Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

“The real world is where the monsters are.”

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

AND

I really enjoyed it!!! *lol*

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, S

Review: Sorcery of Thorns (Margaret Rogerson)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 37 on My Book List 2022

”Books, too, had hearts, though they were not the same as people’s, and a book’s heart could be broken: she had seen it happen before. Grimoires that refused to open, their voices gone silent, or whose ink faded and bled across the pages like tears.”

This book was brilliant and absolutely amazing! Legit the best book I read in in 2022 so far and definitely one of the biggest bookish surprises I ever read. I mean I knew I’d enjoy “Sorcery of Thorns” because alone the idea of libraries full of grimoires – books that talk and feel and can turn into monsters and therefore need to be guarded – sounded too awesome not to pick it up. What really surprised me actually wasn’t the world building (even though I’ve to admit that it’s marvellous considering the fact that this is a standalone) but the great characters that live in this unique world!

Honestly I totally fell in love with all of them and Elisabeth, Nathaniel and especially Silas own my heart! ❤ I never read a Margaret Rogerson book before but you can bet that I’m going to pick up her other books as well. 😉 I just loved that we had Magisters (sorcerers) and wardens as well as demons and grimoires in this story. It’s a combination I’ve never seen before and this made the world building very intriguing for me. Still, what I loved the most were the characters and I was kind of blown away by them being so multi-layered and complex. This book could have easily been turned into an entire series and I would have gobbled it up like nobody’s business. *lol*

Which brings me right to the only thing I didn’t like about “Sorcery of Thorns”: There just wasn’t enough of it!!! The world building would have had so much potential to be even more lush and elaborate and the characters… they could have easily carried a second, a third, maybe even a fourth book. WHY MARGARET!? Why isn’t there more of this beautiful and amazing story that swept me off my feet!!?? Especially with THIS ending!!!! AKSDFASDJFASDFJASKFD! Okay, I’m good again. Just needed to let it out. *lol* I guess I’ll just head to my characters section – aka the spoilery spoiler section – now and rave over there. 😉

2

Welcome to Austermeer! Our lovely country that’s full of Great Libraries, grimoires, sorcerer’s, wardens and demons. Be our guest and enjoy everything we have to offer. Well, maybe not everything: Don’t accept deals with demons, it won’t only cost you precious years of your life but also will give them the means to relentlessly spoil you with their knowledge! You’ve been warned, this is the point of no return. ;-P

Nathaniel Thorn:

”I’m going to turn you into a salamander.”
“You can do that?” she whispered. “Truly?”
“Of course.” A wicked gleam entered his eyes. “But I only turn girls into salamanders on Tuesdays. Luckily for you, it’s a Wednesday, which is the day I drink a goblet of orphan’s blood for supper.”

Haha! Nathaniel was such a great character and exactly my cup of tea! *lol* I mean a young, powerful, funny and handsome sorcerer with rough edges but a heart of gold who tries to keep everyone away from himself in order to protect them! Yep, totally the kind of character I usually dig. I should have loved Nathaniel and I did, but funnily enough I didn’t love him as much as I loved Silas. XD Because, well, Silas!! ❤ Anyway! Nathaniel was great and I absolutely adored him and could see why Elisabeth as well as Silas liked him so much. Also he definitely had one of the best lines in the book and even turned out to be a bi icon!!! Seriously, I screamed when he delivered that line to Elisabeth!!! *lol* I really wish we could have seen more of him, but even though he’s clearly one of the MCs in the book, he actually didn’t have a lot of scenes in the story?! Which was sort of refreshing because he is a solitary and secluded character and spends a lot of time in his study and therefore didn’t socialize with the others. I think this added to his credibility and made him feel like a real person. So kudos to Rogerson for making him that way!

”I like girls too, Scrivener.” Amusement danced in Nathaniel’s eyes. “I like both. If you’re going to fantasize about my love life, I insist you do so accurately.”

”But you stayed with me. And selfishly, I was glad – I had never wanted anything more in my life. Damn you,” he said. “You unmanageable, contrary creature. You have made me believe in something at last. It feels as wretched as I imagined.”

Elisabeth Scrivener:

”But who would believe her? She now understood that the world wasn’t kind to young women, especially when they behaved in ways men didn’t like, and spoke truths that men weren’t ready to hear.”

Ahh Elisabeth! The fierce and compassionate heroine of the story! Elisabeth was the MC of the book and it was told through her POV. She was one hell of an amazing character and I loved that she refused to be intimidated by her enemies. She always stood her ground and did what felt right for her even though this often caused her a lot of trouble and made her life extremely dangerous and difficult. She had integrity and stood up for her convictions and she didn’t allow herself to be guided by her prejudices. What a WOMAN! <333 Can we have more female MCs like her?! =)

”You’ve been attacked, violated, tormented, left on the streets to starve. The odds you face are impossible. If you continue down this path, you’ll die. Why won’t you just give up?”
She stared. Was that a thing people did – just gave up? When there was so much in the world to love, to fight for? “I cannot,” she said fiercely. “I never will.”

”She thinks he acted under Nathaniel’s orders. And as simply as that, Elisabeth realized no one would ever appreciate Silas’s final act. It was not a story that anyone would believe. He had vanished from the world like mist, leaving nothing behind except rumors: the dreadful creature that had served House Thorn.
The injustice of it overwhelmed her, stung her eyes like needles. For a long time she sat in silence, her head bowed, blinking back tears.“

Silas:

„I am a demon,“ he said. „You cannot see me as anything more.“

And now we come to the secret star of the book and the person who owns my heart, my body, my soul and my entire being: Enter Silas, Nathaniel’s demonic servant! <333 I AM IN LOVE WITH SILAS!!! Because he’s the most precious soul and I just want him to be happy! He should be with the people he loves but even this comes with a price and because it’s in his nature he can’t do anything against it. It broke my heart to see how deeply he cared for Nathaniel and how much it hurt him to take those years of his life from him. T_T He’s such a complex and intriguing character because despite all odds he started to care for Nathaniel and even loved him. In my eyes Silas is no demon but an angel and I really hope the ending means what I think it means!!! Also it left an opportunity for a second book and I so, so, so, so want a second book!!! I can’t emphasise this enough! Can we have it? Pleaseeeee!!! XD *dies*

”Yes,” he whispered, as if she saw the truth at last. “You see, there is no absolution, no penance, for a creature such as I.” His eyes shone bright with pain. “You could strike me down and the blow would only harm another.”

3

Elisabeth & Nathaniel:

”You used a demonic incantation to pack my stockings!”
He raised an eyebrow. “You’re right, that doesn’t sound like something a proper evil sorcerer would do. Next time, I won’t fold them.”

