Allgemein, K - O, N, Reviews

Review: Now I Rise (Kiersten White)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

2

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

Lada:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radu:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3

Lada & Mehmed:

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

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

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

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

Lada & Radu:

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

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

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

Radu & Cyprian:

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

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

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

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

Radu & Nazira:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radu & Mehmed:

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

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

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

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

Lada & her men:

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

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

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

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

Lada & Hunyadi:

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

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

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

4

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

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 9 on My Book List 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Lila:

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

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

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

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

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

Kell:

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

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

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

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

Rhy:

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

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

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

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

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

3
Lila & Kell:

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

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

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

Rhy & Kell:

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

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

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

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

Alucard & Rhy:

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

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

Alucard & Lila:

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

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

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

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

Lila & Rhy:

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

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

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

The King & Queen and Kell:

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

Review: Lord of Shadows (Cassandra Clare)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just to mention one of them. ;-P

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

3
Emma & Julian:

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

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

Ty and Kit:

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

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

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

Mark/Cristina and Kieran:

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, F, F - J, Reviews

Review: Felix Ever After (Kacen Callender)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten,5

Book 14 on My Book List 2021

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

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

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

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

2

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

Felix:

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

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

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

Ezra:

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

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

Declan:

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

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

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

grandequeen69:

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

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

Marisol:

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

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

3

Felix & Declan:

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

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

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

Felix & Ezra:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Felix & his father:

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

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

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

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

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

The transgender rep:

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

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

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

Finding your identity rep:

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: To Kill a Kingdom (Alexandra Christo)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”You are a little heartless today, aren’t you?”
“Never,” I say. “There are seventeen under my bed.”

I asked for a blood thirsty, dark and twisted siren that lures princes and collects their still warm and dripping hearts. And I wanted a strong human prince that hunts wicked sirens and sea witches for sport. Well, I guess “To Kill a Kingdom” did a great job at delivering all this and even more. ;-P

”Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.”

I went into this book expecting a fast and enjoyable read and if you’re looking for a story like that this book definitely is the right choice for you. I know the reviews for this are about 50:50 when it comes to the ratings but I think that’s mostly due to the expectations you have when you go into a book. If you’re looking for a mind-blowing reading experience you might be disappointed because this story is a lot of things but certainly nothing that will cause you to rethink your life choices. It’s fun, it’s easy, it has plenty of snark, banter and a really great character cast. In short it has everything you need when you want to escape your own world for a little while.

”Lies aren’t answers.”
“But they sound so much better than the truth.”

This said I really liked our two MCs and I was a huge fan of their interactions. Those two were both confident in their own skin and it was really refreshing to have two characters that know exactly what they want. Lira wants Elian’s heart and Elian wants to destroy all sirens. The best makings of a good partnership, right? XD Well, almost! If their attraction wouldn’t have gotten into their way things certainly might have been a lot easier. 😉 But I AM a sucker for the “enemies to lovers trope” and it was done really nicely in here so I have nothing to complain about. *lol*

”They’re eyes of lost innocence, greener than seaweed and constantly searching. Even the empty ocean is prey to him, and he regards it with a mix of suspicion and wonder.”

Prince Elian was quite something and to me he was the perfect embodiment of a lost boy. There was no way I wouldn’t love him and his easy nature as well as his love for his crew and ship immediately made him my favourite. Yes, I admit it, I’m a sucker for handsome, sassy and broken pirate boys. They are as much my kryptonite as redheads are so I wasn’t really surprised I ended up liking him so much. Lira on the other hand was pretty awesome too! That girl might have been turned into a human but that did nothing to disguise the feral and deadly siren inside of her. And this brings me to another thing I really enjoyed about this book: Lira and Elian might have been deadly enemies but they still had mutual respect for each other and acknowledged their weaknesses and strengths.

”How wicked this one is, stripped of the innocence I’ve seen in all the others. This is not a prince of inexperience and anxious potential, but one of war and savagery. His heart will be a wonder to behold.”

”I could have killed her, but I didn’t, because she’s a wonder. A creature that has eluded me for so long and then, finally, appeared. Let me be privy to a face few men live to speak about.”

