Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, S

Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Kerri Maniscalco)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 10 on My Book List 2020

”Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.”

Okay, let’s start this review with a little bit of background knowledge I gathered before I read the actual book and take it from there. 😉 As always I got aware of “Stalking Jack the Ripper” because so many of my friends on here read it and thus it was all over my feed. It doesn’t take much to figure that I wasn’t only intrigued by the promise but also by the idea behind the book. I mean who isn’t curious about Jack the Ripper? It’s THE unsolved mystery everyone knows about and people’s theories about his true identity are still running wild.

So of course I wanted to jump that hype train and see where this was heading. Truth be told, the reviews about this book are rather mixed and by discovering the controversial opinions of other bloggers I couldn’t help but find out what this means for me. Did I enjoy the book? Yes, I did. Was it what I expected? Well, yeah pretty much! Did I find out who the culprit was? Yep, I think it wasn’t that hard to deduce, but I still enjoyed reading about Audrey Rose’s and Thomas’s musings.

I guess what it ultimately boils down to is the expectations you have when you start reading this book. If you want to be entertained and like slow paced stories that animate you to think, if you enjoy fictional books that are built on real evidence, if you dig two characters that are like cat and mouse “Stalking Jack the Ripper” will most certainly be the right book for you.

If you dislike male leads that are self-assured and always voice their “dirty thoughts”, if you don’t like the idea of modern day feminism in a historical fiction book, if you’re no huge fan of knowing the OTP right from the start and if you’ve read or seen too many whodunnits and are an observant person you might not enjoy this though.

Okay, admittedly I knew who the killer was pretty early on in the book, but since I mostly fall into the first category I found myself enjoying the book. ;-P Also Thomas Cresswell! Honestly, I can’t resist a sexy Sherlock Holmes ever since I saw the movies with Robert Downey Jr. and discovered the series with Benedict Cumberbatch. *drools* And before I continue to rave about dear Mr. Cresswell (heaven knows he’s already way too cocksure of himself) I’ll head right into my characters section! ;-P

2

Welcome to Whitechapel, where robbers, pickpockets and one particular murderer roam the streets at night! If you don’t want to end up against a wall either robbed or spoiled out of your mind you better don’t continue this venture into the unknown. This is a fair warning, you better heed it! ;-P

Audrey Rose:

”My hands fisted at my sides. I refused, absolutely refused to let this cruel treatment of a woman stand. I’d do everything in my power to solve this case for Miss Nichols. And for any other voiceless girl or woman society ignored.”

I’m going to be honest here: Audrey Rose wasn’t as brilliant as I expected her to be but she was likeable enough. *lol* Okay, that doesn’t sound like I was all too persuaded by her, but I guess I just read way too many YA books and most of the heroines follow the same pattern. I liked that she had a rather unconventional “hobby” and was so fascinated by the human body and I’ve to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed how she handled Thomas and her father. XD Still, she was rather stereotypical and I hope that her character will get more unique as the series proceeds. There’s still room for improvement and I genuinely hope that Kerri Maniscalco will use the rest of the series in order to develop Audrey Rose’s character. As far as I know this was her debut though so I’m quite confident that she’ll make it work! ;-P

”One needn’t be strong in only physical matters – a strong mind and will were fierce to behold as well.”

”While it wasn’t something I relished, it was the hard truth. I was a young girl growing up in a world run by old men. I’d pick and choose my battles wisely.”

Thomas Cresswell:

”Golden-brown eyes were perfectly set into an angular face, as if Leonardo da Vinci had painted him himself. If only my lashes were as luxuriant. His chin was squared, giving him a look of steadfast determination. Even his nose was thin and regal, giving an air of alertness to his every expression. If he weren’t so infuriatingly aware of his own intelligence, he’d be quite attractive, I supposed.”

Entrance: The irresistible love interest! ;-P Honestly, it’s almost impossible not to like Thomas! At least not if you’ve a weakness for obnoxious, presumptuous, complacent, cocksure, smug and irritating men like him! Which I obviously do. *lol* I loved the arrogant “Sherlock Holmes” vibe I got from him and I really enjoyed the way he thought. Not saying I’m a Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot myself, but I tend to be very observant as well and I like to think outside of the box so we definitely seem to have that in common. Plus that sass and his audacity! I loved it! It kind of reminded me of myself (after all my blog is named “The Sassy Library Fox” for a reason ;-P) and so I could relate to him. Cheeky, brilliant bastard! <333 I want more of him and can’t wait to read the next book, especially because I’m sure that there’s a very intriguing backstory to discover. =)

”Why don’t you talk to me about what’s really troubling you? What emotional dilemma needs sorting out?” He patted his legs. “Sit here and I’ll rock you gently until you or I or both fall asleep.”

”Ah. There’s something about you saying my name that sounds like a blessed curse,” he said. “If you can work up a good hand gesture to go along with it, that’d be exceptional.”

Uncle Jonathan:

”I stole a glance at him, but his gaze was fixed hungrily on the corpse. At times the darkness in his eyes terrified me more than the dead we butchered.”

Uncle Johnathan definitely had a creepy vibe about him but I don’t blame him for being so curious and totally absorbed by his passion. It was obvious that he lived and breathed his profession or should I rather say his calling? Despite everything I never suspected him to be Jack the Ripper though. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for the police and I was really sorry for him when he ended up in that asylum. I’m sure there’s more to Uncle Jonathan’s story as well and once again I hope that Kerri Maniscalco will explore it in one of the next books.

Cousin Liza:

”Wield your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains. Let them think they rule the world. It’s a queen who sits on that throne. Never forget that. There’s no reason you can’t wear a simple frock to work, then don the finest gown and dance the night away. But only if it pleases you.”

I really liked her cousin Liza and I wish we would have gotten more of her. I kind of admired how she found a balance between what society expected of her and what she truly believed and thought. With a mother like hers this couldn’t have been easy but she was clever enough to play along with her mother’s views and not to defy her outright. Something that can’t be said for Audrey Rose and the way she dealt with her father. *lol* This said Liza’s approach was way more diplomatic and skilful, which automatically caused her to be in my good books. XD Can we please get more Liza in “Hunting Prince Dracula”?

Superintendent Blackburn:

Blackburn walked around his desk, dropping into the chair behind it and rubbing his eyes. ”Perhaps running the estate as my father had wanted isn’t such a bad idea. I can handle a vast amount, but this is a bit much. How horrid can a life of leisure and politics be?”

I know he was supposed to be some sort of antagonist but I somehow started to like him? Haha! I mean alone that quote above! *lol* He respects Audrey Rose and her work and even though his way to court her was totally wrong he still made an effort which is more than can be said for other men during that time. =) I think he might be more Liza’s calibre though so I’d totally ship those two if they’d meet one day. ❤ As for now he was a nice addition to the cast and I’m sure he has his own interesting story to tell.

3

Audrey Rose & Thomas:

Without lifting his head from his own journal, he said, “Not having any luck figuring me out, then? Don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice. And, yes” – he grinned wickedly, eyes fixed on his paper – “you’ll still fancy me tomorrow no matter how much you wish otherwise. I’m unpredictable, and you adore it. Just as I cannot wrap my massive brain around the equation of you and yet adore it.”

