Allgemein, K - O, O, Reviews

Review: One Last Stop (Casey McQuiston)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

Book 26 on My Book List 2021

”Does it ever, like … I don’t know. Make you lonely? To love somebody who can’t meet you there?”
She regrets it immediately, but Annie laughs.
“Sometimes. But, you know, that feeling? When you wake up in the morning and you have somebody to think about? Somewhere for hope to go? It’s good. Even when it’s bad, it’s good.”

Let me get this off my chest before I dive right into my review: I really loved this book! There were so many good topics in here and the found family trope was so strong it made my heart feel full! ❤ Funnily enough despite all that, I didn’t write down all too many quotes and I can’t say a lot about the individual characters. When I read RWARB I had so many quotes and wrote such a long review but when I read “One Last Stop” I didn’t feel like marking all too many passages? I think this is mostly due to the fact that RWARB was a very political book (I mean with a relationship between the son of the president of the USA and the English prince it kinda has to be, right?!) and therefore tackled a lot of important topics. Not that “One Last Stop” didn’t do this too. It was just more subtle and woven into the story so effortlessly that you had to pay attention to actually see the fine nuances. Also this story was definitely more focused on the mystery of Jane’s former life and how she ended up on the train than it was on taking a political stance on important themes.

”I wasn’t a builder. I wasn’t a leader. I was a fighter. I cooked people dinner. I took them to hospital. I stitched them up. But I only stayed long enough to take the good, and I always left when the bad got bad.”

I think this quote just about sums it up! As a lesbian Jane was a part of historical change and basically lived and breathed LGBTQIA+ history before she got stuck on the Q line. This is part of her and her life but it wasn’t the main topic of the book and the question of how exactly Jane landed in a time loop on the train was definitely the focus of the story. This made the book very enjoyable to read and it was easy to page through it and to get carried away by the current of the tale. If you ask me this was actually some sort of mystery with a romance element because even though this book is about August’s and Jane’s love story it’s also about solving Jane’s dilemma of being stuck.

”August’s mom saved one tupperware tub of files on her brother and not a single one of August’s baby pictures.”

Of course there are other plotlines as well and August’s relationship with her mum was one of them. It made me really sad to read about the effect her missing uncle had on their lives and the portrayal of people who never get closure was very realistic. If someone goes missing you can’t say goodbye because you always hold on to the hope that the person is still living so while I understand August’s mum, I still couldn’t help but feel sorry for August. The impact on her life was extreme and it’s no surprise her and her mum didn’t have a good relationship.

The top of Wes’s head pops up from under the table, along with one accusatory finger.
“Nobody asked the fucking Long Island Medium.”
Niko smiles. “Lucky guess. My third eye is closed tonight, baby. but thanks for confirming.”
Wes gapes at him. “I hate you.”

Thankfully August moved in with a bunch of adorably crazy people and I loved them ALL! I swear the found family in this was amazing and I really would have loved to be a part of their group too. Alone their conversations had me cracking up so much and the dynamics between them were chefs kiss. *lol* Niko and Wes were so hilarious and Myla was just precious! I think of all of Augusts friends Niko was my favourite. I loved his humour and the fact that he was such an all knowing medium. XD Niko is also a transgender boy and it really made me happy how unproblematic this revelation was. It was so, so nice to see that brief interaction between him and August. It was a quiet and gentle scene and done so well.

And now comes the topic no one ever seems to talk about when they are talking about “One Last Stop”: The awesome drag queen rep! I mean the queens and their community are a constant part of the entire book and yet I’ve never heard anyone talk about the rep! Not only is there something going on between Wes and Isaiah (aka Annie Depressant) but they play such an important role in the plot as well! I absolutely adored finding out about all the different queens and their performances and how they lived off-stage. They were all Queens and I loved each and every single one of them so much! <333 I kinda loved how McQuiston didn’t only tackle different LGBTQIA+ reps but also let us know about their history and just embedded it into the story. This is great storytelling right there! 😉

”Before August can get the threat out, Jane twists her around, backing her into the doors of the train. She pins August at the hips, shoulders braced against hers, hand wrapped around her racing pulse at the wrist, and August can feel Jane like lightning in her veins.”

