Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Raven King (Nora Sakavic)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 23 on My Book List 2021

”He was their family. They were his. They were worth every cut and bruise and scream.”

trigger warnings: torture, sexual abuse, violence, emotional abuse, bullying, sexual assault, dysfunctional relationships

OH MY! I don’t even know where to start with this review! Like seriously! How am I supposed to put all those feelings into words?! T_T It’s been about 3 weeks I finished this book, or should I rather say it’s been three weeks since the book finished me? Because it definitely would be the truth! ARGH!! I’m still not over all the things that happened in here and I probably never will be! Don’t let yourself be deceived by the easy and simple writing style. This book, THIS SERIES, is packing such a punch I’m still gasping for air!

I just can’t with Neil and Andrew!!! They are my precious babies and I suffered so much with them when I read “The Raven King”. Like, so, so, so damn much my heart is still bleeding all over the place and I can’t seem to be able to staunch the wound. >_< There are so many things I need to get off my chest and when I began to write down the quotes for this review I realized that this is going to be one of my super long ones, because there is no way I’ll be able to keep this short. Absolutely no way!

I already said it and I’ll say it again: Nora Sakavic’s writing style might be rather simple and not all too elaborate but her characters!!! Oh, boy! Her characters are everything! Truth be told, I kinda like that Sakavic’s writing is so clean and straightforward. It suits the characters and the mood of the book and it makes it feel real?! So real that I would die for each and every single one of the Foxes. Okay, maybe not Kevin. *lol* I’m not his biggest fan, but the others? Yes, definitely. Jeez! My emotions are still all over the place and I haven’t even begun to write my actual review. So let’s not waste any more time and go straight for my character section! I HAVE THOUGHTS!!!! Oh, and just in case you want to hear them all, here’s the link to my blog post. 😉

2

Welcome to the dorm of the Foxes! Where we trade in punches, barbs and most importantly spoilers! So if you don’t want to purchase either of them you better don’t continue to read. For all the brave out there: Be my guest! ;-P

Neil Josten:

”He forgave himself for being jaded. At eighteen years old, he’d seen more people die than he could comfortably count. Death was unpleasant, but it was a familiar and tolerable ache in his chest.”

I love my precious cinnamon roll boy to bits and pieces and I want to hug him for the rest of my life!!! AADKFASKDFSFAK! I can’t with Neil! On the one hand it was so awesome to see him grow as a character and to see how he started to figure out things and found his place in the team but on the other hand the moments when his past caught up to him killed me! And I’m not only talking about the things that happened to him in the past but also about the new things that happened to him in this book! ARGH!!! I hate Riko so much for what he did to him and I want him to burn in hell!!! But we’re not talking about damn Riko here, we’re talking about my sweet boy and how broken he was by the end of the book. T_T My precious Neil that was so surprised to find out that he was happy with his team and did everything possible in order to keep Andrew and the others safe! My precious Neil that got tortured by freaking damn Riko!! T_T I can’t!!! That scene at the ending when he called Wymack and told him that he’s not okay?! IT FREAKING BROKE ME!!! I cried buckets of tears and almost choked on them. My “I’m fine” boy admitting that he isn’t fine… I’m dead. This was a knife to my heart…. T_T And now excuse me while I cry some more… T_T

”Neil liked outrunning and outsmarting the defense. He liked the rush of a perfect score. He liked the pressure and the triumph. The rest of his life was a frightening mess; Neil needed the power and control of a fierce game.”

”As he listened to them, Neil realized he was happy. It was such an unexpected und unfamiliar feeling he lost track of the conversation for a minute. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this included or safe.”

”I know it’s not entirely your fault that you are mentally unbalanced and infected with these delusions of grandeur, and I know you’re physically incapable of holding a decent conversation with anyone like every other normal human being can, but I don’t think any of us should have to put up with this much of your bullshit. Pity only gets you so many concessions, and you used yours up about six insults ago. So please, please, just shut the fuck up and leave us alone.”

”Would you want it back?” Betsy asked.
“Do you have any idea how much it cost?” Neil asked. “Yes, I want it back.”
“It wouldn’t bother you that it was used as a murder weapon?”
“It didn’t kill anyone important.”

Wymack answered on the fourth ring. “You have a good reason to be bothering me on a holiday?”
“I didn’t know who else to call,” Neil said. He barely recognized his own voice. The last time he’d spoken he’d been screaming; apparently his vocal cords still hadn’t recovered. Neil pressed his forehead to the wall and tried to breathe. He couldn’t remember when breathing wasn’t a chore.
“Neil?” All the gruff posturing left Wymack’s voice that sharp edge was all alarm. “Are you all right?”
Neil smiled. It felt like it tore his face open. “No. No, I’m not. I know it’s kind of sudden, but can you come get me? I’m at the airport.”
“Wait right there,” Wymack said. “I’m on my way.”

”Facing Riko like this went against everything his mother taught him. He’d been raised to run, to sacrifice everything and everyone to ensure his own survival. His mother had never given him ground to stand on. Maybe that was why he hadn’t been strong enough to save her in the end. A jumble of lies had nothing to fight for. But Neil Josten was a Fox. Andrew called this home; Nicky called him family. Neil wasn’t going to lose any of it. If two weeks with Riko was the price to keep his team safe, Neil would pay it.”

Andrew Minyard:

”I think I’m coming down with something. Cough, cough. Best I leave before I infect your team. There’s so few of them left. You can’t stand to lose anyone else.”

Ahh that sounds like my boy Andrew! XD I love Andrew as much as I love Neil and I’ll never get tired of defending him! Andrew is so savage and I love him for it! <333 He might give off the impression of being super tough and hard but the boy that’s underneath the rude attitude and all that bravado has a heart of gold. And he’s thoroughly broken. I never knew how broken he actually was until I read “The Raven King”, but now I know and my heart aches so much for him that I can’t even breathe. AND OH GODS the scene when he got raped by Drake… I felt so sick after reading it and I had to put the book aside for a day in order to digest it. I still feel sick when I think about it and I simultaneously want to cry and strangle the bastard that is (or was) Drake! This scene still has me shaking with anger and boiling with rage and crying angry tears for my boy. And I just… I can’t. I wrote in my update: <i>“I think I stopped breathing… my heart must have stopped beating while I read this. I’m still covering my mouth and I feel sick now…”</i> And I still feel the same way about it. No wonder Andrew didn’t want to get adopted by Cass if he suffered such abuse by her son and no wonder he was so furious Cass had 6 foster children after him. No wonder he hated Luther (Nicky’s dad) so much! My precious Andrew!!! And OH GODS!!! To know he was so drugged by his meds he didn’t even put up much of a fight… that he didn’t even care. I was so glad they decided to take him off his meds after that but I was absolutely horrified when Riko said he bought one of the docs at Andrew’s rehab centre! I’m so scared now… I’m so, so, so, so damn scared!!! T_T

”He was a little more cooperative than his brother in that he answered Dan or Matt if they asked him something, but his answers were lightning quick, borderline rude, and always followed by a redirect to someone else at the table.”

”I know you can’t understand this because you’ve never had a real family, but Nicky has to give his parents another try. If you’re lucky this dinner will be the breaking point. Nicky’s got his hopes up thinking his mother’s come around. If she lets him down again he might be ready to walk away for good.”

Andrew tilted forward as far as he dared. He started to sway, but Neil caught this shoulder to keep him from falling. “Looks like I was right about him after all. Or do you still think this is all a big misunderstanding? Go on, tell me again how I’m too unbalanced to understand normal brotherly affection and love. Tell me this is natural.”

”Better luck next time, Neil,” he said. “I warned you once already, didn’t I? I don’t feel anything.”
“Anymore,” Neil said, barely a whisper.
The old scars up and down Andrew’s wrists were evidence of how far Andrew had to fall to hit this point.

Coach Wymack:

”Wymack didn’t care if he had nine Foxes or twenty-five. He’d stand behind them until the bitter, bloody end.”

I still love this man and I know a lot of people judge him for how he handles his Foxes but I think he’s doing the best he can. He’s trying to give them a nurturing environment using pretty questionable methods but he’s taking good care of his Foxes and he knows exactly what they need! It was really good to hear some of his background story and considering his youth it’s no wonder he decided to start a team like the Foxes. All those broken teens need a place where they can be themselves, find themselves and Wymack is providing it. He’s the secret hero of this story and despite his gruff attitude he’s always there when they need him. The fact he didn’t even hesitate to pick Neil up from the airport says it all. And that he didn’t comment on his wounds and the state he found him in. He accepts and tries to help and I could kiss him for it! <333

”You don’t need me to tell you life isn’t fair. You’re here because you know it isn’t. Life doesn’t care what we want out of it; it’s up to us to fight for what we want with everything we’ve got.”

”Truth was Wymack picked them because he understood firsthand how much they needed another chance. He looked the other way because he knew how badly some of them needed their escapes to survive.”

”If – and that’s a big if, Neil – if Riko really was behind it somehow, the blame is all on him. He chose to take out his petty rage on Seth. He chose to cross a line. You didn’t. You hear me? You didn’t. Don’t ever blame yourself for Seth’s death. That is too dangerous a road to walk down. You keep your eyes on your own path and keep moving forward.”

Wymack looked amused by his tactlessness. “My mother OD’d almost ten years ago and my father lost a prison fight the first year I started here at Palmetto State. I hadn’t spoken to either of them since I left D.C.”

”Look,” Wymack said. “I know I’ve always told you all to take your personal problems up with Betsy or Abby. I’ve said it’s not my place to get into anything outside the court. I hope you’ve figured out by now I’m just blowing hot air. I’m not real good at being a shoulder, but I do have a working set of ears.”

Nicky:

„They’re all women,” Nicky said. “That doesn’t help us.”
“Nicky,” Neil started.
Nicky plucked the list from Neil’s fingers and crumpled it. “Your ignorance is endearing, Neil. You’re nineteen and you’ve never looked at Allison’s tits? There’s no way you’re straight. You and I really need to sit down and talk about this sometime.”

Jeez! Nicky cracked me up so much in this book. I know it’s totally wrong that he always calls out Neil on being gay or at least on the LGBTQ+ spectrum but he obviously isn’t entirely wrong? *lol* Also Nicky has that happy vibe about him and it’s such a nice contrast to all the gloomy sadness of his team mates. He’s like a sunray in the middle of the darkness that’s the Foxes so I’m really glad they have him in their team. Plus he has a heart of gold too! I loved how Neil killed him with being so thankful for everything the Foxes did for him. Also that moment when Neil realized Nicky is his friend. AEFKDAKSDFJSADKFJ! Plus Nicky is wise! Sometimes was totally thrown by his wisdom. Still, the scene with his parents killed me and I hate them for not accepting him the way he is. He deserves to be loved and to be accepted for who he is and the fact his parents don’t love him because he’s gay and want to change him. URGH! I hate them so much for hurting my sunshine! >_<

”Kid, you’re killing me,” Nicky said. “Why do you always get that deer-in-headlights look when someone does something nice for you?”

”That’s what love is about, see? That’s why Exy isn’t ever going to be enough, not for you or Andrew or anyone. It can’t hold you up, and it won’t make you a stronger or better person.”

3

Neil & Andrew:

”Why did you pay for stalls, Coach?”
Wymack lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Maybe I knew you’d need them one day.”
Andrew smiled around the mouth of his bottle. “Neil is a walking tragedy.”
“You’re a pretty pathetic sob story yourself,” Wymack said.

