The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (Book Review)

The Atlas Six Book Cover

Publisher: self-published
Page Count
: 461

CW: death, murder, degenerative diseases, suicide, sex scenes (not explicit), manipulation and psychological trauma

This book blew my mind in the best of ways! I finished it mere moments ago and I have absolutely no idea how to feel, other than I cannot wait for the sequel to release next year.

“Knowledge is carnage. You can’t have it without sacrifice.”

Although a couple of my friends and fellow bloggers have loved The Atlast Six, I was still trying to go into it with fairly low expectations. From experience, nothing kills the enjoyment of reading a book more than it being hyped too much, but it barely took me a couple pages until I was completely enthralled in what was happening. There is some rich worldbuilding, however it isn’t initially clear who knows about what kind of magic, as it seems to be omnipresent in the world and almost like an open secret. Just like the candidates, you get thrown into this new life and have to figure out a lot of it on your own, often being met with closed doors which harbor secrets behind them. While there was mystery, it only propelled me forward to read more rather than put me off with frustration, which was nice.

“We study the realm of consciousness because we understand that to decide something, to weigh a cost and accept its consequences, is to forcibly alter the world in some tangible way. That is magic as true and as real as any other.”

What drives a lot of the story are the characters. Even though I think you can sense which ones the author preferred in the way the POVs were written, I found all of them equally as interesting. You might not like everyone and I definitely had a personal preference in characters (Libby and Tristan, hello?), but I never felt that kind of dread that can easily come with books that are written from various points of view. Even when I wasn’t a big fan of a character, I still found value in their thoughts and observations, they were all so uniquely complex. All the more fascinating were the relationships between the candidates and the people in their orbit. While I could guess some developments, I still felt that it was all written in a very satisfying way, making me crave more of them in the process.

“A flaw of humanity,” said Parisa, shrugging. “The compulsion to be unique, which is at war with the desire to belong to a single identifiable sameness.”

If I had to criticize one thing, it would be the fact that I was often confused about how much time had passed. As the story had proven several times, time isn’t exactly linear and it was actually a field of study for the candidates of the Society, but I still never really got a feeling for it within the story, which felt disorienting. Sometimes there would be mere days between chapters and then entire months. That was the one thing I found hard to keep track of. It also took the candidates way too long to figure out what the fate of the eliminated person would be, but I won’t hold it against them. Who likes to think about sacrifices like that?

Still, in the end, I would love to dive into the sequel right away. I fell in love with the secrets and intricate dynamics. I want to know more so bad, having possibly been poisoned by the library and knowledge a little bit myself. It was such a fantastic read that I can sense will linger in the back of my mind for a while now.

“The problem with knowledge, is its inexhaustible craving. The more of it you have, the less you feel you know.”

Lastly, something that made the book even more unique were some really gorgeous illustrations of the characters by Little Chmura! I adore that kind of attention to detail!

Lowkey considering getting the The Atlas Six character art print from Little Chmura’s Redbubble shop (click here)!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! I want more right now, always and forever. The world and characters sucked me in completely!


Have you read The Atlas Six? Do you plan to? What’s the last book that completely enthralled you? Let’s talk about that!

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (Book Review)

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 272

CW: parental neglect, emotional and physical abuse, grief, ghosts

Nina LaCour is one of my auto-buy authors and I don’t even need to read the blurb to buy her books. However, when I first heard about this one, I was immediately drawn to it. I knew that once again, Nina LaCour would create an impeccable atmosphere that would eventually emotionally wreck me – and that’s exactly what happened, but more about that later!

I see this book being classified as Young Adult and I’m not sure I would necessarily agree with that. Mila, the protagonist, is 18 at the beginning of the novel and turns 19 during the course of it. She goes to live on a remote farm, where she works as a teacher and helps with the harvest as well as Sunday markets. Her life and her struggles very much came from the past, and thus her younger self, but it still felt like it could have just as easily been classified as an adult novel. That’s not to say that I minded the more grown up approach, but I just think it’s something to be mindful of when you pick up this book.

There’s something about Nina LaCour’s writing that just transports me into a whole different world. Usually, rooted in a lot of trauma but still very much in reality, Watch Over Me was a surprise with its literal instead of metaphorical ghosts.

Had we been telling the truth, he would have said, The place where I’m sending you – it looks beautiful, but it’s haunted.
Okay, I would have said.
It will bring everything back. All that you tried to bury.
I understand.
It’s going to make you want to do bad things.
I have experience with that.
And how did it turn out?
Terribly. But I promise to do better this time.