Those two gave me life and their interactions were hilarious! It started with their first meeting at the library and only continued to be funny from there. I swear they had some of the best conversations in this book and they never ceased to amuse me. The fact Elisabeth thought Nathaniel was an evil sorcerer led to a lot of misunderstandings and hilarious observations and I lived and breathed for them. Of course Nathaniel couldn’t help but add fuel to the fire and this quite often caused me to chuckle while I read the book. Due to Nathaniel’s secluded nature and his efforts to stay away from Elisabeth they didn’t have a lot of scenes together but whenever they did Margaret Rogerson made sure to make them count! They always packed a punch and if you ask me that’s great story writing right there! 😉 Also I loved that the characters stayed true to their nature because even when Nathaniel admits his feelings for Elisabeth he still continues to be his grumpy self and calls her a creature and terror. *lol* Love the dynamic of those two. ❤

„I see you’ve been spending a great deal of time alone with Magister Thorn. Has he declared his intentions?“
„I wish he would,“ Elisabeth said. „He hardly makes sense half the time. Knowing his intentions would be helpful.“
Nathaniel made a choking sound.

”She didn’t want him to stop. She had never been touched like this before. His hands left impressions across her skin like the trails of comets, urgent and tingling, her body yearning for more. A breathless ache filled her chest. The intensity of the sensation overwhelmed her.”

„Beneath her touch, a tremor ran through him. He looked at her as though he were drowning, as though she had been the one to push him, and he did not know what to do. “Elisabeth,” he said, her name wrong from him as a plea.“

Nathaniel’s brow furrowed. He turned his face to the side and blinked several times. “Thank god,” he said finally. “I don’t think unrequited love would have suited me. I might have started writing poetry.”
Elisabeth continued stroking his hair. “That doesn’t sound so bad.”
“I assure you, it would have proven more unpleasant for everyone than necromancy.”

Elisabeth & Silas:

”What sort of dreadful things?” she whispered.
Without any effort, Silas lifted her into his arms. “It is better if you do not know,” he murmured, almost too softly for her to hear.

I loved how they formed such a strong bond! Silas hid his love for Nathaniel (and Elisabeth) extremely well but Elisabeth was a very perceptive character and easily saw through him. They had so many lovely and touching moments together but I think my favourite scene was when Nathaniel was knocked out cold and they had that talk in the kitchen. Such an ordinary scene yet it was extraordinary because of the impactful message it conveyed. This was such a simple and powerful moment – I adored it so much! Also I loved how gentle and considerate Silas was. At first he extended his love for Nathaniel to Elisabeth and saved her because he knew Nathaniel cared about her but gradually we can see the change in his feelings and how he starts to appreciate Elisabeth as well. How he slowly but steadily begins to love her too. <333 So beautifully written, I can’t even! If you can read between the lines their friendship is everything!

”Silas,” she gasped. “I’m so glad to see you.”
„Curious. That is not what people usually say to me at a time like this.“
„What do they usually say?“
„Generally they cry, or wet themselves.“

”You aren’t well,” he said softly. “How long have you had this fever?”
When she didn’t reply, unsure, he began to unbutton his jacket. She shook her head as he moved to tuck it around her. “I’ll get your clothes dirty,” she protested.
“It matters not, miss. Up you come.”

Nathaniel & Silas:

”Since when do you care about the welfare of a human being?”
“I am not the one who cares,” Silas said softly.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“You care about her, master, more than I have seen you care about anything in years. Don’t attempt to deny it,” he added when Nathaniel opened his mouth.

MY HEART!!! It was attacked by the deep love those two felt for each other and sometimes it even took my breath away! Like ARGH!!! Seriously, you’d think the most interesting relationship in this book would be the ship of Elisabeth and Nathaniel but nope! The most interesting relationship in “Sorcery of Thorns” was actually the bond between Nathaniel and Silas! They aren’t just bound by their pact but also by their mutual love and trust for each other and it was so beautiful to behold. Like so, so beautiful to see!!! They both suffered so much and they both did it in different ways but I absolutely adored that they still stayed together. Silas was tormented by his nature and the fact that he didn’t only have to kill Nathaniel’s father but that he also had to take 20 years of his new master’s life and Nathaniel was tantalized by the memories of his father’s death and his traumatic childhood. They both hurt and they lost so much but what kept them going was their love for each other. <333 The only other relationship I can think of that was equally deep and meaningful and that was between two male book characters is the one between Will Herondale and James Carstairs. So yes, that says A LOT!! GAH! I just adore them! ❤

„Nathaniel drank. When he finished, he squeezed his eyes shut and slumped back against the headboard. His face twisted as if he were trying to stop himself from weeping, and his hand sought Silas’s and clasped it tightly.”

”First, I learned to make tea,” he said finally, speaking more to himself than to her. “When humans wish to help, they are forever offering each other tea.”

”The snow had begun overnight, shortly after Nathaniel had woken screaming and delirious from a nightmare, and then subsided shivering in Silas’s arms.”

4

Every year there comes a book that knocks it out of the park for me and as it seems this year it was “Sorcery of Thorns”. Yes, I heard a great deal about how amazing this book is and many people raved about it, but I never expected to love it as much as I did! I enjoy reading standalones every now and then, but I never seem to enjoy them as much as I enjoy series. Well, I guess this book taught me that I can get addicted to standalones as well. XD I loved this and if Margaret Rogerson ever decides to go for a second book I’ll be faster than “The Flash” and buy it for my private collection! You just watch! ;-P

Allgemein, Reviews, U - Z, W

Review: White Fox (Chen Jiatong)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Don’t hate all humans because of what happened to us. There are both good and evil humans: you need to see that for yourself.”

Okay, I’ll be honest here: One of the main reasons why I decided to read this book was the white fox on the cover. =) As you all know I love foxes and they are my spiritual animal so when I saw a book that didn’t only have a fox on the cover but also had the word in the title I just couldn’t resist! And I’m so glad I picked up “White Fox” because it was exactly what I needed. I’ve been constantly fighting against a work- and life-induced reading slump those last couple of months and sometimes you just need a short and enjoyable middle grade book to get away from reality. Well, at least for a little while so you can recharge your batteries and this book was exactly that.

”For the first time, he wondered if he really wanted to be a human at all. How could they be so heartless?”

So what is “White Fox” about? Basically it’s a book about Dilah the fox who wants to become human after his parents are killed by a hunter. With her last breath his mother hands him a mysterious moonstone that is supposed to guide him to a place where he can become human. Since nothing holds him anymore Dilah starts his journey with the moonstone but he isn’t the only fox that wants to be human and soon he’s followed by a pack of blue foxes that are led by their ruthless leader Carl. On his way Dilah meets humans and other animals and forms many friendships while he tries to solve the mystery of the moonstone.

”Why wouldn’t she give him a chance? He hadn’t done anything wrong. He liked Ankel and he happened to be a fox – what was wrong with that?”

On the one hand this was a very sad story. There is a lot loss and Dilah isn’t always welcome at the places he visits. Many of the animals have prejudices against him and Dilah doesn’t understand why they can’t see past their fear. I really loved this aspect of the book because it doesn’t only address the countless prejudices we have to face in our lives but also provides us with solutions to fight against them. Of course it doesn’t always work, but despite all odds Dilah always makes friends among the different animals because they refuse to be led by their own fear and prejudices. Sometimes the author allows the characters to voice it very clearly and I really loved this about the book.

