A - E, Allgemein, C, Reviews

Review: Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Tomi Adeyemi)

trigger warnings:war, violence, genocide, loss, trauma, abusive parents

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Rating: 2 Pfoten,5

”Just tell Zélie what you want,” he says. “She’ll listen.”
“No, she won’t.” I shake my head. “None of them will.”

And if that isn’t the entire mood of this book, then I really don’t know! People, buckle up because today I’m going to serve some hot tea and not everyone is going to enjoy it. I’m not here to please though so you either read my honest opinion or you don’t. It’s up to you. ;-P Okay, this out of the way let’s talk about why I didn’t enjoy “Children of Virtue and Vengeance”. To cut it down to the basics there was absolutely no “virtue” in this book and if anything the “vengeance” part was extremely pronounced! Like so extremely distinctive I just couldn’t enjoy the book anymore. Honestly after the about hundredth time these “children” (that is actually a very suitable description for the childish behaviour they showed) couldn’t decide whether to make war or not I kinda lost my patience. And I’m a very patient person…

Don’t get me wrong, the first book was great. I mean I had my issues with it but I was really looking forward to read book two because I believed that the author would learn from the mistakes of the first book. Unfortunately what I got was something totally different than I expected. There was so much potential! We had the tîtáns that suddenly appeared after the ritual and we could have had such great character arcs and a really solid and good story line but this wasn’t what we got. No.

”Marked by white streaks, the tîtáns appeared in the nobility and military after the ritual, displaying magic similar to one of the ten maji clans. But unlike us, their powers require no incantation to come forth. Like Inan, their raw abilities are quite strong.”

What we got were immature protagonists that fought amongst themselves at every opportunity. MCs that were incapable of listening to each other and that were so stubborn and stuck in their way of thinking that they didn’t even ponder the idea of peace. I mean honestly, who needs peace if you can make war and kill each other? Why save millions of lives if you can just send them to death? The maji and tîtáns don’t need peace, no, it’s way easier to annihilate each other and to destroy everything. Way to go! Totally good solution! I hope you notice my sarcasm because urgh, I just couldn’t with them. With all of them!! Every single character! It was so frustrating!! And before I go on and on I’ll just head to my characters section and vent my anger over there! Just in case you didn’t notice: I’m still salty. *lol*

2
Welcome to the land of doom aka Orïsha, where we all want to kill each other because happy endings are overrated! Who needs peace when you can have war? Oh yeah, and because we’re nice like that we’ll hand you lots of spoilers to deal with! Be prepared to be drowned in them. ;-P

Zélie:

Who is this girl and where did the real Zélie go?! It’s like her character turned around by 180 degrees and I don’t recognize her anymore. I mean she went through a lot in the first book, really A LOT but by the end of the first book she still was nothing like that! I so couldn’t with this new Zélie and I think fame got to her head. Everyone telling her what a special snowflake she is definitely didn’t do her any good and I wish she would have listened to the people that were close to her before she turned into the “Soldier of Death”. I don’t even have a single quote that would describe Zélie’s character because it was all over the place and there was nothing left of the girl we got to know in “Children of Blood and Bone”. I’m so disappointed by her character, I have no words.

Amari:

”I pick up a navy tunic, squeezing the silk to keep the tears in. What right do I have to grieve when the sins of my family have caused this kingdom so much pain?”

And here we go with the second lead character I didn’t recognize anymore. Amari changed at least as much as Zélie did and I hated to see her blame herself for everything. Where is my strong and determined queen? Where is the girl that always tried her best and never gave up? It’s like Adeyemi set her up for failure from the very first page and the ending was so convenient because by then Amari really became the person every single one of the maji expected her to be. If Adeyemi wanted to destroy Amari’s character she did really well. I’m sure no one likes her after the ending of this book which doesn’t sit right with me because up until the halfway mark Amari tried to prevent a war and then suddenly changed direction just because she felt betrayed by her brother. It was like: I was betrayed by him. I need to answer to violence with violence, it’s the only way. No talk of peace anymore. Sure I mean if I tried to prevent a war for about 1,5 books I totally would change direction from one moment to the next. Wouldn’t we all?! Sorry, I’m getting salty again. But I JUST CAN’T!!

”I don’t care what you’ve done.” Ramaya’s attacks subside, a brief reprieve as she catches her breath. “If you want to help the maji, kill your vile family. Kill yourself.“

Roën:

”Thes idiots bleed for you. They die for you. And all you want is to run away and lick your scars –“
“What right do you have?” I whip around. “You left your home!”
“Because I had nothing!” he yells at me. “I had no one. You’re going to win and you still have so many of the people you love! I don’t feel sorry for you. Stop feeling sorry for yourself!”

Roën was legit THE ONLY voice of reason in this book! Honestly, even Mama Agba was such a disappointment. She saw everything that went wrong and didn’t do anything against it?! WTF?! Oh gosh, I loved Roën so much for giving Zélie a piece of his mind! And he was totally right: At first she goaded everyone into war and then she suddenly didn’t want to be a part of it anymore?! I think Roën was the only reason I read this book until the end, because he was the only sane and reasonable character among a flood of stupid and stubborn warmongers. I really wish we would have gotten so much more of him because he seemed to be the only character that was worth my reading time.

Inan:

”One victor shall stand at the end of this war. One ruler shall sit on my throne. I can’t hold back anymore. I have to take out the Iyika no matter what it does to Amari and Zélie.
This war ends with me.”

Good lord give me patience! There was so much potential for Inan’s character and… it all went to waste! Instead of forming his own opinion and doing the right thing he let himself be influenced by his mother and the people around him. Inan had absolutely no – I repeat – no character growth and even though he tried to find a peaceful solution for everyone and wanted to avoid a war it felt like he never really wanted to stop it. If you want to stop a war you take the risk and go through with it no matter the cost. No wonder Inan wasn’t successful; all his attempts at peace were just half-hearted and half-assed! You do things properly or not at all. Period! His stance of “I want peace but I still want to be king” was so illogical and it was no surprise the maji didn’t trust someone who held on to his crown like that. Uff…

3
Zélie & Amari:

„Don’t compare your scars to mine, Princess. You’ll lose every time.“
“I’ll lose?” I charge forward. “I’ll lose? You had two parents who loved you till their dying breath. A brother who stands by your side. Both my parents tried to kill me with their own hands! I took the life of my own father to protect you and the maji!”

All I can say to those two is: WTF?! I mean what happened to their amazing friendship?!!! Did I miss a memo? How did we get from respect, mutual understanding and trust to the sentence above?! I have no idea what I was reading but it definitely wasn’t the kind of friendship I signed up for. I hate what became of those two and I think if Zélie would have just listened to Amari and trusted her they could have found a way to peace. But nope, Zélie decided to be a b*tch and treated Amari like shit. I mean she didn’t even defend her against Ramaya and the things Ramaya said… if someone would say something like that to my friend I’d give them hell for it! And what did Zélie do? Nothing! She let the maji treat Amari like dirt and didn’t care. You know what makes me even more angry is the fact that they all treated Amari so badly and it was so, SO WRONG! And in the end after Amari really steps out of line and does something totally extreme and horrible it’s like: Oh, we were all right and it wasn’t our fault, it was Amari’s because she was wrong from the beginning. Never mind Amari tried to prevent the war from ever happening for about 3 quarters of the book. Never mind that Zélie was a total b*tch and sent so many of her own people to death and actually wanted to abandon them near the ending. Zélie is our precious heroine and she can do nothing wrong. URGH!

”You keep pretending all you want is to kill my brother, but I saw the way you two looked at each other at Chândomblé. I know there’s more in your heart than rage!” I point at her chest. “If you want to lie to yourself about how you really feel, fine. But if you damn us to this warpath, you’re putting innocent lives on the line!”

