First Lines from Books Currently on My TBR

I’ve seen a lot of people share the first lines to books they had just read/were reading/wanted to read and I thought I should finally join in on the fun! I think it’s so interesting to reflect on just that first sentence and whether it pulls you in or not. For today, I want to focus on books that I already have at home and plan to read in the near future aka stories that are already on my TBR!

IF WE WERE VILLAINS by M.L. Rio

I sit with my wrists cuffed to the table and I think, But that I am forbid / To tell the secrets of my prison-house, / I could a tale unfold whose lightest word / Would harrow up my soul.

If We Were Villains

That is what I call an intriguing start! Throw in some poetry, people already being cuffed and my interest is definitely being held. I try not to know too much about books before going in, because I like discovering those twists myself, but I do know that a lot of my friends loved this story, so, I’m excited to get to it. There’s definite promise here.

REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

Rebecca

Okay, Rebecca is my effort of reading at least one classic novel every other year or so. If I hadn’t already seen the movies and enjoyed the Netflix adaptation, I doubt that one sentence would have caught my attention.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES by Rachel Griffin

Everything is burning, so many flames it looks as if we set the sky on fire.

The Nature of Witches

From what I’m understanding this is a novel about witches and climate change, so the first line seems very much on par with it. There was technically a quote preceding it, but I didn’t know if that counted, so I went with this phrase instead. It’s not the most revealing line yet.

THE ATLAS SIX by Olivie Blake

Perhaps it was a tired thing, all the references the world had already made to the Ptolemaic Royal Library of Alexandria.

The Atlas Six (The Atlas Series Book 1)

This is gonna be so packed with references and history. I just know it and that can always go one of two ways, with me 1.) loving the heck out of it or 2.) being completely overwhelmed with factual information that I then tend to ceremoniously skip through.

LEGENDBORN by Tracy Deonn

The police officer’s body goes blurry, then sharpens again.

Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)

Knowing that Legendborn is Fantasy and this is the first line – I am listening! 100%!

THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY by Alix E. Harrow

When I was seven, I found a door.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Going by the title, I’m gonna assume we are not in fact talking about a regular door here?

THE FEVER KING by Victoria Lee

Calix,
As I write this, they’re packing up the fighter jets.

The Fever King (Feverwake, #1)

Start a book with a letter and you have my attention. I don’t know if this will be a recurring thing throughout the book or just this once at the beginning, but I adore the incorporation of letters.

QUEEN OF THE CONQUERED by Kacen Callender

My mother kissed my forehead with a smile when I cried, upset that the party would carry on as I was sent away to sleep, and while I lay awake in my bed of lace, huddled beneath my covers and shivering in the cool trade-winds breeze, I heard when the tinkling piano stopped and when the laughter turned to screams.

Queen of the Conquered (Islands of Blood and Storm, #1)

And here I thought I was the queen of run on sentences! Despite this being very long in comparison to all the other examples, I think it definitely peaks my interest. I just want to know what happens next and isn’t that the absolute best outcome you can have with a first sentence?


Have you read any of those books? What do you think of my TBR and their first lines? Let’s talk!

April 2021 Wrap-Up

I can’t believe April is over already. I’ve had all these plans and ideas for the year, but once again, little of that is going according to said plans. Anyway, I managed to read/listen to three books and that’s what we will start this post with. It’s not a huge amount of reads, but my motivation in the reading department is a continuous flow and ebb.

  • Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (4 stars)
  • The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
    This book not having a rating has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, but simply with my decision not to rate and review books by friends and people I know. Elena is an old blogging buddy and I was so happy to see her dream of releasing her own romance novel come true. I HAD to support that and had a really good time reading The Spanish Love Deception. Romance isn’t my usual genre, so I don’t feel super qualified to comment on it anyway, but the banter between Lina and Aaron was so much fun.
  • The Sandman by Neil Gaiman/audiobook (3 stars)
    I still don’t know how people sit through audiobooks, because I’m apparently a very visual reader and completely space out after a while. The fact that The Sandman had a fantastic voice cast (with the likes of James McAvoy, Kat Dennings, Michael Sheen, Riz Ahmed and many more) and thus making it more of an audioplay than audiobook helped immensely. Still, I struggled with paying attention a lot … I keep trying this medium, but apparently it’s just not for me (as I’ve talked about before in this post)

Hana Khan Carries On The Spanish Love Deception The Sandman (Sandman Audible Original, #1)

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! My own reviews (where there is one) you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above if there are posts for them.

At the end of April, I took a little social media break and I’m basically still on it and it feels quite nice. It’s not that anything in particular happened that drove me away, but I did not enjoy being constantly glued to my phone and putting my entire energy into that thing. After a while, it also spiked my anxiety to voice my opinions, despite no one ever coming for me and I just decided to dip out for a while. I’m not completely gone and if anyone needs me, it’s fairly easy to contact me, but I just thought I’d let you know why my timeline is a little bit more quiet. It definitely helped in eliminating one of the many excuses I had created for myself in order to not pursue any of my creative ideas (be that writing, drawing or something else entirely).