”She’s done nothing wrong! What’s wrong is your prejudice, your fear of humans and your own cowardice!”

I absolutely adored Ankel the weasel and his friendship with Dilah was amazing! Little Bean was a very precious character as well and I felt so sorry for him but at the same time I was glad that he helped Ankel and Dilah when no one else would have. Seriously, despite all the sad parts this was such a lovely and heart-warming story and the beautiful illustrations by Viola Wang only made this an even more enjoyable read.

4

All told this was a really great book and the strong bonds and the friendships between the characters were amazing! Since it was a short read I was through it in no time, but I really appreciated all the life-lessons that were taught in here. =) The ending was pretty open and as it seems there’s actually going to be a second book?! I’ll definitely make sure to watch out for it because I’m sure at some point of my life it might once again turn out to be exactly what I need. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Gilded Ones (Namina Forna)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 26 of My Book List 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

 

Allgemein, F - J, G, Reviews

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire (Natasha Ngan)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten,5

”They can take and steal and break all they want, but there is one thing they have no control over. Our emotions,” she says at my nonplussed look. “Our feelings. Our thoughts. None of them will ever be able to control the way we feel. Our minds and hearts are our own. That is our power, Nine. Never forget it.”

Trigger warnings: rape/attempted rape, animal death, violence, slavery, sexual assault, branding of a character, abuse

Sooo… where to begin? I had high expectations for this book and even though I enjoyed reading “Girls of Paper and Fire” most of those expectations weren’t met. I guess that’s always the problem with extremely hyped books, though. Either they live up to your expectations or they don’t. In this particular case I wasn’t really disappointed but I wasn’t all over the moon either, if that makes sense? It’s really hard to pinpoint my issues with this book but I think I’ll just talk about it and figure it out along the way.

”It’s all right, Lei,” she says. “Go.” As her eyes meet mine, a spark of heat stirs in my chest. It takes me a moment to realize it’s the first time she’s spoken my name. My single syllable is surprisingly soft on her tongue, light, like a drop of rain.

Let’s just start with the things I really liked and take it from there! 😉 The first thing that comes to mind is the relationship between Lei and Wren. I totally loved that this was such a slow burn and that for a long time they were intrigued by each other but didn’t do anything to explore their feelings. There were a lot of brief moments, tender gestures, softly spoken words and meaningful glances and as you probably all know by now, I live and breathe for scenes like that. XD On that front the book totally delivered and I loved their slowly growing bond.

”Whenever she makes a movement – even something as small as brushing a speck of dust from her hair or adjusting her sash – my eyes instinctively cut her way, and I wonder if she’s noticing it, too, this tether, this pull between us.”

Another thing I liked were all the friendships Lei formed during her stay at the palace. Her maid Lill was really sweet and I also liked Mistress Eira. In her own way she did everything she could to make it easier for her girls and to protect them as good as possible. Unfortunately she couldn’t protect them from the Demon King and I liked how this aspect was shown. I mean Mistress Eira has influence in the palace, she’s a former Paper Girl as well and she uses the little power she has in order to make the lives of her charges easier. She always plays by the rules though and never flat out revolts against the system. So in some way her doing her job as good as possible is actually contributing to the injustice and the cruel rule of the Demon King. You might say she accepted her role and that the system won’t change. Mistress Eira gave up and I think that’s even worse than openly supporting the king. The people that allow injustice to happen and never speak up against it contribute to the system at least as much as the ones that enforce the rules. Considering all this Mistress Eira’s character was probably one of the most complex ones in the entire book and I really appreciated that. 😉

”I’m sorry, Lei,” she whispers. “There’s nothing I can do. You’ll have to find a way to bear it – and I know you will. You are stronger than most of the girls who come here.”

As for the Demon King and Madame Himura: I loathed them both. Their arrogance to believe that everything revolves around them and that they are superior because they have special abilities and are demons made me sick to my stomach. The way the king was cruel to the ones who defied him and rewarded the ones that let him have his way… it was sickening. Alone how he treated Aoki vs. how he hurt Lei. The difference between those two couldn’t have been even more pronounced. I’m kind of relieved we never got any graphic details of the violence and rape that happened in here or at least not much…

”Take my brothers, for example. They were one, two years older than me. But at the age of seven I already understood more than they about what makes a strong ruler. I knew that if I took their lives, it would prove to the heavenly rulers and the court that I was infinitely more capable of taking over my dying father’s rule than either of them. They were put on this earth to give, while I was destined to take.”

And take he does! And he even has the insolence to feel misunderstood. Oh what a tough life he must have. So hard to be a king. *notice the sarcasm* Anyway! Let’s get back to the topic at hand and talk about the things that caused me to give this book 3,5 stars rounded up to four. For one thing I missed an elaborate world building. The entire book plays in the palace and we never get a good glimpse at the world outside of it. Sure, Lei is living in the palace and is kept away from the outside world but I still think it wouldn’t have hurt to give some pointers about how the kingdom looked like and where they might find allies. Plenty of clans and places were mentioned casually but there never were any details.

Also since the entire book was built on court intrigues I just wanted more info?! At times it felt like we were only fed the most necessary details so that we didn’t lose the red thread and maybe that’s okay if you just accept being in Lei’s head. For me as someone who loves a good intrigue and likes to be able to follow it, to be constantly kept in the dark was kind of frustrating. I mean Lei is the MC and we see everything through her POV, yet Wren played a very important part too and I think if we’d have gotten a Wren POV it would have been better. Just my opinion though.

”Where the King’s touch closed me, shut me down, Wren’s opens me up. When I’m with her, every part of me is weightless and free, a soaring rush igniting my veins with desire as bright as sunlight. Her kisses heal the parts of me that the King broke.”

Plus I really would have liked to find out more about the other girls. I mean Lei is spending all her time with those Paper Girls but at the end of the book I had the feeling that I didn’t know them at all. The twins were reduced to being twins, Blue was the mean girl that caused trouble among the Paper Girls, Aoki was the soft and gullible one, and the other two girls were so unremarkable that I don’t even remember their names. I think one of them was named Mariko?! I dunno. *shrugs*

In addition to that the topic of rape which should have been a strong topic in here, because of the existence of the Paper Girls alone wasn’t addressed enough. I mean all of those 8 girls don’t want to sleep with the king and are forced to be with him and whenever one of them is summoned to his chamber they get prepared and when they return none of them says a word. They just keep it in and then continue to live like nothing ever happened. Even when it’s Wren’s or Lei’s turn they never speak of it afterwards. I understand why rape victims shut down and won’t speak about what happened to them, but considering the strong relationship between Wren and Lei, I found it kind of odd that they never addressed the issue. And especially in a book like this, where about 50% of the plot revolves around the fact that the king is basically raping 8 new girls each year, the message that his victims endure it silently and don’t even cry or rage or show any emotions after it, feels kind of unhealthy?!

Maybe the author’s intention was to show the bravery of the girls that endure, but for me it would have been braver if they would have spoken about it and not bottled it up. I’m probably a bean counter once again but this just didn’t sit well with me.