And now to the part you probably waited for: The romance between August and Jane! First of all, I loved Jane and I can’t blame August for falling for this girl! I mean Jane is the full package! She’s kind, she’s funny and cheeky, she is bubbly and so many other things, plus I could relate to her. That scene when she danced in the train… could have been me. Honestly. *lol* And secondly, I was such a sucker for the f/f rep! Finally a realistic rep between two women! Usually f/f relationships in books feel wooden or sterile to me but this one was amazing! You could feel their love and longing and I gobbled it up like nobody’s business. XD So thank you Casey McQuiston for gifting us with this awesome representation! Finally an author who knows how to write f/f relationships. ❤

”I look at you, and it feels like I’m realer than I’ve ever been, from right here.” She covers August’s hand with hers. “So big it burns. God, August, it’s beautiful, but it hurts so bad.” And, damningly, “You’re the reason I feel like this.”

Still, I feel like I need to warn you about the PDA in this book because some people might not be okay with it. I mean the book plays on a subway train because Jane is bound to it and it’s a romance so it’s pretty obvious that the MCs are spending all their time together in public. I know some readers might be sensitive to content like this so I decided to mention it in my review as well. For me, personally, it worked. I mean yes, they are kissing and touching and one scene was a little bit too intense for my taste (at least when it’s done like that in public) but the other occupants of the train never seem to notice or care and the real steamy scenes actually almost always (except of that one exception) happen when the train is empty and they are the only passengers. If you pick up the book you should be aware of this! 😉

4
All told I enjoyed “One Last Stop” immensely and I can highly recommend it if you’re in search of a good f/f rep! The paranormal element brought a very unique and nice touch to the story and even though it was a fairly slow tale it still managed to keep me interested. The little newspaper articles and reports at the beginning of every chapters added a realistic depth to the story and I really liked to read them and to find out more about Jane’s past. Also the writing style is easier to get into than it was in RWARB. I loved this and I’m sure a lot of people will end up enjoying this book too! =)

Allgemein, Reviews, U - Z, X

Review: XOXO (Axie Oh)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 6 on My Book List 2022

”A silky shirt clings to his shoulders, and his long legs are clad in smooth black pants. His left arm is in a cast, but a Rolex glints from his right wrist – and are those sleeve tattoos?”

If you’re BTS ARMY and didn’t immediately think of Jungkook when you read this description of Jaewoo then I really dunno. *lol* It was my first thought and from then on out I always pictured JK when I read about him. Don’t judge me, I needed to live vicariously through Jenny’s POV. ;-P I mean which k-pop fan doesn’t dream of meeting their idol and actually being together with them? XD Okay, so this out of the way we can finally talk about the actual book.

”If you need help, you only have to ask.”
There’s a short pause, then he says softly. “If I asked you to save me, would you?”
My heart breaks a little. “I can try.”


I absolutely loved how Jenny and Jaewoo met. I mean a karaoke bar is so fitting for a k-pop idol and those two spent quite a nice night together. Their meet-cute was extremely sweet and I can’t believe Jenny didn’t know who he was. She found out soon enough though and to say the revelation kinda threw her would be an understatement. Jenny was such a great character though and I really liked the way she thought about life and idols in general. Her stance on how fans should respect their idols and their wishes was amazing and I really wish the hard-core fans in the fandom would see it like that too.

”I mean… not exactly that. More like, you need to be strong for yourself first, be healthy and happy for yourself first, before you can be strong and give happiness to others. The healthier and happier you are, the more you can give to your fans, right? They should want that for you.”