For those of you who are interested in the status of my Canada-move, it’s still very much looking grim. I have decided to apply for another extension of the visa once that is possible (you can only do so 30 days before yours expires), but that I cannot put my life on hold for this any longer. I’m currently taking steps to figure out what I might be able to do instead and how I could move on, but it’s all a process. This really still is my biggest dream and giving up on it is soul crushing to even contemplate.

My creativity still isn’t at a peak, but I can feel some of it returning. I may or may not have splurged on some new materials that I’m excited to work with, even though I still have to get acquainted with a lot of them. I don’t think I will post any portraits or other drawings in the near future, but rather just try to get a feel back for myself without having to put anything of it out into the world yet.

MY FAVORITE THINGS

As much as I struggled with the fact that the finale of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiered on the same day and at the same time as Shadow and Bone, I loved doing those weekly reviews. They may not have sparked as much engagement and views as some of the WandaVision content, but it was nice to dig deep on content I feel so passionate about. I’m still unsure whether to go through the trouble for Loki, but at the same time, I felt a big hole this past Friday without anything to review. Please, let me know in the comments which other shows (besides Loki) you could imagine me doing weekly or in depth seasonal reviews for! I obviously can’t promise anything, because I don’t know if I will always have the time for it, but I enjoyed the routine and if you *want* me to talk about something in particular, I’d really like to know what, so I can at least think about it!

I’m all ears for your ideas!

MY OTHER POSTS

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEWS/CONTENT

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

THURSDAY MOVIE PICKS

VARIOUS TAGS AND POSTS

TRAILER POSTS


Hope your April went well! What are some posts you enjoyed reading this past month? Did you encounter some great books and TV shows? Let’s talk!

My Thoughts on the Shadow and Bone Netflix Adaptation!

It has been no secret just how very excited I was for the Shadow and Bone series (as well as the Six of Crows duology) to be adapted by Netflix. While the streaming platform doesn’t always get it right, I was really optimistic early on and the trailers looked fantastic. Before I watched it, though, I caught up on all the books as to really know what I am talking about (only Rule of Wolves is missing for me now, but that’s irrelevant for the show at the moment) and even before going into details on my thoughts, I think they did a great job!

Obviously, the Grishaverse is huge and vast and has quite the fanbase because of the books series. But not everyone has read those and Netflix offers a platform that exposes the material to millions of people all over the world. Not everyone will be happy with everything, but I would like share my personal opinions in the following post.

*I could not do this without going into detail on some topics, so this might not be for you if you want to go into the show with as little knowledge as possible. SPOILERS ahead!!!*

THINGS/CHANGES I DIDN’T LIKE

I want to get the “bad” things out of the way, because some of it really irked me. It did not overshadow my enjoyment entirely, because I binged the show in a day, but I find it necessary to point them out regardless.

  • Casting Jessie Mei Li as Alina was a beautiful choice. Jessie is a ray of sunshine and hence amazing to watch as the sun summoner. They have great chemistry with on screen partners and I’m so very glad they got cast for this role. In the books, Alina wasn’t biracial though. This was a choice made to bring more diversity to the on screen adaptation, but where they went wrong (in my opinion) was by adding anti-Asian slurs and racism to portray the treatment of people from Shu Han. Nowhere in the books was this kind of racism ever present and we are dealing with a Fantasy world where Alina already faces enough struggles and could have dealt with a number of different circumstances that made her feel othered if that was what they wanted to portray so badly. Every time they inserted a slur such as “rice-eater” or “half-breed” it felt forced and unnecessary and I imagine hurtful to certain audiences. The problem is that they never contextualize this behavior, because they simply claim that being at war with Shu Han is enough to warrant the hostility, but that’s really not the take they thought it was.
credit: Netflix
  • Amplifiers in the books, while still kind of barbaric, are jewelry made out of bones/scales/claws/etc. and can be anything from a necklace to a bracelet or ring. Grisha can only have one amplifier in their lifetime (yeah, I know exceptions exist) and can never take it off. The Grisha who killed the animal the amplifier is from has the power over it. I think that’s all pretty cut and clear, so, why did the show change them into some kind of body horror?
    When the Darkling puts the antlers on Alina, she does not get a badass necklace, but rather the antlers fuse into her collar bone, making it an extremely uncomfortable scene to watch. I worry about this change, not just because she eventually absorbs the antlers into her body entirely and they are not visible anymore at all, but also because it makes me feel that the producers thought putting a literal collar on a person was not horrific enough and they needed another violation of Alina’s body to showcase the Darkling’s evil nature. Apparently, people wouldn’t be put off enough by his disregard for consent and need to control everyone around him.
  • Speaking of the Darkling! Due to budget constraints and everyone adoring Ben Barnes (he is a great actor), they opted to not show the Demon in the Woods short story as part of a flashback, where the Darkling would have been only 10 years old, but rather showed a grown up Darkling. In that tidbit from the past, he seemed enamored with a Grisha called Luda, who did not exist in the books, but came across as a love interest in that scene. Her death causes the creation of the Fold, making it feel like fridging (where the girlfriend/wife/love interest of the male protagonist dies in order to propel his story). In an interview with Insider, the showrunner explicitly said they weren’t trying to do that and even actively tried to avoid it, but nothing in that scene told me they weren’t romantically involved. (You can read the interview here!)
    Also, I keep calling him the Darkling, because that’s how I knew him for 7 books. Yes, his first name is Aleksander, but in the books that’s revealed very late. His name is a mystery and Alina is the only person in that world to know it, which felt special, but here he just throws his name around like it means nothing. The show really humanised him a lot.
credit: Netflix

