Allgemein, F - J, G, Reviews

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire (Natasha Ngan)

34433755

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)

48731486

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! =)

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

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

26236443. sx318

Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 9 on My Book List 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Lila:

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

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

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

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

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

Kell:

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

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

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

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

Rhy:

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

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

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

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

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

3
Lila & Kell:

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

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

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

Rhy & Kell:

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

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

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

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

Alucard & Rhy:

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

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

Alucard & Lila:

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

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

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

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

Lila & Rhy:

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

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

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

The King & Queen and Kell:

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

Review: Lord of Shadows (Cassandra Clare)

30312891. sy475

Rating: 5 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just to mention one of them. ;-P

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

3
Emma & Julian:

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

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

Ty and Kit:

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

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

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

Mark/Cristina and Kieran:

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: To Kill a Kingdom (Alexandra Christo)

36120821. sy475

Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, K - O, L, Reviews

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

31625039. sy475

Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

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

Allgemein, K - O, O, Reviews

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

44419441. sy475

Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

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

15801353. sy475

Rating: 5 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, S

Review: Sawkill Girls (Claire Legrand)

38139409

Rating: 4 Pfoten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A - E, Allgemein, C, Reviews

Review: Champion (Marie Lu)

14290364

Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 16 on My Book List 2021

“Sometimes, the sun sets earlier. Days don’t last forever, you know. But I’ll fight as hard as I can. I can promise you that.”

I just wrote down that quote and I’m already bawling my eyes out… again! T_T Marie Lu certainly killed me with that ending. It’s like a shot in the heart and I’m still not over it and this even though I finished “Champion” about a month ago. Jeez! A month and my feelings are still all over the place. Yes, it was THAT good! T_T I don’t think I’ll get over it anytime soon. Well, maybe if I borrow “Rebel” from the library and replace the ending of this book with new information from the fourth instalment.

Seriously, I hope this will work because I can’t live with the ending of “Champion”. Does this sound a little bit too dramatic? Well, for me it is! Anyway, let’s get back to the overall review. When I began to read this book I thought that it would be mostly about June and Day because Commander Jameson and Thomas were finally out of the picture. Unfortunately the Colonies decided they wanted a piece of the cake that is the Republic and used the plague as a cause to invade it. Which basically meant that our infamous OTP is forced to fight against them while Day’s health is slowly deteriorating. And this just broke my heart! T_T

Of course there were a lot of plot twists I didn’t see coming even though I probably should have known better because Marie Lu is very adept at throwing them with the biggest impact. This said, the pacing of the book was slower this time around and there wasn’t as much action as in the first two books. I think this was realistic though because 1.) This book was more character driven than its predecessors and 2.) Day’s condition just didn’t give enough room to go for unrealistic action scenes. Still, despite all that “Champion” was a great finale and I can’t wait to dive into my characters section, which I’m going to do right now because I have feelings that need to pour out!

2

You are entering Antarctica the country of modern technology and progress. Be careful, though, not everything is as shiny as it seems and there might be backstabbing spoilers ahead of you. 😉

June:

June sees the hesitation on my face and knows it’s a confirmation of her fear. She bites her lip. “It’s my fault,” she says, as if it’s just simple logic. “And I’m not sure I will ever be able to earn your forgiveness. I shouldn’t.”

June broke my freaking heart. She stabbed me with her knife and left me bleeding all over the floor and the thing is, I can’t even be angry at her?! It might have killed me but she grew so much as a character and I can’t really hold it against her. She knows that her actions were unforgivable and that they hurt Day, yet she can’t change anything about it. Add Anden and his advances to the picture as well and you have a really confused girl that doesn’t know what to do. XD I kinda liked to see that side of her though because it was in total contrast to the girl she was in the first book. She learned to deal with her emotions while still being a badass soldier and the combination of both is just sexy. *lol* Still, the sacrifice she made in the end killed me and I basically yelled at the pages! >_<

”Now fate has handed the solution to me on a silver platter – Day survived his ordeal, and in return, I need to step out of his life. Even though he looks at me now like a stranger, he no longer has the look of pain and tragedy that always seemed to come with the passion and love he gazed at me with. Now he is free.
He is free of us, leaving me as the only bearer of our past’s burden.”

Day:

”I feel so out of place among these aristocrats, with their bank accounts and posh manners. No matter how much money the Republic throws at me, I will forever be the boy from the streets.”

*screams in heartbreak* Day crying alone in the abandoned kitchen of his family’s old house was legit one of the saddest moments in this series. T_T Gosh! Where to start?! Day suffered so much in this series already and to see how he got weaker and weaker with every passing day just killed me. I think after finishing “Prodigy” I was kind of in denial and thought that his brain tumour might just be a cruel way to keep him in line. But no… Marie Lu actually went through with it and I died about a thousand deaths. To see how his health deteriorated was so painful and yet still he worried about Eden and June and the people of the Republic. If anyone ever needed proof that Day is an angel: Well, this is it! I mean despite everything he still fought for what he believed in and gave it everything. I just can’t with this precious boy! <333

”What makes me lose my breath, though, is that he’s leaning heavily on a pair of crutches. How long has he been here? He looks exhausted, pale, and distant. I wonder what new drugs the doctors are trying on him. The thought is a sudden, stabbing reminder of Day’s waning life, the few seconds he has left, slowly ticking by.”