Zélie, Inan & Roën:

The pit of guilt in my stomach hardens, squashing my fantasy. But that same pit turns to a flutter when Roën slides a hand around my waist.
“Besides, what soul could be better off that far away from me?”
“You have three seconds before I cut off your arm.”
“Three whole seconds?” Roën smiles as the cart swings to a stop.

This was the most unnecessary love triangle I ever came across and I read so many books with unnecessary love triangles you have no idea. I mean seriously, what was the point of this?! We all know there’s no way Zélie and Inan will ever get together because they hate each other with a fierce passion. And that’s all the passion that will ever be between them. And after reading this book I can honestly say that Roën is way too good for Zélie. Just to think that he believes he isn’t good enough for her. Like excuse me: WHAT?! But you know: Having read so many love triangles I can already guess how this one might end: Zélie will get together with Inan despite all logic and Roën will most certainly die somehow. Because that is how you solve a love triangle like that. One person has to die. If anyone of you reads the third book please let me know with whom Zélie ends up with. I’d really love to hear about that one. *lol* Am I bitter about this love triangle, yes, yes I am.

Roën’s steps slow as he exhales, pressing his fingers to his forehead. I watch bewildered as he turns back to help her; metal drifting towards its magnet.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers, tears brimming in her silver eyes. One spills out and Roën wipes it with his thumb, his unbandaged hand lingering on the side of her face.
They stare at each other, and it’s as if we all disappear. Unspoken words pass between their eyes. Roën’s shoulders slump when he rises to his feet. “Me too.”

”Your mistake wasn’t falling for a monster, Zïtsõl. It was falling for the wrong one.”
“Are you supposed to be the right one?”
Roën smiles, but it doesn’t hold any joy. “I’ve never been the right anything.”

Amari & Zane:

”Of course.” Tzain grins. “I live to serve, my queen.”
Though he jokes, his words heat my skin. He’s the only one who looks at me like I deserve that title. The one person who believes I can lead.”

I said it after reading the first book and I’ll say it again: Their love story came out of nowhere and it’s still irritating af. *lol* Amari clearly was in love with Binta and no one can persuade me otherwise. I find it weird that she would fall for Zane like that and that he’d become her safe haven in such a short time. Also their love ended as abruptly as it started, which only causes me to be even more irritated by their relationship. At first she is everything for him and the moment she does something horrible and stupid he drops her like a hot potato because that is EXACTYLY what we do with the people we love! We can turn our feelings on and off like a light switch, don’t you know?! It must have been true love! Oh jeez, my sarcasm is showing today. I just can’t with this book! I can’t!

Amari & Inan:

”I only asked for one thing when I joined this fight,” she cuts me off. “All I wanted was to end Inan.”
“He’s my blood.” I narrow my eyes. “You know I could never agree to that.”

I really liked their sibling relationship … well up until the moment Amari didn’t even give her brother a chance to explain himself and decided to go into full war mode. What happened to the benefit of the doubt? I mean of course we wouldn’t even listen to our sibling. Why should we? We want war, so we’ll throw all caution and every reasonable and sensible thought out of the window and just go for it! Despite us trying to find a peaceful solution for 3 quarters of the book! Sure. Totally logical, right?! Can you still follow me? Nope? Well, I guess that might be because I couldn’t follow that logic as well. But here we go!

”Everything that’s passed between us flashes behind my eyes as I run. I see every way we’ve been hurt. Every face that we have lost. Binta. Admiral Kaea. Father. But worst of all, each other.
the moment I place my head against his chest, I don’t know who weeps harder. Me, or him.”

4
I hate to say it but “Children of Virtue and Vengeance” so wasn’t for me and it was a real struggle to get through the book. I just couldn’t with the constant back and forth between making war or making peace and the fact that the characters themselves just couldn’t seem to be able to decide for a clear path made this impossible to enjoy. The MCs were so inconsistent in their decisions and they were nothing like the characters from the first book. Characters I may add that had a lot of potential and could have had great arcs. I’m sorry but this book really wasn’t for me. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it and that’s totally okay. I really wish I would have enjoyed it too, but I just didn’t and I guess that has to be okay as well.

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Fever King (Victoria Lee)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 32 on My Book List 2021

”Governments didn’t have to listen to the people until the people made it hurt not to listen.”

The backlog of reviews I still have to write is no joke; I mean I finished this book in May and only managed to sit down and write my review now. Regardless of my review backlog I really wanted to write about “The Fever King” though because WOW, this book deserves a proper review! I wanted to read this book for ages and it always reappeared on my feed with people raving about it. So I was intrigued enough by the plot to put it on my TBR and when I discovered that my library actually had a copy, I couldn’t help but borrow it! And let me tell you this: I regret absolutely nothing!

This was amazing and legit one of the best books I read in 2022 so far! I didn’t expect to fall head over heels for this story and its characters but at some point I realized that all my thoughts revolved around this book and that it stayed with me even when I didn’t read it. And this even though the story line is nothing new. I mean, people with special abilities is a trope that’s been used very often in YA literature. One of the main differences in here is the fact that those abilities come with a virus that either kills the people it infects or grants them special powers if they survive. That concept alone was already very intriguing and definitely made this an interesting story to read. What really made this special were the characters though.

So many secrets, so much political intrigue, such interesting and complex characters and two very broken boys that tried their best to survive in a cruel world. I just loved everything about it. Noam and Dara were just wow! I love it when books make me think and cause me to feel conflicted about the characters and this was exactly what happened in here. I had no idea which side I was on and this was great. XD Anyway, before I accidentally spoil anything I’ll just head to my characters section and continue to rave over there. 😉

2
Welcome to Carolinia! Where manipulation thrives and political intrigues are a daily occurrence! Take care and beware not only of the virus but also of all the spoilers! They’ll get you when you least expect it! ;-P

Noam Álvaro :

”And I meant it when I said I wasn’t gay,“ Noam said.
Ames looked disbelieving, but she didn’t pull away.
Noam smirked. „Bisexual isn’t gay.“

Where to start with Noam?! I really liked his character and it was interesting to follow his POV. I felt the same confusion Noam did when it came to Dara’s and Lehrer’s relationship and I tried really hard to understand it. There are so many things Noam isn’t aware of and we get to experience everything through his eyes. I felt really sorry for him though because he tries his best to find his way in a world that hasn’t been kind to him and as a refugee and the son of undocumented immigrants his life has never been easy. Well, and then his father dies and Noam is basically an orphan with super powers he has no control over. I swear Noam is the embodiment of a lost boy and I really liked his character. Also can we appreciate that he’s openly bisexual and calls people out when they assume his sexuality?! XD I really loved that about him because despite all the things he’s been through he knows exactly who he is and where he stands and this is pretty amazing! =)

”Everything worth doing had its risks.
And sometimes you had to do the wrong thing to achieve something better.
Noam was willing to gamble with Lehrer’s persuasion if it meant securing a future for Atlantians. What kind of person would he be if he didn’t?”

Dara Shirazi:

„Dara’s eyes were black wells, pupils bleeding into iris.
„You can study all you want,“ he said softly. „It isn’t going to make a difference.“

Oh Dara, my beautiful, beautiful Dara!!! T_T My heart breaks just thinking of him and I can’t even fathom what he must have gone through all his life. His character was written so well and you know that something about him is off but you can’t exactly pinpoint it and you keep wondering until the end. And then BAM! Oh my! The more I read about his character the more I got on the right track but to actually read it and to have all my suspicions confirmed was an entirely different thing. Dara just tried to protect himself and Noam and he did it the only way he could. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough and the ending had me reeling! I really need to know if he’s okay and if he survived and I’m planning to read book two very soon because I just can’t wait any longer! I’m very scared of what I’ll read in the next book though because I’m pretty certain we’ll get more details and uff… this is going to be tough. I just want to hug Dara and tell him everything is going to be okay. T_T

He hesitated for a moment, darting a quick glance at Noam from beneath his lashes. Then: “I’d like to live out on a farm somewhere. With a garden, and maybe some goats. Somewhere I can see the stars.”