Mila yearns for something in her life. I would say for a family, a place to call home and someone or something to belong to. In her desperate need to hold on to these new people she is meeting on the farm, feelings of jealousy and self-doubt creep in. While I understood entirely where she came from, it was such an intense longing tied to strong emotions on her part that it sometimes felt off-putting. That’s not to say that she was unlikable, but she surely contained multitudes behind her quiet and pleasant demeanor.

When I read a LaCour book, I often associate it with very strong emotions of my own. While Everything Leads to You wasn’t all happy, I still associate a warmth and admiration for it due to its setting being in film. With You Know Me Well, I had found one of my favourite feel-good-books and We Are Okay drowned me in a world of sorrow. Watch Over Me is a bit harder to categorise. I could have easily read it in one sitting, it is poetic and beautiful and flows nicely. But something about it is also very eerie and strangely tied to a sense of dread, sorrow and grief. It made me sad to the core and sometimes I cried at passages that didn’t even seem so sad.

“Do you like it?” Julia asked. But I didn’t know what she meant. All I saw was the deep blue-green water, the white foam against dark rock. The wildflower-studded cliffs, and the tall grasses in the wind. “Because it’s magnificent,” she said. “But I don’t like it. It scares me.”

There is no explicit romantic storyline in this book! While there are hints that a character may be attracted to more than one gender, it is not discussed or a focal point of the story. Although, the relationships Mila forges and nourishes are definitely worth talking about. To me there are four worth talking about here (without giving away too much):

  • Her mother and Blake: the trauma she has to face on the farm mostly stems from them. There is guilt and relief, sadness and so much strength that was bred in that relationship. It’s what’s really haunting Mila.
  • Terry and Julia: they are basically the parents Mila never had and always wanted. They have taken in over 50 kids and fostered them, which put them on a pedestal in Mila’s mind.
  • Billy and Liz: as I said, there’s no romantic storyline, but I feel like there was definitely an air of possibility for a throuple here as Mila seems to be attracted to both of them and fantasizes about them.
  • Lee: Lee is Mila’s 9-year-old student and anchor during her first weeks. She feels like they are both outsiders in this family and she clings to him tightly. I often felt torn about their relationship, because I loved how close they grew, but I also hated the emotional baggage she put on that kid sometimes.

“I’ll never leave you,” I said to him. I closed my eyes. I felt his body relaxing, heard the slowing of his breath. “You’ll have to grow up and leave me first.”

Sometimes I didn’t realise just how much time had already passed on the farm. It went from days to weeks really fast and I think that’s why I sometimes struggled with the depth of attachment the characters already had to each other. When I turned that last page, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a timeline at all. However, I did feel like I had just been on a journey with Mila. I didn’t understand everything that had happened, but I doubted that she did either. The farm is a magical place that only becomes the bad kind of haunted if you let it.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! I feel like I just went on a whimsical journey of sadness and grief.

Do you plan on reading Watch Over Me? Have you read other books by Nina LaCour? Let’s talk!

The Changeup by Nicole Falls (Book Review)

Publisher: Self-published
Page Count
: 144

CW: explicit sex scenes

Lately, a lot of conversations have centered around black pain, but there are also many stories of black joy out there and we should talk about them as well! When I saw the cover of this book and read the blurb, I was immediately reminded of one of my all time favourite sports dramas on TV, Pitch (seriously, if you haven’t watched that show yet, it’s SO good! It’s now streaming on hulu and if it makes numbers we might get another season even after FOX cancelling it). Having a black woman make it in Baseball is just always something worth writing and talking about. There was no way I could pass up on this book based on that alone and I am glad I read it, because it was such a cute story.

As you could likely tell from the very short page count, this is a fast read. You accompany Geffri on a whirlwind of a summer where things just get progressively more awesome for her. It’s rare for me to read a book where the main character has to face so few struggles, but I am definitely not complaining. It’s refreshing to not be confronted with unnecessary drama and miscommunication, but just a wave of support and good things happening.

I loved how deep it went into Baseball sometimes. While I enjoy the idea of this particular sport, I don’t know heaps about it, but I never felt overwhelmed or confused by anything I was reading. Obviously, I cannot attest on how accurate any of it was, but I could sense a deep appreciation and fondness for the sport, which makes me think that the author knows what they are talking about.
Geffri had that really special talent and I liked when we went a bit into how she struggles with praise and pressure as well. She seemed so cool and collected most times that those moments grounded her. I think we’ve all felt like that sometimes and stood in our own way.