GENRAL STUFF I ENJOYED OR NOTICED

The following points that I will mention were neither huge mistakes nor masterful choices. I just collected some of my thoughts that I found interesting or necessary to mention to give you all a complete picture.

  • As someone who has read all the books, short stories and anthologies (Language of Thorns and Lives of Saints), I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the Grishaverse. However, had I been someone who didn’t have that prior knowledge, I could have easily seen myself struggle with some of the concepts. They really barely explained anything to do with Grisha orders, amplifiers or something as simple but vital as the belief systems (Fjerdan god vs. Ravkan sainsts etc.). I doubt that anyone could understand some of the important components to their full extent having none of that knowledge and background info. Whereas I understand it’s difficult to include, a little more would have been appreciated from my side.
  • While waiting for the show to release, I always said that I did not care about the faithfulness of the story, but rather about the accurate representation of the characters and their personality and I still stand by that. Yes, Jesper should have been played by a dark-skinned actor, but Kit Younger has his personality DOWN. And not just him, EVERYONE either behaved exactly like I imagined they would (even if they didn’t all look like they had in my head) or even improved on the characters by playing them softer and with more nuance and vulnerability (e.g. Matthias Helvar). I cannot wait to see who they will bring in for the twins, Nikolai and Wylan next season.
credit: Netflix
  • The overall pacing and the amount of story they packed into this first season was well handled. From what I heard, the showrunner has a three-season-plan, which would correlate nicely with the three Shadow and Bone books. I really hope that the next season would also start implementing the Six of Crows plot, because this was a nice prequel to their characters, but I need to see the big heist happening. However, since everything is more interconnected, they might change things up further and I’d be excited to see what that looks like.

SOME IMPROVEMENTS

In some cases, I even think that the show did better than the book. Having the ability to show several points of view, whereas Shadow and Bone the book only offered Alina’s side really gave them the chance to explore the characters some more. Also, it probably helped that the producers already knew about all the later books Leigh Bardugo wrote as well. Here’s some changes I thought worked well:

  • When I first read Shadow and Bone, I hated Zoya. She literally broke Alina’s ribs and just treated her terribly, because she was jealous. Early on in the books, there are few redeeming qualities to Zoya and while she improves over time, I always felt a grudge until I got her side of things in King of Scars. While she starts out similarly in the show, I was grateful that they allowed an insight into her backstory earlier in the season than in the books. She is such an important character, but I think audiences would have struggled later on, just like I did while reading, if they hadn’t softened her up.
  • I think I am part of a small group of people who actually liked Mal in the books, but I think Archie and the writing on the show made the character so much better. They scratched unnecessary and childish jealousy scenes (which was annoying but fine in the books, because they were younger) and genuinely made his connection to Alina seem sweet and fated. I’m so happy people are now actually rooting for them.
  • Milo the goat is the real MVP.

VERDICT

I loved seeing some of my favorite characters brought to life on the screen. My expectations were high and I could have easily been disappointed but I was really pleased with how everything came together. Shadow and Bone is by no means flawless, but the effort they put into wanting to do the material justice came through. I honestly didn’t know if I would understand the involvement of the crows before watching, but it was integrated beautifully and they provided some of the best parts of the season. If you enjoyed the books, I think you will like this as well. Even if you weren’t a huge fan of the Shadow and Bone books, but only enjoyed Six of Crows, I can easily see you liking this better. 

credit: Netflix

Previous Reviews from this books series and Leigh Bardugo’s work:


Have you watched Shadow and Bone yet? Do you plan to? What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments? Let’s talk!

Spring Cleaning Book Tag!

I’ve seen this tag around and I was like “Should I do it? Should I not?”, because I hate cleaning … BUT then the lovely Orang-utan Librarian tagged me for the Spring Cleaning Book Tag and I was all in. Originally, this tag was created by booktuber Jen @ Book Syrup. Let’s get started!

THE STRUGGLE OF GETTING STARTED: A BOOK/BOOK SERIES THAT YOU HAVE STRUGGLED TO BEGIN BECAUSE OF ITS SIZE.

A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara has caught my eye a long time ago, but it’s massive! The edition I saw on Goodreads has more than 700 pages and I’m not going to lie to you, I struggle with 500 pages already. I used to devour books of that size when I was younger, seeing it as a challenge and validation to get through them, but now they just scare me. Still, many have praised the emotional impact of A Little Life, so … I’d like to read it someday.

CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET: A BOOK AND/OR BOOK SERIES YOU WANT TO UNHAUL.

I actually unhauled about 60 books these past months and managed to either give some to family or sell them via an online reseller for used books. I didn’t get a lot of money, but more than I would have likely managed to get at a flea market (which aren’t happening due to the pandemic anyway). So, it’s really difficult to think of books I don’t want to have anymore. Maybe I would let go of my Game of Thrones books. I read them a while ago, never finished the last one and just sort of feel like I am over the series, even if new books should release eventually. They are also just cheap paperbacks, so I am not attached to them because of aesthetic reasons either.

OPENING WINDOWS AND LETTING FRESH AIR IN: A BOOK THAT WAS REFRESHING.

The Summer of Broken Rules

I haven’t been super excited about books for a while, but this year has been great so far. I was especially fond of The Summer of Broken Rules, because it reignited my love for contemporaries. It was fun and emotional too and made me feel like I was really on vacation (which I could so need at this point). It might be a pretty regular formula for a book, but to me it was a breath of fresh air on my shelf.

Read my full review of the book HERE.

WASHING OUT SHEET STAINS: A BOOK YOU WISH YOU COULD REWRITE A CERTAIN SCENE IN.

Charming as a Verb

There is one scene in Charming as a Verb that made me so disappointed in the main character. It created one of the biggest conflicts, so it was obviously necessary for the story, but I just wanted Henri and Corinne to be happy. If that scene was rewritten, they’d have had the cutest story! Still, Ben Philippe has quickly become one of my auto-buy authors. I adore all his characters.

My full review of the book can be found HERE.

THROWING OUT UNNECESSARY KNICK-KNACKS: A BOOK IN A SERIES THAT YOU DIDN’T FEEL WAS NECESSARY.

This might be an unpopular opinion, but … I do not think the continuation of the Shatter Me series (hence everything after Ignite Me) was strictly necessary and even contradicted some of the earlier books. I’m not saying they are terrible, but I just didn’t connect to them as much. The writing style was different and the elements I liked most gone. Tahereh Mafi is still an excellent writer and I enjoy her books very much. Also, no shade on anyone who was into the series continuation, but it just wasn’t for me.

POLISHING THE DOORKNOBS: A BOOK THAT HAD A CLEAN FINISH.

The Dire King (Jackaby, #4)

I think I like books with ambiguous endings that still feel like they make sense. When everything is up to interpretation to you, but the journey there gives you clear indications of what you’re supposed to think? So, this question has me struggling a little bit, because apparently I’m messy.

I really like how the Dire King, the final book in the Jackaby series, ended and came together though. I’m obviously not going to go into detail because of spoilers, but the series as a whole is really worth the read!

My review for book 1 can be read here and for the final book here.

REACHING TO DUST THE FAN: A BOOK THAT TRIED TOO HARD TO RELAY A CERTAIN MESSAGE.

A Pocketful of Crows

I’m not sure A Pocketful of Crows tried to convey a message too hard, but I didn’t enjoy the message I was getting. Basically, this supposedly whimsical and poetic story was of the opinion that it’s fine to seek revenge, that it’s the eternal circle of life to punish those who wronged you. I did not agree with that one bit.

THE TIRING YET SATISFYING FINISH OF SPRING CLEANING: A BOOK SERIES THAT WAS TIRING YET SATISFYING TO GET THROUGH.

After an exhausting summer, where I missed my friends and turned to every distraction I could find, I binge-read the True Blood books. They were … not all great? Very repetitive in part, but unlike many, many, many others, I really enjoyed the final book. The ending made a lot of sense to me and I would have actually preferred the show to go a similar way, but yeah.


I TAG THEE

Whoever wants to do this! As you can see on the post I took this from, there’s actually a prompt to tag four people, but I’d rather give the option to whoever WANTS to do the Spring Cleaning Book Tag! It’s all yours!!


What did you think of my answers? Did you like seeing a book tag on the blog again? Let’s chat!

 

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 368
Release Date: April 13, 2021

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

CW: racism, Islamophobia, racially motivated hate crimes, loss of a loved one

Hana Khan Carries On releases soon and I cannot wait for everyone to get a chance to read this book. Set in one of my favorite places on this planet (Toronto), the book is a bold romantic comedy playing out in the world of rivaling halal restaurants, but it is also so much more than that. Let me explain!

Hana is a fantastic narrator, which makes sense as she hosts her own podcast and pursues a career in the radio industry. I loved following her thoughts and quarrels from the get go. We quickly learn that she is a South Asian Muslim woman in her twenties and daughter to immigrant parents, who juggles many things in her life even before the real drama starts. While there were always hints at what all this book would ultimately deal with, it starts out with all the makings of a romantic comedy that promises rivals to lovers excellence. There was an immediate attraction and familiarity between Hana and Aydin even when they clashed. They are not afraid to play dirty in order to come out on top, which leads to many a regretful decision. The fire and sparring between them was definitely fun, even when it was easy to guess the big revelation they’d both eventually have to face.