”There was so much more to Dara than the cold, bitter facade he’d presented. He was that, too, but he was also Dara: the effortless genius, the political critic and poker cheat, the boy who analyzed everything he read according to poststructuralist theory and kept fresh flowers in a vase on his bedside table. Dara, who claimed he hated everything but secretly dreamed of counting the stars.”

Calix Lehrer:

”Clever?” Lehrer said. “So are you. And you’re curious, as I was. You’ve lost a great deal, as I had. And you believe, as I did, that if you are powerful enough, no one will ever be able to hurt you again.”

Lehrer…. THIS manipulative, horrible man!!! I always knew that something about him was weird and extremely off, but urgh nothing prepared me for the revelations at the ending of the book. Damn! Some part of me admires how well he crafted his net of lies and machinations and yes, I admit it, I can’t help but marvel at his manipulations as well! But boy! This man is so, so, so bad and everyone is dancing after his pipe even though they don’t know it. What a brilliant and manipulative son of a b*tch! I think Adalwolf was totally right when he said that Calix’s trauma did irreparable damage to his mind. He clearly has no regard for people’s lives anymore and he uses them like he’d use chess pieces to win a match. I hate him. I despise him. But I can’t help but be intrigued by him. ARGH!!! Thanks for making me a conflicted mess Victoria Lee! *lol* Still, I think in his twisted mind he thinks he’s actually doing the right thing and truly believes that he cares about Carolinia. The things that happened to him though… my heart broke for the little boy he was. T_T It was horrible and inhuman and those scientists created a monster…

”Adalwolf was of the belief,” Lehrer said, “that what I experienced in the hospital made me ill suited for leadership. He believed the trauma did irreparable damage to my mind.”

”Now, even though he occupied one of the most powerful positions in the world, Minister Lehrer could walk into the courtyard of the government complex utterly alone, without bodyguards, and not spare a thought for safety. He was untouchable, more myth than man. To look at Lehrer was to see a man who was everything Chancellor Sacha was not: Revolutionary. Principled. Witching.”

”I used my power on Sacha because he had to be stopped,” Lehrer said. “At any cost. I care about nothing as much as I care about this country. I was there when this nation was born, Noam, and like hell will I watch it die at the hands of a baseline.”

3
Noam & Dara:

”What did Lehrer tell you?”
“He said you were troubled and that I should stay away from you.”
Dara’s smile was bladed. He had Noam captured there as thoroughly as if he’d tied him down, because Noam couldn’t imagine moving when Dara was looking at him like that.

My two soft boys!!! T_T I really loved them together! Even though they kinda made me mad! *lol* There was so much tension between them and so many little gestures, but they both didn’t know how to be close to each other because their entire life they always tried to protect themselves from harm. To see their struggle was so heart-breaking. They wanted to be together but at the same time they couldn’t. There was so much distrust between them and they felt so conflicted about their feelings. Noam as well as Dara were hurt in so many ways… two broken boys that tried their best to get through the day and then Lehrer added even more fuel to the fire by manipulating them both. This only made it even harder for them to understand and to trust each other. From Dara’s POV it must have been so heart-wrenching because he knew exactly what Lehrer was capable of but he just couldn’t do anything against it. >_< My poor boy!! Also: I can’t believe we went from “I love you.” to “I hate you and don’t care about you.” right to “I love you.” again! Phew! Their relationship was such a rollercoaster and I really hope it will have more consistency in the next book?! Gosh, I just hope Dara survived the virus! T_T

”There was no way to look without sliding off his armrest and moving into Dara’s space. But Dara seemed to want that. His hand caught Noam’s wrist and tugged him closer, until Noam was leaning over him with his free hand braced against the windowsill, Dara’s left thigh perilously close to Noam’s groin, and, fuck.”

”I know you. And I love you.”
Two weeks ago, Noam would have been the happiest person in the world. Now those words were poison. Noam tasted venom like heat on his tongue.
“So read my mind,” Noam said, brandishing a hand toward his own temple. “I believe you, Dara. I just don’t care.”

”He was crying, Noam realized. Dara was crying.
Very carefully, Noam wrapped his arms around Dara’s body and just … held him there, while both of Dara’s hands took fistfuls of his shirt and clung on tight. He was feverish hot; Noam could feel it even through the sweater Dara wore. It was like holding on to a live coal.”

”I know,” Noam said. He tried to grin, but it felt weak. He said, “I love you too.” and he grasped Dara’s face between both hands and kissed him on his shocked mouth. Dara didn’t resist. Dara didn’t say a word, even when Noam pushed him back and into the car and slammed the door shut behind him.

Noam & Lehrer:

”I can’t be anywhere near this. You know that,” Lehrer said, hand tightening slightly on Noam’s wrist. “It has to be you.”

URGH!!! I absolutely hate how Lehrer manipulated Noam. We get to see everything through Noam’s POV and it was so … I dunno. Disgusting to read about how Lehrer found a way into his mind and nudged his thoughts in the “right direction”. I felt so violated just reading about it and I don’t even want to know how Noam feels. Lehrer’s power… it’s horrible and the worst thing is that you only realize it very slowly. A little thought here and a small seed there and before I even knew it Noam and his thoughts were completely manipulated by him. Nothing he did at the ending was of his own will and I hated this so much!! ARGH!! Lehrer is such a cruel piece of … ! The only thing that was truly Noam was when he saved Dara and organized a transport for him. The rest… well it was all Lehrer and considering how much he hurt Dara and manipulated him I don’t even want to know what he’s going to do with Noam in the next book. T_T I’m afraid I’ll be in for a world of suffering and pain. >_< Or well, Noam will be and I’ll live through it alongside him.

Dara & Lehrer:

Dara, sick with fevermadness, his hands on Noam’s face. Saying, “You have to listen to me.”
Over and over.
Lehrer, pulling Dara away like it was easy.
Dara screaming. Don’t let them and Please and Noam’s name, like someone praying the Shema.

This scene broke my heart into tiny little pieces! Noam was the only good thing that ever happened to Dara and Lehrer made sure to take him away from him as well. My poor boy! Dara was so ill and weak and he couldn’t even fight him. Did I already mention that I hate what Lehrer did to Dara?! I always got bad vibes from Lehrer and he failed my vibe check the moment I read about him. What finally settled it was that disturbing scene with the dead bird though. After that I was totally on guard when it came to Lehrer. And the abuse Dara suffered from Lehrer… It wasn’t just physically but also mentally and I have no idea how he could live like that for so long. No one ever noticed and it’s just so horrible. To think that Lehrer should have been his guardian and parent – a person he could trust and rely on – and what he did instead. And we only just discovered the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure there’s so much more to come in the next book and I really don’t think I’m ready for it.

4
I rarely say this about books but “The Fever King” was really such a well thought-out book. The characters were multi-layered and complex and the storyline kept me on my toes. All the intrigues and secrets caused me to constantly rethink and readjust my theories and thoughts and the love story between the two MCs broke my heart. I guess you can already tell that this was definitely a 5 paws read for me. Highly recommended if you’re like me and appreciate character driven books that feature political intrigues and give you a headache because you’re trying your best to figure out the MCs motives. 😉 I can’t wait to dive into book two, but I gotta admit I’m kinda scared of reading it too.