I just loved Thomas unapologetic and unashamed flirting with Audrey Rose! *lol* There’s a man that knows what he wants and I’m sure she captured his interest way earlier than we see in the book. In fact I’m pretty certain that she’s been on his radar for months already and the fact that he instantly knew who she was and worked with her uncle for quite a while indicates that this was no instalove! At least not for him, which was truly refreshing. Also did anyone else die when his composure finally crumpled and we got to see the real Thomas that’s hiding behind his calculating mind?! Thomas totally losing his mind because he was afraid someone would harm Audrey Rose was one of the best things about this book. <333 Yes, it’s tropey, yes it’s stereotypical but I still loved it! *lol* Can’t help it but I’m weak for such boys. XD Plus their easy banter was so amusing to read. I might have known that those two would end up together from the very moment they met but it was still fun to watch it unfold and I’m looking forward to more of those moments and scenes.

”Hurry along, then,” I said, grabbing my orchid and securing it safely in my journal. “I want to sit by the window.”
“Hmm.”
“What now?” I asked, losing patience.
“I usually sit by the window. You may have to sit in my lap.”

”If you’d like to see me out of my breeches, simply ask, Wadsworth. I’m more than happy to accommodate you on that front.”
“Scoundrel.”

I took a steadying breath. Thomas was a complete wreck. I gently touched his face, drawing his attention to me. “Thomas. What –“
“I thought I was going to lose you.” He ran both hands through his hair, pacing away and coming back. “I saw blood – I thought He’d slit your throat. I thought – “ He covered his face with his hands, collecting himself for a few breaths, then fixed his attention on me, swallowing hard. “You must know what you mean to me? Surely you must know how I feel about you, Audrey Rose. The thought of losing you…”

Audrey Rose & her father:

”I was unaware keeping abreast of the daily news was inappropriate. Perhaps I shall spend my time, and your money, on new corsets to bind my will from my lips,” I said sweetly. “Wearing something so constricting ought to tether my vocal cords nicely. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Talk about a complicated and strenuous father-daughter relationship. Those two didn’t give each other an inch and I could understand why. >_< Audrey Rose’s father was still grieving for his wife and he obviously loved his daughter and wanted to keep her from harm. Yet at the same time he being so strict pushed her away from him. The more he tried to keep her close the more she rebelled. The things she said to him though! *lol* I was like WOAH, GIRL! O_o Still, I’m glad they managed to sort things out in the end and that they got closer once again. ❤ I just hope their relationship will continue to be on a good terms in those next few books. Also: No surprise Thomas won her father over! XD He watched out for his girl and saved her so which kind of father wouldn’t approve of a boy like that? 😉

”Those who deserve respect are given it freely. If one must demand such a thing, he’ll never truly command it. I am your daughter, not your horse, sir.”

”Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows. My misguided intentions were good, but I’m afraid they didn’t turn out as I’d planned.” He tapped his heart. “I thought by keeping you close, keeping you safe in our home, I could protect you from such monsters.”

Audrey Rose & her brother Nathaniel:

”Father will go berserk if he discovers what you’re really doing. I fear his grasp on reality is most delicate these days. His delusions are becoming … worrisome.”

I saw this coming from miles away and truth be told I already got suspicious about Nathaniel when he told Audrey Rose that he and his friends were trying to protect the citizens of London. There’s no better way to disguise your dark deeds than to claim that you’re out at night in order to keep others safe. Who would suspect a righteous person like that? (Except of me, of course. *lol*) When it comes down to the 3 most important questions it wasn’t hard to deduce who was the murderer though. You might call them the three “w”. Who has a motive? Who had a good alibi? And who had the perfect opportunity? It was way too easy to suspect Audrey Rose’s uncle, Thomas or her father. They were the obvious choices and so I didn’t even suspect them. Pity Audrey Rose didn’t do the same. She was so hung up on the idea of her father being Jack the Ripper that she didn’t even see all those obvious signs. Bless Thomas for keeping a cool head in her stead. XD Also she loved her brother dearly and made the mistake of trusting him blindly. Beginner’s mistake. ;-P Still, I understand why she couldn’t wrap her head around the idea of him being the murderer and it’s always tough when it’s your own family….

4

“Stalking Jack the Ripper” was a very entertaining and easy read. Admittedly some of the more gory details might not be for the faint-hearted, being a scaredy fox myself I didn’t think that it was all too bad though. ;-P If you like a little mystery, easy banter and a slow-moving plot this might be the right book for you. =)

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Gilded Wolves (Roshani Chokshi)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 29 of My Book List 2019

”The world has a shit memory. It will never pay its debts unless you force its hand.”

Ahh! Where to start? Where to begin? Maybe I should just go for blunt honesty and say it like it is: I could bite myself for not reading this sooner!!! What was I even thinking to procrastinate for so long? This book was already on “My Book List 2019” and it took me until 2020 to read it. (Which is actually sort of typical me! *lol*) Still, if we stick to honesty I’ve to admit that I’m kind of torn about having read “The Gilded Wolves”. Why is that so?

Well, on the one hand I loved those characters and their diversity! The plot was so much fun and I adored the puzzles and the fact that this book kept me on my toes and forced me to pay attention to what was happening. In some way “The Gilded Wolves” felt like the unknown lovechild of Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons” and Leigh Bardugo’s “Six of Crows”. With a dash of its uncle “Indiana Jones” and a pinch of its aunt “Ocean 11” mixed into it. XD Plus, let’s not forget about the tension that oozed from every single one of those pages! All those six characters have a painful past they’d rather forget and want to go into a bright future instead. And boy, is Chokshi a master at playing their weaknesses in order to build up tensions! XD Just amazing! <333 On the other hand I find myself faced with a huge disadvantage now. I read the first book, loved it and now I’ll have to wait until the end of 2020 until I’ll be able to read the next instalment. Which is just cruel! I mean after THAT ending!!?? >_< ADFKADKFAKSJFDLKASDFJASKDFJASKFD!! I need answers and I need them soon! So I’ll finally get myself a NetGalley account (Yes, I’m THAT desperate to get my paws on a copy) and hopefully my wish for an ARC will be granted. (I’m crossing all my claws here. *lol*)

This said, let’s begin with my fangirl/rant feast! There’s so much I need to get out of my system and since I had to shorten my review for goodreads (damn word limits, I didn’t even get to my infamous “The relationship & ships” category) I’ll make sure to let it all out on here! I’ll be nothing but thorough! I can promise you that! *lol*

2

Welcome to the “Palais des Rêves”, where dreams come true and spoilers become reality! ;-P If you don’t want to be spoiled I’d advise you not to mingle with the crowd! It’s a fair warning and in your best interest! Mark my words before you decide to linger. XD

Séverin – The Leader:

”He was deception steeped in elegance, from his sharp smile to his unsettling eyes. Séverin’s eyes were the precise color of sleep – sable velvet with a violet sheen, promising either nightmare or dream.”

