September 2022 Wrap-Up

So, I’ve made no secret out of the fact that I was very busy in September and things (on the blog and elsewhere) didn’t exactly always go according to “plan”. I did, however, start reading the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells and I love them. Their short format was ideal for my schedule and even though I didn’t get super far, I’m happy to be in the middle of the third book by now. I’ll write a whole post on them, once I’ve finished reading the books that are out so far!

  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells (5 stars)
  • Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (5 stars)

 

As per usual, click on the covers to get re-directed to Goodreads, where you are always welcome to add me as a reading buddy! OR find me on Storygraph, where I have become more active this year. My own reviews you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above, if there are posts for them.

Now, with me only having read novellas all of September, and not many at that either, my reading challenges have suffered a little. I’m still ahead in terms of the total book goal I set for myself, just because I’ve accrued a nice buffer in previous months. The page count goal though? Not looking great …

A graph showing that I have read 36 out of my 45 book reading goal and 9503 pages out of 15000 pages. This means I am two books ahead of schedule but 1839 pages behind on my page goal.

 

In Other News

As I’ve now mentioned a lot, I was booked and busy in September. A lot of it had to do with work, because I’ve had quite a lot of hours scheduled and will continue to work a bit more than usual until the end of the year. That in itself is a bit tiring, but I made some other lifestyle changes and they just really took up a lot of my time in addition to that. I quite enjoyed the format of last month’s wrap-up (where I definitely had more to talk about, check it out here, if you missed it), so I’m going to stick to it.

If you don’t want to read about my weight loss journey, you should probably skip this portion of the wrap-up. I get it, put yourself first!

Lifestyle Changes

With working from home and just not having taken the best care of myself, I’ve gained quite a lot of weight over the past year. Every body looks different and needs different things, but I just didn’t feel comfortable in mine anymore. As I’ve mentioned last month, I got a Fitbit and that was the start of my weight loss journey.

I wanted to make sure that whatever changes I made, they would be sustainable and that I wouldn’t be miserable. I really found joy in movement again and could still (mostly) eat whatever I wanted, as long as it was in moderation. I’ve definitely become the boring friend who talks about calories and workouts and how many steps I got in too much, but this takes up so much of my time that I think it makes sense that it occupies so much of my mind.

In my mind, I’m kind of still stuck pre-pandemic at being 27 years old, but in reality I will turn 30 in less than a year. I’m now working out six times a week for about 30 minutes each and have lost 2 kg/4.4 pounds in a month, which doesn’t seem like an unhealthy or rapid weight loss. I’ve decided I will make sure I’m the hottest and most comfortable I’ve ever been once I turn 30. It’s a ridiculous goal, but mostly I just want to keep having fun with this journey, because right now, it IS fun.

This is one of the videos that got me started, as it is very beginner friendly and I personally just also really like Harry Styles’ music:

Writing My Fantasy Novel

I think I’ve been dreaming more about writing this book than actually sitting down and writing it. Still, I’m going to keep including my WIP in the monthly-wrap ups for accountability. I’ve worked so hard on the outline, there’s no way I’m just going to let it disappear in a drawer somewhere, never to be seen again. I’m currently at 1,131 words, which isn’t great, but it’s something.

This is legit the slowest I’ve ever written anything and somehow I don’t feel like I’ve really found the right voice for it yet, which is why this is taking so long. BUT I’m not giving up. It’s just hard to find the time and mental capacity to sit down and write after work and work outs.

Nick Miller from New Girl sitting in front of his laptop and saying "I got nothing" as he attempts to write his novel.

I Found a New Favorite Poet

I don’t know if you’ve ever fallen in love with someone you don’t know through their writing, but it has happened to me. I got so obsessed with some of the poems, I transcribes them into one of my gazillion notebooks, just to have them with me whenever I want to revisit them. You cannot imagine how much I would love to share some of this person’s writing with you, but I can’t. Some of you I might have confided in with his identity, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing it on here, because I’m really not entirely certain how he feels about his poetry getting out, despite him being in the public eye quite a bit.

He’s brilliant, vulnerable, poignant and relatable, but he doesn’t wish to share his stuff with the broad public right now. He might secretly be working on a poetry collection that I’m pretty sure will eventually get published AND WHEN THAT DAY COMES – YOU WON’T HEAR ME SHUT UP ABOUT IT!

I really wish I knew how to write poetry, but that’s a skill that has always escaped me.

I Watched All the Gen Z Content

We’ve established earlier on that time stops for no one and I’m approaching 30 fast. I’m a millennial through and through, but somehow I still got entranced by Gen Z content. In terms of movies, I thought Do Revenge was formidable and so much fun (even if the last quarter of the movie was a bit rushed) and I also completely got sucked in the world of Heartbreak High. Netflix’ hold on me was strong this past month! Please, give me more!!

the cast of Heartbreak High sitting on rocks by the ocean
credit: Netflix

MOST POPULAR POSTS OF SEPTEMBER 2022

Since I wasn’t very active this month, views definitely dropped by quite a lot. Here are the top visited posts of September though:

  1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (Book Review)
    (originally posted in December 2020)
    I still have no clue why this one is so popular. I’ve tried searching for it on google, but didn’t actually find anything.
  2. Should YOU Read “The Atlas Six”? (What I learned from my reread!)
    (originally posted March 2022)
    The sequel releases this month and I CANNOT WAIT!
  3. Are Chris Evans and I compatible (readers)?
    (originally posted July 2021)
    Interest for him comes and goes in waves.
  4. Are Pedro Pascal and I compatible (readers)?
    (originally posted December 2021)
    I imagine it might have something to do with The Last of Us trailer release.
  5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Book Review)
    (originally posted December 2021)
    More people watched the movie so they might have wanted to know what the book was about? I definitely didn’t promote it anymore.

