Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

I have not done this tag regularly, but a lot of my friends are apparently way more devoted to (book) blogging than me and are blessing my timeline with their takes on the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag every single year, which is a look at our reading so far! So, I wasn’t technically tagged this time around either, but I saw so many people do it, that I just decided to join in on the fun (as I tend to do bi-annually). I have seen the questions vary a bit, but simply went with the ones I used in my 2018 version of this.

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ YET IN 2020

Normal PeopleI didn’t give Normal People the highest rating, but it sure is the one book that just sticks with me. I’ll just go about my day and be reminded about it in some way and then find myself thinking about the characters for hours again. It sure has made an impact. (Read my review here)

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy, #2)I haven’t read very many series this year so far, which thankfully makes answering all the easier. I read both the first book in the series, Wicked Saints, as well as the sequel, Ruthless Gods, in 2020 and I have no regrets. I don’t know what exactly it is about these books that fascinates me so much, but I am having the time of my life getting tortured by them.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

A Song Below WaterAlright, let’s not pretend that I am not always perpetually late to the party when it comes new releases. I almost want to call myself the queen of backlisted reads, but that would also not be entirely correct. I just don’t keep track of when things release, but just trust that I will find the right stuff eventually?
Anyway, I want to read A Song Below Water! I mean, yes please, set it in one of my homes away from home (Portland, Oregon) and fill it with sirens. I am so here for that!

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

Watch Over MeThere are a couple, but not a huge amount, of auto-buy authors out there for me. Nina LaCour is someone I’d read anything from. Give me a shopping list and I’d gladly take it. However, we are getting lucky and will have another emotionally charged and character driven release of hers coming up this year – Watch Over Me! I seriously cannot wait!!

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Again AgainIt wasn’t the worst thing on the planet, but I really expected more from Again Again by E. Lockhart. Having read several of her previous books, this was such a letdown in comparison. Something about it just didn’t connect. (Read my review here)

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Anna K: A Love Story (Anna K, #1)Describing why this was a surprise is a little difficult, but having neither watched or read Anna Karenina before and associating with an old-timey classic had me surprised how much I liked Anna K. But it was always obvious to be set in modern day and just be a fresh take in general, so I don’t know why I was a bit nervous? (Read my review here)

FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR

Ben Philippe totally charmed me with his Field Guide to the North American Teenager and had me fall in love with his easy-flowing style of writing. He has another book scheduled to release later this year (Charming as a Verb) and yet another one for early 2021 (Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend) and I am just here for all of it. I am so glad I picked up his book!

Ben Philippe (Author of The Field Guide to the North American ...

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

Sorry to have to double down on an answer, but I kind of fell hard for Connell from Normal People. He was quiet and kind, genuinely just wanting people to like him and being afraid of what others might think of his choices. Sure, he had his flaws, but that just made him more real. The fact that they cast him perfectly in the TV adaptation with newcomer Paul Mescal was just the cherry on top.

NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTER

I don’t make character aesthetics (except for my own peeps) very often these days, but Darlington from Ninth House got one. That means A LOT in my book! I just like charming boys with the potential for darkness they don’t want.

There’s a lot of other characters I liked too, such as Serefin from Wicked Saints, Madison from The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, Pepper from Tweet Cute … I am bad at picking faves.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

Tyler Johnson Was HereI don’t think I cried because of a book this year yet, but Tyler Johnson Was Here had me close to tears multiple times. The subject matter is bound to do that to you for sure. (Read my review here)

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

Tweet CuteTweet Cute made me so happy. I found it during my peak obsession with Bon Appetit videos, so, the food component, twitter feud and flirty banter was EVERYTHING to me. The characters were so funny and I just had a great time with that book. (Read my review here)

FAVOURITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION

I watched Little Women this year and even if I haven’t read the book, it’s my favourite adaptation and film and overall story. I just love it with all my heart.

FAVOURITE POST YOU HAVE DONE THIS YEAR

I loved doing a series of posts where I talked about which book, movies and TV shows I made you watch and read. It reminds me that what I am doing here isn’t just shouting into the void, but actually talking to people and sharing interests. It warms my heart every single time.

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR

Aphrodite Made Me Do ItExcuse me while I lust over the cover for Aphrodite Made Me Do It. Poetry collections often have the prettiest designs! Obviously, this book is also great on the inside, but I find the cover to be a real eye catcher.