Around the halfway point of the book, the story shifts into something more serious though. As I said, the groundwork for this was laid, because this book was never going to be “just” a romantic comedy. While out with Aydin and her cousin, Rashid (who is visiting from India), Hana encounters a group of hate-filled racists and the situation soon escalates on a much grander scale than she could have ever anticipated. It’s never easy having to come to terms that there are people out there who want to harm you and push you out of a country you were literally born in. It was even more painful when no one came to Hana’s aid (please never be that person when you see someone being attacked. Not doing anything is being complicit), that is until she found the courage to seek refuge in her community.

As much as Hana Khan Carries On is about love and finding your place in the world, it is also about family – the one you are born with and the one you choose. This was an excellent example of how gratifying being part of a community can be and how they can help you through the darkest times. Hana always had to deal with people who were willing to talk over her (a boss using covert racism to undermine her ideas, a co-worker so desperate to fit in that they sold out and a myriad of other characters that show up and will have you wringing your hands not to punch them), but she also had people in her corner willing to go to bat for her and you were right there with them, rooting for her when she found her voice and spoke up. And that’s not an easy thing to do, to stand up to people knowing that it will leave you vulnerable. But she had a life made up of choices, choices she was very grateful to have, and she wanted to make the right ones.

I really loved reading this book and to follow along as Hana uncovers family secrets and finds her voice. I cannot possibly put myself in her shoes, but I was filled with pride and joy at her development regardless. There’s no denying that I would understand if people would rather not be faced with reliving that particular trauma when seeking out a romantic comedy, but I personally appreciated that there was no sugarcoating of racist situations like it happening still. Those parts will never get easier, but we’re not doing anyone a service by ignoring them either.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! An amazing romantic comedy, if you are also prepared for hard-hitting reality.


Would you like to read Hana Khan Carries On? I seem to pick up at least one “You’ve Got Mail”-esque book per year now and I have no regrets! Let’s talk!

March 2021 Wrap-Up

So, March was another month? I don’t even really know what to say about it, but let’s just start with what I always start with – the books! I actually read quite a lot considering what my usual monthly average was the past years and I also think I picked some great books! Let’s see what we’ve got:

  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (3 stars)
    I was on a roll when it came to the Grisha books and mostly read them in one day. Siege and Storm was not my favourite though. While I was never against Mal in the first book, the bad communication in this one drove me nuts. Still, the slow corruption of Alina Starkov had its draws and I generally enjoyed myself.
  • Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (4 stars)
    What a satisfying ending! There really wasn’t many ways this could have gone and I personally liked it a lot. The book really had no right making me as emotional as it did in those final pages.
  • Any Place But Here by Sarah Van Name (4 stars)
  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (3.5 stars)
  • The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther (4 stars)

Siege and Storm (Shadow and Bone, #2) Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone, #3) Any Place But Here King of Scars (King of Scars, #1) The Summer of Broken Rules

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! My own reviews (where there is one) you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above if there are posts for them.

I’ve been contemplating how to best tackle my life this past month. After some personal struggles as well as a lengthy recovery from dental surgery (still healing, but all good), I knew I couldn’t put off the Canada topic any longer – I had to act! Most of you know that there is little I want more than to go back to my beloved Vancouver. The only issue is – this pandemic! It has messed up literally all my plans, I have zero desire to travel anywhere in this climate, vaccine roll outs are slow where I live and my once so very open work permit now hinges on me finding a job offer before I actually get to enter the country anyway. I’ve been writing dozens of cold applications as well as trying to apply for jobs I saw online, even if they aren’t all in the industry I used to work for. It’s been a very frustrating process. Please, for those of you who care, keep your fingers crossed for me, because at this point, my dream coming true really is just a matter of ridiculous luck …

Should I not be able to secure a job offer before the end of June (and not get another extension for the visa), this is it. I can never apply for that work permit again (as you can only do so once and getting approved is seen as taking part, even if you never enter the country), which means I literally have to rethink my entire life plan, where I want to live and what I want to do. To say I’m panicking inwardly is the understatement of the century, because I really don’t want to give up on this, but I might have to come to terms with the fact that I have to (especially since I can’t keep doing nothing in Vienna … I need to work! I LOVE work!). Sorry for this very rambly and personal outburst …

As much as I’ve tried my best at *all of that*, I still haven’t gotten back any kind of motivation to keep doing anything creatively. I have posted a couple things on my art instagram, but I wasn’t really happy with any of it. I keep not enjoying the end result and it’s really demotivating. I hope I will get some inspiration/motivation back soon, because I’m tired of being tired.

MY FAVOURITE THINGS

Many of you have probably seen me freak out on Twitter about Shadow and Bone on the regular and I apologize in advance about the person I will become on April 23. However, to not just rehash my gushing from last month, I want to talk about my massive dilemma, because speaking of April 23 … that day is also the day of the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. (Links for the reviews to the first two episodes below!!!) I always, always enjoy Marvel content, but I didn’t expect to fall that hard for this particular show. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan just have an incredible dynamic and the character work they’re doing is beautiful! I may also have gone on a slight binge of their interviews together …

Another thing I would like to highlight is Sofii @A Book. A Thought. and the incredible work she has done to compile a really extensive list of book bloggers. Especially with the blow bloggers received after finding out how willing publishing is to throw money at tiktokers (no shade to tiktokers!!! Go get that coin!), but still pay regular bloggers nothing but dust, I love to go on lists like that and support other bloggers with likes and comments whenever I can. It’s super handy. Click HERE to check it out!