ELSEWHERE ON THE BLOGOSPHERE

I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve not gotten any better at blog-hopping. If you have a post you would like me to check out, make sure to link it in the comments!

MY OTHER POSTS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS


I hope you’ll have a productive yet chill October! I’m really looking forward to the spooky season, despite not having a costume yet …

August 2022 Wrap-Up

I started August really motivated to blog, which, in hindsight, is not reflected at all in the content I provided. I don’t know what exactly happened, but I got busy? First things first though, let’s check out the books I read during August. I thought I wouldn’t have anything to show in this section, but there’s actually a lot – including some new favorites! I indulged in some poetry and audiobooks though, which is very unlike myself.

As per usual, click on the covers to get re-directed to Goodreads, where you are always welcome to add me as a reading buddy! OR find me on Storygraph, where I have become more active this year. My own reviews you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above, if there are posts for them.

I have no idea why this is so shocking to me, but I’m actually doing really well on my reading challenge still. I know I just showed how many books I read this past month, which was a sum that was actually a lot for me in general, but I always feel like I’m behind somehow. In reality, I’m ahead by 4-5 books (depending on whether you look at Goodreads or Storygraph for the info), but unfortunately, I’m behind several hundred pages on my page goal. Still, it could be worse. I just need to not read poetry and short stories.

A graph showing 76% (34 books out of 45 books) read. Brilliant! You are ahead by 4 books!

A graph showing 61% (34 books), 9,201 pages out of 15,000 pages read.  785 pages more until you're caught up! You've got this!

 

In Other News

As stated in the intro of this post, I was actually really motivated to get creative this month, but somehow I didn’t end up doing much on the blog. Still, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t a busy, busy gal! Here are some of my monthly highlights from August!

My birthday!

I “celebrated” my 29th birthday at the beginning of August. I’m not trying to say it in a weird way just to be weird, but I didn’t throw a party or anything like that. Instead, I took some time off work, had my parents visit with my grandmother – who saw my apartment for the first time since I moved in last October, donated to a local charity and relaxed. Creating a fuzz around a number isn’t my thing, but I guess I’m going to have to do something when I turn 30 next year. We’ll see …

I DMed my first DnD game!

I never thought that being a Dungeon Master (or Game Master, if you prefer that term) would be easy, but dang it was hard! I coerced my cousins into playing with me and I made miniatures for their characters as well as other NPCs and enemies, created maps (that were slightly off scale), tried to remember everyone’s powers, abilities and stats and did my best to explain rules that I didn’t always fully understand myself. It wasn’t necessarily chaotic, but there was 100% room for improvement. So, while I’m glad I did it, please, someone else be the Game Master next time, okay?

various miniature Dungeons and Dragons character made out of paper

I got a Fitbit!

Promise, this is not going to turn into a commercial and I’m pretty sure I gave away so many rights to my data when I signed up, but I’m super happy to have a Fitbit now. It’s a fitness bracelet that monitors and tracks various health and exercise data and I feel like that was a push I needed to get more active again. Working from home has taken its toll and while I was grateful for the safety measures that were implemented at my work, I feel so much better when I have a reason to get out of the house. Let’s see how long my fascination with it will last. The first 1.5 weeks have been great so far!

I finished the Outline for my Fantasy WIP!

THIS is something I’m super proud of! I’ve really put in the time and effort, despite being a very impatient person, to create an outline I can work with. Of course, there will be some fine tuning of certain elements as I go along, but I now have somewhat of a “character bible”, an explanation for my society, government, geographical make-up, magical system and religion of my world AND a super solid plot structure. I’m about to dive into the actual writing process and I hope to make progress with it at a steady pace as well.

I’m not yet ready to talk details, but here’s my main character (which I shared last month too) as a reminder:

A girl with pointy ears, light blue skin, almost white hair with faint traces of pink in a lilac dress looking off into the distance, holding a book tight to her chest.
The main character vibes are strong with her.

Because this is already much longer than usual, I will forgo sharing the most popular posts of the month (you’ve heard about all of them before) as well as my favorites of the month (The Sandman) and posts from around the blogosphere. I hope you understand and vow to bring those back again next month, when I’ve hopefully had more time to blog hop and dive into what everyone else was up to!

MY OTHER POSTS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS


I hope you all will have a great start into the month of September! I, for one, can’t wait to be able to wear layers more often again.

Mini Reviews: Audiobook Edition!

Mini Reviews

As I’ve now mentioned countless times, I really slacked on the bookish content in August. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I didn’t read anything (more about that in the monthly recap), but I astonishingly checked out TWO audiobooks. I’m notorious for struggling with audiobooks (I wrote a whole post about it, which you can find here), because I find it so tough to focus on just sound without having anything to visually focus on. However, I got some free Audible credits this month, so I want to talk to you about the books I checked out!