You know, just to write this review has me going through all those emotions again and I’m crying and I’m not okay! T_T But now that I started I can’t seem to be able to stop. So here I go: I LOVE THOSE TWO!!! I love them so much it’s breaking my freaking heart and gluing it together at the same time. They are among my favourite OTPs and they didn’t even kiss yet! But I’m sure they will because there is no way those two broken boys won’t end up together! All the things they are doing for each other, the little moments of trust they show, the infinitesimal gestures. GODS! They are on the same level as Pynch! <333 I adore them and I love how they learn to trust each other. That scene when Andrew convinced Neil to use his phone and the moment Neil allowed Andrew to touch him in order to show him he can trust Neil to take care of Kevin while he’s away! ALSO THAT ALMOST MOMENT WHEN THEY WERE SO CLOSE THEY COULD HAVE KISSED!!!! AHHHH! I’m going to die from this slow burn. Neil is slowly uncovering the true Andrew Minyard and I’m here for it!!! And as horrible as the scene with Drake was… Andrew allowed Neil to touch him and to help him so… as much as my heart breaks whenever I think about it, I still couldn’t help but notice that detail. Plus their team mates are noticing too because they always raise their eyebrows when Neil is getting away with something or allowed to drive Andrew’s car. They will end up together and it will be beautiful and I just wish them all the best and that their scars won’t get in their way. <333 My two precious boys deserve all the love and happiness in the world. T_T

”Who am I supposed to call?”
“Nicky, Coach, the suicide hotline, I don’t care.”
“I’m remembering why I don’t like you.”
“I’m surprised you forgot in the first place.”

”Your parents are dead, you are not fine, and nothing is going to be okay,” Andrew said. “This is not news to you. But from now until May you are still Neil Josten and I am still the man who said he would keep you alive. I don’t care if you use this phone tomorrow. I don’t care if you never use it again. But you are going to keep it on you because one day you might need it.” Andrew put a finger to the underside of Neil’s chin and forced Neil’s head up until they were looking at each other. “On that day you’re not going to run. You’re going to think about what I promised you and you’re going to make the call. Tell me you understand.”

When Neil started to argue, Andrew hooked a finger under his chin and forced his mouth closed again with an easy jerk of is hand. “Ask him, and then tell the busybodies to come along if they dare.”

”Guess she hit him one time too many. I warned her not to lay a hand on him, but she didn’t listen to me. She got what was coming to her. Does that frighten you, Neil?”
“My first memories are of people dying,” Neil said. “I’m not afraid of you.”
“That’s why you’re so interesting,” Andrew said. “How aggravating.”
He sounded amused, not annoyed, so Neil said, “I’ll try to be more boring in the future.”

”Why are you so special?” Matt asked.
“I’m not,” Neil said, confused.
“Andrew doesn’t give ground to anybody. Why does he keep saying yes to you?”

The smile he flashed Neil mocked them both at that near-miss. He withdrew completely, leaving just the memory of his heartbeat against Neil’s mouth, and spun away.”

”Hey,” Neil said, or thought he said. He didn’t recognize his own voice. “Andrew. Andrew, are you-“ He couldn’t ask if Andrew was okay. He wasn’t that cruel.

”Neil waited, but Andrew didn’t let go. With so many people watching them Neil couldn’t lift his shirt. He did the next best thing and dragged one of Andrew’s hands under the hem. He pressed Andrew’s palm to the ugly scarring across his abdomen. Andrew’s eyes dropped to Neil’s shirt like he could see Neil’s marred skin through the dark cotton.
“Do you understand?” Neil asked. “Nothing Riko does will make me leave him. We will both be here when you get back.”
Andrew’s fingers twitched against Neil’s skin. “Someone lied to me. These ouches feel a little rough for a child on the run.”

Andrew & Kevin:

There was a heartbeat of silence, and then Andrew turned around with a wide, wicked smile on his lips. “I can’t, Kevin? I’ll show you what I can’t do. Try and put me on your court today and I’ll take myself off it permanently. Fuck your practice, your line-up, and your stupid fucking game.”

So Andrew and Kevin are still an enigma for me. I have no idea what’s their deal but I really hope I’ll find out the in the last book. Well, maybe they don’t have more of a deal than that Kevin transferred to the Foxes because Andrew promised him to play Exy for real?! I dunno. Their relationship is very dubious and I think there must be more to it than their obvious deal. Maybe I’m wrong though. Who knows? Kevin only seems to think about Exy though and he’s still a very bland character. I kinda hate him for wanting to wait another season before Andrew gets off his drugs. Because Andrew needs to get off them! It was so horrible what Drake did to him, yet he only laughed. How could Kevin want him to be on drugs after that?! *grrr* Also WHAT!? Kevin is Wymack’s son?! I can’t believe this was mentioned in passing! LIKE OMG!!!”

”So you’ll try,” Kevin said through gritted teeth, “because Coach asked you to.”
Andrew folded his arms across his knees, tilted his head back, and smiled up at Kevin. “Careful, Kevin. Your jealous streak is showing.”

”Kevin had spent the better part of a year trying to get through to Andrew. He wanted Exy to mean something; he wanted Andrew’s best performance like a dying man wanted one last breath of air. Andrew knew it, and he refused to play along.”

”What’s wrong?” Kevin asked.
“Oh, but you haven’t heard.” Andrew motioned for Kevin to lean closer but didn’t lower his voice. “Time’s up, off we go. She’s going to get rid of this for us.” He dragged a thumb across his manic smile and laughed. “Someone should warn the doctors what they’re in for! They’ll lock the door and throw away they keys by the time I’m done with them.”

Andrew & Wymack:

”They won’t be ready in a week. How long do you think you can keep this up?”
“As long as you can,” Wymack said. “So can you hold the line or can’t you?”
Andrew laughed. “I guess we’ll find out.”

Now the relationship between Wymack and Andrew is also more than meets the eye. I mean they obviously trust each other blindly and the fact Wymack allows Andrew to get off his drugs during the games shows how much he believes in him. I wonder if we’ll ever find out how those two bonded and if yes, I’m more than just ready to read about it. There seems to be an entirely piece of their past we’re missing and I want to know!!! XD

Neil thought about it and asked, “Is it respect of prudence?”
“We’ll go with the latter,” Wymack said. “Andrew likes me about as much as you do.”

Wymack let them get all the way to the door before calling. “Andrew. Don’t leave me alone with these morons for too long. I’m getting too old to deal with their drama.
“Oh, you and me both,” Andrew said.

Andrew & Aaron:

”The strangled noise Aaron made was his best attempt at Andrew’s name. It was barely intelligible but it was enough. Andrew, who’d barely acknowledged Aaron’s existence in the entire time Neil had known them, looked immediately to his brother. Andrew snaked a hand out from under the sheet and curled his fingers in a demand. Aaron clambered onto the bed and reached for Andrew.”

I hated that those two were so at odds and I’m glad Aaron finally discovered that Andrew only tried to protect him. I mean oh gods, he basically murdered their mother because she hit and abused Andrew. That’s a whole new level of f*cked up and brotherly affection but that’s exactly how Andrew works. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for the people he loves and cares about and if it’s to save his brother’s life he obviously isn’t even stopping at murder. Guess that’s why everyone is afraid of him. The way Andrew was worried about Aaron while he himself was so injured and in pain killed me and I died about a thousand deaths when he made sure that Aaron was alright. He was so out of it, he didn’t even realize Aaron was okay and it was him who got hurt. T_T Also can we appreciate how Neil uncovered the truth for Aaron and showed him that Andrew did exactly the same when he got in that accident with their mother. Aaron killed Drake because he hurt his twin and Andrew killed their mother because she was hurting Aaron. I mean, oh my! This is problematic af on so many levels but it leaves no doubt that they love and care about each other! >_<

Andrew touched Aaron’s temple where he himself was injured as if he expected to find an identical injury there. “Did he touch you?”
“What did he-“
Andrew knotted his fingers in Aaron’s hair and yanked to shut him up. “Answer me. I said, did he touch you?”
“No,” Aaron said.
“I’m going to kill him,” Andrew said.

”I don’t care.” Aaron gave a savage jerk of his hand. “I don’t care if Andrew never speaks to me again. I don’t care about Cass or Drake or anyone. What Drake did – no. If I could bring him back from the dead and kill him again I would.”
“Good,” Neil said quietly. “So now you understand why Andrew killed your mother.”

Neil & Kevin:

”No, Kevin. Not here. You and I will talk tomorrow.”
Kevin hesitated. “Does Andrew know?”

Okay, Kevin is mostly a big oaf that only cares about Exy but for the first time I could see a little bit of his true personality get through in this book. He was worried about Neil and it was more than just obvious. For all his “I only care about the game” bravado he actually seems to care about Neil too. I don’t know how that happened but it did. Also that moment when Neil told him that he wants to be Neil and not Nathaniel and Kevin’s reaction was “You should be Court.” I know a lot of people might think he said it because Neil is the Butcher’s son and technically belongs to the Moriyamas (at least according to their logic) but I think Kevin actually meant it in the way of “You should be Court because you’re an amazing Exy player and you’re a good person who deserves to be happy and not to die”.  Well, that’s my interpretation anyway.

”Injuries are not a joke. They are not something to gloss over. If you get hurt out there, you do something about it. You take it easy, you have Coach pull you, you ask Abby for help – I don’t care. If you ever say ‘I’m fine’ about your health again I will make you rue the day you were born. Are we clear?”

”I don’t want to run. I don’t want to be a Raven. I don’t want to be Nathaniel. I want to be Neil Josten. I want to be a Fox. I want to play with you this year and I want us to make it to championships. And in spring when the Moriyamas come for me I’ll do what they’re so afraid I will. I’ll go to the FBI and tell them everything. Let them kill me. It’ll be too late by then.”
Kevin was silent for an endless minute, then said, “You should be Court.”

Neil & Riko:

”You were not running from your father, Nathaniel. You were running from his master.”

And this was another shocking moment! I can’t believe Neil’s father belongs to the Moriyamas! But it somehow made perfect sense. Urgh! I hate Riko so damn much and even though I loved that Neil refused to back down and was always ready to fight him I was so damn worried about what would happen if he took it one step too far. Guess I found out now and it made me sick to my stomach. T_T Riko is a MONSTER!!! And he needs to rot in the nine circles of hell! I can’t believe he is getting away with all of this!! Where is justice when you need it! I want him to get hurt as much as he hurt Neil and oh gods…. my poor Neil! My poor baby! T_T The way he was tortured and the condition in which Wymack found him at the airport… The fact Neil actually admitted that he is not fine. I’m crying just thinking of that scene. I want Riko to burn and I want Andrew and Neil to be the ones that give him back his own medicine. I can’t believe what that monster did to Neil and I wanted to punch him in the face when I found out what he did to Andrew! Andrew went to Easthaven to get off his medicine and to heal from the abuse Drake inflicted and YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT RIKO MADE SURE THERE WERE THERAPISTS WHO WOULD SEXUALLY ABUSE HIM… NOW THAT HE IS TRYING TO GET SOBER AND OFF HIS MEDICINE??!!! I CAN’T!!!! Someone hold me before I bury my fist in Riko’s despicable visage!! If you could fight a fictional character I would be pounding him into the ground right now! And I’m a pacifist who wouldn’t even hurt a fly, but he deserves it!!!! ARGH!!! I swear if I read book three and find out that Neil sacrificed himself for nothing and that they still continued to hurt Andrew I’m going to… I dunno! I’m going to SCREAM and throw that book against my wall. I don’t even care that it’s my e-reader. I’D BE SO ANGRY. =((( I swear if Riko doesn’t get his comeuppance in the next book I’m done with this series. So done.  So, so done!

”You set Andrew up.”
“That isn’t even the best part.” Riko smiled when Neil shook his head and continued. “Did you know I’ve bought one of the doctors at Easthaven, too? Unless you want these little therapy sessions of his to turn into therapeutic reenactments, you will be on a plane to West Virginia tomorrow morning. Jean will give your ticket to Kevin. Do you understand me?”

”I am not a dog, I’m a Fox.”
“You are nothing but what I tell you to be.”
“We talked about your delusions.”
“I warned you to learn your place.”

”No,” Neil said, with a ferocity that had even Matt eyeing him warily. “We’ve got to break him first. If Exy is the only thing he cares about we’re going to take it away from him. First we destroy his reputation, then we destroy him. I don’t want us to lose a single game this spring. Can we do that?”