They were fascinated with each other and it showed throughout the entire book. Also can we take a second to appreciate how self-aware they were? Both of them knew exactly what they were capable of and where they would draw the line and even though they questioned themselves and their own decisions they always knew who they were. And the banter!!! Did I already mention the delicious sarcasm and banter? *lol*

”Lira,” I say. “I don’t suppose you’d be kind enough to translate?”
“I’ve never been accused of kindness before.”

”What would you be losing?” he asks.
“If I married you?” I stand to tower above him, pushing away the unraveling thing inside me. “I suppose it would be my mind.”

I loved that they didn’t give each other an inch. They were equals and it wasn’t only easy to see but also palpable. I don’t know how to describe this but there are a lot of books out there that make it seem like the couples in them are equipollent when in fact they are not. Even with kick-ass heroines the male MCs are always stronger somehow. It’s something I noticed in many books and I hate that those amazing women can’t stand on their own feet once they fall in love with their “true love”. It’s something that didn’t happen in here and I was very grateful for it! Lira might have fallen in love with Elian but that didn’t make her go all mushy and lovey-dovey. In fact it only made her even more adamant and relentless, which was AWESOME to behold! XD

4
All told “To Kill a Kingdom” was exactly the kind of quick and entertaining reading experience I needed and I’m glad I finally decided to give it a shot. It took me long enough to get here but it definitely was worth the wait. And just in case you wondered: Yes, I rediscovered my love for “Ariel – The Little Mermaid” once again. *hums under the sea and leaves the room* ;-P

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Michelle Hodkin)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 3 on My Book List 2021

”I wanted to scream, but I closed my eyes and forced myself to breathe. Claire was dead. She was not in my bathroom, and there was nothing to be scared of. My mind was playing tricks on me. I was going to go to a party tonight, and I needed to get dressed. One thing at a time.”

I heard so much about the “Mara Dyer” series before I picked it up and because I’m always curious about books that seem to be so controversial I decided to satisfy my curiosity by just reading it. So what did I think about it? Well, the book was published in 2011 and obviously was on the hype train with all the other YA books that were released back then. The interesting thing about this book was that it might have been full of the typical clichés but it actually kinda made fun of them? For me this was a really refreshing approach and I found myself enjoying it even more because of that. I mean we have the “not like other girls” trope and Noah Shaw having that “bad-boy with a heart of gold” vibe going for him. *lol* Plus: Mara is the only girl he’s interested in even though he’s mysterious and drop-dead gorgeous. And of course Mara is the new girl at their school.

There was an edge to his voice that I didn’t like. „My God, you’re like the plague.“
„A masterfully crafted, powerfully understated, and epic parable of timeless moral resonance? Why, thank you. That’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me,“ he said.
„The disease, Noah. Not the book.“

Still, there’s something disarming about Noah’s charm and I couldn’t help but love his character. We all know I love MCs that know their literature and it’s almost impossible to resist a character that has his own library and can quote books by heart. XD I know a lot of people think that Noah is very demanding, arrogant and full of himself. Which admittedly he is, but of course he is hiding his true self behind his attitude. 😉 So yeah, this is as stereotypical as it can get. *lol*

”Noah drove girls crazy, and I was already crazy. I needed to let it go. Let him go. As Jamie had so astutely said, I had enough problems.”

As for Mara: She’s one hell of an unreliable narrator and I really loved that! Mara has no idea what happened and why her friends died in an accident. She was the sole survivor of that night and the asylum they visited turned into dust while it took the lives of her friends. At first it seems like Mara lost her best friend, boyfriend and his sister, but the more she remembers and the more memories come to the surface, the more we realize that things weren’t as amicable and easy between them as we might have thought. So Mara Dyer isn’t only suffering from a severe memory loss and PTSD but also has flashbacks and sees her dead friends and things that aren’t real. Add a lot of strange happenings and sudden deaths into the mix and you get the basic idea of the plot. XD

”Dark thoughts swirled in my mind and time slowed to a crawl. I stood up from the chair, knocking it over, but my hands trembled too much to pick it up. This was – this whole thing was beyond unfair. And I was becoming unhinged.”