*links to Goodreads and Storygraph will be provided after the ratings!*

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdyPublisher description:
Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.
In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.

My Thoughts:

The internet just about exploded when Jennette McCurdy’s book I’m Glad My Mom Died released. I think, despite the title, a lot of people expected a tell-all book on her life in showbiz, but it’s truly so much more personal than that. Yes, there are mentions of shows and movies we know as well as some other behind the scenes stuff that surely didn’t always better her situation, but the focus is really on her relationship with her mom and how that affected her relationship with herself and her body.

“She wanted this. And I wanted her to have it. I wanted her to be happy. But now that I have it, I realize that she’s happy and I’m not. Her happiness came at the cost of mine. I feel robbed and exploited.”

I can see I’m Glad My Mom Died being very triggering for many readers out there and I would caution them to pick it up if they struggle with detailed accounts of eating disorders and parental abuse. I, for one, am glad I chose to listen to the audiobook, which is narrated by Jennette McCurdy herself, but it made the situation all the more severe in my mind. This was such a vulnerable and raw account of her life and I wish her nothing but healing and love moving forward. Still, I completely emphasized with her conflicted feelings and am just in awe of what all she dared to share. She seems to be on a good track now and I bet she’s making more cash with this book than the Nickelodeon hush money could have ever been.

“Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them? Especially moms, they’re the most romanticized of anyone.”

CW: eating disorders, child abuse, emotional/physical abuse, death of parents, substance abuse

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Raw and emotional and brilliant.

Goodreads | Storygraph

Critical Role: Vox Machina – Kith & Kin by Marieke Nijkamp (narrated by Robbie Daymond, Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien)

Critical Role: Vox Machina—Kith & Kin by Marieke NijkampPublisher description:
Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp, Critical Role: Vox Machina – Kith & Kin will follow a brand-new story, featuring the cunning ranger Vex’ahlia and the conning rogue Vax’ildan (and, of course, Trinket) years before they meet Vox Machina. After leaving the unwelcoming refuge of Syngorn, the twins become entangled in a web spun by the Clasp, and for the first time Vex and Vax find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict that threatens the home they have carried with each other for years.
This story lands in the canon timeline of Exandria before any of the events of both the home and livestreamed campaign and even prior to Vox Machina’s first meetings in Vox Machina Origins, our comic book series with Dark Horse Comics. Simply put, even if you’ve never met Vox Machina before, you can dive in right away and breathe in that fresh book scent without missing a beat. If you’ve already joined Vox Machina on any of their adventures, this novel grants a nostalgic return to these characters we love.

My Thoughts:

You know me, I haven’t shut up about Critical Role in MONTHS. I probably won’t shut up about it for a long time to come, because I really enjoy it with my whole being, but I’m not entirely sure I love it in all its iterations.

As the universe grows, the team of Critical Role seems to try and expand their way of telling the story of these fantastic characters in different media. We have comic books (which I’m yearning to get my hands on), games (the Mighty Nein Clue game is all I want for Christmas) and now also books/audiobooks. It makes sense, because the narration of Robbie Daymond with Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien voicing the twins again was all flawless. I adore their voices and will never not rejoice at hearing them in character, but the story itself? Unfortunately, it didn’t grasp me as much as some of their other content has.

Kith & Kin is part of Vex and Vax’ backstory and shows several crucial moments in their life. Now, I don’t know if it was the format, but it just sort of felt dragged out. Ultimately, w weren’t really telling the tale of the twins, who got separated in a conflict and ended up on opposing sides, but rather these NPCs we met along the way. There were several hooks to create an emotional connection, but I still felt like an outsider looking in rather than really invested. It’s a shame, because I love supporting all things Critical Role, but this was mostly just a joy because of the voice acting.

CW: violence, blood, slavery, racism, death of parent, grief

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! It wasn’t not interesting, just a bit too dragged out for my taste.

Goodreads | Storygraph


Have you listened to a good audiobook as of late? Let’s chat!

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid (ARC Review)

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid shows a woman with golden skin in front of a vivid yellow background. The blurb says: "Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.  But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.  At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever."

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Ballantine Books
Page Count
: 352
Release Date: August 30, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: misogyny, sexism, ageism, loss of a loved one, mention of racism, alcoholism and injuries

Carrie Soto Is Back is my new favorite Taylor Jenkins Reid book. Honestly, this came as a complete surprise to me, but I was riveted from start to finish. I just couldn’t put it down. I never realized how much Spanish I actually understood or how much information I retained from watching tennis a lot when I was a kid, but this book was an utter delight – although I think it will work for people without any knowledge about the sport just as well.

Carrie Soto doesn’t start out as the most likable person, especially if you might harbor some resentment from Malibu Rising still, but she is a force to be reckoned with. She made tennis her entire life and when she decides to return from retirement, she is faced with relentless ageism, misogyny, sexism and just straight hostility. She never played the sport to make friends, she played it to be great and it swiftly became clear to me that there was no way I wouldn’t root for her to succeed once more.
Told from a first person POV for the most part, sprinkled with transcripts of news articles or sports commentators, you don’t just get to see the Carrie Soto the world thought they knew, but also the lonely and vulnerable person behind the tough facade. TJR just has a gift of creating very flawed characters, which you end up falling in love with regardless. They learn from their mistakes, they grow and you want nothing more for them than to get what they truly need.