Neil held up his free hand and showed Riko his steady fingers. “I’m shaking with fear.”
“You should be,” Riko said. “You think you can defy me because I am not your father, but you are forgetting one very important fact: I am the family your father was afraid of. And yes, Nathaniel, he was very afraid.”

”I am going to love hurting you,” Riko said, “like I loved hurting Kevin.”
“You are one seriously fucked-up individual,” Neil said.

”Every time he moved he felt Riko’s hands and blades and fire on his skin. He’d let Riko take him apart time and time again because it was the only way to survive, because bending should have kept him from breaking, but Neil didn’t know if he could pull himself back together one more time. He wasn’t strong enough for this. He never had been. His mother had held him up but she was gone now.”

The found family that is the Foxes:

”Don’t thank us, remember us,” Dan said. “We’re your teammates. We’re here to help you with whatever you need, whether it’s this or games or general stress. We’ve all got different experiences, but we’re used to needing help. We’re just not used to getting it. But you’ve got us now.”

I still don’t understand Renee’s relationship with Andrew but I guess they both have the same background and therefore can relate to each other and understand each other better than the rest? Anyway, the Foxes are so amazing and I loved every second of this found family trope! In their own way they are all special and don’t only contribute their part to the team but also help each other to get better. They are there for each other whenever times get rough and I loved that so much about them. You have this entire team of outcasts and abused kids and together they are strong enough to get through everything that’s thrown their way. Also I love the girls on the team. I mean Dan! *whistles* If she wouldn’t already have Matt as her bf I’d try my luck. I love a woman that can pack a decent punch. (pun totally intended *lol*) I’m sure that Raven couldn’t go to the toilet properly for a while. XD

”Hey,” Nicky said, soft and nice like the two of them hadn’t spent all summer cutting each other down on the court. “Is there anything we can do?”

”Yeah, Hennessey,” Dan said, sounding calmer than Neil thought she should in the face of such treatment. “Treats you right if you’re willing to pay and will fuck you over the morning after if you’re not nice enough to her. Sorry, but this bottle’s got a name on it. Hope you feel that one for a while, you lowlife asshole.”

”They’d never be perfect, but they were going to be all right. They’d come to the Foxhole Court as fractured messes but they were fixing each other one semester at a time.”

”Look, I know we have our differences, and I know we haven’t exactly had the easiest ride. But we’re all Foxes. We’re a team. What happens to one of us happens to all of us, and we’re going to get each other through this.”

4

I’m still so damn addicted to this series it’s not normal anymore. I gotta be honest here though, this book was super heavy and it broke me. T_T My heart is still aching and bleeding and I doubt I will ever get over the last 50% of “The Raven King”. So I already said it once and I can only repeat myself: “This is not a book to read with your mind, this is a book you’ll have to read following your gut instinct. So all told this book is problematic af, kind of unrealistic and definitely politically incorrect in so many different ways and on so many levels… but I still loved it!?” Something tells me this will hold true for the last book as well. >_<

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, S

Review: Sawkill Girls (Claire Legrand)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.
He’ll follow you home and won’t let you sleep.”

This sounds like the perfect horror book, right? Well, yes and no. “Sawkill Girls” is one of those books that have a rather deceiving blurb and when I read the summary I thought that I’d be in for a very creepy read. I mean yes, this book was creepy at times but it was also so much more than that. Quite honestly I never expected to get so invested and to love it that much when I picked it up. I thought it would be one of those books you read in between when you want something different but in the end it was the book that had all my attention. And this is no easy feat. 😉

”There was a magnetism to the Mortimer women, and they knew it, and they used it. It was their right, this witchery; they’d given up their souls for it.”

The sheer amount of topics that was tackled in here had my head spinning and I totally loved all the characters. Those three girls were amazing and even though they were all so different and didn’t always get along this was one of the things that really made me want to continue to read the book. There were a lot of moments when I couldn’t predict the story line and to say this was super intriguing would be putting it mildly! I love when an author manages to surprise me and Claire Legrand certainly did. Truth be told, this book is actually pretty dark at times and there were some scenes that creeped me out big time.

The three main characters were all very interesting as well and I loved how Legrand managed to make me pull for them even though they all had their flaws and were pretty morally grey. Especially Valerie and Zoey were two MCs that weren’t all too likable, yet I still loved them for just being who they were.

”Val swayed where she stood, her eyes falling shut. A fierce warmth expanded in her chest and slid down her belly, her thighs, her legs. Her traitorous body – groomed to serve him, birthed to anchor him – responded gleefully to his approval.”

Another thing that totally caught me off guard was the fact that “Sawkill Girls” was super diverse and even had LGBTQ+ reps. I mean we have Zoey who is black and asexual, Marion who is bisexual and has curves and Val who is pan or bi (at least I got the impression that she is). As someone who’s always watching out for LGBTQ+ books I was very surprised when I figured that this book actually has decent LGBTQ+ reps. I never read this in any of the other reviews so I decided to mention it in mine. 😉

Zoey’s laugh was bitter. “Oh, and we poor delicate girls are vulnerable and desperate, is that what you’re saying?”
“What I’m saying,” Marion said, now looking right at Zoey, her gray eyes bright, “is that girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

And this automatically brings me to all the other important topics that were addressed in here. I loved how the topic of misogyny wasn’t only addressed but also challenged. No matter if it’s Val, Marion or Zoey, they all have a “no bullshit” attitude when it comes to men telling women what to do. *lol* I totally loved that about them and I was so happy when they put those misogynistic men in their place and gave them a piece of their mind. It’s surprising how well it all fit with the horror element of the Collector abusing, violating and suppressing the Mortimer women for so many years and feasting on the pure souls of innocent girls. You really gotta give Legrand kudos for inventing such a multi-layered story around the initial horror element that started it all.

Also can we appreciate the fierce friendships in this book! I loved the strong friendship between Zoey and Marion and the closeness between Zoey and Greyson. Those characters would have done everything for each other and this even though they weren’t always on speaking terms. Still, true friends will stick with you no matter what and this was exactly the kind of message this book spread. =)

”Come for a while, reads the sign at Sawkill’s ferry dock, and stay forever.”

4
All told I really loved this and enjoyed the story immensely! I was pleasantly surprised by how attached I got to these characters and by how strongly I pulled for them. If you’re looking for a moderately creepy Halloween read, if you love books with strong female characters and decent LGBTQ+ reps, if you like atmospheric books, well I guess then you’ll enjoy this one as well. =)

Trigger warnings:emotional and physical abuse by a parent/ child abuse, aphobia, grief, racism, murder, violence, abuse, blood, gore, the death of an animal, self-harm, loss and trauma

Allgemein, F - J, I, Reviews

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 27 on My Book List 2020

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

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

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

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

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I guess by now you all know that this is my spoilery spoiler section but for everyone who’s new to my reviews: This is my spoilery spoiler section, in which I usually gush, rant and talk about all the characters in detail! So if you don’t want to be spoiled: Now is your last chance to opt out. ;-P

Ben De Backer:

”I can do this, it’s going to be fine. Everything is going to be okay and this is most definitely the right thing to do. I know my parents, they know me, they deserve to know this thing about me as well.
And I want to tell them, I really, really do.”

I felt so sorry for Ben because what happened to them was really not okay. Here they were trying to open up to their parents and to tell them the truth about being non-binary and what did those parents do? They kicked their own kid out of the house! Like really kicked them out. In the middle of a cold winter night without any shoes or proper clothes! GRRRR! I was so angry when I read that scene. No wonder Ben had trust issues after receiving such a treatment. I felt so much for them and I just wanted to hug Ben and tell them that everything would be okay. My heart bled so much for Ben and the fact that they were hiding their true self after getting kicked out because they were afraid no one would accept them for who they are. T_T Thankfully they made new friends and had a great sister who tried to help them as good as possible. ❤

”I sort of became the punching bag for all of Dad’s issues. He didn’t actually hit me, but overnight, I essentially became an only child, the focus of anything and everything. If I did something wrong, it was blown way out of proportion.”

Nathan Allan:

”Come here.” He pulls me in. At first, I don’t want to move, but he’s so warm, and I’m desperate for a touch right now. His touch. He rocks us both back and forth a little. “If anyone should be apologizing, it’s me.” He’s sniffling. Is he crying too? “I just spent the last half year misgendering you, and you’re apologizing to me?”

I swear Nathan Allan is one of the most precious cinnamon rolls I ever read about! This boy! <333 Seriously! I loved how supportive he was of Ben and how he always tried to get them to talk about things without prying too much. Nathan was so respectful and yet at the same time he showed that he cared. I think everyone should have a Nathan Allan in their life and I’m sure the world would be a better place if everyone did. XD Also I could totally get why Ben chose the colour yellow for Nathan’s portray because it fit so good to his personality! He’s a bright sunray and needs to be protected at all costs. ❤

Hannah:

”And I’ll be in the waiting room if you need me. If you want to leave early, if you need me to sit in there with you, anything at all.”

Hannah was the best sibling ever and even though she left Ben to fend for themselves (?! please tell me if I used that wrongly) I still think she made it up to them in the end. She was very patient with Ben and gave them room to grow into themselves and to become the person they truly were. Also I loved how supportive Hannah’s hubby was. I mean Ben was basically a stranger yet they both just took them in and provided everything for them. Hannah and Thomas deserve and award for being that kind and gentle with Ben! ❤

”Because even when I finally got out of that goddamn house they still had a hold on me. And it’s breaking my heart to see you going through the same thing, Ben.”

3
Ben & Nathan:

”Whatever happens” – his grip tightens a little – “I wish you all the best, Benjamin De Backer.” He says it with a smile. “You deserve it.”

I loved the super slow burn romance between those two. I mean it was pretty obvious that Nathan liked Ben, at least for me it was because you don’t make innuendos like that if you don’t like the other person. *lol* I guess Ben just needed time to realize it though. I mean there was a lot going on in their life and they had to come to terms with everything first and sort things out before they could fall in love and I just loved it. This was such a realistic and healthy approach and I wish everyone would love themselves first before going for a relationship. In YA books this happens way too often. That a character can only love and appreciate herself/himself/themselves if someone else does. And this is the wrong message. I think you should love and accept yourself first. You should know who you are and who you want to be before you go into a relationship because only if you’ve accepted yourself you will be ready to love and accept someone else. So to watch this play out in the book was amazing and to see how those two finally found each other was very sweet! ❤

Me: You’re serious? It’s like two houses away.
Nathan: Alright, but let it never be said that I’m anything short of a gentleman.
Me: Noted. Will you lead the search party if I get lost?
Nathan: Are you kidding? I’ll hang up flyers of that handsome face all over town!”

”Why did you pick yellow?” he asks.
I’m answering before I can stop myself. “Because it’s bright and hopeful.” I wait a beat. “Like you.”

”We’ll have to figure a lot of things out, won’t we?”
“Yeah.” His grip on me tightens. “But at least we can do it together, right?” He leans in and kisses me again, and I never want him to stop.

Ben & Hannah:

”So, what are your pronouns?” she asks.
The question strikes me. Not in the bad way. It’s just weird. Hannah is the first person to ask. The first person who had to ask. “They and them,” I say, trying to sound confident, but even I can tell I’m failing miserably.
“All right. Well, it might take some getting used to, so I want you to correct me when I mess up, okay?”

I just loved Hannah!! She was so great! And she definitely falls into the category of #SiblingGoals! Was it wrong of her to leave Ben like that? Yes, it was and Ben has every right to be angry. Was it the right thing for her to do at the time: Yes, because she needed to do it. We could judge Hanna for leaving her baby sibling in the clutches of their parents but considering what she went through it was best for her to cut the ties. There are moments in life when you have to watch out for yourself and when you’re so emotionally instable that you just can’t take care of others. So when you reach that point you need to accept the help from others and take care of yourself first before you can take care of someone else. Well, and Hannah back then was very young. She was basically a child too and was totally out of her depth. So yes, it was wrong to leave Ben but she felt like she had no other choice than to leave and I can acknowledge that even if it hurt her sibling. Well, even Ben acknowledged it but it didn’t change anything about Ben’s feelings, which is totally legitimate and okay. Still, at the end they managed to overcome their past and began a new part of their lives together and that was really nice and hopeful.