Chokshi definitely has a way with words. I could imagine Séverin so well and in my mind he’s drop-dead gorgeous. *drools* Still, his habit of chewing cloves might be a turn-off. *lol* Not that I don’t like cloves, I really like the taste and the smell, but only in small doses. The way Séverin popped them into his mouth it must have tasted more than just intense. Not that I’d fantasize about kissing him… Nuhu… not me. ;-P Anyway! His character kind of reminded me of “Gansey” (especially the habit of chewing on something. With Gansey it was mint leaves though) and he definitely was not only the leader of the group but also some sort of responsible father figure. I hated to find out about his and Tristan’s childhood and I think he might have named his foster fathers after the seven deadly sins. My buddy and I gave that a lot of thought and we eventually decided that they had other real names and Séverin only called them like that in his mind. Would be such a typical Séverin move. XD Also from all the characters in the book he was probably the most driven and torn. To be shunned by his family and to be denied his legacy wounded him deeply and I have no idea what will happen to him in the next book. I just hope he won’t go all “dark side”. >_<

”Must you creep up on us like that? I didn’t even hear you come into the room!”
“It’s part of my aesthetic,” said Séverin, dangling a Forged muffling bell.

”Séverin closed his eyes. It wasn’t about enough. Tristan would never understand. He had never felt the pulse of an entirely different future, only to see it ripped from his grasp and smothered in front of him. He didn’t understand that sometimes the only way to take down what had destroyed you was to disguise yourself as part of it.”

”He wished he didn’t know what he had lost. Maybe then every day wouldn’t feel like this. As if he had once known how to fly, but the skies had shaken him loose and left him with nothing but the memory of wings.”

”Memories unsettled him. He hated the thought that he might have missed something, and he didn’t want time warping how he remembered things because he didn’t trust himself to remember without bias. And he needed to. Because only then, only with absolute impartiality, could he detect where he had gone wrong.”

Laila – L’Énigme:

”She hated seeing someone hold an empty plate and always thought everyone was hungry. She knew everyone’s secrets even without having to read their objects. At the Palais des Rêves, she turned that radiance into an allure that earned her star billing and the name, L’Énigme. The Mystery.”

Laila was such an intriguing character! She’s Indian, can read the history of objects (kinda reminded me of Tessa Grey) and is some sort of a sexy mother hen. Oh well, that sounded kinda wrong but it’s still true somehow? *lol* I think what I’m trying to say is that she cares about everyone and treats the crew like they are her children. XD I mean there’s a really domestic side to her. She bakes for her friends and listens to their troubles yet at night she’s L’Énigme and dazzles the crowd at the Palais des Rêves! She’s a temptress and no one seems to be more ensnared by her than Séverin! XD Just like with all of the other characters there’s something dark lurking in her past though, and to say this surprised me would be putting it mildly. As I understand it, she was a stillborn and forged into living with the help of the lives of a cygnet and a jungle cat? Which explains her dark fur-like hair and her black eyes. Apparently beings who are forged into life like that don’t live longer than 19 years or so though, so that’s the main reason why she’s trying to stay away from Séverin and working on finding a cure. And boy do I hope that she finds one! She’s way too young and too precious to die and her love to Séverin definitely needs a decent chance to thrive. Not that they are on good terms right now. Damn! >_< Also did anyone notice that “Laila” literally means “Born at night” in some cultures? If that’s no suitable name for her I dunno! ;-P

”It will fade,” she said.
“And then I’ll be real?” Laila would ask. Her mother’s hands always stilled when she asked that question. “You are real, my girl, for you are loved.” Her father’s hands had not always been so kind. He did not always know what to make of her. His crafted child.

”The almost painful exquisiteness of being unveiled by a glance. It made her feel aware of everything about her – skin stretched over bone, silk clinging to her limbs, her breath heating the air. The kind of awareness that makes one feel alive. It terrified her.”

”She didn’t want to glide through life, unfeeling. She wanted to know everything while she could. She didn’t want the ghosts of thresholds not crossed hanging over her. She didn’t want one night. She wanted a chance.”

“Her mother’s voice rang in her ears: ‚Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.”

Enrique – The historian:

”When he realized he didn’t have the talent, he chose to study the subjects that felt closest to Forging: history and language. He could still change the world… maybe not with something as dramatic or grand as Forging, but in more intimate ways. Writing. Speaking. Human connection.”

I admire that boy so much! Enrique is not only a revolutionary bisexual Spanish-Filipino (he could be pan too but judging by his thoughts I think he’s bi) but also an ardent historian! ❤ And I loved that mixture! It made him a really interesting character and even though he obviously isn’t all too good at socializing he still had a great humour and an even quicker mind! That man is the full package and I was so there for it! XD Unlike the other members of the crew he didn’t have any Forging powers but he made up for it with his sharp wit, resourcefulness and seemingly infinite knowledge. I really would have loved to read more about him, especially at the ending!!! Because damn, was it too much to give us more info??!!! Chokshi left us completely in the dark about what happened to him, Hypnos and Zofia which is so NOT OKAY!!! I need answers! *dies*

”There were Forged dragons out of myths from the Orient, Sirenas with heavy-lidded eyes, bhuts with backwards feet. And though they were not all his tales, he saw himself in them: pushed to the corners of the dark. He was just like them. As solid as smoke and just as powerless.”

”Nothing but a symbol?” repeated Enrique quietly. “People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They’re not just lines. They’re histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.”

”Enrique used to feel a twinge of shame when it came to his feelings… He used to pray that when it came to attraction, his body would just choose between men and women, and not both.

Zofia – The phoenix:

”A month later, ten students locked themselves in the lab with her. Again came the sounds, smells, laughing. The other students didn’t grab her. They knew the barest touch – like a feather trailed down skin – hurt her more. Calm slipped out of reach no matter how many times she counted backward, or begged to be let go, or asked what she had done wrong.”

Zofia is my precious, skilled phoenix! She’s Jewish-Polish and totally socially awkward. I really liked that she’s so shy and can get completely absorbed in her work. It’s kind of endearing and I always thought of her as the little sister of the group. I could picture her standing in her lab while she created new things, completely forgetting about the cookie Laila brought her. Apparently she was a victim of mobbing at the university and I despised her classmates for violating her that way. They might not have physically hurt her but they used her insecurity and aversion to touch to taunt and mentally abuse her and that’s just horrible! My poor little girl! Don’t hurt my Zofia or I’ll defend her like a lion! *grrr* Zofia is really great at maths too and her and Enrique were such a great team it was a pleasure to watch them figure out things together. I always had Beckett and Castle in mind when they threw their knowledge and ideas at each other. Just perfect. *lol* I can’t help but wonder what happened to her after Tristan’s death though. I mean Hypnos and Enrique kissed and judging by the hints that were dropped, to witness their kiss caused her to withdraw from the world again. Which is such a shame! >_< I really liked that she began to open up and I’d hate for her to be alone! *sends hugs to Zofia*

”What it could do did not seem within human grasp, but that was the thing about numbers. They weren’t like people, who could say one thing and do another. They weren’t like riddles of social mannerisms or conversations. Numbers never lied.”