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

”Somewhere close by, a man is moaning; he’s been trampled or thrown or bitten. He sounds resentful or surprised. Did no one tell him that pain lives in this sand, dug in and watered with our blood?”

I really don’t know where I should start with this review because just like any of Maggie’s other books this one wasn’t only magical but also so damn atmospheric that it’s more than just hard to put my feelings into proper words. There is something in the way she writes that always captures the emotions and the essence of a certain season or time. In “Shiver” it was winter, in TRC it’s that foggy, otherworldly atmosphere of Cabeswater and in “The Scorpio Races” it was autumn and the daily life on an island.

I swear I could feel the cold autumn wind on my skin and I could smell the leaves and the sea with my nose while I read this book. It was done so perfectly that I immerged into a totally different world and just like Puck and Sean (and Craig ;-P) I couldn’t help but fall in love with the capaill uisce. Those water horses were so awesome, I can’t even! <333

”The capaill uisce plunged down the sand, skirmishing and bucking, shaking the sea foam out of their manes and the Atlantic from their hooves. They screamed back to the others still in the water, high wails that raised the hair on my arms. They were swift and deadly, savage and beautiful. The horses were giants, at once the ocean and the island, and that was when I loved them.”

I love how Maggie described them and I also love that she researched the myths and folklore of water horses. They are indeed very fascinating and if you want to delve a little deeper you just have to look them up under “cabyll-ushtey”. Anyway, back to the actual water horses of this book! They were amazing and I loved their beautiful, violent and graceful nature! It’s kind of obvious Maggie has some experience with horses because I think otherwise she would have never been able to write about them so convincingly. There’s a deep respect in her words and you can feel it whenever you read Sean’s or Pucks POV! And tell you what? I loved that aspect of the book! It made it so good and realistic that I was almost convinced those horses actually exist. *lol*

And this ultimately brings me right to the two main characters of “The Scorpio Races”. Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick! <333

”And then I see him. A dark-haired boy who is made of all corners. He is standing next in line by the counter, silent and still in his blue-black jacket, his arms folded across his chest. He looks out of place and wild in here: expression sharp, collar turned up against the back of his neck, hair still windblown from the beach.”

”My mother always said that I was born out of a bottle of vinegar instead of born from a womb and that she and my father bathed me in sugar for three days to wash it off. I try to behave, but I always go back to the vinegar.”

I adored them both! XD Sean Kendrick was a mystery to everyone but himself and Puck Connolly was an open book that had its own secrets. They were two really intriguing characters and before I even knew it, I was already pulling for them. *lol* Even though they both had a rather rough life they still decided to fight for their dreams and they truly did everything possible in order to achieve their goals. They really dealt with every blow that came their way and they did it with fierce determination! ❤

”The truth is this: for eleven months of the year I make myself valuable to Malvern, and then for one month, I make myself invaluable. Would he be willing to give up that one month to keep the other eleven? Am I willing to risk it?”

”Why is it that going away is the standard? Does anyone ask you why you stay, Sean Kendrick?”
“They do.”
“And why do you?”
“The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr.”


This is such a perfect quote because Sean and Puck ARE the embodiment of the island. They are deeply rooted in its sand and unlike so many of the islands other inhabitants they can’t even imagine to leave it one day. It’s their heart, their home and the place they belong to and I think Maggie conveyed that feeling more than just well. =) Still, the island is its own entity and there are people that make it hard to enjoy the wilderness of this land. First and foremost Benjamin Malvern and his demon of a son called Mutt.

”And I told you before, I’ll sell you any of the thoroughbreds.”
“I didn’t make any of those thoroughbreds. I didn’t make them what they are.”
Malvern says, “You made all of them what they are.”
I don’t look at him. “None of them made me who I am.”


”Mr Kendrick was born on a horse and he’ll die on one, and maybe that’s not something you can breed for. He’s one of those rare men who can make a horse work for him but never asks for more than they have.”

It was so obvious that Benjamin Malvern had a deep respect for Sean, yet at the same time he refused to let him go. Ever the business man he tied him to his stable making him just another one of his precious horses. I hated Benjamin Malvern so much for that and I despised him even more for being aware of Sean’s talent and keeping him under his thumb. And I don’t even want to speak about Mutt Malvern that – excuse my crude language – sadistic douche bag! Gosh, there were moments I wanted to slap some sense into him and I am a pacifist and actually never slapped anyone. (My only weapons are words! *lol*) ARGH! Just to think about Mutt makes my blood boil, such a despicable a******!!! >_<

”At the sound of them, the red stallion flinches, as if the bells are physically painful, and I find myself unexpectedly blinking away tears.
Sean Kendrick turns his face away.
There’s something so wretched in that that I can’t just leave him there by himself.”


I swear Sean and Puck had to put up with so many things before the races and I loved them so much for never giving up! Plus I also liked that Puck was the first woman to ever take part in the races! Thank you Maggie for inventing a strong female character people are able to look up to! We still need more of those! ❤ And last but not least another thing I’m very thankful for: A slow, realistic burn and a relationship that was built on mutual respect and the love for their horses and home!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT!!! <333

I say, “I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.”
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, “It’s late for that, Puck.”

4
All told I really loved this book! “The Scorpio Races” was an awesome “ride” and the ending was as bittersweet as dark chocolate with a pinch of salt in it. T_T
Highly recommended and definitely once again an amazing Maggie Stiefvater book! 😉

Since this was another buddy read with my amazing Sugar Bun I want to use the chance to thank him for this cool and funny BR! I think our next one is already pending. Do you still have a copy of “Linger”? *lol* I have the feeling that you’ll need a yucky romance soon. Haha! ;-P

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Almond (Won-Pyung Sohn)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me.”

It’s been ages I buddy read “Almond” with my friend Katja but I really wanted to write a review about the book. Unfortunately my life got in the way and I neither read as much as I wanted to nor did I manage to write reviews about the books I finished. I’m going to rectify that now though and after I wrote this review there will follow a couple of other reviews as well. So watch out for them. It’s about time I write them down. 😉 This said, let’s head right back to the actual review and speak about “Almond”.

”Granny, why do people call me weird?”
Her lips loosened.
“Maybe it’s because you’re special. People just can’t stand it when something is different, eigoo, my adorable little monster.”
Granny hugged me so tight my ribs hurt. She always called me a monster. To her, that wasn’t a bad thing.

I wanted to read this book for a while and when my dear friend Katja asked me to read it together for the #Koreadathon I immediately said yes. We picked it for the “read a book recommended by a Korean celebrity” prompt and the fact that RM as well as SUGA of BTS read it and enjoyed it was enough reason to go for it as well. I trust my boys taste in books and I’m really glad I decided to go for “Almond” because it was an intriguing read and very thought-provoking. The plot of the book is easily described: It’s about a boy named Yunjae who was born with a brain condition named alexithymia which basically means that he can’t feel emotions. The part of his brain that is responsible for our feelings (and formed like an almond, hence the book title) isn’t fully developed and that causes him to have troubles to understand human emotions. Our MCs mother and his grandmother tried their best to teach him how to cope with his lack of emotions but then one day tragedy hits and Yunjae is left to fend for himself.

”People sometimes say how cool it’d be to be fearless, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. Fear is an instinctive defense mechanism necessary for survival. Not knowing fear doesn’t mean that you’re brave; it means you’re stupid enough to stay standing on the road when a car is charging towards you.”

I had so many thoughts when I read this book and a lot of them had to do with the way Yunjae was raised. I know his mother and grandmother only had the best intentions and wanted him to blend in with everyone, but I think to some extent their constant efforts made it even more difficult for him to deal with his condition. Emotions are something you can’t learn because human feelings are very complex and some people will cry because they are happy while others will laugh even though they are sad. You might be able to explain the general reasons behind behaviour like crying but every person is an individual and we all react differently when we’re overwhelmed by our feelings. The fine nuances of emotions… well they are something you can’t learn. So even though I understood where Yunjae’s mother was coming from I still didn’t agree with her methods. It felt like Yunjae was under a lot of pressure to learn “the proper reactions” and I kinda felt sorry for him.