”But that was it. A phone number I couldn’t call, and an address to a place I couldn’t get to. I understand that you had to leave. That you couldn’t take it anymore, I’m not mad at you for that.” I wipe my eyes with my sleeve, and Dr. Taylor slides the box of tissues toward me. “But I was alone. I was alone and scared, and I didn’t really know what’d happened to you. You knew how bad they could get, and you just left me to fight for myself.”

Ben & their parents:

”Please.” I begged them both. “Don’t do this.”
Dad led me to the door, and Mom followed on his heels. I just kept begging and begging, but they never did anything.
“Mom! Please!”
“God doesn’t want this for you, Ben.”
I begged her not to say that, and then I started crying. But that must not have been enough. The door closed, and I wanted it to open back up.

You know, when I read that scene the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Like URGH!!! What does God have to do with this?! Why wouldn’t God love Ben for being non-binary? Like WTH?! I hate it when people justify their narrow-mindedness with religious beliefs! I am part of the LGBTQ+ community and however you call the higher power you believe in, it created us the way we are so it wanted us to be the way we are! Period. Okay, my rant is over. XD This said I really disliked Ben’s parents. A LOT! They treated being non-binary like it was an illness that needed to be cured and you don’t even want to hear what I have to say about people that tell us something must be wrong with us because we are part of the LGBTQ+ community. *lol* Ahh lots of touchy subjects here. No wonder I loathed Ben’s parents so much. What they did was really unforgivable and I can’t even comprehend how someone would throw their own kid out of their house. I’m a parent myself and I would NEVER EVER do such a thing to my kid! I love my child more than anything and I’d do everything for her! <333 So yeah, why parents would do such a thing… I’ll never understand it. *shakes head* No wonder, Ben didn’t want to go back to them and chose to live with Hannah instead.

”You’ll come home after you graduate,” Dad says, and I notice it’s more of a command than a request. „We’ll take you to the therapist we’ve been seeing, maybe he can help you work through some of the things you’ve been dealing with. And help you with this nonbinary business.”

Ben & Mariam:

I don’t know much about Mariam’s parents, but they’ve never had any problem with them being nonbinary or pansexual, so Mariam never really had to worry about hiding their sexuality or their identify from their parents.”

The friendship between Mariam and Ben was so amazing! I loved those two and their conversations and I was very thankful that Mariam was a steady part of Ben’s live. They needed someone like them and I was glad Mariam was able to ground Ben somehow. Also there need to be more Mariam’s in the world as well because people who have some influence and openly advocate for the LGBTQ+ community are still very rare. To be honest, Mariam’s parents sound like #ParentGoals to me and it was really nice to see a positive parent representation too.

”Mariam, how do you get someone to like you?”
They let out a little squeal and I have to put them on mute before Hannah or Thomas think something is wrong. “Sorry, I’ve just been waiting for this day for forever.” They pretend to wipe away a tear.
“Love the vote of confidence,” I add.

The non-binary rep:

”Such a contrast to the other nonbinary people I’ve seen online. Their smooth, hairless, acneless faces, their trimmed hair that always seems perfect. These things I could never be. Because no matter how hard I will it, my body isn’t how I want to see myself. Not that there’s anything wrong with those kinds of enby people, I just … it’s hard to describe. Bodies are fucking weird, especially when it feels like you don’t belong in your own.”

Since this was an own-voices book the non-binary rep was great and I totally understood where Ben was coming from. It’s not easy to make peace with your body, especially if you’re in between somehow. And I should know because being gender-fluid isn’t easy as well. 😉 So yeah, I think the non-binary rep was spot on and accurate. (Take this with a grain of salt though because I’m not non-binary and would never dare to speak for the people who are.) Truth be told, the only thing I had a little trouble with was the fact that Ben got offended whenever someone used the wrong pronouns. I mean it wasn’t like they were out and how were people supposed to know? Sure, it can make you feel sick to be addressed with the wrong pronouns but you can’t hold it against others if you don’t come out to them and correct them. So I kinda would have liked Ben to tell Nathan that it wasn’t his fault for misgendering them. Because honestly, it wasn’t! He couldn’t smell it, right? I personally never hold it against people if they misgender me because I feel like I can’t expect them to know. (Especially because my pronouns constantly change) But oh well, that’s just me so maybe I’m too lenient with others? I dunno. *shrugs*

”Boys aren’t supposed to wear dresses. Even if I’m not a boy, even if clothing shouldn’t be gendered. Whenever anyone looks at me, that’s all they’ll see.”

4
All told I really liked “I Wish You All the Best” and I appreciated the non-binary rep. To find a non-binary MC is really rare so I can’t thank Mason Deaver enough for this book. I loved the diversity and the fact that a lot of topics were tackled in here, not to mention that they were always addressed in a very sensitive and genuine way. This said I’m definitely looking forward to read Mason Deaver’s next book. =)

Allgemein, F - J, I, Reviews

ARC Review: If This Gets Out (Sophie Gonzales)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the eARC!

How do I even describe how it felt to read this book? When I first read the blurb of “If This Gets Out” I immediately wanted to read it, because it had all the tropes and topics I crave to read about in a book. A successful boy band that is playing the biggest venues, strong friendships, an LGBTQ+ representation, the best-friends-to-lovers trope with a forbidden love spin and a road-trip through Europe in form of the band’s tour. In short: This sounded too good to be true and I desperately wanted to read it!

Needless to say I was over the moon when I actually got an ARC! I was so ready to dive into this book, you have no idea! Of course I had very high expectations as well and I was a little worried the book wouldn’t be able to live up to them. Looking at it in retrospective, I shouldn’t have worried because this was perfect! I got everything I wanted and even more!

I adored how the close friendship between the band members was portrayed. They laughed and joked, they quarrelled and had arguments, but they were always watching out for each other as well. They were like a family and I lived and breathed for their interactions. Another aspect that was brought into the book were the relationships of the band members with their parents and I was more than just happy to read about actual parents that care about their kids and only want the best for them. Of course not all parents are alike and there was a representation of a dysfunctional parent-child relationship as well.

Truth be told, I was surprised about the sheer amount of serious topics that were addressed in “If This Gets Out”. Drug abuse, emotional abuse, power games, band/label dynamics, the pressure of being famous, band life, the dark side of the music industry and the branding of bands and their individual members that has nothing to do with the real person behind the scenes. And I didn’t even talk about Zach and Ruben’s relationship yet. Which was nothing but amazing!

I loved to see how the feelings of the two MCs slowly started to change and how their friendship grew into something more. It was really well done and I found myself smiling so often that it started to hurt. I shipped those two so hard it was almost like they were an actual couple and not just two fictional characters. Also can we talk about their awesome communication?! Sure, they both had troubles to put their feelings into words and sometimes there was some miscommunication but when push came to shove they always tried their best to talk things out. I can only imagine how hard it must be to realize you have feelings for your best friend, let alone to deal with the pressure of being famous and the fear of somebody finding out. To come out should always be up to you, no matter if you’re famous or not. So I could relate to Ruben and Zach’s struggle.

Their character arc was done so well, though, and I couldn’t help but cheer for them when they finally decided that they had enough and wanted to tackle their problems head-on. They were aware of the consequences but they knew they had to do it order to live the way they wanted to and to witness how they took control of their situation wasn’t just a sight to behold but it also had me at the edge of my seat crossing my fingers for all of them.

4

All told “If This Gets Out” was an amazing book that didn’t only live up to my high expectations but even managed to exceed them! Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich succeeded to write a great story that addresses a lot of the issues people in the music industry have to face and they did it in a sensitive and respectful manner. The romance between Zach and Ruben was everything I ever wanted and even more and the Zuben ship is definitely one of my favourite ships now. 😉

So if you’re a fan of music, if you ever shipped members of a band, if you’re a part of a fandom, if you like books that tackle serious issues, if you love the found-family trope, if you like character driven stories and enjoy great character arcs. Well, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this immensely.

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Impossible Boy (Anna Martin)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

Stan:

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

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

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

Ben:

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

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

Tone:

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

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

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

3
Stan & Ben:

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

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

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

Stan & Tone:

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

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

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

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

The gender-fluid rep:

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

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

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

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

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

The anorexia rep:

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

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

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

Allgemein, Book Tags

The LGBTQ+ Rep Book Tag (Original!)

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Hey there, my lovelies!

I always wanted to do my own tag and last year during PRIDE month I thought: Why not make my own LGBTQ+ Rep Book Tag!? (Yes, it kind of rhymes again. You know, faeries and all that jazz! ;-P ) Anyway back to the topic at hand: Why did I do my own LGBTQ+ Rep Book Tag? Well, 1.) I tried to find an already existing tag I could do for Pride month but nothing I found was the way I imagined it in my head. 2.) Once the idea took root the muse of creativity hit me full force and I couldn’t have stopped for the life of me. 3.) I blame it all on May and Sabrina!!! *lol* No, seriously, those two girls were so creative when they invented their The Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus Character Book Tag and The School for Good and Evil Book Tag that I was inspired big time! ❤ 4.) I’m a part of the community so I figured… why the hell not? 😛

Additional and nonrelevant (at least for you) info:

  • I know my graphics aren’t nearly as good as May’s or Sabrina’s and probably way too colourful, but I did my best or at least tried to. Bear with me? *lol* T_T
  • I never made my own tag, so this is a premiere and hopefully a good one. XD
  • You don’t even want to know how long it took me to create this and I really hope you enjoy the prompts and puns/wordplays. There went a lot of thought into them.

Okay, I’m done now! So without further ado: Let’s just go for it!

Rankenzeile

RULES:

  • Thank whoever tagged you and link to their blog post.
  • Link to the original creator: The Sassy Library Fox! And please credit The Sassy Library Fox if you use (copy & paste) the artwork/ graphics.
  • Match books with the given prompts.
  • Tag as many people as you like!
  • Post the rules and the list of prompts in your tag post.
If you don’t want to use the graphics just click this and copy-paste the prompt list instead!

1. FEMALE STRENGTH: A book with a lesbian heroine
2. CINNAMON ROLL: A book with an adorable gay character
3. BOYS & GIRLS: A book with a bi rep done right
4. THE BODY & THE SOUL: A book with a transgender character
5. WE’RE ALL QUEER: A queer rep you’d love to see more often in books
6. ALL ABOUT PRONOUNS: A book with a non-binary character
7. A ROMANTIC ACE: A character that belongs to the aro/ace spectrum
8. ONE BIG FAMILY: A book that features lots of different LGBTQ+ reps
9. SAPPHIC LOVE: Your favourite f/f couple
10. BOYS LOVE: Your m/m OTP
11. SIDE KICK: Your favourite LGBTQ+ side character
12. STEALING THE SHOW: An LGBTQ+ side character couple that rocks your socks
13. STRONG BELIEFS: An LGBTQ+ book that deals with religion
14. RAINBOWS EVERYWHERE: A book with an unapologetic cover
15. FUTURE GENERATIONS: Your most anticipated LGBTQ+ release

Female Strength

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I haven’t read „Girls of Paper and Fire“ yet but I heard that it has strong lesbian characters and I’m so ready to dive into it. The entire concept of a demon king that chooses 8 girls as his concubines sounds super intriguing and the promise of a slowburn f/f romance that defies the misogynistic structure of their land is just another reason to pick this up. Well, at least for me it is. ;-P

Cinnamon Roll

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I already said it last year when I created this tag and I’ll say it again: There are way too many adorable gay book characters to name just one. Since I decided to chose Simon Spiers last year, I’ll go with another super sweet and adorable cinnamon roll in 2021! Prince Henry from „Red, White & Royal Blue“! I mean he’s a Warsie and a Potterhead and he is so damn cute I can’t even! I was a goner the moment he appeared on page and I still love my shy and sad boy! ❤

Boys & Girls

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I tried to chose different books this year and the only other amazing bi rep aside from Evelyn Hugo I could think of is Javier Landes from „A Charm of Finches“. I love Javier so much and the way he came to terms with his bisexuality was amazing. He’s the perfect example that it is never too late to come out and to accept yourself for who you are. And what I really liked about this rep was that he was mainly attracted to women, but when he fell for a man it was head over heels. For me this was super relatable because it’s the same with me only the other way around. *lol*

The Body & the Soul

34325090. sy475 I still don’t know a lot of books that feature transgender characters, but I’m trying my best to find some! Truth be told I had no idea there would be a transgender MC in this book when I started to read it, but I was positively surprised when I realized that Jimmy was transgender! XD And of course the rep was great because Alice Oseman wrote it and this woman can WRITE!!! I loved everything about this book and it actually got one of my very rare 5 paw ratings. Plus I really liked that we got to see the medical side of things as well and what it means if you truly start to transition.