”My heart’s been torn wide open, just like I feared it would be, and i have no willpower to close it back up. Any barrier I might’ve succeeded in putting up around myself, any resistance I might’ve built up against my feelings for her, is now completely gone. Shattered.”

”Help me,” I whisper desperately to the empty room. “I can’t do this.” I want to, I love her, but I can’t bear it. It’s been almost a year. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just move on?”

”The Republic is weak and broken.” I narrow my eyes. “But it is still your country. Fight for it. This is your home, not theirs.”

”You and I will probably never get a chance to meet. But I know you. You have taught me about all the good things in my life, and why I’ve fought for my family all these years. I hope for great things for your own loved ones, that they can go through life without suffering the way mine have.”

Anden:

”I don’t want to hear anyone else right now. I want to hear you. You are the heart of the people, Day – you always have been. You’ve given everything you have in order to protect them.” Day stiffens beside me, but Anden goes on. “I fear for the people. I worry about their safety, that we’ll be handing them over to the enemy just as we’re starting to put the pieces together.”

You know, Anden is actually a very decent guy. I really liked him and I appreciated that he trusted Day so much. He’s exactly the kind of elector the Republic needed and I’m sure he will do a great job at guiding his country into the future. If anyone can do it, it’s him! He cares for his people and he only wants the best for them. This makes him already very different to his father and I loved that about him. Plus he’s a good loser! He knew exactly that June’s heart was with Day but he never resented her for it. Quite the contrary, he accepted his defeat with dignity and there aren’t many people who would have been able to do so. I guess I’m an Anden fan now. =)

”I envy Day, you know,” he says, his voice as soft as ever. “I’m jealous that he gets to make decisions with his heart. Every choice he makes is honest, and the people love him for it. He can afford to use his heart.”

”You are a soldier, Ms. Iparis, through and through – but it has been an honor to see you as a Princeps-Elect.” The Elector of the Republic bows to me. “Whatever happens from here, I hope you remember that.”

3

June & Day:

Half of my heart is breaking at the pain on her face; the other half, I realize guiltily, is swelling with happiness to know that she still cares. There’s love in her tragic words, in the folds of that thin metal ring. Isn’t there?
Finally, I take a deep breath. “Sometimes, the sun sets earlier. Days don’t last forever, you know. But I’ll fight as hard as I can. I can promise you that.”

Talk about star-crossed lovers! I swear Marie Lu is a master at giving us star-crossed love stories. She seems to love to kill us and I have yet to come across a Marie Lu series that doesn’t stab me with the feels. I mean THOSE TWO… I CAN’T!!! T_T My freaking heart got stabbed repeatedly just to shrivel into a little black pea at the ending of the book. Because unlike the majority of this planet named earth I JUST CAN’T with bittersweet endings like that! Like ARADKAFJASDFKASJFAKSDFJSDADKF! 10 YEARS??!!! Are you freaking kidding me?!! I’m having a déjà vu now because I just remembered the ending of Pirates of the Carribean 3. And my reaction back then was basically the same. >_< Didn’t we suffer enough already, Marie!? Why did you have to do this?!! ARGH!!!! *has a mental breakdown* Okay, I’m fine. *says it like Neil Josten* Also is it just me or did June really never tell him that she loves him?!! ARGHIIIIIIIIIIIII! If she doesn’t say it in “Rebel” I’m probably gonna die! Yep, I’m THAT invested! I mean I understand why June didn’t and let him go in the end but still… I’m fine. Totally. T_T

”Has it really been so long since the last time we kissed? Have I really missed him this much? Have all the problems threatening to crush us both weakened us to the point where we are gasping for breath, clinging desperately to each other for survival? I’ve forgotten how right it feels to be in his arms.”

”Why do I do this to myself? I see you and feel such – “ He has tears in his eyes now. The sight is more than I can bear. He takes two steps away from me and then turns back like a caged animal. “Do you even love me?” he suddenly asks. He grips both of my shoulders. “I’ve said it to you before, and I still mean it. But I’ve never heard it from you. I can’t tell. And then you give me this ring” – he pauses to hold his hand up – “and I don’t know what to think anymore.”

Day just smiles at me, an expression so sad that it breaks through my numbness, and I begin to cry. Those bright blue eyes. Before me is the boy who has bandaged my wounds on the streets of Lake, who has guarded his family with every bone in his body, who has stayed by my side in spite of everything, the boy of light and laughter and life, of grief and fury and passion, the boy whose fate is intertwined with mine, forever and always.
“I love you,” he whispers. “Can you stay awhile?”

”I can feel his presence here in every stone he has touched, every person he has lifted up, every street and alley and city that he has changed in the few years of his life, because he is the Republic, he is our light, and I love you, I love you, until the day we meet again I will hold you in my heart and protect you there, grieving what we never had, cherishing what we did. I wish you were here.”