4

All told, “Girls of Paper and Fire” was a good book. The author kept me invested in the story and the writing style was easy to read. The ending was pretty mean though and I’m very curious what will happen in the next book. I can’t help but wonder if the world building will be explored more now that they are out of the palace walls. Guess I’ll have to find out by reading “Girls of Storm and Shadow”. 😉

Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Now I Rise (Kiersten White)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Secrets gave everything more power, more potential for devastation and destruction.”

And the secrets in here were huge, which is the reason why the destruction was so big at the ending of this book. >_< Both, figuratively and literally. I swear to read this was … quite an experience. I mean I already knew that this series is character driven and that the scheming and plotting never ends but I think “Now I Rise” raised this to the next level. If you know me, you know that I love this in my books though so to read this story was perfect for me. XD

What was very interesting was that we don’t only have two different POVs in the second book but also two different storylines that are a little bit delayed. We follow Lada who is in Wallachia and desperately tries to become the prince of her country and we are with Radu as he follows Mehmed’s order to infiltrate Constantinople as his trusted spy. Both siblings struggle with their tasks and with what is needed in order to achieve their goals. And while Lada continues to be the ruthless dragon that we know her to be, Radu’s heart seems to fissure under the constant weight of pressure.

I swear, the Dracul siblings couldn’t be any more different even if they tried but they still have such a strong connection and you can feel it on every page. Just like in the first book the longing in here is real, but whilst the main focus of this yearning was Mehmed in “And I Darken” it becomes something different in here. It turns into a longing for peace, for hope, for belonging and into a longing for knowing your place in the world, an almost palpable yearning for acceptance and better days. But before I write even more I’ll just get to my characters section and explain all my thoughts in there. 😉

2

You are now entering the lost city of Constantinople. Where people fight bravely against all odds and spoilers. If you don’t want to fight against a spoiler at every turn I strongly recommend you to leave this place. It isn’t too late; you can still make it out in time. 😉

Lada:

”Lada smiled. She knew that should not please her, but it did. The prince thought her a big enough threat to warrant an assassin. She still had a chance. Where there was fear, there was power.”

My fierce and reckless dragon child! Gosh, I love Lada. I really dislike a lot of her actions and I disagree with her methods but I still can’t help but love this girl. I think I rarely felt so torn about a fictional character but Lada Dracul is definitely something else. Just like in the first book she knows exactly what she wants and she’s still not afraid of doing whatever is necessary in order to achieve her goals. I just gotta admire her tenaciousness and intransigence. This woman knows the price she’ll pay and yet she’s still not afraid of going through with the bargain. Lada still wants Wallachia more than she wants anything else and I think her and Mehmed are pretty similar when it comes to the craving for a country/city. They would do anything to get it and no price would be too big to pay. Even if it took their souls as payment, they would still readily sacrifice them. Lada is already at the point where she’s crossing a line she’ll never be able to return from and I’m kind of worried what that will do to her in the last book. >_<

”Tonight, she felt the full weight of that loss. The loss of a brother who would have stood at her side and fought this battle of manners and politics for her. The loss of a man who would have laughed at her dress and her hair but also been desperate to be alone so he could undo it all for her.”

”For years Lada had nurtured only hatred for her father, to take away the pain that loving him had left her with. But that night in her tent as she drifted to sleep, she let some of it go. Because she, too, was grateful for who she was. She would not wish any part of herself away.”

”Running and abandoning those who needed her as the weakest, lowest thing possible. Lada would not do that. She could not. Whatever else she was, Lada was nothing like the class who could go on living after turning their backs on those who depended upon them.”

”Without a word she shifted and plunged it into the chest of Toma. The man who had used we to talk about their plans, when he meant himself and a foreign king. The man who had thought that through words and advice, he could take Lada’s soldiers, Lada’s power, Lada’s country without ever fighting her. She watched his face as he died, committing it to memory.”

Radu:

”Hope was an arrow that never ceased piercing his heart.”

My precious Radu! In my review of “And I Darken” I described him as “beauty with a sting” and that description still holds true, in “Now I Rise” his character changed a lot though. His armour started to crack and to hide his true feelings got more and more difficult. Mehmed asked him to go to Constantinople and to work as his spy and at first Radu is willing to do what he can in order to offer Mehmed Constantinople on a platter. The longer he stays at the city the more he gets involved in the community though. He makes friends and gets attached to Cyprian, Constantine and his family. He suffers alongside them in the siege and he fights against his own people that try to invade the city. Radu starts to question his role and his blind loyalty to Mehmed, but in the end is forced to realize that neither Mehmed nor Constantine deserve his faithfulness. Both of them would have been able to spare their people’s lives, but their pride didn’t allow them to do what would have been the best for their subjects. Radu is so torn by his own actions and the actions of Mehmed and Constantine that he’s breaking under the pressure. At the end of the book he’s a broken man and I was grieving his lost innocence. T_T I really just want my Radu to be happy! Is that too much to ask for?

”What did he hope his future would be? To stand forever at Mehmed’s side, beloved friend, trusted advisor? He had told Nazira it would be enough. It would never be enough.”

”Radu did not know which filled him with more despair – that everyone had heart this rumor except him, or that the mere suggestion of Mehmed loving women and men was seen as evil. His feelings for Mehmed had never felt evil or wicked. They had been the truest of his life, bordering on holy. To hear his love so casually profaned made him sick to his stomach.”

”Again you have never met my sister. She responded to our torments by getting harder, crueler, further away. It made her stronger, but it was breaking me. So when Mehmed – the sultan – offered me kindness, it was like someone had offered me the sun in the midst of the longest, coldest winter of my life.”

”Where was his heart? Where was his loyalty?”

”Radu had been wrong. There were no good men in this city.
And there were no good men outside of it, either.”

3

Lada & Mehmed:

„Mehmed moved from her lips to her neck, his hands in her hair. “When you left, you took my hear twith you. Kill me, Lada,”he said, with so much longing she could not keep her own hands off him.“

Okay, we legit only got one scene between those two and their sexy time ended rather abruptly when Lada found out that Mehmed could have supported her but didn’t because his own goals were once again more important than Lada’s. I honestly don’t blame Lada for leaving his tent in haste and hating him with a fierce passion. It’s not all hate though and I feel kind of sorry for her because she truly loves him but she can’t get out of her own skin. Those two are the epitome of star-crossed lovers and however their story will end. It won’t end well. >_<

”You could have trusted me and given me those forces instead. Were there ever any troops? Did you ever mean to help me?”
“I am helping you! You are destined for bigger things! With me.” He stepped toward her and she put her hands up.

”She closed her eyes, because she had worked so hard not to think of it. But as soon as she allowed the memories back in, she wanted to kill him. And she wanted to be with him again.
She did not know which impulse was stronger.”

Lada & Radu:

”I ask only what he is willing to do. Nothing more.”
“Then I do know him better, you fool. Radu would do anything for you.”
Mehmed looked away, a dark flush spreading across his cheeks.
“You know…” Lada’s eyes narrowed to thin slits, her fists clenched so tightly they ached. “You know that he is in love with you.”