I think the majority of k-pop stans (and when I say majority I mean about 90%) want their idols to be happy no matter what they do or who they end up with. I’m no exception to that rule because honestly if any member of BTS would find their significant other I’d be super happy for them. They deserve it! They did so much for ARMY and all I want for them is to be happy and healthy. ❤ Unfortunately not everyone in the fandom is like me though and there are the ugly sides of being an idol as well. Stalker fans (saesangs) and people in the fandom that criticize everything their idols do. People that think they can dictate what their idol wears, who they date or even what haircut they should get. (Let alone all those people that constantly give idols hell for getting tattoos or piercings. They are adults and grown women/men and it is their body! They can do whatever they want! You either love them as they are, because tattoos and piercings are an expression of themselves as well or you just don’t stan them. Period!)

I look up to see Jaewoo walk into the cafeteria … with Sori.
I’ve never seen a more striking pair. They look like they stepped out of a catalogue.
“Is it weird if I take a picture?” Angela asks. “Like as a souvenir for myself. I’ve never seen such great visuals.”


So yeah, sorry about that but everyone who is familiar with k-pop knows that there is a darker side to the fandoms as well. It’s not all bad though and there is an even bigger and lovely side to the fandoms as well. As I said before, about 90% of their fans will support their idols no matter what and will always have their back. 😉 I think the book portrayed the good and the bad sides of the fandoms so well and really captured the essence of being a k-pop fan. Alone the quote above with the visuals was so damn relatable.*lol* And don’t even get me started on the shipping. Haha!

”You’re my boyfriend. Don’t think for a second I haven’t seen all your videos, even the fan-made ones that point out all the evidence that you and Nathaniel are a couple.”
“That’s embarrassing,” Jaewoo says. “And here I thought we were being careful.”


I mean that quote!!! It’s every k-pop group that has a fandom! There will always be ships no matter if it’s among the members in the group or with members of other groups. XD And speaking of the k-pop bands themselves. The representation of XOXO as a k-pop group was more than just accurate too! The way the band members cared about and supported each other was so heart-warming and relatable. Everyone who’s a fan of a k-pop group will know that the members are basically family and that they spend a lot of time together. Most of the times even their youth because they become trainees when they are still very young and the other band members kind of compensate for their real family. So by the end of their trainee days and when they have their debut they are actually already a found family that gives each other strength. =)

”He means so much to a lot of people,” Sun continues, “not just to his family, of course, but to everyone here at Joah. He started training at the company when he was twelve years old. It’s been difficult for him, away from his family for all those years. But he kept on working hard. He’d spend hours in the studio training his body and voice.”

And here’s the moment when I have to admit that I loved XOXO and that I’d definitely become a fan if they’d be a real k-pop band! *lol* All the four members were amazing and no matter if it was Jaewoo, Nathaniel, Sun or Youngmin all of them totally gave me family vibes. =) The description of their roles in the group was typical k-pop too and I had a really soft spot for Youngmin (the maknae) and Sun (their leader and rapper). Of course Nathaniel and Jaewoo were amazing as well and they all complemented one another and made their group unique.

”I have to go make apologies on behalf of the group. Of course that’s my job as the leader, to protect our members. I’ll always protect them, even from themselves.”

This all out of the way, I guess it’s finally time to speak about the elephant in the room: The love story between Jenny and Jaewoo! Those two were super adorable and I really can’t blame Jenny for dating Jaewoo in secret. I suppose for k-pop idols that’s the only way because as I said not everyone in the fandom will be happy about their idol dating. Not that it’s a lot different in Western countries, but I think it’s become more normal for stars to date people and even though there is always a huge fuss about who is dating who they usually don’t get death threats or shit storms for it anymore. K-pop idols don’t have love interests though (at least not according to their label and in public) and therefore would have to hide their relationships from their fans.

I hook my arms around his neck. “What are we stealing?” I can feel Jaewoo’s grin against my lips.
“Time?” he suggests. He must mean it as a joke, but it’s actually the very thing we’re trying to steal. Moments like this are so few and far between.