MY OTHER POSTS

WANDAVISION + THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEWS/CONTENT

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

THURSDAY MOVIE PICKS

VARIOUS TAGS AND POSTS

TRAILER POSTS


I hope you all had a good March and are looking forward to April! I can’t decide whether time is rushing by or going really slowly in this odd odd year that is 2021 …

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 386
Release Date: May 4, 2021

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

CW: loss of a loved one

Sometimes a book comes around and it just sweeps you off your feet. The Summer of Broken Rules was definitely that for me! It’s not easy for a story to be fun as well as moving, but somehow this one struck the perfect balance and just made it an incredibly engaging read.

You meet Meredith and you can easily relate to her. I think anyone who has ever lost someone close to them understands the way you yourself get lost in your grief. Every corner you turn, you see that person and remember how things used to be, but can’t be anymore. The Summer of Broken Rules managed to make this story a beautiful exploration of grief, while also the journey of reemerging from that cloudy haze that comes with loss, without it ever feeling too heavy. I may have shed a tear or two, but I laughed and smiled even more.

From the get go, I was just in love with the setting. I haven’t been on a vacation in forever and definitely have never been to Martha’s Vineyard (it feels like a rich people destination in my head and I cannot explain why?), but I could almost feel the sun on my face, smell the ocean breeze and couldn’t shake that odd feeling when you just know it’s unavoidable to get sand everywhere. Add to that a huge group of relatives and friends, where you sometimes lose track of just how you are related, but you know you are family either way because of the shared bonds and you have captured my heart. At times, I had trouble following the who’s who, but never when it came to the important players.

When it comes to the love story, I thought it was interesting how easily I was swayed by Wit. Many times, I have complained about insta-love and insta-lust, but somehow the connection between Meredith and Wit just felt natural. You basically just follow them through the course of a week, but every interaction felt authentic and made me root for them rather than roll my eyes at their quick attachment.
I’d also like to praise that there was a discussion, albeit brief, about how Meredith tends to latch on to her love interests and detach from her friends as a coping mechanism for her grief. Having scenes with that as a context puts them in a different light and, in this instance, makes them work all the better. With the characters being aware of how fast things are developing and even questioning their behavior, I thought it was refreshing. In the end, it didn’t change how I felt about them though and I was happy to see them grow together through the hurdles they had to overcome.

I can’t say I’ve ever been as competitive or invested in a game as the entire extended Fox family is when it comes to “Assassin”, but what a treat it was to follow them for a week. As serious as they take it, it also created some hilariously brilliant moments and I understand how it became a tradition for them. It’s almost something you’d want to revisit yourself every year to see how everyone was doing, which was why I was so grateful for a little epilogue from the future!

As a final note, this was my first time reading a book by K.L. Walther, but I heard that there are lovely little easter eggs to her previous novel “If We Were Us”. I adore when authors put in those tiny references for readers and it has me very tempted to check out her debut novel.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Fun and moving – a great summer read along the lines of Morgan Matson books!


Could you see yourself picking up The Summer of Broken Rules? What are some summer reads you enjoyed a lot? Let’s talk!

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Page Count
: 514

With the imminent release of the Shadow and Bone Netflix series (if you haven’t heard me talk about that basically all the time as of late, where have you been? Watch the trailer here) and the even closer release of the second book in the duology King of Scars is a part of – Rule of Wolves – I thought it was time I finally caught up on the Grishaverse.
It’s been a while since I’ve read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, but I still vividly remember how easily I fell in love with the characters and the world they inhabit. It has been much more recent that I tore my way through the Shadow and Bone trilogy, finally catching up on Alina’s storyline and getting that proper introduction to Nikolai Lantsov. He deserved that grand entry like no other! I’m glad I picked up all the previous books before reading King of Scars, because I think I would have been lost without people’s backstories. 

That’s the thing with the books in the Grishaverse; in the beginning you might have been able to just read one series or another, but we are in so deep now, with everything being interconnected, that it would do you a disservice not to know the previous material. In fact, it’s necessary, because so much of this series is built on your feelings for the characters and what is about to happen to them.

“The monster is me and I am the monster.”

King of Scars, just like the Six of Crows duology, offers multiple POVs. The most important ones are likely Nikolai, Zoya and Nina, although I have to say that I struggled to really find a proper connection between Nina’s storyline and the others. She felt very much apart with her mission in Fjerda, even if her plot made sense for her character development and offered a great new path for Nina. It’s something only she could effectively pull off. And I could see those small crumbs that tried to hint at how it would link to the business in Ravka, but (at least in this part of the duology) it felt very much like it could have been a completely unrelated just simultaneously running story.
So, I couldn’t help but feel more drawn to what was going on with Nikolai. I think I wasn’t alone in quickly having him become a favourite even without him having his own perspective back in Shadow and Bone. This broken golden boy just has his charms, as every other character in the Grishaverse could probably attest to. The fact that he now has a major part in this duology just shows that Leigh Bardugo knows what her fans like to read about.

“Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.”

While I felt like the plot was moving along quite slowly at times and not necessarily contradicted previous books, but definitely rewrote a couple narratives (just throw out your knowledge about amplifiers now for example …), which I did not care about massively, I did appreciate how much more we got to know the characters.
Again, Nikolai is not just charming, he is a really good man. The way he puts Ravka above all his needs is incredible and possibly not healthy, but he just wants to do better than the weak men who came before him. He would give his life if it meant that the people he is trying to serve as a ruler will get to have a more stable and prosperous life. As boisterous and superficial as he can seem, he is one of the most selfless characters.
But most of all, I appreciate that I got to know Zoya more. I’m not going to lie, I struggled with her character for a long time in previous books, because I just couldn’t forget her mean girl behaviour from the beginning. I don’t enjoy people who make others feal scared or lesser than just to feel superior and she has always given off that vibe. She was never kind, nor good, she was ruthless. Now though, I feel like this showed us why she is the way she is. Why she thinks kindness is such a weakness, even if that’s not true at all. Why she is all prickly like thorns despite her beauty like the most gorgeous flowers. There’s really quite a lot of selflessness in her too.

“Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers, but we who wield power adorn ourselves with flowers to hide the sting of our thorns”

King of Scars definitely isn’t my favourite book in the Grishaverse, but it does what it is supposed to – it keeps me wanting more. I always want to know and probably always will want to know how these characters are doing and if lasting peace is an option. But it’s Ravka … something always goes wrong.

Lastly, which is really more of a personal side note than a criticism, I wish there wasn’t this incessant need to always pair everyone up. Tolya is literally the only person I can think of who currently doesn’t have a crush and it’s a lot to me. Sometimes characters can just be friends … or partners in crime … or confidants … or alone?

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! I rounded up, but I did struggle with this book at times.


Have you read King of Scars? How deep are you into the Grishaverse? I, for one, can’t wait for the show and the upcoming release of Rules of Wolves!

The Wine Book Tag

I was tagged for this such a long time ago, I won’t even comment on the specific year. Let’s just say it has been an embarrassing time period, but Flo @FlowlessBooks asked me to do the Wine Book Tag and I think it is fun and … better late than never?

Box Wine – a book that people will judge you for liking but you like it anyway!

Let me think about all the embarrassing things I could have read and liked. I know that the author of Call Me By Your Name has some questionable views (did he sexualize underage girls or did I imagine that interview?) and that puts the age difference in the book in an even worse light. I know all that and I know the book is far from perfect, but I really loved it when I read it. I can’t just forget some of those beautiful quotes between the mess.

Read my review HERE.

Organic Wine – a book that doesn’t have any added crap in it and is just written perfectly

SoulswiftYou better not get tired of me mentioning Soulswift, but to me that book was perfect. As a standalone fantasy novel, it’s a rare bird anyway and it’s hard to get the pacing and content just right, but this book managed to do it all. I didn’t feel like I was overwhelmed with information or missing anything crucial. I was just heartbroken in the end, but that was to be expected …

Read my review HERE.

Gluehwein – a really spicy, wintry read

Don't Tell a SoulNot sure this really qualifies as spicy, but Don’t Tell a Soul definitely takes place during winter. I still remember the descriptions of mountains of snow and wading through snow storms to get to the manor. This story is not a ghost story, but is sure brings some along on the ride, which might work for the second part of the prompt? I hope so.

Read my review HERE.

Sauvignon Blanc – a really sharp and aggressive read that you couldn’t put down!

My mind immediately went to the Red Rising saga! I don’t usually get angry, but woah, I was shaking because I was so furious in parts of those books. They are also violent and brutal, but so well written and they keep you hooked. I still have Dark Age (the most recent book in the series) staring at me accusingly from my shelf, because I still haven’t picked it up. It’s so intimidating though!

Sevro will forever be one of my all time favourite characters and I cannot wait to see who they cast should they move forward with the TV show. My fingers are forever crossed for it to be Richard Harmon.

Read my review of the first book in the series HERE.

Pinot Noir – a book you didn’t expect much from but ended up getting blown away!

I try to not go into books with too high expectations to begin with. Hype is scary and can quickly drain joy once you read something. I’m, however, always a bit wary when it comes to World War II related content, be it alternate history or authentic, so I did not expect too much from the Wolf by Wolf duology, but it is now one of my favourite duologies out there. I wish more people had read it!

Read my review of the first book in the duology HERE.

Chardonnay – a good summer read that was super-zesty?

The Unexpected EverythingWhat constitutes a super-zesty read? Anyway, I might just ignore that bit, but summer is something I associate with Morgan Matson books. I could probably choose any of her stories and would be able to fulfill that part of the prompt, but I’m going with The Unexpected Everything, just because I thought of it first. As always, it has a cute love interest, dogs and some lovely self-exploration.

