely made it through the entire book.

Not because it wasn’t good, but because it felt like I’d choke on my own feelings whenever I read it. As a loving parent “Sadie” was exceptionally hard to digest and it’s eerie and haunting atmosphere only made it even harder to continue. I’m going to be honest here: I hated almost all of the adults in this book because they JUST DIDN’T CARE!!! Who lets a young 19 year old girl run around in the world without any guidance? So many people crossed Sadie’s path but almost none of them tried to help her and even less tried to convince her to stay, let alone to get some sort of aid.

”I can’t undo everything that’s already been done. How do you forgive the people who are supposed to protect you? Sometimes I don’t know what I miss more: everything I ‘ve lost or everything I never had.”

I for my part can’t forgive the people who were supposed to protect Mattie and Sadie. They all failed and none of them, none of them was there for those two girls when they needed it the most. Yes, May Beth tried and true, West McCray did his best to find Sadie but the rest of them? Caddy, Silas, Marlee, Ellis, Clair Southern (Sadie’s and Mattie’s mother I may add!!) they were all horrible adults and I really hope that karma will bite them in their asses.  XD Sure, some of them might have been overtaxed with their own lives and troubles, but they all had a chance to do what’s right and none of them went for it. >_< When given the choice they always chose themselves.

”I forget that at times, I was a kid, that I did kid things. That I read about the girls I dreamed of being.”

And because of actions like that, because of their neglect, Mattie died and Sadie went on a journey to revenge her sister’s murder. She left everything she ever knew behind because she was determined to kill the man who murdered the only person that meant the world to her. Sadie isn’t on a quest, she’s on a mission and it’s to find the bastard who killed her sister and to put him six feet under, no matter the consequences, no matter the cost. It’s a road trip of sorts, and Sadie is driven by anger and revenge. By a sheer insatiable hunger to get rid of the one thing that destroyed her entire world; to stop him from doing the same to others. To end him before he ends anyone else.

”In Mattie, Sadie found a sense of purpose, a place to put her love. But love is complicated, it’s messy. It can inspire selflessness, selfishness, our greatest accomplishments and our hardest mistakes. It brings us together and it can just as easily drive us apart.

It can drive us.”

I was with Sadie every step of the way. I suffered with her, I bled with her, I hurt with her, I despaired and cried with her, and I felt her profound and all-consuming grief! I felt what Sadie felt and I admired her resilience. This girl! This girl is one of the bravest I ever read about. The guilt that consumed her, the conviction that she could have done something, anything to save her sister’s life… Gods, at times it was so overwhelming the ink spilled from the pages and punctured my heart. T_T

„Thirteen, Mattie.
I kept you alive for thirteen years.
Waking her up in the morning, making her meals, walking her to the school bus, waiting for her at its stop when the day was over, grinding my bones to dust just to keep us holding on and when I lay it out like that, I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know where, underneath it all, you’d find my body. And I don’t care. I’d do it all again and again for eternity if I had to.
I don’t know why that’s not enough to bring her back.“

Sadie wasn’t just Mattie’s sister, she was her friend, her partner in crime and most of all… she was her mother. The love she felt for her sister, it was the purest thing and it was taken away from her. Violently and brutally. It’s no wonder Sadie harbours vengeful thoughts. Every mile hurt, every second was painful and with every city she leaves the inevitable pinnacle draws closer. And all the time West and May Beth are retracing and following her steps, trying to find a girl that is close to come unglued. At the risk of repeating myself: It’s haunting, it’s eerie, it’s urgent and it’s insistent in its intensity.

„I’m going to kill a man.
I’m going to steal the light from his eyes. I want to watch it go out. You aren’t supposed to answer violence with more violence but sometimes I think violence is the only answer. It’s no less than he did to Mattie, so it’s no less than he deserves.“

I’m still not over “Sadie” and I get the feeling I’ll never be. This book was unlike anything I ever read and its vehemence will stick with me for years to come. As will one of the first sentences of this book:

”I can’t take another dead girl.”

Neither can I. >_<

trigger warningsmurder, paedophilia, sexual abuse, child abuse, violence, addiction & drug abuse, parental negligence, assault