We're all queer

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I still want to see more gender fluid reps in books and after reading Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) I realized that I want more sex positive reps in books as well. I mean Jack is gay and he likes to be free and unattached. He has a lot of sex and he’s totally okay with that. Jack was completely unapologetic about being gay and having sex with different partners and I think this is such an important message. More realistic and sex positive LGBTQ+ reps in books please!!

All about pronouns

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How come this is still the only book I know that features a non-binary character? And how come I still haven’t read this? *lol* I put it on my June TBR this year though and I’ve every intention to finally read it. All the reviews I read about „I Wish You All the Best“ were great so far and since this is an own voices book I’m pretty certain it will be good. I guess you’ll be able to read my review soon. 😉

A Romantic Ace

42115981. sy475 Last year I actually forgot to mention an aro/ace rep and I was very shocked to discover that I didn’t even realize it. *shame on me* Maybe it’s because aro/ace reps are still so rare and it’s not easy to find them. I heard that „Loveless“ by Alice Oseman has an aro/ace rep though and it’s actually one of the few Oseman books I still haven’t read. XD I’m definitely going to read this as soon as I get my hands on a library copy.

One big Family

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I’ll go with the same answer like last year because „Heartstopper“ is still the first graphic novel that comes to mind when I think about a book that features many LGBTQ+ characters. Charlie, Nick, Tao, Elle, Darcy, Tara and even their teachers are all so awesome and everyone in this series is queer af! *lol* I just love it! ❤ If any of you know another book that features that many LGBTQ+ characters please let me know! I’d love to read it!

Sapphic Love

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I already said it last year and I’ll say it again: The world needs more f/f couples in books!! Like seriously! There are so many m/m couples I could have thought of but I had a really tough time to think of an f/f couple. Even more important: An f/f couple I can actually ship! Because let’s be honest here f/f couples are so damn rare and the ones that appeared in books didn’t persuade me … not at all! It’s like the litarary world doesn’t know how to write cute and adorable f/f ships. One ship however totally persuaded me! Sunati and Austen from „Always Human“ were the most adorable f/f couple I ever came across and I was totally blown away by this amazing webcomic! I can totally recommend it because the drawings are so colourful and awesome as well! So if you haven’t read this one already: DO IT! *lol*

Boys Love

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Since I cursed myself for inventing this prompt last year I’ll go with another one of my favourite m/m OTPs here and this time around it’s Simon and Baz! Because they are too damn adorable and everyone who read „Carry On“ knows how awesome this ship is! *lol* The cuteness factor of those two is just off the charts and I love them so damn much I can’t even! ADKFKASFDLAJSDFKASDFJASDJFASKF! ❤

Side Kick

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Jerico Soberanis!!! I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Jeri so much!!! ❤ And I’m still a little bit bitter about the fact that Jeri was introduced into the series so late because I loved her/him! Jerico is gender fluid and definitely one of the best side characters I ever read about! I loved that Jeri was so compassionate, loyal, honourable, kind, wise and beautiful!! I can’t help but wish there would have been an entire book just about Jerico. *lol* Such an intriguing and charming personality! I’m still besotted with her/him. XD

Stealing the show

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Of all the couples in „Six of Crows“ Wylan and Jesper were my favourite one! I mean I don’t even know why I shipped them so damn hard but *lol* they were just too cute. Wylan is such a precious cinnamon roll and Jesper had that chaotic yet confident attitude going on. *lol* When they were around each other they were both shy though and ahhhh I just loved their interactions so much. ❤

Strong Beliefs

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I’m always trying to bring rather unknown books to your attention and I think „Autoboyography“ fits the bill perfectly. Well, at least I didn’t see a lot of people talk about it and since this book was so good and caused me to cry like a baby… Well, just read it! Sebastian Brother broke my heart and I loved Tanner! I think I’ll never get over that scene with Sebastian and Tanner’s mom and I’ll always suffer with Sebastian. T_T Ahh my heart is breaking and mending once again.

Rainbows everywhere

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This is one of the most beautiful and unapologetic LGBTQ+ covers I ever saw! I mean from the strong and bright colours to the flowers and the fact that you can even see Felix’s surgery scars this is just: WOW!!! ❤ Not to mention the plot of this book! Felix is black, queer and transgender and as far as I could read from the blurb this is a story about self-discovery, identity and first love. I’m so ready to read this!!!

Future Generations

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I was lucky enough to get an ARC for this because „If This Gets Out“ will only get out in December 2021! And I absolutely can’t wait to dive into this book! I mean it’s about a boyband and two of the members fall in love after years of spending time together! They become an actual ship and as a BTS shipper (I ship them all as friends though. Well almost all, I can’t help but actually ship Taekook because ARGH!! Taekook make it really hard not to ship them romantically. *lol*) I just can’t help but be ready for this book! XD We’re talking an actual and confirmed fictional boyband ship here!!! ADFKLASDFKASDFJASDKFASDJ! I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS! ❤
Rankenzeile

I TAG:

Kaya @ A Fictional Bookworm!
Anna @ Anna’s Book Nook
Rania @ Rania’s Rambling Reads
Shannon @ Discover Elysian
Maya @ Her Bookish Desires
Elli @ AceReader
C.G. @ Paper Fury
Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books
Tova @ Petyr Baeish Books
Isabelle @ Nine Tale Vixen

Of course you don’t have to do the tag if you don’t want to, I just thought some of you might enjoy doing it! XD

Also I’m sorry I couldn’t tag more people but I guess this is already a lot. *lol* If you want to do this tag and I didn’t tag you: You’re now officially tagged! ;-P The more the merrier!
Rankenzeile

This is my second time doing my own tag during pride month! So what do you think about „The LGBTQ+ Rep Book Tag“? Will you join the fun? (Say, yes?! You know you want to. ;-P ) I really hope I managed to do the LGBTQ+ community justice.

Talk to me and let me know!

And as always take care and stay healthy and safe!

*hugs’n’kisses*

Sig.V.Ronan

The Sassy Library Fox

Allgemein, F - J, J, Reviews

Review: Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) – Lev A.C. Rosen

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

 

”Just ‘cause I like sex and have a decent amount of it doesn’t mean everyone else should. Everyone gets to use their naughty parts however and as often as they’d like.”

I really loved this book and its (sex) positive message! I mean there are a lot of YA books out there but I usually roll my eyes whenever there is a sex scene. No matter what you read, sex is always romanticized and I just can’t stand it anymore. I guess that’s one of the main reasons why I turn to smut books every once in a while because most of them are actually realistic and don’t gloss over the less sexy parts of being intimate together. I mean seriously how are teens supposed to get a realistic idea of this really important thing if the female characters in books already climax because a guy just touched their breasts? (Yes, I recently read that in a YA book and I was NOT happy with it!)

”Know what you want. Ask for it. Be prepared for people to say no. That’s the best any of us can do.”

So being aware of all that I chose to read “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)” and I absolutely adored this super refreshing approach! Jack is a gay teen and he has sex. A lot of it! Moreover he is totally unapologetic about it and I just lived and breathed for this kind of rep! Here’s a boy who’s totally comfortable with his looks, with his body with what he wants from life. Jack doesn’t want to be in a relationship because he likes to be free to do what he wants and that is great!!!

Not everyone has to be in a relationship and especially not when you’re so young. I remember a time when everyone in my class had a girlfriend or boyfriend because it was idk… the thing to do?! At a certain age everyone just started to date and you were kind of an outsider if you didn’t. And just for the record I didn’t date anyone at that time because I just waited for the right person to come along. I never gave into peer pressure, but I’m pretty certain not everyone is as steadfast as I am/was. Especially not if you’re a teen.

Because let’s be totally honest here and face it: Teenagers are super insecure! They only just start to discover their own sexuality and they feel awkward in their changing body. They are driven by hormones and they don’t know what to do with it. *lol* And this is exactly where “Jack of Hearts” picks up! Jack starts to write a sex advice column for all those insecure teens because his friend Jenna asks him to and at first he’s pretty sceptical about it but as it turns out he’s hitting the right nerve.

”On the one hand, coming out is important to show solidarity, encourage folks to come out, and so forth. On the other hand, the entire concept is essentially playing into straight society’s game that anything but strict heterosexuality is something that needs to be announced, warned about. The closet exists because straight people shoved us in it, and because if we try to leave it, they’re often angry and/or violent.”

Jack’s advice was really great and I loved to read his column because it was so realistic! Here’s a boy that knows exactly what he’s talking about and he doesn’t mince his words! He’s direct and merciless in his approach and he calls things by their real name! The diversity of the questions that hit his mailbox varies from how to ask a guy for a date up to how to have anal sex so yeah, it covers a pretty wide range. 😉 One of my favourite columns was when he called out the straight girls for romanticizing gay love. I was like: YAS BOY!!! Tell them! Because it happens way too often and it needs to be addressed!

”But it’s real,” I say softly.
“Perhaps, Jack, if you attracted less attention, you wouldn’t be getting emails like this. If this is real, I’d suggest stopping the column, and trying to keep a low profile.”


Which brings me right to another topic that is addressed and caused my bones to boil with anger! I absolutely hated the principal of Jack’s school because he’s one of those homophobic people that hide behind their “good deeds” for others. In this particular case behind his good deeds for the students of the school. By not taking Jack seriously and by letting him fend for himself, by actually suggesting that it’s Jack’s own fault for getting blackmailed because of his “lifestyle”, by telling him to keep a low profile and being not himself he CROSSED A DAMN FREAKING LINE and I wanted to kick his butt so badly!!! AHHH I can’t even!!! It’s hidden homophobes like him that make it so difficult to be who you truly are!

”You’re amazing,” she says softly. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t let them tell you what to do, or how to act. Just do what you want. I’ll support you.”

Thankfully Jack’s best friends Jenna and Ben always got his back and tried to help him find the culprit. Blackmail is a serious thing and gosh it made me so damn angry to see how much it changed Jack. He went from that outgoing, flirty boy that wears tank tops, eyeliner and black nail polish to a guy that doesn’t go to parties and wears no make-up, to a guy that blends in. And all that just because the principal didn’t help him and he tried to protect the ones he loved. I hated to see his transformation, I hated to see what the blackmail did to him and I wanted nothing more than to find Pinky. This said I loved Jack’s mom and her stance on things but I really hope that I would notice if something like that happened to my kid.

”That’s how I think now. My outfit is boring. My makeup is pretty dull, too. But I look okay. It’s not like I’m going to get laid, right? I mean, if I do, then Pinky will be mad, and I don’t want that. I don’t want Mom or Ben or Jenna to suffer just because I wanted to have fun.”

As for who Pinky turned out to be:

 

spoilerI already had an inkling that Pinky might be a girl and when I finally saw the list of the people who were good at Origami I knew exactly who it was. I mean we all know that Kaitlyn was one of the girls that romanticized gay love so I was not surprised when I saw her name on the list and put two and two together.