I think that’s actually the only negative thing I can say about “XOXO”, it was too realistic! *lol* Jenny and Jaewoo sneaking around and kissing secretly in a broom closet always trying to make room to see each other and to make their relationship work. It was too damn realistic! I wanted to see more of their relationship and what I got was reality smack right in the face. XD They had different schedules and other responsibilities and their little moments were few and far between. So exactly the way it would have been if a real idol would have dated a cello prodigy. On the one hand I really appreciated this realistic approach but on the other hand it kinda dampened my enjoyment of the book a little because I was always left wanting for more. This ultimately resulted in the fact that I got the feeling their relationship developed way too fast for the couple of little moments they actually spent together. Maybe there happened a lot of things off-page but those moments on page were the things I actually wanted to read about and I think because of that imbalance I didn’t ship them as much as I ship other bookish couples.

”You have a schedule too. We need to practice or we won’t be ready for the showcase. I thought you said you needed something unique to stand out in your portfolio. Are you really going to blow your chances of a future, a long-term one, for a guy who can never, I mean never, put you first?”

Don’t get me wrong, they were super cute, but their relationship didn’t really sweep me off my feet and I didn’t get all those gushy sweet romantic feels I usually get when I ship a couple. *lol* You know all those “Awww” or “AKDFASDFLJASLDFAJSDFKS!” moments. XD Speaking of relationships: I really appreciated Jenny’s and Sori’s friendship as well but I didn’t really understand where Sori was coming from when it came to Nathaniel. 

spoilerI mean that boy was crazy for her and definitely wanted to date her and be her bf but she didn’t give in because she was an idol herself?! It was so obvious that Sori had feelings for Nathaniel too and I just couldn’t understand how those two couldn’t date. I mean I got where Sori was coming from but if Jenny and Jaewoo managed to date, they could have easily done the same thing. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I really didn’t get it. Still don’t.

4

“XOXO” was a really great book and a very realistic one at that. I loved all the Korean phrases, food and k-pop knowledge that went into the story and I lived and breathed for the glimpses of Seoul life! The fact that the book didn’t just address the positive but also the negative sides of the k-pop industry was amazing and I really liked all of the characters and their different personalities! If you’re a k-pop fan (or a music trope fan in general) this book is definitely for you and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as well! Happy reading! =)

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Almond (Won-Pyung Sohn)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me.”

It’s been ages I buddy read “Almond” with my friend Katja but I really wanted to write a review about the book. Unfortunately my life got in the way and I neither read as much as I wanted to nor did I manage to write reviews about the books I finished. I’m going to rectify that now though and after I wrote this review there will follow a couple of other reviews as well. So watch out for them. It’s about time I write them down. 😉 This said, let’s head right back to the actual review and speak about “Almond”.

”Granny, why do people call me weird?”
Her lips loosened.
“Maybe it’s because you’re special. People just can’t stand it when something is different, eigoo, my adorable little monster.”
Granny hugged me so tight my ribs hurt. She always called me a monster. To her, that wasn’t a bad thing.

I wanted to read this book for a while and when my dear friend Katja asked me to read it together for the #Koreadathon I immediately said yes. We picked it for the “read a book recommended by a Korean celebrity” prompt and the fact that RM as well as SUGA of BTS read it and enjoyed it was enough reason to go for it as well. I trust my boys taste in books and I’m really glad I decided to go for “Almond” because it was an intriguing read and very thought-provoking. The plot of the book is easily described: It’s about a boy named Yunjae who was born with a brain condition named alexithymia which basically means that he can’t feel emotions. The part of his brain that is responsible for our feelings (and formed like an almond, hence the book title) isn’t fully developed and that causes him to have troubles to understand human emotions. Our MCs mother and his grandmother tried their best to teach him how to cope with his lack of emotions but then one day tragedy hits and Yunjae is left to fend for himself.

”People sometimes say how cool it’d be to be fearless, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. Fear is an instinctive defense mechanism necessary for survival. Not knowing fear doesn’t mean that you’re brave; it means you’re stupid enough to stay standing on the road when a car is charging towards you.”

