Allgemein, Reviews, U - Z, W

Review: Waking Gods (Sylvain Neuvel)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”If there’s one thing we should have learned by now, it’s that we’re not the greatest thing in the universe, certainly not the smartest. Seems logical there’d be a great many things in it we can’t comprehend.“

Do you remember my sceptical face when I read the blurb of “Sleeping Giants” and was confused by the “enormous, ornate metal hand”? Yeah, it’s been a long while but after almost a year I finally managed to get a copy of “Waking Gods” into my greedy hands and I was very happy to be able to continue this crazy journey. And boy, let me tell you this: It’s been another freaky ride. *lol* The story of the second book starts about 10 years after the first book ended so we have a lot of things we need to catch up to before the plot actually picks up and thickens again.

”I’m a soldier, so if they tell me to walk up behind it and kick it in the butt, I will. But if we can avoid the whole me and Vincent dying thing, you know … that’d be good.”

But first things first: Of course our book starts with a visit from “Mr. Smith” because a huge giant figure similar to Themis suddenly appears right smack in the middle of London and kind of looms over the city. No one knows where it came from or what it wants but the mere presence of the figure already seems to be quite threatening and while the governments are busy thinking about how to deal with this new challenge, there appear more and more giant figures all over the world. So the inevitable happens: After 10 years of training and sort of parading through the world with Themis Kara and Vincent are brought back into the game and are probably the only hope for humankind.

„Kara’s … engaging in diplomacy.“
[She’s what?]
„She’s giving him the finger. Very mature, Kara.“

Haha! Yeah, they probably shouldn’t have sent Kara to do the job, because this girl is as fierce and rebellious as ever but oh well; thankfully Vincent is the voice of reason and knows how to talk her down. ;-P Not that diplomacy would have helped with the things that were coming their way, but that’s a story for another day. I really enjoyed that we got to see a lot of the cast from the first book and Mr. Smith, Dr. Franklin and Eugene Govender were all a part of “Waking Gods” as well. Unfortunately the same can be said about the people we didn’t like. Yes. Mr. Mitchell and Alyssa are once again a part of this book too. >_< And I still don’t like them, especially Alyssa. Urgh, that woman!

„I may believe in God, but I’m at war with Him. I’m a scientist, I try to answer questions, one at a time, so there’s a little less room for Him as the answer. I plant my flag, and inch by inch, I take away His kingdom.“

Anyway! What I really loved was that we didn’t only get to see the huge problem of the robots and the threat they presented for humanity but that we also got to see more of the character’s personal lives. They are all human, they make mistakes and no matter how mysterious they are, they still had a past and a background story that was worth telling. Honestly, those background stories were one of the best things about this book, at least for me, because I was almost speechless when they were revealed. Not to mention all the plot twists that always caught me off-guard. This mixed with a little bit of science, theoretical discussions and the omnipresent questions of “What does humanity stand for?” and “Is it worth to be saved?” made this a really intriguing read.

”I came to realize that good and evil were out of my reach, that time was the only thing I had any control over. I could buy time, create intervals. I could not truly make the world a better place, but I could make part of it a better place for a short while. I came to peace with that.“

4
All told “Waking Gods” was at least as mind-boggling and startling as its predecessor and I can’t wait to pick up the last and final book. I’m sure Sylvain Neuvel has still a lot in store for us and I’ve no doubt the plot twists in book three will throw me for a loop as well. I love that I can never anticipate what will happen next and this makes this series such an interesting read. Highly recommended for everyone who enjoys to be kept on their toes. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

“The real world is where the monsters are.”

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

AND

I really enjoyed it!!! *lol*

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 26 of My Book List 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

 

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Lost Apothecary (Sarah Penner)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, 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, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amir:

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

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

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

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

Hassan:

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

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

Baba:

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

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

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

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

Sohrab:

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

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

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

4
I hated the book! I loved the book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

”For you, a thousand times over.”

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

”Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold …”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Ninth House (Leigh Bardugo)

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Book 1 on My Book List 2020

”The Ancient Eight have yielded some of the most powerful men and women in the world. People who literally steer governments, the wealth of nations, who forge the shape of culture.

Okay, I’m going to be honest here (am I ever not?! *lol*) and I’ll admit that this was my first foray into the genre of “dark academia”. I’ve never read in this genre before and if I ever did I obviously can’t remember it. So this said the entire concept of “Ninth House” was super intriguing for me. I know a lot of people who already read in this particular genre and most of them apparently were bored and found too many typical tropes in this book. As someone who’s new to this sort of thing I can’t complain though. I mean for me as a newbie it totally worked.

