Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: Tweet Cute (Emma Lord)

45045129

Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 38 on My Book List 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Gravity of Us (Phil Stamper)

48731486

Rating: 3 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

12532265

Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amir:

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

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

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

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

Hassan:

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

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

Baba:

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

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

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

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

Sohrab:

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

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

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

4
I hated the book! I loved the book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

”For you, a thousand times over.”

Allgemein, F, F - J, Reviews

Review: Felix Ever After (Kacen Callender)

55811021. sy475

Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

Book 14 on My Book List 2021

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

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

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

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

2

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

Felix:

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

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

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

Ezra:

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

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

Declan:

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

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

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

grandequeen69:

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

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

Marisol:

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

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

3

Felix & Declan:

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

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

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

Felix & Ezra:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Felix & his father:

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

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

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

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

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

The transgender rep:

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

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

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

Finding your identity rep:

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

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

31625039. sy475

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)

41473872

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!

2
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)

56347574. sy475

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)

49679656. sy475

Rating: 5 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

Stan:

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

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

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

Ben:

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

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

Tone:

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

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

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

3
Stan & Ben:

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

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

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

Stan & Tone:

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

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

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

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

The gender-fluid rep:

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

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

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

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

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

The anorexia rep:

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

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

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

Allgemein, Reviews, U - Z, Y

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

56347596. sy475

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)

35887567. sy475

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.