Being singled out for excellence always caused me to put undue pressure and stress on myself which ultimately led to me being … where I was currently – plagued by doubts of whether or not I could really pull this off.

Another thing that was really cute, were the various relationships. I feel like some things were teased only and could result in spin-off books, but maybe that’s just the vibe I was getting. Geffri had such a great group of friends and such a deep and loving relationship with her very supportive dad. I loved that for her!

Again, I am sorry for comparing it to Pitch, because I do realise it’s very much its own story, but it’s really just a huge compliment from my side. Geffri and Noah, with their competitive flirtation, definitely gave me Ginny and Mike vibes (if Mike hadn’t been a slightly older white dude). There was mutual respect and common ground that would have likely been a great base for a friendship, but those folks were just too darn attracted to one other to keep their hands off each other. The progression of Geffri and Noah’s relationship was pretty quick, but not in an uncomfortable or rushed way. Sometimes you just hit it off with a person and while it got steamy, they also just talked a lot and got to know each other, so I have no quarrels with that at all.

There really isn’t that much more to say. I liked reading this story and I think we can all need something that is just so effortlessly positive in our lives every now and then. While I do think that it could have gone into depth more in certain areas had it been longer, I have no regrets in picking it up.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! If you enjoy happy romance set in the world of sports, this is for you!

Do you think this book might be for you? Were you as obsessed with Pitch as I was back when it first aired? Let’s chat!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

Publisher: Gollancz
Page Count
: 458

**CW: rape, sexual assault, abuse, self-harm, murder, violence, vomiting, gore**

I like Leigh Bardugo as an author. I have not, in fact, read everything she has written, but just like about every human on earth, I have really enjoyed the Six of Crows duology and could easily have seen her become one of my household favourite authors. When it was announced that she had written her first adult book in a sort of dark academia setting, I was fully on board. And it’s not that this book didn’t deliver on what it advertised, it just turned out that I wasn’t really the right reader for it.

First of all, you get thrown into a world you understand very little of. Bardugo is great at creating a whole universe with magic, and rules that apply to it, that feels real and accessible, but I was just lost. I’ve never been to the Yale campus and even with a map, there were so many details I had a hard time connecting with. Aside from Gilmore Girl’s Rory, I really have no connection to it if I think about it some more. But then there are also the actual magical societies. I thought we would gradually get eased into the matter, but instead you start into the midst of it all, and believe me when I say it is a mess.

Aside from the confusing societies, it takes a while to get to know the characters and therefore really get into the story. To me, connecting with the people on the page and their journey is so important, but there were so many blanks that eventually got filled in, but it took me a good 100 pages to really get into it.
Alex Stern, the main character of the series and who’s real name is actually Galaxy, is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Her past is hard to swallow and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I understand her anger and her way of keeping people at bay, but at the same time, I felt like I was kept at bay sometimes. That’s maybe why I found golden boy Darlington (who I need back desperately and who will be the main reason I will pick up the sequel) and quiet but caring Dawes more accessible. Also, Turner was a big upside of the book for me, because he felt like the lawful good person the story needed. But I enjoyed the dynamic among all characters and the way we still got to explore how some of these relationships were formed. Where a lot of things felt like pre-established fixtures, at least this was something that felt like it was still in the making.

“I let you die. To save myself, I let you die. That is the danger in keeping company with survivors.”

So, there were some aspects I really enjoyed (especially the emancipation and handling of different female characters) and others I did not understand or connect to as much as I had hoped. The fact that a lot of it was presented in the shape of a paranormal crime story maybe didn’t help me personally. I understood that murder and mayhem would be involved in Ninth House, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be so much like a detective story. Those of you who know me, know that I get a little bored with the investigation-type plots. However, I can see how a lot of readers would be the opposite of me and enjoy those the most!

In conclusion, I would say that this book is A LOT. There is blood and gore and death around every corner. I understand if it is too much to stomach for some people, especially those who are more used to YA content. If you aren’t sure, I would just take a look at what different people who’s opinion you trust are saying about it and then make up your own mind. Or go in completely blind!

“Take courage; no one is immortal”

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Maybe this just wasn’t for me as much as other readers, but I would still continue with the series!