I had so many thoughts when I read this book and a lot of them had to do with the way Yunjae was raised. I know his mother and grandmother only had the best intentions and wanted him to blend in with everyone, but I think to some extent their constant efforts made it even more difficult for him to deal with his condition. Emotions are something you can’t learn because human feelings are very complex and some people will cry because they are happy while others will laugh even though they are sad. You might be able to explain the general reasons behind behaviour like crying but every person is an individual and we all react differently when we’re overwhelmed by our feelings. The fine nuances of emotions… well they are something you can’t learn. So even though I understood where Yunjae’s mother was coming from I still didn’t agree with her methods. It felt like Yunjae was under a lot of pressure to learn “the proper reactions” and I kinda felt sorry for him.

”Dr. Shim was right – being ordinary was the trickiest path. Everyone thinks “ordinary” is easy and all, but how many of them would actually fit into the so-called smooth road the word implied?”

Well, and then his grandma died and his mother was out of the picture as well, leaving him to fight through all the troubles on his own. Okay, almost all on his own because Dr. Shim was amazing and I loved that he helped him out! Honestly, bless his soul because he just accepted Yunjae the way he was and tried to help him as best as he could. ❤ But Dr. Shim isn’t the only one that helped him to find his way and Gon as well as Dora had an impact on the MCs character development.

”Dora. Dora was exactly the polar opposite of Gon. If Gon tried to teach me pain, guilt and agony, Dora taught me flowers and scents, breezes and dreams.”

I loved the way this was put, because it sums up their different personalities and essence so well. With Dora Yunjae discovered the soft feelings of first love and attraction and with Gon he learned about true friendship and hardships. Some might say Gon was a catalyst and I’m inclined to agree with that, but I also think that Dora’s appearance was at least as vital to Yunjae’s development as Gon’s. Both played a very important part in the MCs life and contributed to his experiences.

”About what?”
“About destiny and time.”
“What a surprise to hear those words from you.”
“Sheesh, did you know that even when you say the simplest things, you sound like a dick?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Now you know.”
“Yes, thanks.”

I really loved the bluntness between Gon and Yunjae! They took each other the way they were and they didn’t try to pretend to be someone else when they were in each other’s company. I think this might have actually been the main reason their friendship could bloom and evolve because the way they met definitely wasn’t the best start. (And that’s an understatement right there.) I’m not going to spoil anything here though. 😉 Despite being unable to feel emotions the same way other people do Yunjae was quite a wise person sometimes and could look through people’s disguises with surprising ease. I suppose you could also say that because of his disability to feel emotions he was probably more perceptive than others?

”She said families walk hand in hand. Granny would hold my other hand. I have never been abandoned by anyone. Even though my brain was a mess, what kept my soul whole was the warmth of the hands holding mine on both sides.”

I’m pretty sure it was due to this that he was able to see who Gon truly was. The way Yunjae described Gon was simple yet beautiful and I guess this is also how I would describe Won-Pyung Sohn’s writing style: Beautiful simplicity with many layers. The author never beats about the bush or hides information. It’s all there and you get exactly what you read which was a very refreshing approach and even though the conversations between the characters are pretty unexcited, they still have some sort of beauty to them. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the writing style so much but I did. =)

”I said, shut the fuck up.”
“You are not that kind of person.”
“Fuck,” he shouted, half crying. A nail on the wall must’ve pricked my leg, because it was bleeding. Gon saw and started weeping like a child. Yes, this was who he was. The kind of person who tears up at a drop of blood, who feels pain for other’s pain.