While the story spans over decades, it never felt rushed or difficult to follow. We get training montages and certain scenes that make us understand what an incredible tennis player Carrie is, but I think most people will show up for the relationships she manages to cultivate over the course of the novel. Carrie has enemies and frenemies, but ultimately a very limited amount of people who really matter in her life. She was blessed with a wonderful love interest, but more importantly, there is a beautiful exploration of a father-daughter-relationship in Carrie Soto Is Back. Javier Soto is a legend in his own right and they weren’t always on the best terms, he sometimes messed up as a father, but he was there when it counted. Those two really were the heart of the story.

I don’t think this review does justice to just how invested I was in Carrie Soto’s life and success, which doesn’t necessarily look like what you would expect it to. My heart was thundering in my chest at every game she played. I was worried for her mental and physical health, while I also believed that she could do anything she set her mind to. I wanted her to open her heart to love, yet never relent to the people who told her she needed to be softer, kinder or more gracious. I wanted her to prove the entire world wrong and she. did. not. disappoint. I’m so grateful to have been on this journey with her.

Maria Sharapova celebrates her win by screaming and pumping her fists

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Fantastic and riveting!

P.S.: Yes, there are references to the likes of Daisy Jones and the Rivas. I just love the interconnectedness of these books.


Previous TJR reviews of mine:


Do you plan on reading TJRs latest tale? Are you ready to dive into the world of competitive tennis? Let’s chat!

July 2022 Wrap-Up

July has come and gone and now we’re in my birthday month, which isn’t something I particularly celebrate, but still always feel the need to mention. Most of July, I was in a massive reading slump. All the books I did end up finishing (we’re going to ignore that I technically read the last pages of one of them on August 1), I read towards the final days of the month. It’s not a big haul, but here is what I read:

  • Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn by Matthew Mercer/Hannah Rose/James J. Haeck (5 stars)
    True to my Critical Role obsession, I couldn’t resist getting this book to further delve into the world of Exandria. It was an early birthday present from my parents, but I have like zero restraint and immediately checked it out instead of waiting. If you aren’t necessarily interested in running your own D&D campaign in Tal’Dorei, this is still a great tool for worldbuilding in my eyes.
  • Walking Gentry Home by Alora Young (5 stars)
  • Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid (3 stars)

Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn  Walking Gentry Home: A Memoir of My Foremothers in Verse  Before Takeoff

As per usual, click on the covers to get re-directed to Goodreads, where you are always welcome to add me as a reading buddy! OR find me on Storygraph, where I have become more active this year. My own reviews you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above, if there are posts for them.

Surprisingly enough, I’m still doing well on my reading challenge. I’m two books ahead in order to reach my goal in terms of number of books. The challenge that I’m not doing so well on is the one for pages read. I’m more or less 1K pages behind, but weirdly I’m not worried about it. There’s still lots of books I want to read this year and some of them are quite chunky.
As for August, I don’t really have a plan or reading schedule, but I did get approved for an ARC for Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid, so that’s on the menu for sure.

Two graphs showing the progress on my reading challenges. One is for the number of books I want to read in 2022, where I'm currently at 28 out of 45 books read (62% complete). The other one is for pages read with a goal of 15000 pages and 7886 read at the moment (53% complete).

July wasn’t any less busy for me than June, if I’m being honest it was maybe even more busy. Part of it has to do with me taking on more hours at work until the end of the year, which didn’t seem like much of a change at first, but has turned out to have more of an effect on my energy levels than predicted. Still, I’m working on creating routines for myself to rest, relax and still get things done that I want to do.

Here’s a progress report on my summer plans:

  • I’m really, really bad at roller skating, but I have every intention of keeping at it. I honestly need to make more time for it, but doing it all by myself is just a bit boring at times.
  • My D&D session with my cousins is fast approaching, but I still have loads to prepare. I think I’m building it up in my head a bit more than necessary, but oh well, fingers crossed it’s just going to be fun in the end.
  • I binged Brandon Sanderson’s 2020 lectures on creative writing (which you can find here) and have now started outlining a standalone Fantasy novel I plan to write over the course of the rest of the year. I don’t really want to talk about specifics yet, maybe once I’m farther down the line. I’ve just kept thinking about Soulswift and D&D and how much I love Fantasy adventures. We’ll see if I can finally stick with something again. Here’s my main character (based on a D&D character I created for myself).

A girl with pointy ears, light blue skin, almost white hair with faint traces of pink in a lilac dress looking off into the distance, holding a book tight to her chest.

MOST POPULAR POSTS OF JULY 2022

I know these lists look really similar every month, but I was actually surprised by how many reviews made it into the top 5 posts of July list!

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Book Review)
    (originally posted December 2021)
    There’s something ironic about me refusing to promote the book and movie ever since I learned about the author’s past (which I hadn’t mentioned in my review, because I didn’t know about it) and now the post is taking off regardless?
  2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (Book Review)
    (originally posted in December 2020)
    It’s my most consistently visited post, I think.
  3. Are Chris Evans and I compatible (readers)?
    (originally posted July 2021)
    I’m assuming it has to do with the recent release of The Gray Man?
  4. The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston (ARC Review)
    (originally posted May 2022)
    It makes me beyond happy to see this post be so popular. It’s one of my most favorite reads of the year so far!
  5. Should YOU Read “The Atlas Six”? (What I learned from my reread!)
    (originally posted March 2022)
    Still going strong with my love for the Atlas Six!