The mystery element in “Mara Dyer” is strong and I’m very curious what is going to happen next. The ending of the book kind of left me in shocked surprise because I certainly didn’t expect it to end like that. I have no idea how Noah fits into all of this and what is happening exactly but I’m definitely ready to find out by reading the next book.

”If you do this,” he said slowly, “you’ll become someone else.”
I looked up at Noah. “I already am someone else.”

4
All told “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” was an interesting start to a new series and I’m intrigued enough to continue with it. There might be a lot of stereotypes and inconsistencies at the moment but I hope that as the series proceeds some of them will be addressed and challenged. Plus I want to know how Mara’s character arc is going to play out. The same goes for Noah of course! I have so many questions, let’s hope book two will be able to answer them. 😉

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

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

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, K - O, O, Reviews

Review: One of Us Is Next (Karen M. McManus)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Phoebe Lawton, you’re up first! Text back your choice: Should I reveal a Truth, or will you take a Dare?”

Guess after “One of Us Is Lying” we all know that you better take the dare, right? Well, if you want to find out what Phoebe did you’ve to read the book, because this review is going to be spoiler free. ;-P
So this out of the way, what is “One of Us Is Next” about? It basically plays one year after Simon’s death and the events that followed. This time around there are three different POVs though. One of them is Maeve Rojas (Bronwyn’s sister that already was a side-character in book one) and the other two are Knox Mayers (Maeve’s best friend) and Phoebe Lawton. In this second instalment the plot is all about Truth or Dare. There is a mysterious person named Unknown who threatens to expose a secret of the chosen people if they don’t take the dare. So you either take the dare or your secret gets spilled and everybody and their grandma will talk about it.

”And then I remember why About That was so popular for so long. Because even though I hate Unknown, and it freaks me out that they revealed a secret I thought would never get out, and the idea of another Simon Kelleher prowling around Bayview High is straight-up nauseating – I can’t help being curious.
What’s going to happen now?”

Well, and that’s basically the concept on which this book is built. Who is going to be next and will they choose truth or dare? I’ve to admit this was an intriguing concept and that I really liked the characters. I already loved Maeve in “One of Us Is Lying” and Knox and Phoebe were two really likable voices as well. I loved that Phoebe was a very unapologetic and straight forward character and that she challenged the narrow-minded perception of people. She’s actually a feminist and I loved that about her. XD

”Really? Let me see if I have this straight. If I do what you want, I’m a slut. If I don’t do what you want, I’m a tease. What I want doesn’t count, but you’re the big man at Bayview no matter what. Does that about sum it up?”

Another thing that made me happy was to see more of the Bayview Four and how they did after all the events that happened in the first book. It was so wholesome to see where they are standing now and that despite everything that happened they were all doing good and leading a happy life. =) Also Bronwyn and Nate!!! AHHHH! Still, I kinda wish I would have reread the first book before this one though, because I couldn’t really remember Luis and had a tough time to place him in the events of “One of Us Is Lying”. But that’s just personal preference and doesn’t take away any of the enjoyment. 😉

”I was thinking about this stupid game last night, and how it has everybody dancing like puppets on a string. Whoever’s behind Truth or Dare is on a massive power trip. And the thing is, we’re giving them that power. By caring. Reacting. Spending all our time worrying about who’s next and what’s true. We’re feeding the beast and I, for one, am done.”

4
All told this book was great and entertaining. What made me like it slightly less than its predecessor was the mystery element, though. While I could guess and rack my brain in the first book I didn’t really get a chance to do that in here. I was able to unfold about 50% of the mystery but I would have never been able to discover the other 50%. There just wasn’t enough information to reveal everything properly and this was kind of a letdown. Still, “One of Us Is Next” was a nice book to read in between and I don’t regret it. I just wish I would have gotten a chance to wrack my brain a little more. *lol*

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Benjamin Alire Sáenz) 

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

”Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?”