”Dr. Shim was right – being ordinary was the trickiest path. Everyone thinks “ordinary” is easy and all, but how many of them would actually fit into the so-called smooth road the word implied?”

Well, and then his grandma died and his mother was out of the picture as well, leaving him to fight through all the troubles on his own. Okay, almost all on his own because Dr. Shim was amazing and I loved that he helped him out! Honestly, bless his soul because he just accepted Yunjae the way he was and tried to help him as best as he could. ❤ But Dr. Shim isn’t the only one that helped him to find his way and Gon as well as Dora had an impact on the MCs character development.

”Dora. Dora was exactly the polar opposite of Gon. If Gon tried to teach me pain, guilt and agony, Dora taught me flowers and scents, breezes and dreams.”

I loved the way this was put, because it sums up their different personalities and essence so well. With Dora Yunjae discovered the soft feelings of first love and attraction and with Gon he learned about true friendship and hardships. Some might say Gon was a catalyst and I’m inclined to agree with that, but I also think that Dora’s appearance was at least as vital to Yunjae’s development as Gon’s. Both played a very important part in the MCs life and contributed to his experiences.

”About what?”
“About destiny and time.”
“What a surprise to hear those words from you.”
“Sheesh, did you know that even when you say the simplest things, you sound like a dick?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Now you know.”
“Yes, thanks.”

I really loved the bluntness between Gon and Yunjae! They took each other the way they were and they didn’t try to pretend to be someone else when they were in each other’s company. I think this might have actually been the main reason their friendship could bloom and evolve because the way they met definitely wasn’t the best start. (And that’s an understatement right there.) I’m not going to spoil anything here though. 😉 Despite being unable to feel emotions the same way other people do Yunjae was quite a wise person sometimes and could look through people’s disguises with surprising ease. I suppose you could also say that because of his disability to feel emotions he was probably more perceptive than others?

”She said families walk hand in hand. Granny would hold my other hand. I have never been abandoned by anyone. Even though my brain was a mess, what kept my soul whole was the warmth of the hands holding mine on both sides.”

I’m pretty sure it was due to this that he was able to see who Gon truly was. The way Yunjae described Gon was simple yet beautiful and I guess this is also how I would describe Won-Pyung Sohn’s writing style: Beautiful simplicity with many layers. The author never beats about the bush or hides information. It’s all there and you get exactly what you read which was a very refreshing approach and even though the conversations between the characters are pretty unexcited, they still have some sort of beauty to them. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the writing style so much but I did. =)

”I said, shut the fuck up.”
“You are not that kind of person.”
“Fuck,” he shouted, half crying. A nail on the wall must’ve pricked my leg, because it was bleeding. Gon saw and started weeping like a child. Yes, this was who he was. The kind of person who tears up at a drop of blood, who feels pain for other’s pain.

4
As for the ending of the book: I liked it but it almost felt too smooth? I don’t know if I’d have done anything differently but I’ve to admit that I still don’t know how I feel about it. I thought a lot about my final reaction to Yunjae’s story but all I can come up with is that the ending felt too convenient. Still, I really enjoyed “Almond” and I can recommend reading it if you want to go for something different and thought-provoking. I still think about the book and in my book this is always a good thing. 😉

Allgemein, P, P - T, Reviews

Review: Pet (Akwaeke Emezi)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

„It wasn’t like the angels wanted to be painted as heroes, but the teachers wanted the kids to want to be angels, you see?“

Wow… this book caused me to think about so many things. I don’t even know where to start but I think we’ll just go with the writing style first because it’s very unique but also kind of perfect to convey this important story to the reader. We see everything from Jam’s perspective and this was done so well. I mean Jam is a black trans girl that doesn’t speak and uses sign language instead (I think this is called selective mutism) so the language she uses to describe things and feelings is very different to those of other people. I really liked this about the book and it gave me a lot of “A Monster Calls” vibes.

”That was something she’d taught Jam – that a lot of things were manageable as long as they were honest. You could see things clearly if they were honest; you could decide what to do next, because you knew exactly what you were dealing with.”

Just like in “A Monster Calls” we have a very serious topic that is hard to put into proper words. It’s a tough one to understand for kids and I really liked that the monster helped Jam and Redemption to approach the topic. I think in some way the message is easier to convey if you have the help of a monster to do it, because after all you expect monsters to know about monstrous things, right?! What I really liked about the book is how it shows that even in a seemingly perfect world there can still be monsters. And if you don’t call them out and allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security you give them the power to do whatever they want to without them ever facing the consequences. After all there are no monsters in Lucille, at least not as long as you overlook their dark deeds and neither confront yourself or them with the truth.

”It was no small thing to try to restructure a society, to find the pus boiling away under the scabs, to peel back the hardened flesh to let it out. Jam had heard stories of how horrifying it had been to see the truth of how many monsters there were in Lucille – the public ones, the private ones, the chameleons, the freestyle solitary ones, the charismatic smiling ones.”

So the monsters in Lucille were seemingly normal people that did horrible things and the angels were also just normal people that rooted out those monsters. Alone this concept was already very intriguing because the so called “monsters” were actually human beings and didn’t look any different than everyone else. I felt really sorry for Jam and Redemption because they were the only ones that saw the monster for what it was and because the adults refused to believe in monsters this made it even harder for them to reveal the truth. They were both hurting so much and I wish I could have taken that pain away from them.

”She didn’t like keeping a secret from Redemption, but it wasn’t time to tell him about Pet, not yet. Not that telling would even work – you had to see Pet to accept that it was real in this world; the telling would never be enough. Words are never enough for a lot of things.”

I could understand why Jam felt so conflicted about telling Redemption because telling him would have made it real and who wants things like that to be real? But then again if no one found out about the truth others might have gotten hurt as well so yes it was horrible and exceptionally painful to reveal the monster, but it was necessary as well. To close your eyes to reality never helped anyone and it’s exactly this kind of lesson our two MCs had to learn. >_<

“You want many things, you are full of want, carved out of it, made from it, yes. But the truth does not care about what you want; the truth is what it is. It is not moved by want, it is not a blade of grass to be bent by the wind of your hopes and desires.”

Serious topics aside, another thing I really loved about the book was the diversity and the amazing representation. I mean everything in here was so natural and casual. When Bitter and Aloe found out that Jam was a girl and not a boy, they just took it in stride and made sure that she got all the help she needed in order to transition into a girl. And this was super wholesome and extremely amazing to read about! I wish every parent of a trans kid would react like that. Plus can we acknowledge the awesome and effortless polyamorous relationship between Redemptions parents?

„His mother, Malachite, was punching down bread dough in a large ceramic bowl, the sleeves of her linen shirt rolled up to her elbows, her mouth open in a laugh and her eyes crinkled. His father, Beloved, was sitting on a stool across from her, sketching her face while the recipient of her smile, Redemption’s third parent, Whisper, juggled three oranges and a grapefruit, their eyes focused on the fruit, tongue sticking out in concentration.“

Not to mention the fact that Whisper, the third parent, went with they/them pronouns and it was the most natural thing ever! I loved that so much! <333 Plus Whisper was continuously non-binary. We never got any hint about their original gender and that was so damn wholesome. I mean there are so many books in which the original gender (or the body parts) of non-binary characters are revealed but I really loved the fact that it wasn’t done in here. Whisper was non-binary and that was it! Just amazing! ❤

”Everyone, everything deserved some time to be. To figure out what they were. Even a painting.“

4

All told I really enjoyed “Pet” and I was totally absorbed by the story. I constantly wanted to know how it would continue and this even though I knew the ending would hurt. (And it DID hurt, boy did it hurt…) A very important book that didn’t only tackle serious topics, but also confronts the reader and forces her/him/them to make the right choice even though it is difficult. Highly recommended if you already read “A Monster Calls” and survived the heartbreak.