”She could be like her parents. Like her sister. She could walk down a street or through a crowd. She wouldn’t know that tight, breath-pulling sensation of drowning, all because someone had asked about her day and she didn’t know how to answer.
Knowledge would make her brave. And more than anything, Zofia wanted to be brave.”

”She was reminded of all that she could not detect. All that she could not do. She could storm into a room, but she could not command its attention through charm. She could face herself in the mirror, but she could not spark imaginations with her face. Zofia stepped back. She should stay in the world she knew. And not reach for one she did not.”

Tristan – The Botanist:

”His love and his fear and his own cracked mind made it easy to convince him that betraying you was saving you.”

Tristan was such a surprise. I mean he was clearly the crew’s baby brother who loved his tarantula Goliath and thought up little miniature gardens before he actually created them and made them a real and living thing. He was such an adorable boy and even though he shared his rather dark and twisted childhood with Séverin it seemed like he got out of it just fine. Well, at least it seemed like it. To be honest there was always something that troubled me about him and the words of Joux-Roubert certainly didn’t make it any better. The birds that disappeared from the garden… I knew there was something wrong with it. Hellz! I certainly didn’t expect it to end like that though! O_o Sweet, precious, little Tristan did WHAT??!!! OMG! I really would have loved to find out why he did that but I guess now we’ll never know… Or we might find out in the next book? I hope we do because that ending left such a huge question mark over my head and the fact that we never got Tristan’s POV makes it even harder to fathom why he would have done such a thing. Also is it just me or was it some sort of bad omen that Tristan never got his own POV? XD

”What? I’m hungry. What about you, Tristan? What do you want?”
“This,” Tristan said quietly. “Just this.”

Hypnos – The Patriarch

”He knew the other boy’s skin, a deep umber like the rain-soaked bark of an oak tree. He knew the textured hair cropped close to his head. Even knew his strangely colored eyes, a blue so pale they looked like panes of frost.”

At first Hypnos was no part of the crew but I ADORED that boy the moment he appeared! His first meeting with Séverin and Enrique was so amazing; I couldn’t help but fall head over heels for him. I loved his flair for the dramatic and his quirky and strangely innocent (even though he’s pretty good at threatening people!) nature. He’s an adorable walking and talking disaster and all I wanted was more!! XD It’s kind of strange that he’s the Patriarch of House Nyx but I’m sure he has skills and responsibilities we never even got to see. Just like with Tristan we didn’t get a Hypnos POV (well only that short chapter at the ending) and I can’t wait to read his thoughts! Let’s hope we’ll get to see them in the next book. Also Hypnos seems to be bi? Just a guess here because he showed obvious interest in Enrique but also sort of charmed Zofia? Maybe that was just my imagination though and he’s actually gay and only loves to flatter pretty women? *lol* I suppose I won’t know until I read “The Silvered Serpents”.

Hypnos loosed a breath. “I hate when I have to do this! Flaring tempers, veiled threats, ugh. It ages me, mon cher, and I detest that.”

”Did you say fur ball?” asked Hypnos. “Like a puppy? How endearing.”
“She said fireball.”
“Oh. That is decidedly less endearing.”

”What’s going on here” – said Hypnos, his voice rising as a bizarre grin spread across his face, – “is that you care for me. We’re all friends. We’re friends going to save another friend! This is… this is amazing!”

”I had to choose, and perhaps the Order forced my hand in this. But what no one tells you is that even when you decide which world you will live in, the world may not always see you as you would wish. Sometimes it demands that you be so outrageous as to transcend your very skin. You can change your name. Your eye color. Make yourself a myth and live within it, so that you belong to no one but yourself.”

3

Laila & Séverin:

”When Séverin turned back to the room, he went still. Though the room was nearly dark, whatever light clung to its corners now raced to illuminate Laila. It seemed the world couldn’t help but want to be near her … every beam of light, pair of eyes, atom of air. Maybe that’s why sometimes he couldn’t breathe around her.”

Okay, there’s no other way than to say this in capital letters, so please bear with me: I LOVED THEM SO FREAKING MUCH, THEIR TENSION WAS EVERYTHING AND OMG THEY KILLED ME A THOUSAND TIMES!!! I swear the heat whenever they talked with each other was enough to destroy every thermometer! It was off the charts and could have burned down entire worlds! I absolutely loved their tension and I digged the fact that they had history together. Usually it’s always boy meets girl and they fall in love but in this case they spent a night together which both of them are trying really hard to forget. Of course they can’t stop thinking about it, but since neither of them wants to give into their feelings for each other (for very different reasons I may add) they try to avoid being alone instead. Without success because even though they are like NEVER alone their chemistry is STRONG! (And that’s putting it so lightly I can’t even!!!) I loved that Laila called Séverin “Majnun” and GODS did the ending kill me! I hate that they are like that now!!! Tristan’s loss changed Séverin so much and I just couldn’t bear to read those last 5 chapters! In my mind they don’t exist!!! I’ll only acknowledge them if Laila and Séverin end up together in “The Silvered Serpents”. Until then I’m in total denial! Which last 5 chapters??!! I dunno what you’re talking about! ;-P

”Oh, goodness, you care for Séverin! And why wouldn’t you? That boy looks like every dark corner of a fairy tale. The wolf in bed. The apple in a witch’s palm.” He winked.

”She thought back to that evening… on her birthday… when she’d felt buzzed with a daring she almost never indulged. She’d cornered him in his study, more intoxicated by the way he’d looked at her than she had been from any champagne. Séverin hadn’t gotten her a birthday present, and so she demanded a kiss that turned into something more…”

”Laila could picture his eyes perfectly, even though she couldn’t see them. His dusk-colored gaze darkening, fixed on her. Laila knew she should look at the other audience members, but she couldn’t look anywhere but at him, and she didn’t want him looking at anyone but her.”

Séverin wanted to call a doctor, a retinue of nurses, declare war on pans if he could… but Laila refused. “It’s a tiny burn, Majnun,” she’d said, laughing off his panic. “I know,” he’d said. But I cannot stand to see you hurt.

”They let each other stand like this, mutually clasped. Maybe it was just because it was still dark out, and the memory of this moment would dissolve with the sunlight. Or maybe it was because in that vast silence of uncertainty, they could feel each other’s pulse against their fingertips, and that cadence meant they could be many things, but not alone.”

”This was what a kiss that meant nothing supposedly felt like. As if he could not touch her enough, taste her enough, as if this movement alone would leave his body riddled as an addict’s.”

Zofia, Enrique & Hypnos:

“You’re impressed. Admit it.“
Zofia crossed her arms. “No.”
“I dazzle you with my intelligence.”
Zofia turned to Laila. “Make him stop.”