As for the book and the plot itself: It’s a slow one and the story takes quite some time to develop and to gain traction. At the beginning there is a lot of info dump and for me it felt like the start of Sarah J. Maas’s “House of Earth and Blood”. There are many details and an entire hierarchy and system you have to understand in order to be able to continue with the storyline. All the different student unions (secret societies), their special brand of magic and how they are imbedded into the well-oiled machinery named Yale were just a part of it though. We also get a thorough look into Lethe House and how it works as a controlling body for the Ancient Eight. Not gonna lie, it was A LOT to take in at first, but once you get the hang of it the magical world starts to spread out in front of you. 😉

Another thing I’ve to mention are the characters in this book. Alex Stern is probably one of the most unlikely heroines I ever came across. Well, in fact she’s actually an anti-hero, but this only makes her even more likable. Darlington is such a darling (pun totally intended) and Dawes is some sort of quiet force that works in the background. Those three make up Lethe House and it was super interesting to find out about how it works. I think it’s safe to say that the book is very character driven and lives from their complexity, which is always a plus in my book. Still, there were a couple of very disgusting and graphic scenes so if that’s not your cup of tea I wouldn’t recommend reading “Ninth House”.  I’ll definitely make sure to write them all in the trigger warnings below! Anyway, before I write another essay I’ll just leave it at that and jump right into my characters section aka the spoilery parts! XD

2

Welcome to Yale Campus and all the secret societies it harbours. If you don’t want to dive into this dark chapter of history and don’t want to get spoiled you better head my warning and don’t continue to read. For all the brave of you who don’t mind spoilers: Be my guest and go ahead! ;-P

trigger warnings (and there’s a whole list!): violence, gore, rape, blood, drug use, drug dealing & addiction, overdosing, death, abuse (mental and physical), rape of a child, sexual assault after making people compliant with a magical drug, drowning, suicide, blackmail, self-harm, forced consumption of human waste

Galaxy “Alex” Stern:

”The idea that there could be hot food just waiting for her three times a day was still shocking. But it made no difference what she ate or how much of it; it was as if her body, starved for so long, was ravenous now.”

Where to start with Alex?! Well, she’s definitely not your typical heroine. Alex’s past is pretty messy and there happened a lot of heavy stuff that’s still haunting her. She could always see ghosts (they are called Greys in here) and even got attacked by them. Not just physically but she was also sexually abused by one as a child. And yes I think it was actual abuse and not just an attempted one. The way the scene was described she actually got assaulted. Alex was just a child when it happened and she could not explain the things she saw because no one else could see the ghosts as well. So in the end she lost her way and started to hang out with people that used drugs. Which led her into addiction until her friend died and she was offered a job at Lethe House in Yale. What I really liked about Alex’s character was that she wasn’t one of those super strong characters. She was afraid and she tried to stay out of trouble, but as the book continued she realized that she needed to stand up for herself in order to live her life the way she wanted to. Everyone already believed her to be that tough girl so she finally decided to actually become one. XD So at the end of the book it was revealed that Alex is a wheel and I’m very curious to find out what this actually means. Guess I’ll have to wait for book two though. >_<

”Take courage. No one is immortal. Do you know what it would have meant to me to know those words when I was a kid? It would have taken so little to change everything. But no one bothered. Not until I could be useful to you.”

”What do you want? Belbalm had asked her. Safety, comfort, to feel unafraid. I want to live to grow old, Alex thought as she pulled the curtains closed. I want to sit on my porch and drink foul-smelling tea and yell at passersby. I want to survive this world that keeps trying to destroy me.”

”Mors irrumat omnia,” Alex whispered. Death fucks us all.”

”What could she say? Help me. Protect me. Except no one could. No one could see the things hurting her. They might not even be real. That was the worst of it. What if she’d imagined it all? She might just be crazy, and then what? She wanted to start screaming and never stop.”

Daniel “Darlington” Arlington:

”I c-c-class p-p-profanity with declarations of love. Best used sparingly and only when wholeheartedly m-m-meant.”

Mhmm… I’m having a difficult time to say something about Darlington because we only got to see flashbacks of his character. He disappeared when he went to that house with Alex and we have no idea where he actually went or if he’s even still alive. Alex believes him to be in hell so I’m not sure if I should hope that he’s still alive. I’m pretty certain he’d suffer in hell so yeah… Anyway! Darlington seemed to be a really nice guy, yes probably too posh and refined but deep down it looks like he had a good heart. He was like the golden boy of Lethe House and everyone was drawn to him. Throughout the entire book we get to see more and more of his past and what caused him to end up at Yale and Lethe House and why he’s bound so tightly to Black Elm. Still, we only get little bits of his life and the rest is a mystery. So I’m very curious about Darlington now! Especially because Alex thinks he became a demon and the only way to become one is if you killed someone. Maybe he killed his grandfather? I dunno. I really want to find out though because nice and friendly Darlington didn’t seem like he could hurt a fly.

