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!

 

TTT: Books Somewhere Along the US West Coast

top-ten-tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. I struggled a bit with today’s topic, because having “books in Setting X” is so super vague, I just drew up a blank. But then I thought that I really wanted to pick something that was near and dear to my heart. Well, ever since my semester abroad in Oregon, I have had this weird affection for the US West Coast. Whenever Orgeon or Washington (the state not Washington DC) is mentioned, my heart seriously skips a beat. I couldn’t find enough books for those states though, so I threw in quite a bit from California as well.

Since the topic is pretty straight forward, I am just going to leave the picture here and not explain anything about the books. If you have questions though, please feel free to ask!

Setting

Which setting is near and dear to your heart? Have you read any of the books above?

TTT: YA Couples I’d Like to Revisit as Adults

top-ten-tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish, if you want to know more about it, you can just click on the name! This week we had some room for interpretation of the topic, because it is as follows:

Ten Childhood Characters You’d Love To Revisit As Adults (ie a novella or something to see what they grew up to be) — you could always just pick YA characters you’ve read recently you wouldn’t mind revisiting in 10 years or so. Or you could pick 10 characters and guess what you think they’d be doing in 10 years or 20 years. OR you could go the other way and wish for coming of age stories for adult characters you love.

Now, I chose to stick with YA characters, couples in particular, that I’d like to see as adults, simply because I couldn’t conjure up too many real children characters. Let’s do this!

Anna and Etienne

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)I know that throughout the Anna and the French Kiss series we got to see more of Anna and Etienne than we did about any of the other characters, but it still wasn’t enough. I want a short summary of the rest of their lives together – of all the joys and pains that fate brought them and their friends. The others should be mentioned as well of course.

Sam and Jase

My Life Next DoorAren’t Sam and Jase from My Life Next Door the cutest. They had some quarrels (nothing serious, don’t worry) in The Boy Most Likely To, but I would like to think that they can figure out the future together. I think they’ll have a real big family one day.

Daisy and Edmond

How I Live NowDaisy finished the book practically quoting the title, by saying “And that is how I live now.”, but the thing is, I don’t actually know how you live now, Daisy! I just know you are sad and that both, you and Edmond, are a little broken. Could you be fixed? Did you build life for yourselves after the disaster of WWIII? I want to know!

Echo and Noah

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)What did I hear about a proposal story that I have no clue as to how to get? (darn it … should have pre-ordered Walk the Edge …) I would love to hear some more about how their paths continued.

Ali and Jace

Tone DeafI am not sure how many of you have read Tone Deaf yet, but Ali and Jace have a special connection that they couldn’t ever have with anyone else. At least I highly doubt it, so they better stayed together for the rest of their lives and led some sort of glorious rockstar life, because that’s what I want to read about.

Emi and Ava

Everything Leads to YouThis is one of the few couples where I am not sure they will stay together forever, but I loved Emi so much. Her job, her personality, she was relatable in all the ways. So, I’d like to think she had a happy life with Ava, both of them becoming hot-shots in Hollywood. I so want to see that … I mean read … I wouldn’t mind a movie either, I guess.

Liesel and Max

The Book ThiefOkay, I am definitely stretching the term “couple” here, aren’t I? But I always thought that they would have made a lovely couple. I don’t care about the age difference, they had something that really bonded them and therefore they belonged together. I know that they stayed friends until the end, so that’s something. I would have loved to see that, too.

Baz and Simon

Carry OnRowell‘s books are never fully concluded and that’s okay … it’s her style of writing, but I would have liked to accompany those guys for a little while longer. So why not a short story collection about their lives? I would have definitely read that.

Cath and Levi

FangirlI had to triple check because I couldn’t believe that the couple mentioned in Landline was Cath and Levi, but they were. I have no idea how people guessed that, it’s a mystery. But instead of just hinting at them, why not give us a whole second book just with their regular life? And maybe Cath becoming a famous author?

Alex and Nadia

City of the BeastsI’ve read the Eagle and Jaguar books such a long time ago and I sure as heck can’t remember everything in detail, EXCEPT that I wanted them together so bad and when they FINALLY go on a date, the series ends. Like how is that fair? So, I need more of their adventures and it will be nice to have them deal with everything actually being all grown up. That was some heavy stuff for children/teens anyway.

What did you do for your TTT? Don’t hesitate to leave a link below!

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?

Landline by Rainbow Rowell (Book Review)

landline“Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?”

I have to give a huge shout out to Cristina @My Tiny Obsessions, because without her I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to reading the book for another year or so. THANK YOU FOR SENDING IT TO ME!!!

I’ve found that it’s impossible for Rainbow Rowell do disappoint me. I seriously don’t think it even matters what she writes about, because all her characters are just insanely relatable and fun to get to know. They are flawed, but even more importantly, they are real. Georgie McCool is a writer for TV and even though I am not, I have worked with a couple of them and that made me instantly connect to her. I know how stressful her job can be and how insane you can get when you are getting close to a deadline. I loved her relationship with Neal and equally so with Seth.
They are such different characters, they were bound to clash somehow, especially because they each love her in their own way. And so does she! Reading her story, I really could see her feelings develop and why she wasn’t willing to let go of either of them. So, while I do understand Georgie and her very separate relationships with both of the men in her life, I definitely think she could have handled the situation differently. She built up this wall between her work life and her life at home, making up rules about what each of the men could to talk to her about. But that’s not how life works! Life is messy and the lines get blurred – Georgie should have known better. That’s all water under the bridge now though, especially since I don’t want to spoil you.

In the end I should probably mention that it didn’t hit me as much emotionally as some of the Rowell‘s other books. I don’t know if it was because of the topics that were dealt with or because of all the things left unresolved. I know that Rainbow Rowell does that a lot and I’ve learnt to deal with it, but there are just so many questions unanswered. Either way, that phone was a real Christmas miracle and stories like that are always great!

Now, don’t read on if you haven’t read the book! SPOILER-WARNING!

I just wanted to add that I like how subtly Rainbow Rowell spun in that Heather was gay. I didn’t expect it at all, but I loved that it was no big deal whatsoever, because that’s exactly the way it should be!

Fazit: 3.8/5 stars! Perfect romance for the Christmas time that will make you value your time with the family!

Have you read the book? What’s your take on it?