I love Lada for hating Mehmed because of Radu! *lol* I blame it all on the Slytherin sleeping peacefully inside of me. ;-P But seriously, their sibling relationship is one of the best things about this series. Because they are true siblings in every sense of the word. I hate that Mehmed is still standing between them and I hope that one day they’ll realize that their relationship is more important than any man. Even if it’s the sultan! I really hope they’ll make amends once they meet each other and the Slytherin in me hopes that they’ll both tell Mehmed to go to hell! *lol* I can dream, right?! I guess if it wouldn’t have been for Mehmed their petty rivalry from their childhood would have already been a distant memory, but since they are still fighting for the attention of the same man they aren’t where they are supposed to be. At least not sibling relationship wise. I just hope they won’t realize their mistakes too late.

”Where was he? Was he safe? Of all the things she held against Mehmed, jeopardizing Radu’s safety was the greatest. If Radu was hurt, she would never forgive Mehmed. Radu was not an acceptable sacrifice, not for any city.”

Radu & Cyprian:

”Be careful,” Cyprian said, running a finger as soft as a whisper along Radu’s palm. “We need these hands.” Cyprian looked up and Radu found himself unable to bear the intensity of his gaze. Cyprian released his hands, laughing awkwardly. “We need all the hands we can get.”
“Yes,” Radu murmured, still feeling Cyprian’s finger tracing his palm.

Now that … oh my! Where do I even start?! Radu has got to be one of the most unfortunate book characters I ever came across. This boy has absolutely no luck when it comes to love. At first he fell for Mehmed who only uses him and then he falls for Cyprian whom he betrayed for Mehmed. I can’t with this ship! Honestly! Cyprian and Radu were such a lovely ship and slow burn but ARGH did it kill me to know that Radu was betraying Cyprian every step of the way. It killed Radu too. Obviously! Truth be told, Cyprian is too precious for this world. The mere fact he agreed to protect Nazira and to take care of her even though he was fully aware that Radu betrayed him and was responsible for the death of Constantine… I have no words! Cyprian is an angel! <333 And I really, really hope that he will find forgiveness for Radu in the next book because Radu needs someone like him in his life. But still, the betrayal!!! T_T GAH! Why is their relationship so doomed?!

”I feared for your safety.” Radu embraced Cyprian again, both because it was warm and comforting against the weariness of this long night, and because it was the only way he could hide how touched and sad he was that Cyprian’s first fear had been for Radu’s traitorous life.

”He will not kill me,” Radu repeated, waiting for Cyprian to understand. The foundation in Cyprian’s eyes crumbled like the walls around them.
Cyprian stumbled back, shaking his head. “All this time,” he whispered.

Radu & Nazira:

”You do not need to worry about me.”
“I do not worry because I need to. I worry because I care about you. I want to see you happy. And I do not think Edirne holds any happiness for your.” She emphasized Edirne, making it clear that it was not the capital she spoke of, but what – or rather, whom – that capital held.

Those two! They might only have a fictitious marriage but their friendship and their affection for each other is true and real. I love how deeply they care about each other and how they want each other to be happy! Radu is always watching out for Nazira and tries his best to keep her safe and Nazira has his back and tells him the things he needs to hear. They work so well together and even though their marriage is fake I still think they have a truly beautiful relationship. Nazira is such a precious character as well and I love her so much!! <333 Everyone should have a Nazira in their life. She’s such a nourishing, kind and caring character. XD I love her!

Radu drew her close. “You know I will make certain you are taken care of. No matter what.”
Nazira laughed sadly against his chest. “There you go again, assuming I am worried for myself. You never account for others loving you for you, Radu, rather than what you can do for them. It is my greatest prayer that someday you will know enough of love to recognize when it is freely given.”

”You do not know him. Besides, I do not wish anything more from him than his friendship.”
“You are welcome to lie to me, but please stop lying to yourself. Whatever your hopes are with him, I promise they will never be realized.”
“You have found love.”
“Yes. With someone who could return it. But you refuse to let go of this festering love for a man who is incapable of loving you.”
Radu blinked back tears. “Do I not deserve love?”
She put her hand on Radu’s cheek. “Sweet Radu, you deserve the greatest love the world has ever seen. I simply do not think Mehmed is capable of loving anyone the way you love him.”

”When I am with Fatima, what I feel is pure and good. I cannot imagine a god who hates anything that is love, any way we find to take tender care of each other. I want you to find that same love, and I never want you to hate yourself for any love that is in you.”

”I know it is not rational. None of the people here were responsible for what happened to Fatima. But their mindless hatred of us, their demonizing of Islam, is what let those men do what they did. It was wicked of me to come here with so much hatred in my heart. Hatred makes monsters of us all.”

”You almost make me believe in fate, for how unfortunate yours is.”

Radu & Mehmed:

”I am glad you are here,” Mehmed said.
Radu smiled bitterly. “That makes one of us.”

I hate Mehmed so much for leading Radu on! I guess some part of me always knew that Mehmed was aware of Radu’s feelings for him but to actually get solid proof! To hear that Radu was just the means to an end he used in order to get Constantinople. ARGH! He used and abused Radu’s love and trust and I can’t with Mehmed anymore! Such a foul move! He knew Radu would do everything for him because he loves him and he shamelessly used that love to his advantage. How vile of a creature can you be? Honestly, at this point I just want Mehmed out of the picture so that Radu can finally get the love he deserves. I’m afraid as long as Mehmed is alive Radu will always return to him though. And IT. KILLS. ME.!!! Radu needs to be free of this man but he’s always drawn to him like a moth to a flame.  >_< I have no idea how the last book will end but I hope it will end with a happy Radu.

”I thought this would feel different,” Mehmed said, melancholy shaping his words like a song. He leaned against Radu, finally giving him the contact he had craved for so long.
“So did I,” Radu whispered.

”The ambassador, you mean? He quite liked you. I could see it at Edirne.”
Radu realized with a sickening lurch of his stomach that Mehmed was dancing around a question, trying to determine whether or not Radu cared for Cyprian in the same way. Which meant that Mehmed knew Radu had the feelings for men that he was supposed to have for women.
Which meant Mehmed could not possibly be unaware of the feelings Radu had nurtured for him all these years. Shame welled up in him, but a new feeling came, too. Radu felt … used.”

Lada & her men:

She had left behind love and ridden off to a future devoid of power. “I have nothing,” she whispered.
Nicolae nudged hi horse even closer to hers, until their legs brushed. “You still have us,” he said, his voice soft with understanding. “We will figure something out.”

Did I ever mention that I love Lada and her men? I’m so glad she has them with her and they are truly one hell of a nice company. *lol* Nicolae is definitely still my favourite and I really hope that he’ll survive the last book as well. As for Bogdan: I’m  afraid sooner or later he’ll realize that Lada is only using him and can’t return his feelings for her and I’m kind of worried how this will end. Love and hatred are two emotions that are close to each other and I just hope Bogdan’s unrequited love for Lada won’t kill her. XD Stefan is so precious too! ❤ Anyway, I’m sure Lada’s men will be loyal in the last book too, but I’m worried about Nicolae and Bogdan. >_<

Lada laughed, patting Bogdan’s knee. Then she tossed a handful of dirt and dry evergreen needles at Nicolae. “No one asked for your opinion.”
“My opinions are gifts I distribute freely, asking neither permission nor payment.”
“Take your gifts elsewhere,” Bogdan grumbled.