”He saw the city differently because he knew it, and his knowledge was not casual. It was adoration. But no amount of love could make him see Grays. Not without Orozcerio, another hit from the Golden Bowl. He shuddered. Every time was a risk, another chance that his body would say enough, that one of his kidneys would simply fail.”

”Beyond that, he had nothing. But he couldn’t let go of Black Elm, he wouldn’t, not so someone could put a wrecking ball through its walls. Not for anything. This was his place. Who would he be untethered from this house?”

”This was why he had done it, not because of guilt of pride but because this was the moment he’d been waiting for: the chance to show someone else wonder, to watch them realize that they had not been lied to, that the world they’d been promised as children was not something that had to be abandoned, that there really was something lurking in the wood, beneath the stairs, between the stars, that everything was full of mystery.”

”I don’t know,” Darlington had said meditatively. “Suffocating beneath a pile of books seems an appropriate way to go for a research assistant.”

Dawes:

”Alex has indicated her own concerns regarding her assault, and instead of hearing her out, you’ve chosen to question her credibility. You may not have meant to imply anything, but the intent and the effect were to silence her, so it’s hard not to think this stinks of victim blaming. It’s the semantic equivalent of saying her skirt was too short.”

For a long while Dawes was just a side-character that only appeared every once in a while but as the plot picked up pace she became a bigger part of the book as well. I really liked her and I was very thankful Alex had her on her side! Who would have thought shy Dawes would give Dean Sandow a sermon about victim blaming! XD I really loved that and Dawes totally grew on me! She’s a fierce bookworm and we definitely need more of those in our books! *lol*

Turner:

Turner shook his head. “And let me guess, it isn’t a regulated substance because no one’s ever heard of it to regulate it.” He had the same nauseated expression he’d worn when he saw Alex healed by the crucible. “All you children playing with fire, looking surprised when the house burns down.”

Turner is also a character that grew on me and I really like him. He’s just doing his job and trying to make sense of all the magic and craziness that is Yale campus. *lol* Not easy if you’re a man that believes in facts and the things he can see. I guess Alex will teach him a lot of things in the next book and I’m sure he’s going to regret the day he started to work for Lethe, that is, of course, if he isn’t already doing it. XD

3

Alex & Darlington:

”Alex would have liked to be immune to it – the pretty face, his lean frame, the easy way he occupied space as if he owned it. He had a way of distractedly brushing the brown hair back from his forehead that made you want to do it for him.“

And here is the one million dollar question: Was there something between Alex and Darlington or not?! I have no idea! I think they were attracted to each other but nothing ever happened? At least I got the feeling that there was some chemistry but that they didn’t get a chance to give into it. I’m kind of scared to find out how Darlington is going to be once he returns from hell. I’m pretty certain he won’t come back the same way he went into it and I’m sure it will bring an entirely different dynamic to his relationship with Alex. Also there is still North the ghost. He bonded with Alex in the most particular way and I don’t know how this is going to affect Alex in the future. Since the thing with Daisy happened he obviously steered clear of her, but they are bound now and I think he’ll be a part of the next book too. Mhmm.

”Either way, Alex didn’t like that it would be so easy for Lethe to close Darlington’s chapter. He had been a lot of things, most of them annoying, but he had loved his job and Lethe House. It was cruel that Lethe couldn’t love him back.”

Alex & Mira (her mum):

”They would ingest a little bit of arsenic every day. It made their skin clear and their eyes bright and they felt wonderful. And all the while they were just drinking poison.” When Mira turned her eyes back to Alex, they were sharper and steadier than Alex ever remembered them being, free of the usual determined cheer. “That’s what being with your father was like.”

Alex’s mum really seemed to care about her and I couldn’t help but wonder how it even happened that they got so estranged. I suppose Alex didn’t want to explain that she could see ghosts and what they did to her and therefore sought her relief in drugs instead. I had the feeling like her mum tried to reach out to her but Alex just couldn’t accept the help? Maybe I’m wrong. I think as a parent her mum should have been more persistent though. If my kid would go through some stuff and I knew she was falling apart I’d do everything possible in order to reach her. But then again maybe Mira did exactly that and it just wasn’t shown in the book. >_< What caused my ears to prick up though was that little bit when Mira spoke about Alex’s father. To compare him with poison already says enough and I’m pretty certain that Alex inherited her ability to see ghosts from him. Maybe he was some sort of demon? I dunno. All the little bits we got about him indicate that he wasn’t entirely human. I’m definitely ready to solve that mystery in the next book. xD

4

“Ninth House” was my first time reading “dark academia” and even though some of the scenes in this book were pretty repulsive and disgusting I still found myself wanting to know what would happen next. If you don’t have a tough stomach I certainly wouldn’t recommend you to read this, but if you like intriguing characters that are morally grey and enjoy a little bit of mystery this book could be for you. I definitely don’t agree with all of Alex’s actions but she was an interesting MC and I’m curious enough to go for the second book whenever it hits the shelves. =)