Allgemein, P - T, R, Reviews

Review: Rule of Wolves (Leigh Bardugo)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Men who see too much have a way of losing their eyes.”
“And queens who trust too little have a way of losing their thrones.”

Don’t you love it when those bitter truths are thrown in your face? *lol* Queen Makhi and Yerwei were quite the duo and they continued to cause a lot of trouble in the second book. Despite that they weren’t an all too huge part of it though and I guess that was okay?! I have pretty mixed feelings about this series because on the one hand I absolutely adore Nikolai, Zoya and Nina, but on the other hand I always had the feeling that there could have been more?! It’s really hard to put this into words but I guess what it ultimately comes down to is that I didn’t enjoy the “King of Scars” duology as much as I thought I would.

I know I’m probably the only unpopular opinion here (at least when you look at all those raving 5 star reviews) but at the end of the day all I can do is to add my two cents and to hope that people will understand where I’m coming from. I mean 3,5 paws rounded up to 4 is still a great rating, because I DID enjoy the book, it just wasn’t what I expected? Hoped for? Wanted? XD Of course Leigh Bardugo can write her story the way she wants to, she’s the author after all, but I personally think there was a lot of potential that was lost somewhere along the way. No matter if it’s the storyline of the Starless Saint or how everything worked out with the Fjerdans in the end. There were so many possibilities how things could have developed and changed but most of them weren’t even used or used in a way I couldn’t get behind.

I know it’s always tough to write a good and well-rounded ending and I guess there were just too many things to handle after the final pages of the first book, but I still wish some of them would have been done differently. Anyway! My ship sailed, Leigh killed me once again and the conversations and easy banter were amazing and fun as always. So yeah, there were many things I enjoyed and that caused me to give this book four stars in the end. Before I go on and on I better just head to my spoilery characters section though and write all those mixed feelings down over there.

2

Ravka is probably not the best place to be on a vacation right now, but we still hope you’ll enjoy our hospitality. Discover our new inventions and don’t get too close to our spoiler machine. It’s not functional yet and might vomit spoilers all over you! But who knows? Maybe this is exactly your cup of tea? Wanna step a little bit closer?! ;-P

Nikolai:

”How unfair. I have plenty of faith,” Nikolai objected.
Tolya raised a brow. “In what?”
“Good engineering and better whiskey.”

Me too, Nikolai, me too! *lol* I really love Nikolai Lantsov and he’s one of the most precious beans of the entire Grishaverse. (The only other bean at least as precious is Wylan. ;-P) Unfortunately my boy had a lot to deal with in this book and his character development definitely was more on the grim and serious side, which is understandable if you have to fight for everything your entire life. And boy did he fight! Nikolai gave everything for his country, his blood and sweat and tears, but in the end a small rumour was enough to kick him off his throne. I hated this so much because, yes his father was Opjer but his mother was still the queen of Ravka and he was more of a king than anyone else that claimed their right on the throne. It was unfair but I suppose that’s how people are. Just because he wasn’t the king’s son and had a demon within him they turned their backs on him and decided they wanted another leader. The injustice of it all… I’m still not over it and it makes me so angry!! T_T My precious Nikolai deserved better than this. After everything he did for his country… he deserved better than this… *sobs* I mean yes, he’s still somewhat the consort of the new queen but urgh he almost died for them, he bled for them and that’s how they thank him for it?! >_<

”War was like fire – sudden, hungry, and easiest to stop before it had taken hold. He would do all he could to contain this blaze. He feared for his country and for himself. He’d be a fool not to. But some part of him, maybe the privateer, maybe the demon, maybe the prince who had clawed his way to the throne, was itching for a fight.”

”Maybe the gift of being human is that we do not give up – even when all hope is lost.”

”He was meant to be the wise king, the good king, but right now, he didn’t know how to be wise or good, only angry, the wound inside him burning like the city below. The demon’s presence made it easier to bear.”

”All over Os Alta today, there are funerals. People are grieving. We are facing a new and terrible challenge, a different kind of enemy and a different kind of war, but just as we grieve together, we’ll face this new enemy together. We will fight just as we grieve, side by side.”

”He was happy to pick up a sword or a pen on Ravka’s behalf, to go without sleep or comfort in order to see a mission through. But kings didn’t take action – not the way that a privateer or even a general could. Being a king meant second-guessing every move, considering countless variables before making a decision, knowing that each choice might have consequences that others would pay for.”

Zoya:

”She could never be sure if it was her own voice or Juris’ that spoke in her head. She only knew that his presence within her was real. No figment of her imagination could be so irritating.”

Ahh Zoya! My queen had a really nice character arc and I’m very thankful for that. I loved to see how she forged her own path and figured out how to resolve her issues. I think the most important thing for her was to accept herself and to learn how to love herself, because if you don’t do that you’re not open to let other people into your heart. The only person that stood in her way was Zoya herself and I’m glad she finally opened up to others and allowed herself to be human. It didn’t only make her stronger but also a better person. Or dragon?! I cannot not talk about her turning into a fierce dragon because OMG!!! That scene was totally amazing! Ravka’s new queen is quite literally a fire breathing dragon saint! *lol* Also I have no idea why their people accept a dragon on the throne but not the kind of monster Nikolai has become, because erm yeah… both not exactly human, but okay?!

Sweet words and grand declarations were for other people, other lives. She brushed the hair back from his face, placed a kiss on his forehead. “I would stay forever if I could,” she whispered. He wouldn’t remember anyway.

”Did she want to forget? What a gift that would be. To never feel as humans did, to never grieve again. Then it wouldn’t be so hard to leave this room. To shut the door on what might have been. To say goodbye.”

”And if something happened to him on that battlefield? She’d been too afraid to say yes to him, to show him the truth of her longing, to admit that from the first time she’d seen him, she’d know he was the hero of all her aunt’s stories, the boy with the golden spirit full of light and hope. All Saints, Zoya wanted to be near that light, she wanted to feel the warmth of it for as long as she could.”

”She would forever be a bloodthirsty, furious girl, but she might allow herself to be something else too. If she had helped to earn peace for Ravka, then maybe she could grant her own heart a bit of peace as well.”

”This is what love does. In the stories, love healed your wounds, fixed what was broken, allowed you to go on. But love wasn’t a spell, some kind of benediction to be whispered, a balm or a cure-all. It was a single, fragile thread, which grew stronger through connection, through shared hardship and honored trust.”

Nina:

”Her friendship with Hanne had helped to heal that wound. This mission, this purpose had helped, but the pain was still there and she suspected it always would be. His life had been stolen from him, and Matthias had never had the chance to find his own purpose. I served it, my love. I protected you. To the very end.”

So while Zoya and Nikolai fought for Ravka, Nina continued to be the spy in their enemies’ home. Which was a necessary role but still didn’t satisfy me? I mean I get why Nina remained in her role as a spy but I really wish her character’s story would have gone in a different direction. Especially at the ending. I mean she lost so much and all this just because of Brum and the Fjerdan’s old beliefs that Grisha are witches, yet she still stays in Fjerda to change the country for the better and this even as Mila and not as herself. *sighs deeply* I don’t know why Nina and Hanne being doomed to be in someone else’s skin for the rest of their lives is getting to me so much… but I think it has to do with me feeling good in my own skin? I remember being upset about Wylan posing as Kuwei and how much I hoped for him to be tailored back into his old self. It’s just… it doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it’s because I’m gender fluid and it took me so long to understand myself and to be able to express my male and female side. The fact that you’d be stuck in a body that isn’t yours and this for the rest of your life? It’s just… argh!  *shudders* I don’t like this idea. At all.