”What we do now, we do so that someday mercy will be able to survive here.”
“But the children.” Nicolae’s voice was as empty as a boyar’s promise.
“You said you would follow me to the ends of the earth.”
“Gods’s wounds, Lada,” he whispered, shaking his head. “Someday you will go further than I can follow.”

Lada & Hunyadi:

”Hunyadi’s love and trust was a valuable thing; it meant more to Lada than she had thought possible. But he could not get her the throne. And she did not feel the pull of Constantinople that all the men in her life seemed to. Hunyadi, she cared about. Constantinople was only a city.
Wallachia, though. Wallachia was everything.”

I never expected Hunyadi to become some sort of father figure for Lada but it actually happened and I really liked their relationship. It’s a shame Hunyadi died because he was one of the few people that saw Lada’s true self and accepted her the way she is. She would have needed him to stay at her side for a longer time, but unfortunately he died because of Mehmed’s war strategies. I think with Hunyadi’s guidance she would have never come to the point she is at now, but his influence on her is gone and without it I’m kind of worried of what will become of Lada. >_<

”That is how we are alike. We saw everything that was not ours, and we hungered. Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight for everything. Even when you already have it, you will have to keep fighting to maintain it. You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything. Any weakness will undo everything you have accomplished. They will see any crack as evidence that they were right that a woman cannot do what you do.”

4

I enjoyed the second book at least as much as I enjoyed the first one. Maybe even more because the pacing felt a little bit faster than in “And I Darken”. It was interesting to see how the characters developed and how they grew.  The character arc of Radu and Lada… chef’s kiss! Even though I suffered with them I still love how Kiersten White managed to let them grow. This said: If you already liked the first book I’m sure you’ll love this one as well! XD

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 9 on My Book List 2021

”People could only hurt you if you cared enough to let them.”

I think this quote describes the vibe of the book in a nutshell. “A Gathering of Shadows” is all about the characters and their strong feelings for each other. Sometimes those feelings get in the way and make it impossible to grow and to be who they truly are and sometimes those feelings help them to realize what is important. At times to read this book felt like you’re staunching a wound and no matter what you do, it always starts to bleed anew.

The repercussions of what happened in the finale of “A Darker Shade of Magic” are perceptible in every single word of the story and I was hurting with the characters so much it wasn’t normal anymore. While Rhy and Kell are trying their best to ignore what happened to them, while they try to come to terms with their changed reality and their place in the grand scheme of things, Lila and Alucard are just trying to have the time of their lives. And I was thankful for it, because the Lila/Alucard Duo was a really good counterweight to Rhy and Kell.

As for the third plot line… gosh I was so anxious about what would happen. The knowledge that there was a new force at work in White London had me all kinds of worried and it felt like a looming presence above my head. Do you know the expression: “It hangs like a sword of Damocles above/over sth”? Well, I think that about nails the overall feeling of dread I experienced while reading the book. >_< This said I think I’ll head to my characters section now because I need to get rid of a lot of thoughts and they’ll be spoilery so consider yourself warned! 😉

2
Welcome to Red London! If you have magic running through your veins I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Essen Tasch! The finest of our finest will duel each other and not everyone is going to survive the spoilery fun! Tread carefully and try to stay out of trouble. The spoilers? Well, if you continue to read they’ll find you anyway.

Lila:

”People survived by being cautious, but they got ahead by being bold.”

I guess I got the answer to my question: Lila became a pirate, indeed. *lol* I personally liked her more in this book because she finally opened up and we got a good glimpse at her true personality. In the first book I could never get a grasp of her but this time around we were finally allowed to dive a little bit deeper into her personality. She doesn’t like to let anyone in because she is scared of her own feelings, but despite all her cool exterior and bravado she cares a lot about the people she spends her time with. Alucard and his crew grew on her and Rhy and Kell seem to own a special place in her heart as well. Lila’s determination to do whatever she wants is something I totally admire about her. She sets her eyes on a goal and she doesn’t cave until she made it. Her participation in the Essen Tasch was very reckless but I guess she’s one of those people that need to test their own limits and strength. And truth be told, if I would discover magic in myself I’d want to test and try it out too. *lol*I mean, who wouldn’t? ;-P

”Lila was a quick study, and she knew how to keep up a front; but behind the mask of disinterest, she took in everything. She was a sponge, soaking up the words and customs, training herself to see something once and be able to pretend she’d seen it a dozen – a hundred – times before.”

”She wanted to push away from the table and walk out, walk away, break the cords that tied her to this ship and this crew and this life, and start over. Whenever she felt the weight of those bonds, she wished she could take her sharpest knife and cut them free, carve out the part of her that wanted, that cared, that warmed at the feeling of Alucard’s hand on her shoulder, Tav’s smile, Stross’s nod.”

”The thing about freedom, Kell? It doesn’t come naturally. Almost no one has it handed to them. I’m free because I fought for it. You’re supposed to be the most powerful magician in all the worlds. If you don’t want to be here, then go.”

Kell:

” The truth was, Kell’s blood pulsed with a restless beat, while the thing that coursed within it longed for activity. Something had been roused in him, and it didn’t seem intent on going back to sleep.”

Okay, my hope that things would get better for Kell in “A Gathering of Shadows” was crushed the moment I first read his POV. My poor red-head suffered even more than he did in the first book and most of it was due to his connection with Rhy and the behaviour of his “parents”. I hated that they treated him like a criminal and even though I understood that they wanted to keep Rhy save I still detested them for the way they treated Kell. The fact that he could feel each and every single one of Rhy’s emotions and his pain certainly didn’t help to make him feel better and his slow but gradual suffocation was noticeable throughout the entire book. I bled with Kell and I could understand his need to be free. His entire life turned bitter and he realized that he was never truly a part of the Maresh family and only a means to an end. And then this horrible ending!!! ARGH!!! As if he hadn’t suffered enough already! I really hope my boy will be safe in the next book and that Lila will be able to rescue him.

”But that was the thing. Kell would never be free. No matter how far he fled. He’d given up freedom with is life, when he handed it to Rhy.”

”Rhy had always been fickle, but now Kell felt his brother’s ever-shifting temperament, the constant oscillation, and it was maddening. Space meant nothing. They could be standing side by side or Londons apart. There was no escape.
More and more, the bond felt like a chain.”

Rhy:

”He could feel it, whatever it was, hovering in the air around him, waiting until the sun went down and the world got quiet. Quiet enough to think. Thoughts, those were the waiting things, and once they started up, he couldn’t seem to silence them.
Saints, how he tried.”