MY FAVORITES OF THE MONTH

It’s still Critical Role. I don’t know why you would expect it to be anything else, because it consumes almost all my waking thoughts. I wish I could have been at SDCC 2022, just to soak up the energy in the room with them.

ELSEWHERE ON THE BLOGOSPHERE

Again, due to me being so busy, I was really bad at keeping up with what everyone else was doing. I hope to be able to take some more time for that this month.

MY OTHER POSTS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

VARIOUS TAGS AND POSTS

TRAILER POSTS


I wish you all a great start into the month of August! My birthday is tomorrow, so I have high hopes that we’re all going to have a good time. 

Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid (ARC Review)

The cover for Adi Alsaid's Before Takeoff shows the silhouette of a young boy and girl looking out an airport window. The ground seems made of snow and the ceiling made of sand. The blurb reads: "James and Michelle find themselves in the Atlanta airport on a layover. They couldn't be more different, but seemingly interminable delays draw them both to a mysterious flashing green light--and each other.  Where James is passive, Michelle is anything but. And she quickly discovers that the flashing green light is actually... a button. Which she presses. Which may or may not unwittingly break the rules of the universe--at least as those rules apply to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.  Before they can figure up from down, strange, impossible things start happening: snowstorms form inside the B terminal; jungles sprout up in the C terminal; and earthquakes split the ground apart in between. And no matter how hard they try, it seems no one can find a way in or out of the airport. James and Michelle team up to find their families and either escape the airport, or put an end to its chaos--before it's too late."

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: June 7, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: racism, physical altercations, death

When I first heard about Adi Alsaid’s Before Takeoff, which was described as a sort of YA The Sun Is Also a Star meets Jumanji, I was immediately intrigued by the premise. I’m sad to say that I don’t think the execution was really for me. 

Told from an omniscient POV, I found myself mostly confused by the tone of the novel. On the one hand, you have typical banter and musings about life’s meaning only a teen could express with full angst while awkwardly flirting with their counterpart – which is totally fitting since this is a YA story. The narration underlines that with a lot of humor, sprinkled with knowledge that only the reader will be privy to, while the characters are none the wiser. However, on the other hand, the story got a lot darker and weirder than I expected, with much more permanent consequences. That, in a way, made it feel much bigger than YA and possibly more suitable for older teens on the cusp of adulthood. Ultimately, this tonal inconsistency didn’t fit the narration style in my mind.

In addition to that, I thought we’d mostly focus on James and Michelle, but we also learned about so many side characters, that I eventually found hard to keep track of. Same with the layout of the actual airport and its different gates and climates. While they added to the big picture, showing that this scenario was so much grander than the two kids, it simultaneously didn’t allow for enough depth to get attached to certain characters.

Having said all that, the world building was still something else. There was a certain randomness to it that kept my heart racing with anxiety and worry, but also glee at what might happen next. It’s a micro study of human behavior in the strangest of circumstances, and while it only scratched the surface of what makes us good and terrible as a species, it really delivered on some insightful and profound moments.

Lastly, I don’t think this book will be for everyone. Personally, I was just mad at some points (mixed with some sad), but also very confused. It’s a wild ride, that’s for sure! If you feel like it might be the right story for you – go for it! Just, please, don’t read it at an airport. Read it somewhere safe at home!

a plane taking off into a bright orange sky

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Interesting but also wildly confusing and darker than expected.


Do you think Before Takeoff might be the book for you? Do you have strange airport stories? Let’s chat!

Walking Gentry Home by Alora Young (ARC Review)

The cover for the book "Walking Gentry Home: A Memoir of My Foremothers in Verse" by Alora Young shows the profile of a young Black woman with only parts of her features in focus. The rest is blurry, disappearing and fusing with a light green and peach background. The blurb for the books says "Walking Gentry Home tells the story of Alora Young's ancestors, from the unnamed women forgotten by the historical record but brought to life through Young's imagination; to Amy, the first of Young's foremothers to arrive in Tennessee, buried in an unmarked grave, unlike the white man who enslaved her and fathered her child; through Young's great-grandmother Gentry, unhappily married at fourteen; to her own mother, the teenage beauty queen rejected by her white neighbors; down to Young in the present day as she leaves childhood behind and becomes a young woman. The lives of these girls and women come together to form a unique American epic in verse, one that speaks of generational curses, coming of age, homes and small towns, fleeting loves and lasting consequences, and the brutal and ever-present legacy of slavery in our nation's psyche. Each poem is a story in verse, and together they form a heart-wrenching and inspiring family saga of girls and women connected through blood and history.  Informed by archival research, the last will and testament of an enslaver, formal interviews, family lore, and even a DNA test, Walking Gentry Home gives voice to those too often muted in America: Black girls and women."