”You are the lowest form of man. Without honor, without integrity. Djel djeren je töp.” Djel turns his back on you.
“Mila!” Ylva gasped.
Brum’s lips flattened. “You are no longer welcome in our home.”
Nina laughed. “I don’t keep company with vermin. My place is with the wolves.”

The Darkling:

”Human life is worth preserving. But human lives? They come and go like so much chaff, never tipping the scales.”

And here is another plot line that could have been so good but ended up being a wasted opportunity. I mean what exactly was the point in bringing the Darkling back into the game? Aside of the nice talk he had with Alina and Mal he didn’t really add anything important to the story. His followers were in no position to give him the power he craved for and his fruitless journey to sainthood was pretty disappointing, dull and unnecessary. The only thing his character was good for in the end was to stop the plague from spreading. And he did it willingly… I mean the most egoistic and notoriously pitiless character ever just allowed them to spike him on a huge thorn in order to stop the blight?! Suffering for eternity and going through immeasurable and excruciating pain. Did I miss a memo?! Apparently he only came back to fulfil that purpose but it was a story line I just couldn’t wrap my head around, especially because his sudden willingness to sacrifice himself for others was so out of character. >_< Why Leigh?!

”He would go to the Fold. He would find those who followed the Starless Saint.
He would teach the world awe.”

Prince Rasmus:

”It’s hard to believe in a god that would deny me breath.”

The Prince of Fjerda and his servant Joran. Pff… another storyline I have to pick a bone with. I really liked the idea of the prince of Fjerda having a good heart and understanding the needs of his people because his health has been bad ever since he was born. He could have had such a unique outlook on things and strengthened by Hanne’s powers he could have changed Fjerda for the better. But nope, that’s not the story we got. Rasmus turned out to be an even worse tyrant than his father and Brum and in the end he died because Hanne was forced to kill him. I dunno about you but for me this was like a slap in the face. XD Not happy about Hanne and Nina posing as the prince and Mila for the rest of their lives. I mean Hanne might be okay in his body (she could have tailored herself male though and she could have still been herself) but Nina in Mila’s body and this until she dies… Okay I won’t say more.

”I know the way people talk about me. I know they wish I hadn’t been born at all and that my little brother could be the one to inherit.”
Hanne’s face was fierce. “Well then, you must stay alive to spite them.”

3

Zoya & Nikolai:

”What they had endured on the Fold had connected them in some way, and he knew he would see Zoya when he turned – yet the sight of her struck like a sudden change in the weather. A drop in temperature, the crackle of electricity in the air, the feeling of a storm coming on.”

Zoyalai!!! My ship finally sailed and gosh was I happy about it! Those two were killing me with their tender moments, soft touches and easy banter. <333 Whenever they were in a scene together you could basically feel their chemistry crackling on the pages. I’m kinda sad we didn’t get even more of their moments because they were all so special and sweet, but I guess it’s better this way, because otherwise this would have turned into a lovey dovey romance and we all know Zoya isn’t exactly the romantic kinda girl. XD We’ll leave that to Nikolai because I’m sure he’ll spoil her senseless. *lol* Still, it took so long for Zoya to admit her feelings for him and I was so angry at her after the talk they had on the ship. I mean it almost took Nikolai dying for her to realize that she could have lost him forever. Then again this was totally in character for her so I can’t be mad at her. XD Also ADKFASLDFJSALKDF why is Nikolai so soft!!?? I can’t with him. I want a Nikolai Lantsov in my life! <333

Zoya sat down beside Nikolai on the bed, trying not to jostle him.
“You must be still,” she murmured.
“Don’t go.”
He shut his eyes and gripped her hand in his. Zoya knew the Healer had noticed it, knew he would probably gossip about it later. But she could weather the gossip.

”All Saints, are you saying I haven’t seen you at your worst?”
Zoya tossed her hair. “If you had, you’d be under the covers, gibbering prayers.”
“A unique way of getting me into bed, but who am I to question your methods?”

”Don’t pretend to shrug this off. You’ve barely looked at me since I returned.
Because I am greedy for the sight of you. Because the prospect of facing this war, this loss, without you fills me with fear. Because I find I don’t want to fight for a future if I can’t find a way to make a future with you.

”I would give you a crown if I could,” he said. “I would show you the world from the prow of a ship. I would choose you, Zoya. As my general, as my friend, as my bride. I would give you a sapphire the size of an acorn.” He reached into his pocket. “And all I would ask in return is that you wear this damnable ribbon in your hair on our wedding day.”

She raised her hand and let her fingertips trace the line of his beautiful jaw. He closed his eyes. “We would go on, you and I. If I couldn’t be queen, you would find a way to win this battle and save this country. You would make a sheltering place for my people. You would march and bleed and crack terrible jokes until you had done all you said you would do. I suppose that’s why I love you.”
His eyes flew open and his face lit in an extraordinary grin. “All Saints, say it again.”

She didn’t want to ask. Her pride forbade it. But her damn pride had cost her enough. She looked away. “And if … if I wished for more?” She felt his fingers on her chin, turning her head. There was an unwanted ache in her throat. Zoya forced herself to meet his gaze. In this light, his hazel eyes looked almost golden.
“Then I would gladly be your prince, your consort, your demon fool.”

Nina & Hanne:

”This stinks of the Hringsa. If there are Grisha in my streets, in my capital, I will find out.”
There are Grisha in your house, Nina thought gleefully.
“Don’t get cocky,” murmured Hanne.
“Too late.”

Their ship was okay in here but I’m still not convinced by it, which is such a shame because I’m usually the first one to support an f/f ship. For some reason this one just didn’t do it for me though?! I had the same problem with Mia and Ash when I read “The Nevernight Chronicles” and I can’t exactly put my finger on it but their relationship just didn’t work for me. It was too sudden, too convenient; there wasn’t enough chemistry between the two. It all just felt very… flat and not passionate enough?! I dunno. Considering they were hiding their love in front of their enemy’s eyes, there should have been a firework of emotions and all-consuming passion but there just wasn’t?! I dunno. Still feeling pretty meh about that ship. >_<

”I know all the things that aren’t good for me. And I want them just the same.”
Nina’s throat was dry. “Do you?” she asked quietly. “Want them?”
Hanne’s copper eyes glowed like topaz. Slowly she nodded. “Since the moment we met. Since you charged into that clearing like a girl I had dreamed into being.”

”Can you love a murderer?
“I might ask the same.”
Hanne hesitated. “And can you love me in this body?”
“It is your heart I love. You know that, don’t you?”

Genya & David:

”You will sit yourself down and let me make sure you don’t have a concussion. Then you will have a cup of tea. And then, if I’m feeling generous, you can talk to David about things that explode.”
“You do realize I’m the king?”
“Do you?”
Nikolai looked to David for help, but David just shrugged. “I don’t argue with my wife when she’s right.”

All I can say to that is: LEIGH WHY????!!!!! WHY???!!! WHY??!! I don’t get it! Why did David of all people have to die?! Genya suffered so much already and now you take the love of her life?! David’s death was at least as needless as Matthias’s death and I don’t know why Leigh insists on killing off sweet and gentle characters!! I will never be okay with that… Never!!! T_T *cries an ocean full of tears* Genya and David would have deserved to be happy. T_T I can’t say more than that….