Now I don’t know if I’m on board of this love triangle! *lol* I gotta admit: I was shipping Hypnos and Enrique the moment they met and I just don’t see Zofia in the picture. I mean I want her to have someone that truly loves her because she really deserves to be happy, I’m just not sure if it should be my two boys. XD Zofia’s role in the group always gave me a rather sisterly vibe (like Tristan’s) and it was kind of strange to read that she seems to like Enrique more than just a brother. Her reaction at the end of the book said it all though and it’s pretty obvious that she has some feelings for him. Mhmm I dunno. Chokshi will have to do A LOT to convince me of this love triangle. *lol* For now I’m totally on board of the Hypnos/Enrique ship and I can’t wait to see where this is heading!!! ❤ Also: WHY WEREN’T THEY MENTIONED IN THE LAST FIVE CHAPTERS THAT (ACCORDING TO ME) DON’T EXIST??!

Hypnos was beautiful at a distance. Up close, he was just plain staggering. Enrique stumbled to his feet, hoping the other boy hadn’t noticed. When he looked up, Hypnos’s eyes looked darker. The pupils blown out, as if he was trying to take in all of him too.
“Had I known what pretty company you keep, I might have met with you sooner, Séverin,” said Hypnos, not taking his eyes off Enrique.

”Hypnos smiled, then whispered in her ear, “I do mean it. You are stunning. Though I did not quite like the look of your friend.”
“He’s not my friend.”
“Am I your friend?”

”I was only going to say that we make a good team, phoenix.” A corner of her mouth quirked up. “I know.” And that was true. Her math, his history. They were, he thought, a bit like an equation where the sum was greater than its parts.

Séverin & Enrique:

Enrique shuddered. „Honestly. Who looks at a vase covered in bull testicles and says, ‘You. I must have you.’?”
“The bored, the rich, and the enigmatic.”
Enrique sighed. “All my life aspirations.”

Haha! I really enjoyed their easy banter! Those two were obviously best friends (even though neither of them would admit it) and I liked that Séverin trusted Enrique so much. I mean he basically trusted him with his own life on multiple occasions and I’m glad they had each other. I’m kind of worried how their friendship is going to continue after Tristan’s death though. I mean Enrique and Hypnos seem to be on the best way of becoming a couple and even though Séverin accepted Hypnos in their ranks he did it kind of grudgingly. (At least it seemed like that to me.) I’m pretty sure he didn’t even talk with Enrique after Tristan died and this makes me really sad. =( Those two could have such a great friendship if Séverin would just allow anyone to get close to him. *sighs*

”You’re fondling it.”
Enrique rolled his eyes. “It’s an authentic piece of history and should be savored.”
“You might at least buy it dinner first,” said Séverin, before pointing at the metal edges.

4

“The Gilded Wolves” was everything I craved for and wanted to read! I loved to watch this story unfold, I adored the characters, their world, the diversity and all those puzzles! And I really, really want to read the next book! *lol* A huge thanks goes to my partner in crime Miri @ The Book Dragoness for reading this book with me! I enjoyed our discussions and I can’t wait for your comments on the second book!!! Let me live vicariously through you! ;-P

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Poppy War (R.F. Kuang)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 8 on My Book List 2019

”Children ceased to be children when you put a sword in their hands. When you taught them to fight a war, then you armed them and put them on the front lines, they were not children anymore. They were soldiers.”

This book. I mean… THIS BOOK! *sighs deeply and shakes head*
There is so much to be said about “The Poppy War” and I’m afraid I won’t even be able to put at least half of my thoughts into decent sentences. Because after finishing this book about a month ago (A MONTH AGO!!!) I still have troubles to sort out all of my feelings and thoughts.

“The Poppy War” is a great book but it tackles a lot of serious topics and I guess that’s the reason why my heart always feels kind of heavy when I think about it. Of course there is a war raging in this book but there happen so many other things that it’s almost impossible not to flinch when you reach those final 40%. Think about every atrocity that’s ever happened and you get a good idea about what you’re going to read in this book. There’s genocide, rape, torture, self-harm… and that’s just me naming a few of the triggers that might come your way.

”War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who remains.”

Let me tell you this: The longer you continue the worse it gets and even though this was masterfully done and I loved the world building and all the characters there is still this strange undercurrent of heavy sadness and dread. Golyn Niis was so tough to read I still get goose bumps when I think about it. This chapter was so, so, so, so damn hard to get through and I can’t remember the last time I read a book and felt that way. Maybe I never felt that way reading a book before. At least I can’t remember a single book that actually made me feel like this. I swear my stomach turned and I had troubles to breathe. I was feeling nauseous reading a book! Yes, it was that heavy! Everyone who already read the book will know what I’m talking about and to those who didn’t: It’s really as bad as everyone claims it to be! I got plenty of warnings but nothing prepared me for Golyn Niis!

”Amateurs obsess over strategy, Irjah had once told their class. Professionals obsess over logistics.”

Still, despite this heavy feeling of uneasiness that always overcomes me when I think about “The Poppy War” this book was definitely worth reading! I loved the fantasy elements and the idea of powers from the gods! Plus I really enjoyed the chapters at Sinegard Academy and the chimei! What I loved the most was the representation of human nature though. I might be alone with this but it’s obvious that R.F. Kuang put a lot of effort into her characters and you could see it in the way they grow, develop and change. Their character arcs were so amazing to follow, I’m in awe! And before I continue to gush about them here, I might as well move to my character section instead. ;-P

2

This is my spoilery spoiler section and if you didn’t read the book already you better turn around and leave. If you’re still curious and don’t want to heed my warning you may proceed at your own risk! I mean I warned you, right? ;-P

Rin:

”No – they couldn’t just do this to her. They might think they could sweep her away like rubbish, but she didn’t have to lie down and take it. She had come from nothing. She wasn’t going back to nothing.”

Oh gods! Rin! I can’t believe what she did in the end and I can’t wrap my head around the fact that such a sweet and innocent girl could change that much! But it still happened and her descent was so heavy to watch. >_< I guess that’s what happens when you play with fire, quite literally in her case. She got addicted to the power and I’m so damn afraid of what she’s going to do next! I loved her defiance and strength at the beginning of the book, how she wanted to learn and did everything possible to achieve her goal. She was so determined and strong-willed! But then the war began and all those things happened and with every chapter Rin changed! She became something different, she hardened her heart, she lost her moral compass and made decisions that got her deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole! And then she did the unthinkable and I’m not sure if she’ll ever be able to return from that darkness again. T_T The ending broke my heart, for Rin, for the person she could have been for everything she HAD been before she came to Sinegard. She’s not the person she used to be and I find myself weeping for everything she lost and for what she became. =(((

”She didn’t want to be possessed. She wanted to remain free.”

”Then I will die on my feet,” she said. “I will die with flames in my hand and fury in my heart.”

”My god didn’t make me do anything,” she said. “The gods can’t make our choices for us. They can only offer their power, and we can wield it. And I did, and this is what I chose.” She swallowed. “I don’t regret it.”

”She was sane, she was convinced of it. She was whole. She had lost much, yes, but she still had her own mind. She made her decisions. She chose to accept the Phoenix. She chose to let it invade her mind.”

Altan:

”We’re the final front,” said Altan. “If we fail, this country’s lost.” He clapped her on the shoulder. “Excited?”