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Hogarth
Page Count
: 240
Release Date: August 2, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: slavery, racism, rape, domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, teen marriage, loss of loved ones

Walking Gentry Home by Alora Young is a book, or should I say memoir, told in verse. That in itself is something you don’t come across every day, never mind find a review for on my blog. I will be the first to admit that I’m no expert on the matter, so I want to clarify that these thoughts I’m trying to compile are mostly based on what the writing made me feel – and that was a lot.

I’ve tried to learn a bit about my family’s history, but there’s many gaps and missing pieces, so I was impressed by what Alora Young uncovered and managed to bring to life on the page. Not only did she find a way to give a voice to generations that came before her, but she did so with few and yet impacting words. Her verses faced harsh realities of generational pain and trauma, but also let the light of mother- and womanhood shine through. As we followed key moments in Young’s maternal ancestry, I felt the connection and ties grow beneath each one of them and me as a reader. Sometimes it was as if we read from their perspectives, sometimes it was told from Alora Young‘s POV and other times it almost felt like a collective consciousness.

I know this is quite the brief review, but I thought Walking Gentry Home was masterfully done. I felt the emotional tether throughout, even if I got mixed up with the timeline sometimes. All of it seems not just rooted in Young’s personal family history, but that of Black history in America in general. Often thought-provoking and unflinchingly honest, it is sure to linger in your mind.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Wonderful and impacting family history!


Do you often read entire books told in verse? Did Walking Gentry Home grab your interest? Let’s talk!

This or That: Comparing English/American & German Book Covers! #2

Not too long ago, I compared book covers from different countries and you all seemed to really enjoy that. Therefore, I’m bringing this feature back and hope you all enjoy another round of pitching UK/US covers against German ones.

Obviously these are all my own, very subjective opinions! BUT I’d love nothing more than to hear your thoughts in the comments below, because the discussions were a lot of fun last time around. Also, as a little heads up, I don’t actually know which covers are from the US or the UK – I just either pick the one I own or see the most.

ROUND #1

a face made of stars with their eyes closed only the title of the book written in white all caps below it - "Sleeping Giants"       The cover is white with one robotic eye with a light blue iris. The black font takes up most of the space saying "Giants - Sie sind erwacht"

The Themis Files are one of my all time favorite Science Fiction series and I’m the proud owner of the hardcover copies, which I will gladly display on my shelf. The stars are actually all made to look shiny and silver and it’s such a treat to look at.

The German cover however … WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? First of all, “Giants – They have awoken” (which is the translated title of “Giants – Sie sind erwacht” sound so incredibly menacing and that message is just underlined with the cover. It completely loses the whimsy and curious feeling of wanting to explore space and discover who might else be out there. All the German cover gives me is evil robot vibes.

Right out of the gate, I have to hand this to the UK/US cover! So much more beautiful!

Read my review of Sleeping Giants here.

ROUND #2

A girl, who's face we cannot see, is riding a bike on a beach. The cover text says "Along for the Ride" in dark blue and "Sarah Dessen" in a lighter blue font     You can see the bare feet of a girl who is sitting on a washing machine and the back of a boy in jeans and a dark blue shirt. The title says "Because of you" in the curve of the washing machine door in red font and "Sarah Dessen" in orange font

In terms of the themes shown on the covers, both versions of Along for the Ride are valid. If you’ve read the book, you know that it ties into the story either way, but I have to admit that this isn’t an entirely fair fight. The cover on the left is a recently updated version, due to the release of the Netflix adaptation a couple months ago. While the original version from the 2010s still shows a girl on a bike, it has the same “outdated” look as the cover on the right.

I’m not super mad about the “German” cover, especially considering from when it is, but I’m definitely confused about the title change. Why choose something English, but not the original title? Sure, I know that they worry about people understanding it and “Because of you” is easier, but it still feels like an incredibly odd choice and not as fitting.

As I said, it wasn’t fair to begin with, but this one goes to the UK/US one again, just because it looks fresher.

Read my review of the Along for the Ride and the comparison to the movie here.

ROUND #3

a cubic looking red bird is mirrored by a blue one. The title of the book is "This Is How You Lose the Time War"       The background is a dark blue, on the right upper corner are blue leaves with geometrically placed light blue dots. On the lower left corner is a branch of deep red berries. The title of the book is "Verlorene der Zeit"

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a unique book and I can see the struggle of having to encapsulate that in a cover. I enjoy the simple background and the fractured birds from the English language cover, but I also understand the thought process behind the German one.

They once again chose to change the title, which would mean “Lost ones in time” if you translated it. Personally, I prefer the wittiness and the promise that comes with the original English title more. The one the German publisher chose makes me think about stranded people, rather than a complex story about how love can topple the best of plans.

This is very much a personal preference, but I’m once again here for the English language cover.

Read my review of the book here.

ROUND #4

a blue and green landscape of a small mountain town with figures skating on a frozen lake to play hockey. The title says "Beartown" in large white font that partially gets hidden by the tree line       a blue and green landscape of a small town. The title of the book is "Kleine Stadt der großen Träume", which means "Small town of big dreams"

Sometimes changes can be much more subtle, but still impact a lot. At first glance, these two covers are obviously very similar, but again … curious choices from the German publisher.

For those of you who don’t know, Beartown is a book about a Swedish High School hockey team that is about to make it big and help out the entire town with their success. The original cover has the hints of boys playing hockey right there, but because the German publisher amped up the saturation and made the green color more prevalent, it now looks like a small town with a field of grass rather than a frozen lake.