Have you read Ninth House? Have you read other books by Leigh Bardugo? What do you think about her first take on adult fiction?

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Review + Movie Trailer)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 249

It’s been so long since I have done a regular review for a book and I know because I checked (for real, I haven’t written one since the end of July). I am not exactly ecstatic that the first book after all these months is Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby now to be honest and it’s a little tough to explain the why of it all.

First, Juliet, Naked isn’t a bad book. It’s about people who feel they have wasted years of their lives, whole decades even, due to wrong decisions and a lack of action to change their less than ideal situations. Even as someone who isn’t in her 40s or 50s, I can relate to that topic. There are times I wonder what I am doing with my life and whether I have gotten into enough trouble, taken enough chances or simply whether I am on the right path for future me. This book chronicles how Annie, Duncan and Tucker have to live with their regrets and make the best of it, all packaged with a good measure of dry English humour, a deep fascination with 80s music, a spin on modern day online conversation/dating and unhealthy fandom culture.

Usually, all those aforementioned elements would draw me in immediately! Who am I kidding? The mere suggestion of them here was the reason I picked up the book and in the beginning it was all really funny. I could see myself in parts of each character, like in Duncan’s passion for something he loved (although I never was on his level of obsession for anything ever and I go deep sometimes), Tucker’s ability to share his deepest thoughts with a stranger on the internet but his inability to do so with his closest family and friends or Annie’s fear of having missed the opportunity to have a family of her own by getting comfortable in a situation because it was easy rather than the right one. I don’t mind having people be the main characters who aren’t perfect. In my eyes, it makes them more realistic and human to have various flaws and even flaws that you don’t have to forgive sometimes.  got all that and I felt that and even though it all sounds rather serious and gloomy, it also had some great humour sprinkled in.

But then there were also all these disjointed parts and characters that truly weren’t necessary. And worst of all the conclusion … it felt so open-ended and with a lack of, well, closure. I understand that not ever story needs to tie all ends together, but here it felt like we stopped a couple chapters short of where Juliet, Naked was supposed to end. I didn’t need for them to live happily ever after, but I did need a couple more infos on their fate. So, while I enjoyed the themes and characters (to some extent), the ultimate execution of the story just lacked something for me. I feel like there was a lot more in there we didn’t get to see.

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! A rather average story that could have been more.

Now, as the title promised, I am also going to share the movie trailer here. I believe, and please don’t hold me accountable on this, the movie is currently in theaters (at least at the time of writing this post). I haven’t seen the movie yet, so no comment on that, but from what I gathered from the trailer, it looks like a faithful adaptation that expands on all the elements that were lacking or not quite right for me in the book. I am curious to see if I am right and whether they will change the end, but take a look for yourself:

Have you read or watched Juliet, Naked? Are there any other Nick Hornby books you’ve checked out? Let me know in the comments below!

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer/Annie Barrows (Book Review + Movie Trailer)

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Page Count: 250

Okay, this must have been one of the longest titles to EVER exist on my blog. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society is quite a mouthful, but don’t get intimidated by the title (which will from here on out just be Guernsey Lit or something for simplicity)! This was the second book that I chose as my giveaway prize from the one Ari @The Romance Corner Blog was amazing enough to host. So another shout out to her for making it possible for me to read that book!

Most of you who have followed my blog for a while now, know that I struggle with books set during or around the time of World War II (especially if you have read my review of Wolf by Wolf). Being from the country that I am from, we just seem to have a continued peculiar relationship with the topic and due to the way it was heavily treated at school, I was usually not very fond of spending even more thoughts on it in my free time. However, all of that doesn’t change that those books usually end up having quite the impact on me and it wasn’t much different this time either.

Guernsey Lit is completely told in letters between various parties. Some people may only appear once while others are visible main characters. It was easy to fall in love with them all, each having their own voice, wit and humour about them. I am not sure I could pick any favourites, however, I do love Dawsey Adams. He is the one who initiated contact with Juliet because he found a second-hand book that once belonged to her. It turns out he is quiet, kind and considerate but it is most of all that shared passion for literature that brought him and Juliet closer. Honestly, this must be the dream scenario for any bookworm looking for romance! I shipped it hard. But seriously, where is my Dawsey Adams??

I enjoyed reading how Juliet got closer and closer to the members of the society with time, yet through letters alone, because it reminded me so much of the 1940s version of our very own bookish online community. I have found so many dear friends that I wouldn’t want to miss from my life through blogging and reading, so whenever someone would suggest she didn’t even know these people for real, I felt offended on her behalf. Also, her meeting them for the first time was just brilliant as well and also reminded me of online friends meeting in real life!