It didn’t really come as a surprise. At least not for me, because I love to play Sherlock Holmes in my free time. *lol* Still, speaking about Pinky brings me to the one and basically only thing I didn’t like about this book. The way everything was dealt with after the revelation. I really wanted there to be some consequences! For Pinky to suffer and to realize what she/he did! But none of that really happened and I was not okay with that. I repeat Blackmail is a serious thing and how everything was resolved in here just didn’t do it for me. Maybe that makes me petty but I just couldn’t with the ending.

spoilerI mean Jack still has nightmares but they all moved on like nothing ever happened and no one even knows what Kaitlyn did to him? Not even her best friends know because it’s kept quiet?! Maybe I’m a vindictive witch but I would have SHOUTED her freaking name from the rooftops so that everyone would have known what she did and that it is NOT okay to do something like that! Because yes, we can argue that she would have suffered from it getting out and that her life would have probably been miserable for a while. At least as long as she was attending classes at their school, but and there’s a huge BUT! That girl knew exactly what she was doing! She knew exactly that no one would believe Jack if he claimed it was her. She even said so when she blackmailed him AGAIN and directly in his face while Jack secretly had the audio running! There was no remorse, no fear of consequences, no realisation that she was doing something wrong! Who says she won’t do that again to another boy?! So I’m sorry, but I can’t accept the way things were dealt with here. If you let someone like that off the hook that easily it will happen again and I’m already afraid for her next victim. Because there is no way there isn’t going to be a next one. That girl needs help, therapy and not a reprimand. Yes, it was said she cried at Pattyn’s office but to me it sounded like she only cried because she was found out. To be fair it was never mentioned that she didn’t get help but it also wasn’t mentioned that she did. So an open ending in that regard definitely didn’t work for me.

All told I really enjoyed “Jack of Hearts” and it was a great book! Finally a sex-positive rep and a realistic one at that! We need more of those in our YA books! Moreover Jack’s voice was relatable and brought a fresh and unapologetic breeze into YA literature. I’ll definitely watch out for Lev A.C. Rosen’s next book! =)

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Starless Sea (Erin Morgenstern)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 5 on My Book List 2020


”Far beneath the surface of the earth, hidden from the sun and the moon, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories.”

There are stories that leave you with thousands of questions,
that cause you to topple under the sheer weight of their words.
And then there are stories that leave you with a million questions more,
but each and every single one of them feels like a soft caress.
Like a tender kiss on your longing skin. Like a shiver running through your craving mind.
You don’t want answers to those questions.
You just want to experience what they will do to you.
Which kind of emotions they will evoke, which sort of feelings they’ll drag to the surface.
You want to lose yourself in the story, dive deeper, be a part of it, touch it with your own fingertips…
Never let it go.

“The Starless Sea” is exactly this kind of story and it was an extraordinary pleasure to read it!

”A boy at the beginning of a story has no way of knowing that the story has begun.”

The boy at the beginning of this particular story is Zachary Ezra Rawlins and he’s as relatable as a reader can be. He’s a student, has a TBR he’s trying to reduce, is more comfortable reading a book than being out with his friends and was sorted into Ravenclaw. And one day he meets a mysterious storyteller who draws him into a world of wonder and mystery. Into the world of the Starless Sea.

”You are here because you wish to sail the Starless Sea and breathe the haunted air.”

The mere idea of the Starless Sea was already so intriguing and I loved to explore the Harbour. I mean some sort of labyrinthine underground library that looks like an art museum and seems to go on forever? Show me only one bookworm that wouldn’t enjoy a place like that! Also there were cats everywhere which was such a nice touch because I love all sorts of cats. Moreover there even were mysterious locked rooms and I’m such a sucker for them. I always want to know what’s behind those locked doors and my curiosity knows no boundaries. *lol* In short: I lived and breathed this story!

”You had superior meet-cutes with the others, no wonder you like them both better. You’ve cast me as a villain.”

And of course, like every story, “The Starless Sea” had a villain as well. Allegra was pretty intriguing and I think she was one of those antagonists that fascinate you. She has her principles and methods (for instance “late-night intimidation tea” – I love that term btw ;-P) and she’s convinced that her way is the only right one. It’s hard to dislike a villain like that and I found myself more and more captivated by her character and presence. Speaking of which: Dorian was such a wonderful and complex character as well.

”You’re not wearing shoes.”
“I hate shoes.”
“Hate is a strong emotion for footwear,” Zachary observes.
“Most of my emotions are strong,” Dorian responds and again Zachary doesn’t know how to reply and Dorian saves him from having to.

I just loved that boy! And the moment he got introduced into the story is definitely among my favourite bookish moments ever! It was mysterious, amazing, intriguing and shiver-inducing. Gosh how I wish I could have heard that story right from Dorian’s lips. I probably would have died. XD He sounds like a man I could easily fall for and he was described so vividly that I could imagine myself listening to his stories while taking in his appearance and gestures. He’s a character that seduces with his voice and words and up until now I didn’t even know that I’ve a weakness for men like that but apparently I do. As does Zachary. *lol* But to everyone who thinks this is going to be a love story: Be warned! This is one hell of a slow-burn and a very unconventional one at that. 😉 Also it’s not the focus of the story. This tale is more intricate and multi-layered than you might expect.

”It is there, still,” he says and pauses for so long that Zachary thinks perhaps the story has concluded but then he leans closer. “This is where the moon goes when she cannot be seen in the sky,” Dorian slowly breathes each word against Zachary’s lips.

I think I don’t want to go into more detail because this is definitely a story you’ve to experience for yourself.  Just like “The Night Circus” it’s a tale I can’t describe. You just have to read it, feel it, get immersed in it. All those stories within stories, mesmerizing dreams turning into grotesque nightmares, little pieces that merge into one story and questions that might not always be answered. Succumb to the temptation and allow the narrative to drown you in the depths of the Starless Sea. If you give yourself to the story, I can guarantee the story will give you something back. 😉

Allgemein, P - T, R, Reviews

Review: Radio Silence (Alice Oseman)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 33 on My Book List 2019

”Hello. I hope somebody is listening.”

I think by now this quote made its way into the most epic quotes of all time and I can totally understand all the hype this book got. When I joined goodreads back in 2017 “Radio Silence” was all over my feed and people were raving about it like crazy. I had no idea what all the fuss was about but three years later and countless books in between I finally get it. XD Alice Oseman’s book is amazing, epic, brilliant and most of all it’s relatable af!

As an author it’s not easy to capture the voice of a generation but I think Oseman did it masterfully. Truth be told, it’s more than the voice of a generation, it’s the voice of many generations that all went through the same thing. Did I lose you already? What I’m trying to say is that this book is timeless because it speaks to every teenager and young adult that ever went through adolescence.

“Radio Silence” tackles the strong bonds of friendships you only seem to have as a teen, it addresses the insecurities of young adults, the urgency and intensity of emotions, it shows that our educational system is far from perfect and that good grades aren’t everything in life, it makes room for individualism and it demonstrates that parents can influence their children in the best but also in the worst way possible. It plays with the idea of the internet as a medium that can connect people all over the world but it also illustrates how easy it is to hurt people and their privacy.

Seriously, this book gives so many thought-provoking impulses it’s hard to write it all into a summary, which only seems to emphasise my earlier statement of Oseman’s skill to capture the voice of a generation. People are complex, relationships are complicated and the way to your true self is paved with plenty of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. So just another ordinary day in the life of a young adult, right? ;-P

trigger warnings: emotional parental abuse, depression (implied),  suicidal thoughts (heavily implied), online bullying, teens drinking alcohol

2

This is my spoilery spoiler section and if you haven’t already read the book: Well, pirates ye be warned! ;-P This said: Welcome to Universe City, I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time with Radio and his sidekicks!

Frances Janvier:

”Being clever was, after all, my primary source of self-esteem. I’m a very sad person, in all senses of the word, but at least I was going to get into university.”

I really liked Frances! I mean I was never as good at school as her but I kind of admire her for getting good grades while following her obsession with “Radio Silence”. It’s no small feat and I really appreciated the idea of a character that’s good at school but also has a very creative streak. =) For some reason this is pretty rare in books and I don’t know why. XD Also the distinction between “School Frances” and “Normal Frances “ was amazing and very relatable. As a teen a lot of us are insecure and act differently when they are around their friends so this was such a great way to represent that sentiment. Also now is the moment I have to mention that I want Aled’s and France’s wardrobe! *lol* Seriously, their clothes are amazing! ❤ I would have loved to get my hands on them. Haha! Anyway, back to Frances as a character! I loved her compassion and that she always tried to do the right thing and was very responsible. Plus she was a really great friend! I hope we’ll see more of her in other books but I’m not sure she’s going to be in one of the others?! Guess I’ll have to find out.

”I couldn’t quite believe how much I seriously loved Aled Last, even if it wasn’t in the ideal way that would make it socially acceptable for us to live together until we die.”

Aled Last:

”it’s honestly fine!!!! what’s up?
if you’re feeling crap it’s always better to talk about it“

I really wish Aled would have taken his own advice! I know he’s the silent, withdrawn and broody kind of type but a lot of his problems could have been tackled if he would have just talked about them. Then again his mother certainly didn’t make it easy to develop some self-esteem, let alone to talk about his problems. (I’m so angry at his mom btw!!!) I felt so, so sorry for him and I was glad Frances and Daniel were able to see the true Aled. My heart really bled for this boy and it made me so sad that his mother couldn’t see how beautiful he was! ❤ I mean he made a podcast thousands of people followed and listened to, they even made fanart of it and yet his mother had nothing better to do than to destroy every little piece of him. >_< It killed me. Really. Aled suffered so much and I wish I could have jumped right into the book and saved him! He didn’t want to go to university and he was drowning in despair, which got more and more apparent with every episode he made. Those last few episodes? It just hurt… because they were a reflection of his true life and helplessness. T_T

”Sometimes I think if nobody spoke to me, I’d never speak again.”

”I can take a little beating now and then. I’m a tough one. I’m a star. I’m steel-chested and diamond-eyed. Cyborgs live and then they break, but I’ll never break. Even when my bone dust drifts over the City walls, I’ll be living and I’ll be flying, and I will wave and laugh.”

Daniel Jun:

”We were so important to each other. We’d tell each other everything and anything. We were each other’s first everything. First and only everything. He’s – he’s an angel.”

Daniel might have appeared to be a study machine but deep down he was a really nice guy and it was pretty obvious that he cared about Aled. With his neat appearance and orderly life he’s the complete opposite of Aled, yet he still enjoyed being with his friend. Daniel was so focused on school that it wasn’t easy to see his true self but the longer I read the more I began to warm to him. XD Guess I made the same experience like Frances. 😉

Carys:

Carol raised an eyebrow. “Well, it is how it is. I’m not here to see you and, frankly, I don’t want to. I want to talk to my real child.”
“I don’t think you deserve to,” said Carys, and I could feel the inaudible gasps of everyone in the room.

Okay, I admit it: There was a moment when I wanted to punch Carys in the face! I mean if it would have been my brother suffering so much I would have run to him in a heartbeat. But then again she thought that she was the problem and that Aled would be fine. Thankfully Frances could persuade her to seek him out and the moment she realized her mother was destroying Aled she became the lioness I wanted her to be! XD I loved how she defended Aled and that she gave her mother a run for her money because quite honestly this was what I wanted her to do the entire book! I’m so glad Aled and her reconciled and I was glad Frances and Carys got a chance to talk about the night she vanished.

3

Frances & Aled:

”So why have you been talking to me then?” he said. At the exact moment he said, “I’m so unimpressive,” I said, “Because you’re cool.”
We looked at each other.
Then he laughed softly and shook his head. “This is so weird.”