Read my review HERE.

Rose – a book that has a little bit of everything in it

Maybe Beartown? When I tried to write my review of the book, it was hard to find an aspect the story did not cover. It’s about community, family, culpability, love, friendship, responsibility and so much more. Really, no clue how to summarize it other than it wrecked my feels. There’s an HBO series coming out for it soon and I cannot wait to feel devastated again.

Read my review of the book HERE.

Shiraz – A full-bodied book that is dark and juicy

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)I’ve delved more and more into darker stories, but I kind of thought of Ninth House first. It has so much death and mystery, which qualifies for the dark part, but I also think the relationships could be categorized as juicy. The full-bodied aspect is probably the fact that it has a very complex secret society and includes a lot of information, which bordered on overload for me at times.

Read my review HERE.

Merlot – a smooth easy read with a soft finish

Tweet CuteTweet Cute! Everything about reading that book was easy and fun and soft and warm. It was like a modern day Young Adult version of You’ve Got Mail, just with a foodie aspect instead of bookstores. What’s softer than that?

Read my review HERE.

Champagne – Your Favourite Book

AS IF I HAD JUST ONE!?!?!?

I don’t know how anyone else does it, so I’m going to cheat a little bit. I’m just going to pick a random book that I gave a high rating to recently and haven’t mentioned in the post already.

We ended on The Light Between Worlds! It’s heartbreaking with a touch of Narnia, just more heavily focused on the returning part  and mental health rather than the one about being in a magical kingdom. I mentioned several trigger warnings in my review, because I think that’s really necessary with this read, but I loved it.

The Light Between Worlds

Read my review HERE.


We’ve seen how bad I’m with sticking to tags, so I’ll just do the same I’ve been doing these past months: if you think you’d have fun with this yourself, CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED!!


What did you think of my picks for the different topics? Let’s talk!

Any Place But Here by Sarah Van Name (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: May 1, 2021

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

CW: underage drinking

Any Place But Here is my first encounter with Sarah Van Name’s writing and I immediately felt drawn into the world of her characters. You meet June and Jess at an evening that feels like it could be any night of the week for them, beyond tipsy and definitely drunk, just that it’s at a school venue and things are spiraling fast after they get discovered with booze in the bathroom.

After that, no matter what June says, her parents don’t trust her anymore and send her off to live with her grandmother (lovingly called Oma, which is also what I have always called my grandmothers too) to attend an all-girls-school. In the beginning, I struggled a bit with that punishment. I understand the concern of June’s parents and the way they mostly blame it on her “friendship” with Jess, but June is literally a straight A studen and … I come from a country where the legal drinking age is 16, so I always roll my eyes a bit at American laws. Of course, there is a difference between drinking responsibly and just getting wasted and I don’t condone the reckless kind since I’m not much of a drinker myself, but it’s always a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around why it is such a huge deal. I literally had bartending classes at my school when I was 16, but I’m veering off course. This conflict sets up the rest of the novel and does so really well.

Who would want to leave behind everyone they know, including the person they care about most, to live in a town where they know no one and nothing ever happens? I can tell you that the answer is not June.

As we see the world through her eyes, it quickly becomes clear that June’s relationship with Jess was more than “just” a friendship. Whenever she speaks about her, their shared bond seems undeniable, but the longer they spend apart, the harder it becomes. And you also start to wonder what held them together in the first place. Things become even trickier when June’s new friends bring up the question of her sexuality (in an intimate and non-pressure related setting) and June has no real answer for it, especially since she finds herself drawn to one of the new acquaintances. I find it’s not often that bisexuality is explored in young adult books, but I enjoyed the way it was done here.

I have spent my fair share of time away from family and friends and I always felt like I was a different person when I came back. Sometimes I was shocked to see how much had changed in my absence, other times I found myself annoyed with the lack of change in my environment when I felt so utterly different. This book perfectly mirrored my emotions and dealt with how hard it can be to let go or fight to keep someone in your life. It’s always a decision you have to make and sometimes you don’t ultimately get what you want.

When you meet new people that enrich your day to day and you find new hobbies that bring you joy, it can be hard to arrange and combine this with your old life. Things change and so do people. Aside from this beautiful exploration of love and friendship, it was also a great but nonchalant portrayal of family. The messiness of it, but the love that was woven through all decisions really warmed my heart. Even with them being miles apart, June’s younger siblings were always present in her thoughts and the struggle with her parents was so relatable. They always made her feel like she had to compete for their approval, but when she lived with her grandmother she experienced such a different parenting style and through that could actually find things she enjoyed.

Overall, I loved being on this ride with June and seeing her find her own way. It also got me really interested in photography, which I didn’t expect, but hey, maybe I’ll find my own Sam there.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A great read about changing relationships, family and expectations. Enjoyed it a lot!


I know the release is still a while away, but could you see yourself pick up Any Place But Here? Have you had experiences with toxic relationships? Let’s talk about it!