As a whole, I wouldn’t describe Guernsey Lit as a heavy read at all, having marked several paragraphs that had me laughing out loud, but at the same time it does cover the topic of war and the feelings of grief, anger, loss, helplessness, frustration and fear that come with it. There was this one particular part told from someone who was sent to a concentration camp and it reminded me of my visit to one of those camps. They are usually done with school where I am from and by chance we met this elderly man while we were there and even though he only spoke French (me and some of my classmates translated for the rest of the class), he wanted to tell us his story. It was the first time he came to visit as some of his relatives had died in that very camp. It was heart-wrenching and sad, but to that man it was important to talk about what happened. He didn’t need us to reply, I am not sure we would have had the right words, he just needed someone to listen. I feel like that is very much the same thing with the people in that book and the story that they are all trying to tell, whether it was on purpose or not. WWII was one of the most atrocious times in human history and while I understand that some people rather wouldn’t be reminded of it, it is also necessary to acknowledge that it happened and to prevent it from ever happening again.

The last quarter of the book seemed to loose focus a little bit. I was a tad confused by the direction it took on and didn’t really see all of the storylines as necessary, because some of them were quite a bit whacky. However, that did not subtract from my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

And lastly, here is the trailer for the movie adaptation that will release mid to the end of April! I am in love with the cast, and not just because it is a sort of mini Downton Abbey reunion, but because I have followed the careers of most of those actors a while and loved their work. They obviously had to change quite a bit to get the characters together sooner though, since they couldn’t just rely on letters for the storytelling (I think that would not be very visually pleasing?). I am not too anxious, even though I can really see a lot of changes, but I am worried about one of my favourite storylines being cut – the adoption storyline! It’s another topic near and dear to my heart, but I  don’t want to say any more as to not spoil anything. It doesn’t look like that will be in the movie at all though, as well as another, in my opinion, important storyline. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, especially if you have read the book as well!

 

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Did not expect to fall in love with it the way I did.

Are you going to read the book? Have you already? Do you want to watch the movie? Let’s chat!

 

Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Book Review)

redrisingThe Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Page Count: 382

I started this book not knowing what to expect. Seen as Pierce Brown was crowned hottest YA author by Buzzfeed (Yes, this is for real! Check out the post here!), I guess I just assumed that Red Rising would be a Young Adult dystopian novel … well, I am not so sure now. Despite the main characters being teens, I think this is a very adult book.

You cannot imagine how “gorydamn” hard it is for me to write this review right now, because this book took me completely by surprise and swept me off my feet. I can’t say that it was love at first sight though. The book itself is separated into several parts and it starts out with a lot of information, just to negate everything we thought we knew in the second part. The world-building is really complex with it’s own unique vocabulary that needs some time getting used to. Like Districts in the Hunger Games and Factions in Divergent, we now have Colours that separate the people – Red being the lowest and Gold being the highest in the hierarchy. There were also tons of references to Greek and Roman mythology, which I really loved, which I thought gave the story a very distinct voice.

Right from the beginning everything is very dark, cruel and unjust. A lot of things are already considered given from the get go, but at the same time so many very emotional things happen that you aren’t yet ready for. I think that maybe there wasn’t enough time to get to know everyone properly for some of the tropes to really hit you with their full force. However, as I went on I found myself unable to put the book down. There was this raw rage, the sense of injustice, an incredible amount of scheming and the pure confusion about who to trust. My whole body tensed up at times, almost shaking from the intensity with which I had to know how the story continues.

I really have to give it to Pierce Brown for creating such complex characters, each of them having a unique motivation, likable and dislikable traits. Darrow is a strong hero, but he is also human and therefore makes mistakes. He is incredibly relatable in his struggle between getting vengeance and justice for his people, but he is far from being the only great character! I changed my mind about so many people several times throughout the book, feeling my heart crack every single time there was another betrayal or death. So many people die! I was emotionally exhausted by the end.

In the end, I can only give it 4.5 out of 5 stars because of it’s slow start. Other than that I utterly loved it and cannot wait to continue with the series!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! People who like dystopian novels in the slightest bit HAVE TO check it out!

5stars

Do you know what I am going to do now? I am going to order Golden Son, that’s what! Have you read Red Rising? What’s your take on it?