Altan broke my heart. At first I had the same impression like everyone else: That he knows what he’s doing, that he’s in control and a perfect student/soldier but the more we got to see from him, the more it became obvious that he’s far from all those things! This boy was broken beyond repair and he hid it so well that no one ever noticed until it was too late! I can’t say that I liked his actions but I could understand why he acted the way he did! He was lashing out at everyone because he was like a wild animal that only saw threats and didn’t know how to react to kindness. Altan was unable to see that not everyone who confronted him wanted to do him harm. Which makes me sad on so many levels. =( That poor, poor boy! To be tortured like this, to get out of it alive, to live with his past and the knowledge that it might happen again. Just to live with everything he went through! To draw breath every day and to continue, to keep on moving! I can’t even begin to comprehend how he must have felt and I can’t put into words how strongly I feel for him. T_T And I don’t want to believe that he’s dead! He can’t be dead! >_<

”I don’t know,” he said after a long moment. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

”Altan’s fire drew as its source an unending hate. It was a deep, slow burn. She could almost taste it, the venomous intent, the ancient misery, and it horrified her.
How could one person hate so much?
What had happened to him?

Kitay:

”One urinating statue for my easily entertained friend.”
Rin blushed. “Kitay, I can’t.”
“It costs nothing.”
“It costs a lot to me,” she said.
Kitay placed the statue in her hand. “If you say one more thing about money, I’m leaving you to get lost.”

I absolutely adored Kitay! He’s such a good friend and I loved that Rin and he became besties. =) Despite being fortunate enough to be one of the rich kids at Sinegard Academy he still reached out to her and became her friend. I think that’s what I loved about him the most, he didn’t care about titles or money, he just cared about the person and what it could do! Kitay is the living and breathing proof that good people exist and in the end his character was the only one that gave me any hope. Because despite all the things he witnessed and regardless of everything that happened to him, he still had moral values and acted according to them. In a world so harsh and cruel that it changed everyone around him, he still held on to his convictions and I loved him for it! <333

”There was a hard glint to his eyes that she had never seen in him before. He looked as if he had aged five years. He looked like his father. He was like a sword that had been sharpened, metal that had been tempered.”

Jiang:

”I am a mortal who has woken up, and there is power in awareness.”

I really don’t know how to feel about Jiang! I actually liked him at the beginning of the book but I was so disappointed by him when it ended. His character was some sort of catalyst and I had the distinct feeling that he could have done more, that he SHOUD HAVE done more! What if he would have taught Rin about her powers? What if he would have allowed her to use them in a safe setting? What if he would have fought alongside them and would have helped her to control the phoenix? He basically left Altan and Rin to their own devices and this set them on the dark path they were descending at the end. How different everything could have gone if Jiang would have watched out for them! =( To drop Altan as his student was the first mistake he made and not to teach Rin properly apparently his last.

”Ah. The law.” Jiang sniffed at an unidentified leaf and then tossed it away. “So inconvenient. So irrelevant.”

3

Rin & Altan:

”She knew what addiction looked like. Opium smokers were yellowed, useless sacks of flesh. They did not fight like Altan did. They did not move like Altan did. They were not perfect, lethal animals of graceful beauty.”

Okay, I’m going to say it: I DIDN’T SHIP RIN AND ALTAN! I’m sorry but I just couldn’t! They didn’t have much of a relationship before Rin joined the Cike and once she was a part of them her relationship with Altan was nothing but abusive. He slapped her, hurt her with words, forced her to do things she didn’t want to do and was everything else but supportive. How was I supposed to ship that? I get that Altan was thoroughly broken but he didn’t have to let it out on Rin and as frustrated as he might have been with her, he still had no right to hurt her. So nope, it was clear right from the beginning that he didn’t respect her as much as she respected him and if you ask me those two never had a future. (Not saying that I wouldn’t love for Altan to come back again. I still wouldn’t ship him with Rin though) I’ll never ship those two and I stand by it. Fight me! *lol* ;-P

”Hey. Hey.”
Cool fingers wrapped around her wrists. Gently, Altan pulled her hands away from her face. She looked up and met his eyes. They were a shade of crimson brighter than poppy petals.
“It’s okay,” he said. “I know. I know what it’s like. I’m going to help you.”

”She had adored an idea of him, an archetype, a version of him that was invulnerable. But now she knew the truth, she knew the realness of Altan and his vulnerabilities and most of all his pain… and still she loved him.”

He leaned forward and grasped her face in both hands. She thought for a bizarre moment that he was going to kiss her. He didn’t. He pressed his forehead against hers for a long time. She closed her eyes. She drank in the sensation of her skin against his. She seared it into her memory.”

Rin & Nezha:

”We aren’t here to be sophisticated. We’re here to fuck people up.”

Now that’s a relationship I could appreciate! Yes, Nezha was an ass at the beginning of the book but in contrast to Altan he actually realized his faults and apologized to Rin. I loved how they both grew out of their initial animosity and became friends in the end. And those fighting scenes!! They were pure harmony on the battlefield and anyone who claims differently didn’t read the book! XD Just like Kitay seemed to have become a moral compass for Rin the same could be said for Nezha and I’m sure if he’d been around at the end she wouldn’t have gone down that dark road. >_< Unfortunately Nezha was lost in the toxic mist and seems to be dead. I refuse to believe that he’s gone for good though. I mean he had some serious healing abilities so maybe he survived it and became a prisoner? But then again he most likely would have been with the Mugenese when Rin launched her attack and I don’t know if he would have been able to survive this as well. >_< I really hope Nezha will magically reappear in the second book! =)

”But I saved your life. Doesn’t that make us at least a little square?”
Square? Square? She had to laugh. “You almost got me expelled!”
“And you almost killed me,” he said. That shut her up.
“I was scared of you,” Nezha continued. “And I lashed out. I was stupid. I was a spoiled brat. I was a real pain in the ass. I thought I was better than you, and I’m not. I’m sorry.”

Altan & Chaghan:

”They had come to an understanding, she and Chaghan. They were no longer opposed, vying for Altan’s favor. They were allies, now, bound by the mutual atrocities they had commited.”

I’m going to be honest here: I’m such a sucker for Chaghan!!! I love his character!!!! And is it just me or did I actually feel some gay vibes between those two?! Altan and Chaghan definitely had more chemistry than Rin and Altan ever had! *lol* And they didn’t even have all too many scenes together! I got the distinct feeling that something happened when they spent those three days in the valleys and I’m not talking about Altan winning a fight between them, feel me? *wriggles eyebrows* Haha! ;-P Gosh, I really would have loved to find out more about their relationship and this is just one more reason why Altan can’t be dead! I just ship him and Chaghan too much to accept his death! Period! XD

4

“The Poppy War” was an amazing and sometimes truly revolting dark tale about a young girl that follows her own path and fights for what she thinks is right. It shows us how people can grow and how their circumstances and perceptions can change them. For better or for worse… This tale isn’t over yet. In fact it just began and I can’t wait to read what’s going to happen next. Let’s continue to hope for the best while we expect the worst, because apparently that’s the only attitude that will get you through this series. 😉

”And she would call the gods to do such terrible things.”