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

If We Were VillainsDark Age (Red Rising Saga, #5)As always, I continue to work on the physical copies I have at home. There’s books that might remain unread on my shelves forever, but some I REALLY want to get to this year are If We Were Villains and Dark Age. Let’s hope that Dark Age doesn’t actually take me the entire year …

I TAG THEE

I tag whoever wants to do this as well! YOU!!!


What did you think of my answers and the general mid-year reading recap? Let’s chat!

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!

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles (Book Review)

Publisher: Little Brown Books
Page Count
: 305

TW: police brutality, murder, violence, racism

Tyler Johnson Was Here was on my TBR before it ever even got released. When I saw the cover and read the blurb, I knew this was yet another very important read. It’s not the first time I am tackling the issue of police brutality through fiction on my blog. The thing is, those reads are never easy (and they’re not supposed to be), but that’s not the reason I hadn’t gotten to Tyler Johnson Was Here earlier. I don’t know why it slipped through my fingers, but the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed in the US and all over the world were a terrible reminder of how this is still very much the reality for Black people and people of color out there. So, I felt more compelled than ever to finally get to this book.

Jay Coles does not shy away from making it very clear that police brutality is a constant companion in some people’s lives. I hate the thought that children who should be carefree and playing with friends have to be educated by their parents about how to behave when the police stops them. How they could have done not even the slightest thing wrong, but everything they say or do could be construed as dangerous at the whim of some stranger. While most of the novels I have read before focus on one specific event of police brutality, Coles shows several incidents, each one shaking you to the core alongside the characters. So, while the main turning point that is mentioned in the blurb “only” occurs at the half-way point, you get this build-up of this constant companion of fear.

The cop yells, “Everybody shut the fuck up.” He looks at the three of us. “You three better get out of here before you’re next.” And now I’m wondering: What does next mean? Next to be treated like a punching bag or an animal? Next to lose my life?

I found myself very quickly attached to Marvin, the main protagonist. He is gentle, kind and smart and has a voice I loved to read about. Tyler is different and similar to him, two sides of the same coin. They were on the verge of growing apart a little bit, but still had that unbreakable bond. Marvin’s sadness was palpable on every single page while reading and I was close to shedding tears more than once. I never doubted that he was stronger than he thought himself capable of (albeit sad he had to be), but he was so incredibly brave towards the end. It was great to see his development throughout the story and see him stand up for what he believes in.

Yes, I’m willing to die for this cause, but the fact that there’s even a chance that I’ll die, become a hashtag, be remembered briefly, and then be completely forgotten and marked as a statistic fucking terrifies me.

I only wish I would have learned as much or at least a bit more about his friends and love interest. I understand that his mind was very much occupied by a traumatic event and I could see how much he cared for and appreciated the people in his life. But still, they fell a bit flat for me in comparison to Marvin, who we got a great feel for! Nonetheless, I enjoyed the focus on community and how it can be a source of strength in such trying times.

Some days, when I do, I just stare at the blackness I see in the mirror hanging on my closet door. I tell myself that I love this skin, that I’ve always loved my blackness, that if the world doesn’t love me, I will love myself for the both of us. After reminding myself that I matter, that I’ve always mattered, that Tyler mattered and still does, I make a promise to myself. I promise to never be silent about things that matter.

I don’t think the story needed a stronger focus on the trial, because the outcome wasn’t what was most important to Marvin in the end. He found his meaning of freedom and what mattered most to him through other means and in honoring his brother in his own way. Still, I’d like to say something: Video evidence should not be necessary to get people heard or to get a conviction or even as much as an arrest. People should not have to be excellent in order to not get killed by the people who were supposed to protect them. It all makes me so very angry, but I’m not surprised anymore. If you are still surprised by any of this, you haven’t been paying attention, because this has been happening for a while now.

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! Another very important read!

If you want to engage with this topic through fiction some more, here are a couple books I have read and can recommend (as I am sure there are many more that I have not yet read that are really great):

The Hate U Give (The Hate U Give, #1)          Dear Martin (Dear Martin, #1)          All American Boys

Having said all that, I also encourage you to check out some non-fiction books. I have to work harder on that myself, but I found Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (part memoir, part essay) very insightful. I have also heard great things abut Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad.

More resources: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/


Have you read Tyler Johnson Was Here? Do you plan on picking it up? Let’s chat!

Even More Songs I Wish Were Books!

I have done this before (check out the old post here) and everyone always really seemed to like me sharing some of my at times strange and at times super mainstream music selection. Just to summarize what this post is, I will be sharing songs that I think either make for a great story based on the lyrics or the music video and then describe what I’d expect the book to be like in a couple sentences. I hope you all enjoy and feel inspired to maybe do the same!