”The things the Darkling asked me to do … I did them mindlessly, thoughtlessly. I helped put the collar around Alina’s neck. I created the lumiya that allowed him to enter the Fold without her power. Without my help, he never could have … I won’t be responsible for this too.”

Nikolai & The Crows:

”He’d have sussed out Vadik Demidov’s origins, raided the Fjerdan treasury, and placed himself on the throne in the time it took Nina to braid her hair. On second thought, probably best Kaz wasn’t here.”

Don’t you love it how everyone is against Kaz’s plan but once he says it’s for Inej they are all in?! Ahh the Crows will forever be my favourite gang. <333 I loved Nikolai’s and Zoya’s interactions with them and I would have been happy to read even more. XD To see them in another book of the Grishaverse always gives me life. Also I gotta say it: I want more scenes with Kaz and Nikolai because those two could be such a great duo!! Just imagine them going on a heist together. The legendary Kaz Brekker and the infamous Sturmhond together on one team?! Ohh what trouble they would cause! *lol* I’d be totally down for a book full of short stories of them teaming up together or even an entire trilogy just letting them do their thing. XD Can we have that, Leigh?! Please?! =))

”Better to get fat on information that starve on good manners.”

”One question,” said Wylan. “What are you going to use the titanium for?”
“Why does it matter?” asked Nikolai.
“Because unlike Kaz, I have a conscience.”
“I have a conscience,” said Kaz. “It just knows when to keep its mouth shut.”
Jesper snorted. “If you have a conscience, it’s gagged and tied to a chair somewhere.”

”I have a gift for order and a taste for chaos.”
Kaz raised a brow. “The man with the monster inside.”
“I see the wheels turning in your head, Mister Brekker, wondering what you might do with this information. I would ask, one liar to another, that you keep it to yourself.”
“I find secrets are the most reliable stocks. The longer they’re kept, the more their value rises.”

4

Despite being in one hell of a reading slump when I started to read “Rule of Wolves” I really enjoyed the book once I got out of my slump and actually picked it up. The characters are all close to my heart and I adore them so much. Still, there was a lot of lost potential and I just couldn’t overlook it. I mean yes, when it comes down to it, the book was still amazing and enjoyable to read, I just would have wished for a little bit more when it came to certain characters and their development/character arc. All told, this was still a fun ride and if you loved the Grisha trilogy and “Six of Crows” you’ll definitely like this one as well.

Allgemein, Reviews, P - T, S

Review: Sorcery of Thorns (Margaret Rogerson)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 37 on My Book List 2022

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

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

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

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

2

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

Nathaniel Thorn:

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

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

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

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

Elisabeth Scrivener:

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

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

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

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

Silas:

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

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

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

3

Elisabeth & Nathaniel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elisabeth & Silas:

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

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

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

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

Nathaniel & Silas:

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Gilded Ones (Namina Forna)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, F - J, G, Reviews

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire (Natasha Ngan)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten,5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Gravity of Us (Phil Stamper)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten

”Look, I’m sorry you won’t be able to play on social media anymore, but this is real life.”
I choke back a laugh. “Real life? I have to give up my journalism, plus my entire life, because a reality show says so. You really think what I do is less ‘real’ than StarWatch?”

I think in many ways “The Gravity of Us” was different than I expected it to be and after thinking about it for a while and letting the book sink in I decided to give it 3 stars. Don’t get me wrong, 3 stars is still good and when you look it up in my rating system it will say that the plot and the characters were good but that I had some minor issues with the book. Which is exactly what happened in here. I really enjoyed the book but there were also some things I can’t overlook and need to address in my review. I have no idea if other people already did that but since this was Phil Stampers debut I’ll just add my two cents and hope that if he ever stumbles upon this review it will help him to write even more amazing books in the future. Because when it comes down to it “The Gravity of Us” was really good and a great debut. =)

So this said let’s talk about the awesome things in the book! First of all I’ve to say that I loved to get an inside look into press work. We didn’t just get a good glimpse at what it means to be an influencer/journalist on social media but also an idea of how big TV channels handle the stories they talk about. I really liked the ambivalence of a social media channel that is focused on telling the truth and trying to give people an inside look at the scientific facts vs. a TV show that only aims to get the hottest gossip and the highest click rate. And I’m not gonna lie, John Farrow and his Shooting Stars show really made me angry. It’s the perfect example of how inhuman people can become if they only see dollar signs. (view spoiler)

”I start taking note of everyone’s expressions: crisp, practiced, perfect. Are they all that good at faking it? Or do they actually buy into all this? I’m looking for a flaw, but I can’t find the reality behind the show.”

The second recurring theme of the book I really enjoyed was the background history of space travel and all the science that was a part of the story line as well. Whenever his father spoke about NASA and the history of space travel you could feel his enthusiasm and what it meant for him to be a part of this Mars mission and project. I found this to be very interesting and as someone who only heard the legends of the moon landing but never really knew about all the details – like for instance the fact that there was an entire village for the astronauts and their families – this was super intriguing. “The Gravity of Us” got me so curious that I decided to dig a little bit deeper into the history of space flight and to find out more about it. It’s definitely an interesting topic to dive into. =)

”But with Leon, the burning in my chest has never been so perfectly bright. So clear.”

As much as I enjoyed the focus on media, science and history I still have to say that this was probably also the reason why some of the other topics of this story fell kind of flat. For instance the love story between Leon and Cal felt very insta-lovey and didn’t have a lot of substance. I’m aware there’s only so much you can do when you want to write a believable relationship in a 300+ pages book, but those two were just going way too fast for my taste. Plus Cal never asked Leon if he was okay with revealing their relationship like that and consent (especially when all eyes are on you and you belong to the LGBTQ+ community) is very important. Another topic I would have liked to read more about was the mental health representation (anxiety & depression). It was broached with Cal’s mother and with Leon but Stamper never really dug any deeper. It was mentioned on the surface but in the overall story it was more like a footnote than an actual rep. I mean they both got help and therapy which is a good thing, but considering how severe the anxiety of Cal’s mom was I found it a little bit unrealistic? I know I’m probably a bean counter now, but I think that if you bring up a topic you also have to dare to address it and to dig deeper. Then again this is probably personal preference and I’m sure a lot of other people didn’t see it as an issue.

”I’m the one who does the fixing. I’m unfazed, unbothered. My resolve is a freaking rock.
But the rock is breaking. It’s cracked and worn, and I know it. But if Dad comes home and things get okay again, I can handle it.”

Which brings me right to the characters. I know Cal had a lot on his plate but I still can’t get over the fact that he basically ignored his best friend from the moment he became part of the Mars mission. I mean Deb was his bestie and went through so much but he didn’t even think about her? It’s something I really couldn’t relate to because my besties know about everything that happens in my life. (I’m being a bean counter again, aren’t I? *lol*) Anyway! The last thing I need to mention is the relationship between Cal and his father. I still don’t know how I feel about it because there was such a massive shift in where it started and where it ended that I have no idea if I liked it or not. I mean at the beginning of the book I couldn’t understand how Cal’s father could disregard his son’s life and social media presence so much because fathers should always support their children. But at the end of the book I realized that Cal and his mother didn’t support the dream of Cal’s dad either. They didn’t even believe that he would be able to become a part of the mission and when he did they were angry at him for uprooting them from their lives. So yeah, I understand both sides and I don’t know on which one I would stand. I guess it’s good I don’t have to choose sides because it worked out well for everyone in the end?! *lol*

4

All told “The Gravity of Us” was a really good story and I read it pretty fast. It’s was an enjoyable read I could pick up whenever I felt like it and no matter how long it took me to get back to the book, I never lost the thread. XD I loved the science, space travel history and the social media angle and I’m definitely looking forward to Phil Stampers next book! He’s an author to watch out for and I’m sure his next book will be even better! =)