You know, I’m kinda sad I never got to see more of the carefree and funny Rhy because the ending of “A Darker Shade of Magic” obviously left its traces on his personality as well. The Rhy in this book was very serious and haunted by his past. Then again I suppose to die and to come back to life will do that to a person. His life force is bound to Kell and what one of them does is felt by the other so it’s no wonder the Rhy in this book was more mature and intense. He feels responsible for everything that happened to his people and Kell and he just can’t seem to be able to live with what he did. I really hope someone is going to tell him that it wasn’t his fault and that him wanting to be a better prince and worthy was the thing that caused him to use the necklace. His fault wasn’t to fall for Holland’s trick because he wanted to be stronger; his fault was to try to please his parents and to think that the power he already has wouldn’t be enough. All that self-hatred… it will destroy him from the inside out. I really hope someone (hopefully Alucard) will be able to get through to him.

”Kell. My greatest fear in life isn’t dying. It’s being the source of someone else’s suffering. I know you feel trapped. I know I’m your cage. And I can’t –“ His voice broke, and Kell could feel his brother’s pain, everything he tried to smother until dark and drown until morning. “You will do this,” said Rhy. “For me. For both of us.”

”Every day. I wake up wanting to be a stronger person. A better prince. A worthy king. That want, it’s like a fire in my chest. And then, there are these moments, these horrible, icy moments when I remember what I did …” His hand drifted to his heart. “To myself. To you. To my kingdom. And it hurts…” His voice trembled. “More than dying ever did. There are days when I don’t feel like I deserve this.”

”He’d always envied his brother’s strength.
And now, in a horrible way, it was his.
He was immortal.
And he hated it.
And he hated that he hated it. Hated that he’d become the thing he never wanted to be, a burden to his brother, a source of pain and suffering, a prison. Hated that if he’d had a choice, he would have said no. Hated that he was grateful he hadn’t had a choice, because he wanted to live, even if he didn’t deserve to.”

3
Lila & Kell:

”Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Be quiet.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”
“We weren’t courting,” snapped Kell. “In case you forgot, she left.”

I really like those two and I definitely want more of them! I mean their kiss was … for lack of a better word hot and I think we deserve to see more of this ship. It’s a really slow burn but I actually like that about it. It probably comes with the nature of both of them. While Kell is all restraint and the brooding kind of type, Lila is all recklessness and bravado. Their personalities are quite a contrast but we all know opposites attract. ;-P I guess before we can find out if their ship is going to work out Lila will have to save her man first though! And I really hope she’ll do it fast because my boys are suffering and I need them to survive this!!! T_T

”They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn’t know which of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding. This kiss as Lila pressed into a single gesture. Her brazen pride and her stubborn resolve, her recklessness and her daring and her hunger for freedom. It was all those things, and it took Kell’s breath away.”

Rhy & Kell:

To his surprise, Rhy shot him a scowl. “I’m invested in my kingdom, Brother,” he snapped. “You should be, too.”
“I’m not their prince,” observed Kell. He was in no mood for Rhy’s attitude. “I’m just the one who has to clean up his messes.”

I love their brotherly bond so much but it definitely suffered in this book. Both of them didn’t know how to cope with the situation they found themselves in and both of them tried to atone for what they did in their own way. I wish they would have done it together, that they would have addressed all those things that stood between them more directly. Their relationship was so strained and it hurt to see them together. They were both bleeding and I think the only ones who could stop it are Kell and Rhy themselves. I really hope they’ll talk it out in the last book and that their relationship will be more relaxed again. I mean yes, their fate is bound together but if they are on the same page they could do so many great things. I want them to find peace in the next book and I genuinely hope they will.

”These days, Rhy always seemed to be the source of Kell’s suffering, while Kell himself walked around as if the world were suddenly made of glass, all because of Rhy. It wasn’t even in the end, wasn’t balanced, wasn’t fair. Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.”

”Kell.” Rhy sat forward, elbows on his knees. “I was dead.”
The words hung in the air between them.
“I was dead,” he said again, “and you brought me back. You have already given me something I shouldn’t have.” A shadow flashed across his face when he said it, there and then gone. “If it were lost again,” he went on, “I would still have lived twice. This is all borrowed.”

Alucard & Rhy:

Rhy turned to say something, but Alucard’s mouth was already there on his. Hands tangled in hair, clutched at coats. They were a collision, spurred by the force of three years apart.
“You missed me,” said Alucard. It was not a question, but there was a confession in it, because everything about Alucard – the tension in his back, the ways his hips pressed into Rhy’s, the race of his heart and the tremor of his voice – said that the missing had been mutal.

Now that came as a surprise! I knew there was something between them by the way they acted around each other but woah their romance totally caught me off guard. I guess this is mostly due to the fact that Alucard is a newly introduced character and that we didn’t know much about his past before his ship docked at London. I’m all aboard the Rhylucard/Alurhy?! ship though so please let more of those scenes come way! *lol* It’s so obvious Alucard is totally besotted with Rhy and I’m ready to see more of Rhy’s true feelings for the rakish captain as well. More, please?! XD

Alucard & Lila:

”There was a measure of theatre to everything Alucard did. She wondered how many other parts he could play. Wondered which, if any, were not a part, but the actor beneath.”

”Lila really should have killed him, back when they first met. Back before she could know him. Back before she could like him so much.”

I’m a huge fan of their friendship and I think they should continue to be just friends. Not gonna lie, the chemistry between them was amazing but they are both too reckless and probably would get each other killed. Their flame would burn bright and then blow out. *lol* I can’t blame Lila for giving into Alucard’s advances though. I mean that man is a really nice package! ;-P A deceitful and cunning package but a nice package nevertheless. XD

”Tell me,” he whispered, “was that better than winning a bet?”
She was breathless. “You make a valid argument.”
“I’d love to press the point,” he said, “but first …” He cleared his throat, and looked down at the knife she had resting against the inside of his leg.
“Reflex,” she said with a smirk, returning the weapon to its sheath.”

Lila & Rhy:

Lila’s expression hardened. “Whatever he feels for me, it isn’t love.”
“Because it isn’t soft and sweet and doting?” Rhy rocked back, stretching against the pillar. “Do you know how many times he’s nearly beat me senseless out of love? How many times I’ve done the same? I’ve seen the way he looks at those he hates…” He shook his head. “There are very few things my brother cares about, and even fewer people.”

The bond between those two surprised me as well. Lila and Rhy really seem to care about each other and I loved their tiny interactions. I’m glad Rhy kind of seems to function as a translator between Kell and Lila because I think otherwise those two would always talk past each other. XD Also can we appreciate how Lila’s first reaction, when she saw an upset Rhy, was to ask him who she needed to kill? I loved this so much because ARGH! Coming from Lila this means the world! <33 Lila and Rhy give me a Blue and Ronan vibe and I’m so here for it! I can’t wait to see more of their interactions in the next book and I hope there will be many.

He ducked his head and let out a shuddering sigh. Lila hesitated. She knew she should probably bow, kiss his hand, or swoon – at the very least explain what she was doing there, in the private palace halls, as close to the prison as anyone would let her – but instead she flicked her fingers, producing a small blade. “Who do I need to kill?”
Rhy let out a stifled sound, half sob, half laugh, and sank onto his haunches, still gripping the wooden edge of the table.”