This is one of the few occasions where I’m actually fine with the translated title though. “Small town of big dreams” makes a lot of sense in this context. I’m going to say this is a tie, despite me actually leaning more towards the original cover.

Read my review of Beartown here.

ROUND #5

the background looks like a light wooden floor, with crushed pink flowers strewn on it. The title "It ends with us" by "Colleen Hoover" is written in a slightly darker pink than the flowers are colored over the entirety of the cover      

It Ends With Us is the only Colleen Hoover book I’ve read, but since it’s having its renaissance on TikTok/BookTok, I thought I could feature it as well. To begin with, the German title translates to “Just one last time”, which fits the novel still, but conveys a very different message to the original title in my mind.

Again, these covers aren’t super different from one another and yet … the UK/US one just looks better. There’s something about the German one that makes it seem cheap, maybe it’s the white background, maybe it’s the changed font for the author’s name? I don’t know, but my vote goes to the English cover again.

Read my review of the book here!


That’s it, you’ve made it! The UK/US covers are the obvious winners! I don’t even need to tally the exact points. I really tried to put more effort into finding good German covers this time around, but somehow they keep disappointing me. Maybe I’ll have more luck next time?


What did you think of the revival of this feature? Would you like to see more comparisons in the future? Let’s chat!

June 2022 Wrap-Up

I don’t know about you, but June was a stressful month for me. I went on a bit of a mini-hiatus, which feels pretty silly to say considering that I still posted 3-4 times a week, but none of it felt very original. I more or less went through the motions, even though I had ideas for … well, more. If you were looking for bookish content in particular, dang it, I was not delivering.

In all of June, I read ONE book, which was fantastic, but I still didn’t feel like picking up anything else. Honestly, I unintentionally read a series of books that dealt with grief and a parent being sick/dying and it was just A LOT. I needed a bit of a break. However, This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub was amazing and I have no regrets in reading it. 4.5 out of 5 stars!

This Time Tomorrow

As per usual, click on the covers to get re-directed to Goodreads, where you are always welcome to add me as a reading buddy! OR find me on Storygraph, where I have become more active this year. My own reviews you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above, if there are posts for them.

Obviously, after such a barren reading month, I’m not all caught up on my reading goals anymore. Funnily enough, I’m still two books ahead of schedule, but the page count … not looking great. I’m not too worried, because I try not to let these challenges pressure me, but I hope I will actually get to read some more in July.

As I said, June was a busy, busy month for me. There was work, family and just personal stuff. It felt like there was always something happening, so I deliberately focused on simple joys and avoided being online too much. Can’t say that’s super easy when your literal job is working with social media, but I definitely turned it down in my private life. Now, I think I have a better handle on things and am looking forward to getting back into my routines or creating new ones.

Here’s a couple plans for the summer:

  • I finally bought my roller skates and while I can barely go more than a couple steps at a time, I’m determined to learn this skill. In my head it’s a really fun, outdoors-y activity and I need more of those.
  • As many of you have noticed, I got a bit obsessed with D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) and I’m actually going to host my own game – a one-shot based on the campaign the kiddos played in the first season of Stranger Things – sometime in August. I don’t have any maps or such, but I want to get crafty and make this a really memorable game for my cousins, who I’ve convinced to join me in this adventure. It’s kind of silly to DM a game first time you play it, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
  • Find a new go to bar/coffeeshop/hangout-place, because when I was Vancouver I loved being a regular at certain places. I need to learn more about the area I live in now and explore my options.

Something that also can’t stay unmentioned is the fact that Life and Other Disasters turned NINE YEARS OLD this past month! I still can’t quite believe that I’ve been doing this for so long (or that I pretty much forgot about the anniversary), but I’m proud of myself for sticking to this for so long. If you want to check out my celebratory post and a little Q&A click here.

MOST POPULAR POSTS OF JUNE 2022

I’m going to keep sharing this little insight into my stats until someone tells me to stop, which hasn’t happened yet. So, let’s take a peek at what was most popular in June:

  1. Should YOU Read “The Atlas Six”? (What I learned from my reread!)
    (originally posted March 2022)
    The ARCs for the sequel, The Atlas Paradox, are out in the world. I need to get my hands on one somehow, because I cannot wait to continue reading this story.
  2. Something Different: Duskwood (Game)
    (originally posted June 2020)
    With the game coming to a close, I guess people were looking it up more again, but I only reviewed the first couple chapters and not the whole thing.
  3. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (Book Review)
    (originally posted in December 2020)
    It’s always listed, kind of reassuring.
  4. Are Chris Evans and I compatible (readers)?
    (originally posted July 2021)
    I’m going to take a big guess and assume this is because of the release of Lightyear and the infamous puppy interview.
  5. Are Pedro Pascal and I compatible (readers)?
    (originally posted December 2021)
    I don’t actually know if there was a particular reason Pedro got searched more, but you won’t find me complaining.