I think I rarely read an introduction to a book that touched me as much as this one did. It were exactly questions like that I asked myself when I was a young and confused teen. I was always more serious than the other kids and there were things they just didn’t understand. When I was seventeen life was tough for me, at least more tough than for other people my age. I asked myself questions they wouldn’t ask themselves for decades and I had to ask those questions because life and my personal experiences kind of forced me to.

Just like Ari, I was thinking about so many things, wondering about my place in this world. Why did some things have to end? Why did others start? Why did my heart hurt so much? Gosh, I really wish I would have had this book in my teens, because it definitely would have made me feel better. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” certainly is a book that’s important and needed! It’s one of those reads that is able to change you, to help you and I really, really wish I would have had it back then. XD It captured the problems of adolescence so damn well and because of that, it’s easily become one of my all-time favourites. =)

”Sometimes I think my father has all these scars. On his heart. In his head. All over.”

The problem about those scars is that no one can see them and most people don’t even bother to try to understand. I loved that Ari truly wanted to know what his father felt and that he wanted him to tell him about his feelings and thoughts. But just like Ari (and basically everyone else on this world) his father was a creature of his experiences and his environment. The war he had fought had changed him and the experience with his eldest son had shaped him as well. It’s never easy to talk about things that are so close to our heart, but Ari’s father made an effort and I think that counts for something.

”You were looking for me,” he said.
I looked at him.
“In your dream. You were looking for me.”
“I’m always looking for you,” I whispered.

”I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get – and never would get.”

I guess in some way this sentence explains a lot about the book. There were people Ari didn’t understand and there were people who understood him pretty well but couldn’t seem to be able to convey it. For instance his parents and Dante. Dante understood him more than anyone else and I think in some way he might have even hated him for it. At least at the beginning of the book. The more time passed the less he saw him as a threat. It’s just that Dante always asked the right questions, he is honest and very outspoken and therefore the complete opposite of Ari who always keeps his feelings and words to himself.

While Dante admits that he loves Ari (and this pretty early on in the book), Ari isn’t only unable to accept his own feelings but also incapable to voice them properly. He’s overwhelmed and he feels helpless. So basically just like any other teen, right? *lol*

”I love swimming,” he said again. He was quiet for a little while. And then he said, “I love swimming – and you.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Swimming and you, Ari. Those are the things I love the most.”

And even though Ari tells him not to voice those thoughts it’s still obvious that he feels the same way about Dante as well. Call me crazy but in some way this was really beautiful to watch. XD I mean we have a boy who knows exactly what he wants and we have a boy who questions everything and doesn’t even know who he is. Still, there’s no doubt Ari loves Dante too, because even though he can’t admit it, his thoughts speak their own language.

”And it seemed to me that Dante’s face was a map of the world. A world without any darkness.
Wow, a world without darkness. How beautiful was that?”

Despite all this, it was still amazing to see that their friendship was able to survive every blow of fate that was thrown their way. I just loved their dynamic and the fact that they knew each other inside out. Their friendship was #friendshipgoals and it were always those little, to some people rather insignificant moments, which touched me the most and automatically warmed my heart.

”How many burgers did you flip to buy the book?”
“That’s a very Dante question,” I said.
“That’s a very Ari answer,” he said.
And then we started laughing and couldn’t stop.

Also can I say how much I loved the way Ari described his relationship to his mother? Those two had me close to tears more often than once and I just adored the way they spoke with each other, how open and extremely honest they were. Ari’s and Dante’s moms definitely are #momgoals and I strive to become an awesome mother like that too! ❤

”I could feel my mom listening to me. She was always there. I hated her for that. And loved her.”

”And I knew that there was something about me that Mrs. Quintana saw and loved. And even though I felt it was a beautiful thing, I also felt it was a weight. Not that she meant it to be a weight. But love was always something heavy for me. Something I had to carry.”

All told, I really loved this book and I can recommend it to every teenager who feels lost and alone. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is a wonderful and exceptionally beautiful read. It’s full of poetry and the important questions of life, it’s a journey with a beginning and an end and it’s so damn relatable that you can’t help but fall in love with it.

I’m sure young and old will enjoy it and I hope everyone who reads it will discover the secrets of the universe as well. Sometimes the journey is everything that truly matters. ;-P

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. >_<