Boy their relationship was one hell of a rollercoaster! When they got to know each other and started to work on “Universe City” I was so happy for them but the more Aled’s mother and the fandom of Radio interfered, the more their friendship got under attack. I really would have loved for them just to do their own thing and not to be bothered by anything but of course life had other plans. I mean it’s no wonder Aled kind of broke under the pressure. Between the constant emotional abuse of his mother and the personal attacks of the fandom it would have been hard for anyone to keep on swimming. So bless Frances for always trying to reach out to him! Heaven knows Aled’s condition and his character didn’t make it easy to get through to him, but she never gave up on him and that’s what true friends do! Even though I’ve to admit that he said quite hurtful things to her and it’s no wonder she was insecure about their friendship. Still, at the end they found together again and I was very glad they did! =)

He laughed again and hid his face under the blanket.
“Why are you so nice to me?”
“Because I’m an angel.”
“You are.” He stretched out his arm and patted me on the head. “And I’m platonically in love with you.”
“That was literally the boy-girl version of ‘no homo’, but I appreciate the sentiment.”

He wrenched his hand back. “It’s fine. She’s always like this.”
“Does she hurt you?” I said. “Tell me if she hurts you. Right now. I’m serious.”
“No. I swear she doesn’t. He waved his injured hand. “This was an accident.”
“That’s not right. She can’t just – She just – What the fuck, I mean …”

”I’m just the replacement. You’re obsessed with me. Just the same as Carys, and you’ve managed to fuck up the only thing I had, the only good thing I fucking have, just like you managed to fuck up Carys’s. D’you fancy me as well?”

”Do you want to be famous?”
“I just … want to be special.”
“You are special.”
He laughed and said, “Shut up.”

Frances & her mum:

”Don’t let him escape!” said Mum. “This could be your only chance at securing a spouse!”

I swear Frances’s mum is kick-ass! I strive to be as cool as her once my little one is in her teens! I mean that woman wore a unicorn onesie and was basically an angel! I loved that Frances could talk with her about everything and that she always listened to her daughter’s troubles. She didn’t judge and let Frances figure out things for herself and most importantly: She accepted her the way she was!!! Even when Frances told her that she didn’t want to go to university she was totally okay with it and respected her daughter’s decision! I just loved that she was so supportive! She was the total opposite of Aled’s mum and I really liked that parents weren’t just mentioned as a footnote in “Radio Silence” but actually were a part of their children’s lives! =) This is really rare in YA and I appreciated it immensely!

”I don’t think I want to go to university.”
“Oh, Frances.” She didn’t sound disappointed. “That’s okay.”
“Is it okay?” I asked, because I wasn’t sure.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s okay.”

Aled & his mum:

”She looked terrifying, in that classic white, middle-class mum sort of way. Dyed cropped hair, slightly round physique, a smile that said ‘Can I get you a cup of tea?’ and eyes that said ‘I will burn everything you love.’

I really hated this woman! So, so much! GRRR!!! She stands for everything a parent shouldn’t do and be and URGH! I just couldn’t with her! I mean who ruins their children’s life? Who takes a scissor and cuts their son’s hair even though he said he doesn’t want to cut it?! Like seriously!?? And don’t even get me started on her changing Aled’s room! That was his personal space his safe haven and she destroyed it because she thought it was too messy?! WTF?! YOU. DON’T. INVADE. YOUR. CHILD’S. PRVIVATE. SPACE. EVER.!!! You let them put up posters, you let them scribble poetry on a white board, you idk give them room to breathe and to be who they are!! You don’t destroy their home! And then the thing with Aled’s dog Brian?! WTH?! Which mother does things like that?! I’m outraged and furious about this behaviour from a person that should lover her child unconditionally! The emotional abuse this woman put her children through isn’t normal and it’s extremely appalling! She might have never raised her hand against them but the emotional scars her actions left are at least as severe as if she would have hit them. All throughout the entire book I just wanted to call the youth welfare office! >_< I can’t with this woman. I just can’t! I’m so glad Carys and Aled aren’t with her anymore. They suffered enough! And this from a woman that birthed them and should have loved them… *shakes head*

”Aled was going to cry when he saw this.
She had taken his private space – his home – and destroyed it.
She took everything he loved and ruined it.”

”But we were sitting under the streetlamps and Aled was shaking in my arms and this was real, this was happening. She was taking everything Aled had and burning it. She was burning him, slowly, until he died.”

Daniel & Aled:

”I think we were so caught up in each other that we just… missed all the heteronormative propaganda that’s thrust at you when you’re that age.”

Ahh those two were actually kinda cute! Daniel broke my heart when he spoke about their relationship with Frances though. I think for him it must have been very difficult to deal with Aled. On the one hand he was his best friend and knew him better than anyone else but on the other hand he had no idea how he truly felt about him. I could understand why Aled was insecure about outing himself as demisexual. A lot of people never heard of it and he had only just begun to figure out what this meant for him as a person. I’m sure he didn’t want to hurt Daniel and so he rather pushed him away instead of talking things out. Anyway. It made me happy that they eventually managed to speak about it and I hope that one day they’ll reach the moment when they’ll both feel comfortable enough to show the world. =)

”It was all just for us in private, like we had to protect it, because we didn’t want the rest of the world to ruin it. I don’t really know why… I guess it didn’t feel like we were in a relationship at all. Because we were best friends, first and foremost. So we never knew how we’d explain it to people.”

”I think everyone’s a bit bored with boy-girl romances anyway,” he said. “I think the world’s had enough of those, to be honest.”

The reps and diversity:

This is an Alice Oseman book so the reps and the diversity were amazing! We have Frances who’s bisexual and English/Ethiopian; then there is Aled – the second MC – who is demisexual and his best friend/boyfriend Daniel who is South Korean and gay! Rain a friend of Frances is Indian and last but not least there’s Carys – Aled’s sister – who is a lesbian. So you just gotta love the diversity in this book! Also I think Aled is showing signs of depression but it’s never really verified. (though pretty much implied!)

4

This is probably the best contemporary book I ever read and considering it’s a genre I rarely dive into this should tell you enough! Alice Oseman is a genius and the characters she created, their struggles and friendships, their hopes and dreams, their fears and doubts; they all felt real and more than just a little relatable! “Radio Silence” is the accurate voice of numerous generations, describing the one thing every one of us has to experience in order to become who we truly are: Adolescence! 😉

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Charm of Finches (Suanne Laqueur)

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Rating:5 Pfoten

”Listen and learn it, learn to tell it, and tell it to teach it.”

I think I’m just beginning to realize that no matter what I say about Suanne’s books, it will never be enough. I feel kind of unworthy to talk about her stories because they are just so, so, SO good and believe me when I say that in all the years of my existence I never read anything like them… EVER. There are books that are epic, there are stories that have wisdom, there are tales that take you to another world and narratives that make you think and feel, but there is nothing, I repeat nothing that even gets moderately close to how I feel when I read Suanne’s wonderful books.

I can try to describe them but all the words in the world won’t do them justice. Nothing I say will suffice. They are filled with so much humour, with relationships that are so real you can taste them on your tongue and feel them in your heart, they make you ache and bleed, but they also console you and hold you when you’re breaking down. They are pure joy and your darkest hour! They are all the good and bad things and all the nuances in between. They are life! In all its facets and with all its ups and downs. They feel like a living and breathing thing, like a beating heart you’re holding in your palms while you read it.

Suanne’s books are everything and even more and I can’t believe I just discovered them because quite honestly I can’t even imagine a life without them anymore. (I already dread the day when I’ll run out of them, because sooner or later I will. At least when I continue at this pace. *lol*) I love “An Exaltation of Larks” and I adore “A Charm of Finches” and if all of Suanne’s other books are that good I’ll probably die about a thousand deaths until I’ve read them all. It will be worth it though. XD

This said I decided to make this one of my long reviews because I have so many thoughts and feelings that need to be written down. I know this is going to be a huge mess with lots of emotions that will run all over the pages but it needs to get out. XD So to all of you who don’t want to be spoiled: You better stop reading now! I’ll only say one more thing before I go for the real deal: READ THIS SERIES!!! You won’t regret it, because it’s so damn good!!!! ❤

2

Warning: Don’t cross this border! There’ll be lots of emotions, even more feels and plenty of spoilers. Of course it’s up to you if you continue or not, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉

Javier Landes:

Jav exhaled heavily. “Twenty-three years I had this perfect social life. Perfect date after perfect date. I’m really becoming aware of what an act it was. What a repertory of roles I played and none of them were really me. It’s kind of put me in a mini existential crisis. I have moment s when I don’t know who the fuck I am.”

My review about “An Exaltation of Larks” was an ARC review so I was careful not to spoil anything but since I read this without the aid of NetGalley I can finally gush about Jav!!! I love this man so damn much and I think that’s mostly due to the fact that we’re very similar. Jav experienced so many things, he was hurt, he was lost, he knows loss and pain and even though my experiences might be different than his, the feelings and emotions we share are still the same. I can relate to him and there were countless moments my heart truly ached for him. It was so beautiful to see his journey, to see that he finally accepted himself and was ready to fall in love with Stef. Jav is such a compassionate and wonderful man and it was so good to see that he was finally loved back!!! I just love the way he thinks and feels and when he zoomed out writing things in his head or used his journal I was like: This is me when I write! XD I adore him for always being there when someone needs him, the way he helped Geno out even though they were kind of at odds at the time and how nervous he was! He didn’t want to screw up and this only made me love him even more. ❤ I swear, when he opened up to Stef after meeting his aunt… Oh gods!!! I cried buckets reading that scene!! Jav was hurt so badly by his family’s actions and he suppressed it for so many years. I was so glad Stef was with him and was able to catch him when he fell. >_< This man deserves all the love and I just want him to be happy for eternity!!! <333

”Why do you do it?“
„Why?“
Jav’s shy smile unfolded. “Asking people what they do is boring. Asking why they do it is so much more interesting.”

A beat of silence that felt like a gamble, then Jav said, “I know what it means. I’m on my way.”
“Jav, I’m sorry,” Geno said. “About-“
“It’s all right,” Jav said. “None of that matters tonight. Let’s just get you the hell out of there. You stay with Ed. I’m coming.”

”This is how I was born to love.
The world can call me whatever label they want. I know who I am.
I’m Stef’s.”

”Everyone just leaves,” Jav said. “I don’t get to say goodbye to anyone. I don’t get a say at all. They leave and I just sit around making up stories to explain why.”

Stef Finch:

”I didn’t choose this particular road, it kind of chose me.”

I never thought I’d love another character in “Venery” as much as I love Jav but then Stef came along and I had to revise my opinion. *lol* This man is perfect in every sense of the word! I even told Suanne as much! XD But I don’t mind because ahh he’s so great and I just adore him! I don’t know how he does his job but I’m glad there exist some Stefs in the world because they are needed! I mean he passed out after he saved a girl that wanted to kill herself and even scarred his left eyebrow when he fell. That’s a true hero right there!! Also can we appreciate his love for books?! I mean one of his first thoughts when he met Jav was ”Dude, if you don’t read, we ain’t got no future anyway.” *LOL* Of course he didn’t know that it was Jav’s book he was reading so yeah. XD There are so many things that make Stef special and his compassion, his calm nature, his way to deal with problems, they are just a few of them! =) Plus I loved how self-confident he is. Stef takes everything in stride and knows exactly who he is, which was wonderful and made him a perfect man for Jav! So at the risk of repeating myself: Stef is perfect! Period! <333

”Connect, he thought. I want to connect.
His heart closed around the thought like catching a firefly.
I’m lonely and I want to connect with someone. Mind and body. Something that means… something.”

”He was wearing a grey shirt today. It would fucking have to do. He went straight from work to the bar. No going home to shower, shave, pick a blue shirt and hang out in front of the mirror like a twink.
Dig me, dig my crappy shirt.”

”It’s all right,” Stef said. “You cry as much as you want.”
Max moaned and wept harder.
“I’m right here. I got you.”