MY FAVORITES OF THE MONTH

I’m going to say two words: Critical Role! Okay, I’m going to say more than that, but I don’t think you all realize that ever since I discovered CR mid-June, I’ve watched more than 100+ hours of their content on YouTube. I also went and splurged in the EU Critical Role store, which is stocked terribly compared to the others! Please, someone, anyone who might read this and has a say in the matter, restock the items I want to buy. I really wanted to have Caduceus’ cardigan and the Keyleth dice set. PLEASE!!!
I already have a bucket hat, water bottle, Vox Machina and Mighty Nine dice sets as well as a chibi pin of my best boy – Dorian Storm. I AM OBSESSED!

ELSEWHERE ON THE BLOGOSPHERE

I’ve been absolutely terrible at blog hopping, I really didn’t do much. If there’s a post you’re particularly fond of (your own or someone else’s), please don’t hesitate to link me up in the comments.

MY OTHER POSTS

MS MARVEL REVIEWS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

VARIOUS TAGS AND POSTS

TRAILER POSTS


I wish you all a pleasant and stress-free July! I hope it’s a good one. Let’s chat!

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag 2022

I keep saying this so often, but I do these tags super irregularly. However, I took the time to put something up last year and want to try and keep this going … So, this is me doing the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag on the most semi-regular basis ever. Enjoy!

*By clicking on the covers, you’ll be re-directed to the Goodreads pages of the books!*

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ YET IN 2022

Tough call, tough call. I’ve had some really lovely reads this year already. One of the books that I was most excited about and that luckily turned out to be just phenomenal is The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston. I’m so glad I got to read that book! It had me crying, laughing and falling in love with the characters.

The Dead Romantics

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2022

Wow, I genuinely haven’t read a single sequel so far this year. I might continue with the Wayward Children series, which I thought had a fantastic start! I’ve mentioned it before though, but the books are super expensive, so I don’t have an actual plan on when I will get to the continuation.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

I’ve read only a couple pages of an ARC for Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid so far, so I’m going to count it for this prompt. It sounds like something right up my alley, it’s just been a time issue so far and the book was only released a couple weeks ago.

Before Takeoff

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

Okay, do I really need to say it? I have to say it! The Atlas Paradox! I’m one of the biggest fangirls of this series (as proven by this post) and cannot wait to finally get my babies from the Atlas Six back. I miss them so much, even if most of the story is just vibes.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Hmmm … I suppose Watermelon Sugar was a disappointment. I don’t really understand how it has so many fans, because it makes zero sense. It just says … nothing.

In Watermelon Sugar

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson was … unexpected. Told in second person POV, I don’t necessarily think it’s for everyone, but I found it really immersive and touching. I can see great things from this author!

Open Water

FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR

Tia Williams convinced me and gained me as a fan with Seven Days in June! No doubt about it! Her writing had such excellent humor, but also so much heart and realness. I’m looking forward to reading more books by her.

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

Not me having to reuse an answer by picking The Dead Romantics again, but – BENJI ANDOR!!! The man is amazingly attentive, but also driven and a literary editor. I just loved his whole vibe and wish we had gotten more of him in the book. Like, that’s my complaint, not enough Benji.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I’m picking a lot of books that deal with the death and/or sickness of a parent. It’s like these stories just find me and every single one of them made me cry. The latest one was This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub – absolutely fantastic with a sci-fi twist!

This Time Tomorrow

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

My Mechanical Romance was penned by the same author as The Atlas Six, however, under a different pseudonym. I just love the writing style so much, even though I’ve sort of stepped away from YA a little bit as of late. It had girls in STEM, rivals to lovers and just really cute conversations. I smiled through so many parts of it.

My Mechanical Romance

FAVORITE BOOK TO SCREEN ADAPTATION

I have to name two, I can’t stop myself! One for a TV show and one for a movie, because … this is all I ever talk about, right? You can’t just make me choose. Also, I want to note that these are adaptations that I’ve actually read prior to watching, otherwise my selection might have been different.

TV Show: Conversations with Friends – it was really faithful to the material again, just like Normal People, but also expanded on everything and made it a little more in depth or relatable. These characters are still very much flawed, but not as exhausting as in the books. At least to me. Read my full post here.

Movie poster of Along for the Ride with the text "book vs. movie"

Movie: Along for the Ride – this was my first experience with a Sarah Dessen story and while I wasn’t super impressed, I really enjoyed the movie. It was cute and lovely and from the looks of it, Netflix keeps pumping out YA adaptations, so, I’m here for it. You can find my full length thoughts here.

FAVORITE POST YOU HAVE DONE THIS YEAR

I know that people would likely suspect that my favorite post of the year so far would be one of my many reading experiments, but it’s actually a spin-off feature in the realm of my blog celeb book club – Books I’d Recommend to Celebs Based on THEIR Taste!
I always complain that I think that the actors pick rubbish books and that I could give them better reads and I stand by that. It was so fun to come up with recommendations based on what I had learned about them and I hope to do more along the lines of this soon.

Celeb Book Club

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR

Have you SEEN the character illustrations in The Atlas Six? Gorgeous. Beautiful. Memorable. My faves.

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR

I don’t like to put that kind of pressure on myself, so I’ve done away with “must reads”. Whatever the mood strikes and maybe some stories for experiments. We shall see.

I TAG THEE

I tag whoever wants to do this as well! If that’s you, then I tag YOU!!!


What did you think of my answers for the prompts this year? How is your reading year going so far? Let’s catch up in the comments!