P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid)

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Rating:  5 Pfoten

Book 5 on My Book List 2019

”Evelyn always leaves you hoping you’ll get just a little bit more. And she always denies you.”

This book was so, so, so GOOD!! I swear I was barely two pages in and already knew that I’d love it with all my heart! ❤ There’s just something about that golden Hollywood era that captivated me right from the beginning and once Evelyn entered the scene I was a goner. I just loved the way her story was told!

We didn’t only get the interviews with Monique but also were able to read news articles about her life and this made everything so much more intriguing. I mean “Hollywood Digest”, “Sub Rosa” or the “New York Tribune”, they all wrote about Evelyn’s life and those articles give an authenticity that makes this book feel real. It could have happened, Evelyn could have been a real Hollywood Star and people could have been as fascinated by her as by Marilyn Monroe or Marlene Dietrich.

I think to some degree Taylor Jenkins Reid might have even had Marilyn Monroe in her mind when she wrote Evelyn’s character and knowing how awesome Marilyn was this really doesn’t come as a surprise. XD Another thing I appreciated was that every husband got a part of this book and even though there were seven of them, who all influenced Evelyn and left a mark on her character, none of them actually was her one true love. It’s a very particular approach to a great story and I loved the way it was carried out.

Still, after I read the ending my mind was reeling and my feelings were so mixed that I had a tough time coming to terms with everything that was revealed. There were so many things I felt conflicted about and even now, after more than a week has passed, I still didn’t manage to sort out my feelings and I still don’t know what to do with them. Maybe I’ll have to get used to the idea that to think about Evelyn Hugo and her seven husbands will always make me feel conflicted and that there’s no such thing as making peace with an ending like that.

And maybe, just maybe, that was Taylor Jenkins Reid’s plan all along. 😉

2

Welcome to my characters section, aka “The spoilery spoiler zone”! If you didn’t read the book yet and still want to be surprised by its revelations you better don’t continue to read my review. I’m worse than any tabloid mentioned in this book and I’ll spoil you relentlessly! If you still want to read my gossip, go ahead, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! ;-P

Evelyn Hugo:

”And I didn’t say I was confessing any sins. To say that what I have to tell is a sin is misleading and hurtful. I don’t feel regret for the things I’ve done – at least, not the things you might expect – despite how hard they may have been or how repugnant they may seem in the cold light of day.”

Oh, Evelyn! Where do I even begin? I loved that woman so damn much, I can’t even! <333 It’s so rare to meet such a complex character in a book but damn Evelyn just had it all! She was neither white nor black, and if anything she was all different shades of grey. I loved that she was so ruthless, that she did what she had to do in order to get what she wanted, that she was unapologetic about her decisions and behaviour and that she never held back and just wanted it all! Celia was right, at times Evelyn could be really awful and egoistic, but damn did her good qualities make up for it.  Compassionate, caring and protective of the ones she loved she would have done everything possible to keep them safe and happy. Gosh, WHAT. A. WOMAN!  I think I might be in love with her! <333

”Did I want to make as much money as Don? Of course I did. I wanted to get the paycheck and mail a copy of it to him with a photo of my middle finger. But mostly I wanted the freedom to do whatever I wanted.”

”I told her every single day that her life had been the world’s greatest gift to me, that I believed I was put on earth not to make movies or wear emerald-green gowns and wave at crowds but to be her mother.”

”I regret every second I didn’t spend with her. I regret every stupid thing I did that caused her an ounce of pain. I should have chased her down the street the day she left me. I should have begged her to stay. I should have apologized and sent roses and stood on top of the Hollywood sign and shouted, ‘I’m in love with Celia St. James!’ and let them crucify me for it.”

Celia St. James:

”I really like you. I like watching you on-screen. I like how the moment you show up in a scene, I can’t look at anything else. I like the way your skin is too dark for your blond hair, the way the two shouldn’t go together and yet seem so natural on you. And to be honest, I like how calculating and awful you kind of are.”

Now here’s the thing, I know that Celia was the love of Evelyn’s life and I could see that they loved each other deeply, but – and here comes the huge BUT – I had the feeling that I could never truly connect to her. I don’t know what it was that kept me from adoring her the way I adore Evelyn but I think it might have been the sum of thousands of little things that ultimately left a bad taste in my mouth. For instance I hated that Evelyn always seemed to feel like she had done something wrong and that it was her responsibility to set things right again. I mean Celia threw a lot of awful things at her too, but in the end it always seemed to be Evelyn that blamed herself for it. Also I didn’t like that Celia wasn’t only self-righteous but also more than just a little judgemental. You’d think a person who represents the “L” in LGBTQ+ would be more accepting and open-minded when her partner is bi, but nope Celia was almost as bi-phobic as the men in Evelyn’s life and that made me really sad. =(

”That was how it was with Celia. When you denied her what she wanted, when you hurt her, she made sure you hurt, too.”

”So I told myself that the spark between Celia and me was just a quirk we had. Which was convincing as long as it remained quirky. Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.”

Harry Cameron:

”I want to be with someone I love. I want to have a companion. I’d like to bring someone home to my family. I don’t want to live alone anymore. And I want a son or a daughter. We could have that together. I can’t give you everything. I know that. But I want to raise a family, and I’d love to raise one with you.”

Aside from Evelyn, Harry Cameron was truly the best thing about this entire book! <33 I loved this man so much and I think he’s an angel! He was always respectful and supportive and even more important he accepted Evelyn exactly the way she was. I loved that he and Evelyn always tried to solve every problem together and I hated to see him so sad after the death of John. T_T Harry’s grief broke my heart and even though he was drinking way too much he never did anything stupid. I mean he never hurt Evelyn or got frustrated with her, he only tried to compensate his grief without hurting anyone else in the process. Even when it came to this he was considerate and kind. =(( Poor Harry, though. It made me so damn sad that he had to go and I admit it, I actually shed some tears when he died. T_T

Monique Grant:

”Why, until this moment, did I not realize that the issue is my own confidence? That the root of most of my problems is that I need to be secure enough in who I am to tell anyone who doesn’t like it to go fuck themselves? Why have I spent so long settling for less when I know damn well the world expects more?”

To say their relationship was complicated would be putting it more than just mildly! It was really interesting to see Monique’s character arc though. I mean at the beginning she was a shy mouse that didn’t dare to say anything to her boss and by the end of the book she was a young successful woman who stood up for herself and finally had the guts to make decisions she never even dared to consider. I think that to get to know Evelyn and to find out the truth behind her father’s death was necessary to find her happiness and I’m convinced that both of those things were able to give her some closure. I could understand her anger towards Evelyn, her hurt when she found out what she had done and the inability to truly hate her for it. Because she got to know the person behind the movie star and she knew how broken Evelyn was on the inside, how much pain she had suffered, how much loss she had endured. =( Still, that scene when she pondered whether to get on the train or not, the thoughts that crossed her mind, her inner struggle how to deal with the situation at hand. Damn, this was one of the best book moments I ever had the pleasure to read. Well done, Taylor Jenkins Reid, well done! I had goose bumps following that inner conflict. *shudders*

”I’m Evelyn.” She reaches out and takes my hand, shaking it. It strikes me as a unique form of power to say your own name when you know that everyone in the room, everyone in the world, already knows it.”