4
As for the ending of the book: I liked it but it almost felt too smooth? I don’t know if I’d have done anything differently but I’ve to admit that I still don’t know how I feel about it. I thought a lot about my final reaction to Yunjae’s story but all I can come up with is that the ending felt too convenient. Still, I really enjoyed “Almond” and I can recommend reading it if you want to go for something different and thought-provoking. I still think about the book and in my book this is always a good thing. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Map to You (Rachel Stockbridge)

Trigger warnings:parental neglect, drug abuse, addiction (of a parent), heavy drinking

 

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

**I got this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for giving me a chance to read this book! All the quotes mentioned in my review are from the ARC and might not be in the final version of the book.**

Kinsey allowed herself a slight smolder as she leaned in another inch. “What would you do if I was?”
“I – What?” Sasha stammered, her gaze dropping to Kinsey’s lips.

When I requested the ARC for this book I wanted to read a fluffy and light f/f romance and the cover of the book looked like it would be exactly the kind of book I was searching for. So the big question is: Did I get fluffy and light-hearted? Well, yes , to some extent I did, but I also got some serious topics I didn’t expect and this certainly made the book an even more interesting read. At least for me it did. I always enjoy it if bookish characters have a background story and both characters; Kinsey as well as Sasha delivered on that front. Both in a very different manner, but still in a way that added quite some substance to the story.

”She just had to focus. Stay in control. Get Kinsey to Charlotte, stop being so damn weird, and maybe she could stop things from deteriorating further. Or at least refrain from grabbing Kinsey by the waist and kissing her as best she knew how.”

What I really loved about this book was the flirty and easy banter between the two MCs. It’s so rare to see an f/f couple flirt like that on page and I personally lived and breathed for it. Honestly, there could have been even more of those scenes and I’d have been an even happier camper. The author made sure to give us the right mixture of push and pull though so I can’t really complain about it. Another thing I liked was the fact that Kinsey and Sasha were friends long before they became a thing and since the friends-to-lovers trope is still so rare in literature I really appreciated that the author went for it. It was extremely wholesome to see a couple that knew each other’s habits and quirks and had absolutely no problems to handle them. =)

”The Hans were everything Sasha always wished her own family could have been. Everything she’d given up on. That feeling of belonging. Of safety. Of easy, unconditional love. She’d stopped wishing for it so long ago she’d forgotten how much she’d wanted it.”

But of course not everything in the book was sunshine and rainbows and the darker and serious topics were a constant presence that wove like a red thread through the entire storyline. Sasha’s bad experiences made her the person she was though and they made her character even more real and complex. Whenever Sasha’s past was mentioned I felt really sad for her and I think no kid should ever have to suffer the way she did. Of course it was also very frustrating to see how she tried to shut everything out and sometimes I became as exasperated with her as Kinsey. There were really some moments I just wanted to make her listen so that she’d finally understand, yet at the same time I totally got where she was coming from. With a past like that it’s not easy to trust others and Sasha’s constant struggle to open up and to fight against her inner demons wasn’t only comprehensible but also palpable throughout the entire book. 

4

All told I really enjoyed reading “The Map to You”! I didn’t expect the book to have such heavy topics and some parts were really stressful to read, the strong friendships and the two MCs did a great job at managing to balance the serious topics though. So if you want to read a book with a cute love story that also has some rough edges to it this one might be the perfect fit for you. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: Tweet Cute (Emma Lord)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 38 on My Book List 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Gravity of Us (Phil Stamper)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amir:

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

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

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

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

Hassan:

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

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

Baba:

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

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

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

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

Sohrab:

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

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

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

4
I hated the book! I loved the book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

”For you, a thousand times over.”

Allgemein, F, F - J, Reviews

Review: Felix Ever After (Kacen Callender)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

Book 14 on My Book List 2021

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

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

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

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

2

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

Felix:

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

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

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

Ezra:

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

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

Declan:

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

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

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

grandequeen69:

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

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

Marisol:

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

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

3

Felix & Declan:

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

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

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

Felix & Ezra:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Felix & his father:

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

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

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

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

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

The transgender rep:

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

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

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

Finding your identity rep:

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, F - J, I, Reviews

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 27 on My Book List 2020

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

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

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

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

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. =)