”It’s you,” he whispers. There is wonder in his voice.
“Is it?” I whisper back, my voice trembling with all the emotions I’ve kept hidden for so long.
Day is so close, and his eyes are so bright. “I hope,” he replies softly, “to get to know you again. If you are open to it. There is a fog around you that I would like to clear away.”

Tess & Day:

”What were my last words to her … back when we had botched the Patriot’s assassination attempt on Anden? Please, Tess – I can’t leave you here. But that’s exactly what I did.
I turn away, taking another drag on my cigarette. Do I miss her? “Every day,” I reply.

I’m so glad they resolved their differences and finally had this dire needed talk! They had to sort their feelings first and needed to talk things out properly. Also it made me happy to know that Tess was there for Day and accompanied him on his difficult way. To be honest it was kind of sad to hear that they didn’t have as much contact ten years after, but then I guess that’s life and it was very realistic that they kind of grew apart over time. I mean they obviously still kept contact but it was different than their super close relationship as teens. Still, I’ll always be happy they reconciled. =)

I swallow hard and look down. “but I don’t love you the way you want me to. I’m sorry if I ever gave you the wrong impression. I don’t think I’ve ever treated you as well as you deserve.” My heart twists painfully as the words leave my mouth, striking her as they do. “So don’t be sorry. It’s my fault, not yours.”

”When the entire world turned its back on me and left me to die, you took me in. You were the one person who cared about what might happen to me. You were everything. Everything. You became my entire family – you were my parents and my siblings and my caretaker, my only friend and companion, you were both my protector and someone who needed protecting. You see? I didn’t love you in the way you might’ve thought I did, although I can’t deny that was part of it. But the way I feel goes beyond that.”

June & Thomas:

”Your brother froze, like I thought he would. There was complete stillness. We drew apart, the silence heavy around us, and for a moment I wondered whether I’d made a huge mistake, whether I’d simply misread every signal from the past few years. Or perhaps, perhaps he knew what I was up to. I felt a strange sense of relief at that thought. Maybe id’d be better if Metias figured out Commander Jamesons’s plans for him. Maybe there’s a way to get out of this.”

I didn’t think it would be possible for me to despise Thomas even more but boy, “Champion” really made me hate him! How could he do this to Metias?! A person he obviously loved?! Or he wouldn’t have kissed him. Thomas was such a FOOL! He’s the living and breathing epitome of ignorance! How could he be so thick in the head?! Like seriously?! How can he live and breathe every single day knowing he killed the only person who ever loved him?! My only explanation is that Thomas was an unfeeling robot. His death was random and stupid and truth be told exactly the kind of death his character deserved. No tears for Thomas just one sentence: Good riddance! XD

”I could’ve chosen Day’s route. I could have become a criminal. But I didn’t. I did everything right, you know. That was what Metias loved about me. He respected me. I followed all the rules, I obeyed all the laws, I worked my way up from where I started.” He leans toward me; his eyes grow more desperate. “I took an oath, June. I am still bound by that oath. I will die with honor for sacrificing everything I have – everything – for my country. And yet, Day is the legend, while I am to be executed.” His voice finally breaks with all his anguish and inner torment, the injustice he feels. “It makes no sense.”

Day & Eden:

”Man, look at us,” I reply. My laughter turns into coughs. “What a team, yeah?”
Eden finds me by placing a tentative hand on my head. He sits beside me with his legs crossed and gives me a wry grin. “Hey – with your metal leg and half a brain, and my four leftover senses, we almost make a whole person.”

Day’s unconditional love for Eden will always tug at my heartstrings. This boy loves his family so damn much and since Eden is the only one who is left of it his baby brother means the world to him. <333 I just loved those two and their close relationship and gosh, when Day carried Eden even though he was shot by Commander Jameson I was covering my mouth and praying that June would take out that cold hearted bitch before she could shoot him a second time. This boy really gave everything for his family and people. T_T I just hope Day and Eden will always have such a close bond. As it seems they are still close 10 years after all the happenings in “Champion” so there’s that, right?

A lump rises in my throat. “Eden,” I begin, “we’ve lost Mom and John. Dad is gone. You’re all I have left. I can’t afford to lose you too. Everything I’ve done so far, I’ve done for you. I’m not letting you risk your life to save the Republic – or the Colonies.”
The defiance fades from Eden’s eyes. He props his arms up on the railing and leans his head against his hands. “If there’s one thing I know about you,” he says, “it’s that you’re not selfish.”

”A small, bittersweet smile tugs at the corners of my mouth. Day, the champion of the people, the one who can’t bear to see those around him suffer on his behalf, who would gladly give his life for those he loves. Except it’s not his life that we need in order to save Tess, but his brother’s.”

”You did good,” I reply. “I’m proud of you.” And I am. I’m prouder of him than I’ve ever been of myself – I’m proud of him for standing up to me.”

4

And here I hoped Marie Lu would give me an ending that wouldn’t break me. I should have known better. She’s famous for her bittersweet endings and this one was as bittersweet as they get. I definitely need to get my hands on “Rebel” and I hope it will be able to ease my mind because right now it’s still reeling. 4 weeks after finishing “Champion” I can say that the book finished me instead. My heart is still bleeding. >_<