The King & Queen and Kell:

Kell swallowed. “Will they never forgive me?”
“Which would you rather have? Their forgiveness, or Rhy’s life?”
“I shouldn’t have to choose,” he snapped.

I absolutely hated Rhy’s parents in this. His mum didn’t do anything and King Maxim was so unfair to Kell that I wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. I think Kell suffered enough and he did it all to save their son because Rhy got himself into a sticky situation that almost killed him. How is that Kell’s fault? They can blame him for dark magic finding its way into their kingdom and for being a smuggler but they can’t blame him for saving their son’s life. The Dane Twins plot would have fruited no matter what Kell did. It wasn’t his fault that Rhy felt a need to be stronger for his people. Plus Holland could have easily caused trouble without involving Kell. After all he’s an Antari too and can travel between the worlds. If King Maxim would have been fair to Kell and would have trusted him the ending of this book would have never happened. So everything that happens now is on him. I hope he’ll realize this before everything goes to hell. >_<

He stilled. “No. But we both know this isn’t about what’s good for me.”
“You’re right. It’s about what’s good for our kingdom. And if you are loyal to this crown, and to this family, you will confine yourself to this palace until the tournament is over. Am I understood?”

”I can’t keep atoning,” Kell whispered into the king’s shoulder. “I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

4
I really enjoyed “A Gathering of Shadows” and I can’t wait to read the last book of the series. Since the Essen Tasch was a huge part of this story I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Jay Kristoff’s “Godsgrave” though. Both books were the second book of a series and focused on a deadly tournament while the main plot was still running in the background. My weird brain is probably the only one that saw those similarities… Anyway! I absolutely loved the world and the characters Schwab created and I’m very curious where this series will end. I’m definitely more than just willing to find out. 😉

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

Review: Lord of Shadows (Cassandra Clare)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

When it comes to Lord of Shadows I really don’t even know where to start! I loved the book! I loved it so much I found myself rereading certain passages just because I couldn’t help myself but had to experience them again and again. =)

Cassie has always been one of my favourite authors and the more I read from her, the more I get captured in her world. It’s not just the world of the Shadowhunters though, it’s the entire package Cassandra Clare is giving to us. There were so many details and things I loved about this book and even though I will never have the time to list them all, I’m still going to try to write a proper review.

First of all I have to say that I love the world Cassandra Clare has built and even though it sometimes seems to be more than just cruel (“Sed lex dura lex”) it never fails to captivate me. Well, truth be told most of the time it’s even this kind of harshness that makes it so interesting, the obstacles and problems every single one of the Blackthorns has to overcome making the entire story line even more intoxicating and exciting. Thinking about it in retrospective the plot isn’t even that amazing and if I had to pinpoint why I still loved every line of the book, I would say that it’s the details and the love I found in every single word.

If you don’t like spoilers you should stop to read now, if you’re a sucker for spoilers: please feel free to continue! ;-P

Love, I think that’s actually the word that sums it up. There is love everywhere and all of the characters have plenty of it to give. There are Julian and Emma who try to fight their feelings, there are Ty and Kit who slowly but steadily seem to fall in love and there is the love triangle between Mark, Kieran and Cristina that left me almost breathless and broken. God I can’t even say how much I loved all of those relationships! I had to laugh, I had to cry, I wanted to tear the book apart and throw it against a wall. The ending literally killed me and even though I finished the book about a month ago I’m still far from being over it. Cassie how dare you to make such an ending!?!? I can’t wait to read the next book and the mere thought to wait two years is already enough to leave me in anguish! How could you do this to your follow readers?!?!?!

Well, enough of the ranting and back to the good stuff! Relationships are definitely something Cassandra Clare truly excels at and the more I read from her, the better her books seem to become. It’s obvious that she put a lot of effort into her characters and their world and the little hints at some of the other books never cease to amuse me.

“There were valuable first editions of books in the enormous library, most of them had been scribbled in by some idiot named Will H.”

Just to mention one of them. ;-P

So yes, since I liked the love relationships the most I’m going to get into detail now:

3
Emma & Julian:

I adore Julian, I really do! He has the soul of an artist and he’s so complex that I can’t help but have to love him for it. I never met another character that was so driven by his love for his family, the fact he would do everything in order to protect his loved ones something that sometimes even gave me the chills. He is neither black nor white and his love for Emma only seems to emphasise his inner conflict. The tension between those two is almost tangible in the air and whenever I read about them I was reduced to a squealing fan girl. I really hope that they manage to find a way to break their parabatai bond and I don’t even want think about what will happen now that Livvy died…

“Why all these paintings of you? Because I’m an artist, Emma. These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.” – Julian Blackthorn

Ty and Kit:

I love, love, love and love those two!! Every time they interacted I had a smile on my face and felt oddly peaceful. Ty is such a gentle boy and Kit understands him so well. It’s so obvious that the two of them care about each other deeply and even though Cassie is careful never to give us a palpable proof of their love, I was still able to read it in every single line. I liked all the parts that were from Kit’s POV and since he’s a Herondale I automatically loved him! *lol* I really hope there is going to be more of those two in the next book and I can’t even say how much I ship them! =)

“He let the shirt fall and grabbed a Tupperware container of cookies out of the fridge. Maybe he could frustrate the Shadowhunters by refusing to work out and sitting around eating carbs. I defy you, Shadowhunters, he thought, thumbing the top off the container and popping a cookie in his mouth. I mock you with my sugar cravings.” – Kit Herondale

“He grinned, and the grin changed his face completely. Ty when he was still and expressionless had an intensity that fascinated Kit; when he was smiling, he was extraordinary.” Kit about Ty

Mark/Cristina and Kieran:

Oh my god! I don’t even know how I should put their love triangle into words! I guess first of all I have to say that I’m usually no fan of love triangles and don’t like them because they always seem to be so cheesy and tedious. This time however I wanted them to be together so badly that it almost hurt! XD I can understand why Christina is kind of falling for both of them and even though I initially shipped Mark and Kieran in LM I have to admit that I’m all on the new ship right now! Of all the three of them I somehow loved Kieran the most and therefore truly hope that Mark will be able to forgive him for what he’s done. Since Kieran was taken to the Scholomance at the end of the book I don’t know how their love triangle is going to work out, I certainly hope that I will read a lot of them in the next book though!!! XD

“I do not love you as I love Cristina. I love you as I love you,” said Mark. He bent his head. “I wish that you could see my heart. Then you would understand.”

4
I probably could go on and on about all the other awesome couples and their relationships! Dru’s friendship with Jaime, Diana and Gwyn (I loved how Gwyn reacted to her outing!!!), Jace and Clary, Alec and Magnus, they all were so awesome! For the sake of the poor person that actually decided to read through this review I’m going to end it now though! ;-P

All told I relished and loved every single moment of this book and I really, really, really would appreciate it if Cassandra Clare would write just a little bit faster! *LOL*