”Sometimes,” Stef said slowly. “I come home with part of a case sticking to me, and I don’t want anyone or anything. I don’t want to be touched until I deal with it. But other times, the only way I can deal with it is being touched. Sometimes I can only shake off the echo of a sexual abuse story by making love.”

Geno:

Someone has to be in charge. I am Mos, rhymes with dos, and I’m in command here. I have the strength of two now.”

Geno’s story moved me so much I can’t even put it into words. This boy went through something no one should ever go through and even though it broke him, he came out of it stronger in the end. I don’t know how he did it but I agree with Stef: ”they didn’t get the best of him”.  I’m not going to sugar coat it: The first 10% of this book were so damn hard to read, because we get a good glimpse at Geno’s ordeal and it was tough to read. Rape is horrible and for Geno… it was pure torture. What those men did to him, what he had to endure… I can’t even imagine what this must have done to him. There is this 17 year old innocent boy and they raped him until he almost died. T_T And believe me when I say that I want them all to rot in hell for it! To hurt a young boy like that! It’s unforgivable! Geno suffered so much! This poor boy! His twin died and he had to live with the aftermath, with knowing that his own brother brought him to them. I could understand why Mos came into being, why it was better to let it happen to someone else. >_< Carlito’s death, his own ordeal, the death of his father… gods it was just too much for him to endure. I have no idea how Geno managed to survive but he did it, he fought, he clawed his way back into life and he’s one of those characters that will stay with me forever. Whatever he’s doing now, I hope he’s happy! And that he’s still friends with Micah, because their friendship was everything. Two different generations that survived ordeals no one should ever have to survive and they still made the best of it. When they hugged and Geno cried in his arms I was crying with them. T_T

”All of it still hurt so much.
Lying in the dark, a soft, sleeping girl in his inked arms, he blinked through irritated tears and feared it would always hurt.”

”I’m all alone here.
He stood again, his view free of the bars but still feeling just as caged.
I want to go home.
I want all this to be happening to someone else. Why can’t this be someone else?“

Micah rocked him, a hand stroking Geno’s head. Inked numbers in his dusty skin. Strong arms and a stronger heart.
“Hijo querido,” he said. “You and I know what it’s really about.”

3

Jav & Stef:

„Hey there, handsome.“
Stef looked back.
Hey there, indeed.
A guy was at the top of the gallery’s stairs. Tall and built in jeans and a black blazer. Taking off aviator shades to show his face.
Whoa.“

There is so much I want to say about those two men and I’m really afraid it will become an essay! lol* BUT oh boy!!! They were so great together!!! After everything Jav went through it was so good to see him in such a solid and healthy relationship! It was a great contrast to the heavy parts of Geno’s story and Suanne managed to find a balance which is searching for its match. (Suanne, did I ever tell you that I love you? No? Well, I do! ;-P) I loved to see their first meeting from Stef’s POV and haha his reaction to seeing Jav for the very first time was priceless! ❤ They were so truly and madly in love it was overwhelming and made me giggle like crazy. I loved how they got to know each other, how they accepted each other’s boundaries and talked things out! Yes, they spoke about their problems and fears and it was AMAZING!!! They were so attuned to each other they noticed the smallest gestures of discomfort from a mile away. XD And their conversation about how being bi feels for them! It felt so true and real that I found myself speaking to the pages saying: Yes!! Yes, that’s it! They were each other’s safe haven and whenever the sea got unsteady and tempestuous they could rely on each other. ❤ That moment Jav broke down in Stef’s arms?! Ahh it hurt so much but I was so happy he was with him guiding him through the rough sea! Those two men! I can’t get enough of them and I’ll make sure to read all the accompanying stories I can find. I need more of their happiness! So, so much more! XD

”Crying out loud, Landes, what?” he said.
“What?”
Stef’s smile broke apart laughing. “Stop looking at me.”
“No puedo dejar de mirarte,” Jav said, tackling him. Because he was a fucking hot mess and couldn’t keep his hands off the guy.

”The attraction is tougher?” Jav said. “More tenacious?”
“Yes,” Stef said, his voice rising. “Tenacious. Exactly. It can take my weight. I can push on it hard, be rougher with it. It’s not a connection I overlap or fall into. It’s something I lean on. Hard.”

”I like you so fucking much,” Stef said. He’d never in his life said such a thing to a man.
“I like you, too,” Jav said, as if the words were bubbles on his tongue.”

”When Stef locked arms around Jav’s waist at the stove and leaned on him, Jav had to stop cooking and taste the moment. Close his eyes and hold it tight, unable to remember the last time he felt this content. This complete.“

”The last chapter.”
Stef blinked. “You lost me.”
“You’re the last chapter,” Jav said. “I went from the prologue to you. I skipped everything in the middle and now I’m in love with you and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”
A rush as everything in Stef’s body dilated, returned to normal levels, and then rose up. “Jesus Christ, Jav,” he said, rubbing his face. “I swear, I’m going to kill you or fuck you. Pick one.”

”You didn’t know I’d end up fucking for a living. Making me waste twenty years of my life when I could’ve been something to somebody…”
Then he was crying.
Stef pulled him in tight and stood still against the storm, his hand running in slow circles between Jav’s trembling shoulders. “You’re something to me,” he said. “You’re everything to me.“

”Mm.” Jav fitted his thumbnail into the scar across Stef’s eyebrow. “Man, I don’t know how you do what you do.”
“I don’t know how you write books.”
“I make up bullshit. Your work is so much more important. You know how men make love with each other and you know how men make war on each other.”

Stef, Jav & Geno:

”They got him.”
“It’s over.” Geno slid off the couch, onto the floor and into Stef’s arms. “It’s over.”
Stef caught him up tight, a hand on Geno’s head. “They got him,” he said, rocking their bodies side to side.

Now the three of them certainly had an interesting dynamic. Especially because Stef had a professional relationship with Geno and Jav’s relationship with him was rather a friendship. And once again I’ve to praise the fine nuances of Suanne’s stories. Their relationships to each other were so palpable and they felt real and true. I loved that Stef got all protective of Jav when he discovered that Geno had read his journal and therefore his personal thoughts but I also loved them both for still being there for Geno even though he violated Jav’s privacy. I always knew that Geno finding out about Jav and Stef’s relationship would end badly, but after everything he went through it was no surprise. Still, I’m glad they managed to sort things out in the end and I’m so happy Geno has those two as his friends now. Stef being there for him as his therapist was so important but I think Jav being his friend was at least as vital for his healing process as Stef’s therapy. ❤ You need friends in your life and with Jav and Stef at his side Geno kind of won the friendship lottery. =) True friendships between men! I think the bookish world needs more of them.

”I’m on guard, little brother.
You fought hard and brave. Rest your heart now. Don’t be afraid.
I’m here.
They’ll have to come through me to get to you this time.”

”Geno took a long swig of ice water and asked Jav, “Do you believe everything happens for a reason?”
“I do,” Jav said. “But not everyone gets the privilege of liking the reason. Of feeling the reason was worth the ordeal or the experience.”

Jav & Ari:

”Oh my god, T, are you crying?” Ari said. He called Jav T, for Tio. Spanish for uncle.
“Shut up.”
“Come on, I bet you have an absolute surplus of toilet paper now.”
“This is true. One box of cereal lasts forever and I only have to buy a half-gallon of milk.”
“See? You don’t miss me at all.”
“You’re right. Glad to have you out of my hair. Don’t ever come back.”

I still adore this uncle-nephew duo! =) Jav and Ari’s relationship was one of the best things about “Larks” and it continued to be amazing in “Finches”. They might have found each other under difficult circumstances but they made the best of it and formed a bond that will connect them forever. Also can we acknowledge how supportive Ari is?! That boy is still so young but he already knows what’s important in life! Their conversations were once again some of the best in the book and I had to laugh so hard when Ari told Jav that he shouldn’t have sex in front of his dog. *LOL* Poor Roman! I’m sure he appreciates Ari’s concern. ;-P

”I hope you find someone,” Ari said. “You deserve it. Male or female, it’s about fucking time you had someone you can be yourself with.”
“Thanks.”

Jav & Gloria:

”When Jav lost Flip, he found in Gloria the one person who loved him unconditionally. The woman who had taken him in when his own people cast him out. He went to court and legally changed his surname to Landes. He would never think of her as his mother. He chose her name because it was the thing he respected most in the world.”

As you can see my relationships and ship section is huge this time around and the reason for it is that Suanne writes them like no other! I mean for instance Jav and Gloria!! Gloria was probably the only person that cared about him when he was alone and lost and even though to help him to become an escort might have been kind of harmful for Jav on the long run it was still something he enjoyed to do when he was younger. Gloria guided and comforted him. She provided a safe haven and helped him to help himself so for that alone she deserves respect. Plus she’s his voice of reason and a very wise woman. I love that they still have contact and that she’s the first person he comes to when his heart is troubled. ❤

”You’re right. As usual.”
“Often wrong, never in doubt.”
“Which is why I love you.”

”Love doesn’t always play nice. Love plays games you haven’t had to deal with before. Love is going to serve up a buffet of emotions you neatly avoided for decades.”

Alex, Jav & The Larks:

”And if you met someone, and it feels easy and you’re waiting for the axe or the shoe or the whatever to drop, it’s because you think you don’t deserve easy. What did I tell you about that?”
“Yeah, I know,” Jav said, exhaling.
“Say it.”
“I’m worth more and I deserve it.”
“Damn right you do.”

Ahh the tension between Alex and Jav is still tangible. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll ever get over it or if it will be one of those relationships that will always have that special spark. Sometimes you meet people that draw you in and no matter how much you try to get some distance between you, it’s bound to fail. You’re drawn like a moth to the flame or like a moon that’s pulled into the orbit of a planet. So you either find a way to live with that involuntary attraction or you don’t and put some distance between you. And let me tell you this as someone who’s tried to live with it, it’s tough!!! I managed to do it for a few years but then the contact broke because it was just too much to handle. For both of us. >_< So I can’t help but wonder how the relationship between Jav and Alex is going to develop. Still, despite all the things that are going on between them and Val basically watching them like a hawk they are a family and support each other. Which is truly amazing! Val definitely has all my respect for forgiving Alex and Jav and for trying to give them space. This woman is a saint!!! Period!

”Well, maybe I’ll meet them someday.”
Jav smiled at the safe, gender-neutral pronoun. “Maybe you will,” he said. “If I don’t fuck this up.”
“Oh my God,” Alex said. “You’re still the same idiot.”
“The only one allowed in the room,” Jav said, laughing.

”Let go now,” Alex said, slapping Jav’s back, then his ass. “Or I won’t.”

Jav hugged them both. “Thanks for coming.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Alex said.
“We’re your family, dumbass,” Val said. “We’d do anything.”

Stav & Stef:

”Is this the guy you called me about the other day?”
“Yes.”
“Dude, does he have a brother? Named Rav?”
“No.”
“Where did he come from?”
“The fucking sky.”

Haha! I LOVED this sibling relationship!! Stav and Stef were so much fun to read about and they reminded me of my sister and me. I swear, we have conversations like the one above too and I love spending time with her and to be silly. We do that frequently and have been told that we’re like a comedy show when we’re together. (I swear sometimes it’s like people get their popcorn to watch us. Well, my brother-in-law actually did but that’s another story for another day. *lol*) So yes, I adored this sibling rep and could relate to it! Stav and Stef are two amazing people and even though Stav went through a lot of heavy shit she’s still a very optimistic and funny character! Which is remarkable! The world definitely needs more Stavs too! =))

4

“A Charm of Finches” was INCREDIBLE and I just couldn’t get enough of it. The many thoughts, ideas and feelings that went into this, the way Suanne managed to put this on paper! How she writes life the way it is and creates characters that feel like real people! (For me they actually are!) The heavy topics she’s addressing! With so much respect and care. I’m in awe of Suanne Laqueur’s mind and writing style and I’ll never get tired of advertising her books! Seriously, more people need to read her books because they are so, so, so GOOD! All the stars! All the stars, por siempre jamás!