”I insist that you be ruthless in your negotiating, Monique. Make them pay you what they would pay a white man. And then, once you’ve done that, every penny from it will be yours.”

3

Evelyn & Celia:

”I wanted to give her a lot of things. I wanted what I had to be hers. I wondered if this was what it felt like to love someone.”

Those two were the death of me, I swear! Their ups and downs, their struggles and fights, their love and dreams, their hopes and shattered realities. ARGH! It was so obvious they loved each other, yet they could never be together. Because the world didn’t let them and wouldn’t have understood, because they didn’t want the same thing, because they weren’t ready to be in a relationship and unable to make arrangements. Because…  just BECAUSE! There was always another reason why they couldn’t be happy, another misunderstanding that tore at their foundations, another bump on the road that caused them to drift apart. They loved and lost and loved and lost again. It was so heart-breaking to watch! And Celia, she killed me. With everything she said to Evelyn! I knew she loved her, yet she hurt her so much! >_<  I just wished she would have had more sympathy for Evelyn’s outlook and I really wish she would have tried to understand Evelyn’s sexuality. So many of their problems could have been solved, they could have gained so many years if they just would have allowed themselves to be who they are. Their love was so tragic… more tragic than any of the movies they produced over the years. And it really made me sad. T_T

”Evelyn, who was your great love? You can tell me.”
Evelyn looks out the window, breathes in deeply, and then says, “Celia St. James.”
The room is quiet as Evelyn lets herself hear her own words. And then she smiles, a bright, wide, deeply sincere smile. She starts laughing to herself and then refocuses on me. “I feel like I spent my entire life loving her.”

”It’s not wrong,” Celia said. “It shouldn’t be wrong, to love you. How can it be wrong?”
“It’s not wrong, sweetheart. It’s not,” I said. “They’re wrong.”

”If you love someone enough, you should be able to overcome anything,” she said. “And we have always loved each other so much, more than I ever thought I could be loved, more than I ever thought I could love. So why … why couldn’t we overcome it?”
“We did,” I said, turning towards her. “We’re here.”
She shook her head. “But the years,” she said.“

”There’s a difference between sexuality and sex. I used sex to get what I wanted. Sex is just an act. Sexuality is a sincere expression of desire and pleasure. That I always kept for Celia.”

Evelyn & Harry:

”You do not know how fast you have been running, how hard you have been working, how truly exhausted you are, until someone stands behind you and says, “It’s OK, you can fall down now. I’ll catch you.”
So I fell down.
And Harry caught me.“

Their friendship was everything, absolutely E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.!!!  Gosh, I loved their relationship so much, I can’t even!!! They were so perfect together and understood each other better than anyone else. They were so close it sometimes felt like they could read each other’s mind and I think of all the husbands Evelyn married over the years, Harry definitely was the best! <333 (Of course her last hubby was awesome too but if you ask me no one was able to hold a candle to Harry!) I know Harry was gay and had no sexual desire for women and I know that Evelyn loved Celia but damn those two made so much sense! They shared a love that is sometimes even harder to find than the once in a lifetime love we all crave for and they were so much more than just friends. They were business partners, equals, best friends, partners in crime, confidants, soul mates and kindred spirits. And most importantly, they loved each other deeply! <333 It’s so rare to find a friend like that, so rare to have a connection like that, to be loved liked that… ARGH! I just LOVED them!!! This was such a wholesome representation of a deep friendship and I’m incapable to put it into words. *breaks down and sobs*

”I promise I’ll do whatever I can. I promise you we will figure this out.”
“OK,” Harry said, and then he squeezed my hand back and walked out the door. “We will figure this out.”

”I want you to stay, Harry. We need you. Me and Connor.” I grabbed his hand tighter. “But if you have to go, then go. Go if it hurts. Go if it’s time. Just go knowing you were loved, that I will never forget you, that you will live in everything Connor and I do. Go knowing I love you purely, Harry, that you were an amazing father. Go knowing I told you all my secrets. Because you were my best friend.”

The bi rep:

”It really makes you think, doesn’t it? That people were so eager to believe we were swapping spouses but would have been scandalized to know we were monogamous and queer?”

And now we finally come to one of the most important subjects of this book: The bi rep! And let me tell you, it was spot-on! Evelyn is a bi icon and for the rest of my life I’ll never get tired of emphasizing how important this kind of representation is! Throughout the entire book Evelyn is confronted with bi-phobia but she always took it in stride! She accepted herself the way she was and she did an amazing job at trying to explain her sexuality. I know some of you might say that it shouldn’t even be necessary to explain your sexuality to others and I’m inclined to agree, but the bitter truth is that we have to explain it no matter if we want to or not. I can only speak from personal experience here but usually straight people have a hard time understanding how you can love both sexes equally and make no difference, while lesbian or gay people might just try to label you as one of their own. What Celia did?! It happens! It happens way too often and even though her actions and behaviour left a bitter taste in my mouth it still represented one of the many facets of reality. I loved the way Taylor Jenkins Reid gave Evelyn a voice though. Evelyn Hugo didn’t accept those prejudices, nope, she gave us her honest opinion, her point of view and made the other characters acknowledge her for who she was! And this was wholesome and healthy and might help a lot of people to accept themselves! So thank you Taylor Jenkins Reid! Thank you very much! <333

”Being bisexual didn’t make me disloyal,” Evelyn says. “One has nothing to do with the other. Nor did it mean that Celia could only fulfil half my needs.”

”I hated being called a lesbian. Not because I thought there was anything wrong with loving a woman, mind you. No, I’d come to terms with that a long time ago. But Celia only saw things in black and white. She liked women and only women. And I liked her. And so she often denied the rest of me.”

”Wow,” he said. “Incredible. I married a dyke.”
“Stop saying that,” I said.
“Evelyn, if you have sex with women, you are a lesbian. Don’t be a self-hating lesbian. That’s not… that’s not becoming.”

4

The more I think about this book, the more I love it! This is such an important read! I know Reid tackled a lot of problematic topics in this book, but she did it in such a positive and sensible way that I’m convinced everyone who reads “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” will learn something good from it! I’m usually not the kind of person who throws a book at you and says you should read it but in all seriousness: Read this one! Live and suffer with Evelyn, enjoy her good moments and cry with her when the world throws her for a loop! Hate her, love her, accept her the way she is. And most importantly, learn from her mistakes and don’t hesitate to show the world your true self. 😉

I know this review has been already way too long but I still want to thank the ever charming Ashley for this wonderful buddy read! We both didn’t have it easy while reading this book together, but we always managed to find a compromise and were able to continue once our lives started to become a little less hectic. *lol* I’m glad we could read this together and I hope sooner or later we’ll find another book to buddy read again! =)