Hard Place by H.E.R.

This makes for the perfect base for a toxic relationship novel. I’d imagine this to be more in the adult genre than YA, but it could be on the cusp between the two. Either way, I think it shows the struggles of loving someone deeply, putting them before yourself and losing bits of yourself through that, because nothing ever changes and resentment grows. The challenge and ultimate goal would be to break free from being stuck and accepting heartbreak (the hard place) rather than a love that does you wrong.

 

Pleader by alt-J

When I first saw this music video, which is basically a short film in itself, I was so mesmerized. I wouldn’t want it to be the exact same glum thing as the video (which is based on Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice along with the music), but here’s what I imagine: A small, close-knit community has been prophesied a life altering extinction-level event (the meteor), but they manage to save one child. The story follows that kid as it grows up in an unfamiliar environment and as to reclaim its roots.

 

I Lost a Friend by FINNEAS

I just think there aren’t nearly enough books about friend-break-ups, which can honestly be just as heartbreaking and earth-shattering as romantic break-ups. I don’t know what specifics I would give for this book, I’d just like people to talk about this more, because not everyone has the same best friend from High School to old age?

 

IDK You Yet by Alexander 23

In my head, this is not a contemporary novel, but something with Fantasy or Science Fiction elements instead. The main character would go through a hard time (“cause lately it’s been hard”) and maybe they’re not human (let’s take the lines “They’re sellin’ me for parts, And I don’t wanna be modern art” literally). An old model of an android, forgotten by humanity and used for parts, yearning for a place in this world, until they meet the person that fits them (does not need to be romantic).

 

Now You’re Gone by Tom Walker feat. Zara Larsson

Again, this is very much inspired by the video. Let’s make him a real magician, constantly putting the life of his true love and assistant at risk, because he wants more global recognition. His mania and drives him to desperation, making it impossible for her to stay. I’d imagine this to be the kind of cruel book with an open end where you don’t find out if she survived the last trick or not.

 

Devil Town by Bright Eyes

This is a comedy about a person who’s living in “Devil Town” and all their friends are vampires as well as themselves, but due to some curse, they keep forgetting it and always have to rediscover it again. Underlying messages about consumerism and the darker side of human nature are an option, but it would generally be on the light-hearted side.

 

Graveyard by Halsey

Honestly, lesbian ghost love story and have it set at a deserted amusement park. Enough said.

 

Every Time I Breathe by Arlissa

I just want this to be a love story spanning over decades, where one tiny decision in the grand scheme of things tore them apart while they are still pinning for each other. (Or, considering it’s connection with Charmed just more Hacy fan fiction. I’d be down either way)

 

Play With Fire by Sam Tinnesz feat. Yacht Money

A firefighter with secrets they can’t share with anyone else. They live on the edge, “playing with fire”, but are at a breaking point when they become too reckless and endanger their entire team. Will they be able to overcome their need for adrenaline?

 


Gosh, I hope I articulated myself alright with some of these, but I’m pretty sure everything sounded better in my head? What did you think of my selection and book wishes? Let’s talk!

Normal People: Book vs. TV Show

Normal People has been all the rage when it first released with people binging it up and down. Since the book it’s based on is also a bestseller, I can only say I missed out on that hype as well. Late to the party, as I tend to be quite a lot sometimes, I really wanted to catch up on the phenomenon and indulged in both recently. So, what else would be the perfect subject for yet another book vs. TV show post?

General Plot

Connell and Marianne have known each other since school, running in different circles and yet finding and undeniable connection between them. Even when life takes them into separate directions, they find themselves gravitating towards each other continuously. Told through snapshots of specific moments and turning points in their lives, often with time jumps of several months in between them, you get to witness their unending love, their platonic and romantic entanglement.

TW: emotional, physical and sexual abuse, depression, suicide and suicidal ideation, anxiety/panic attacks (+for the show especially: graphic nude scenes, full frontal nudity)

Book

Normal PeopleI went into this book without any sort of expectation. I might have come across the trailer at that point, but I’m consuming so much media, I hardly remembered anything. I was a blank slate going into Normal People.

Reading it ended up being exhausting and frustrating and intimate and soul-crushing and strange. I was not ready for the harshness that the reality of the situations brought with them. In the beginning, I was too distracted by the format and lack of quotation marks (which I really, really missed) to realise just how deep this story was going to cut.

It’s rare that you find someone you click with on such a profound level. Connell and Marianne could be their best and their worst selves with each other and I found very little judgment that came with it. They were infuriatingly frustrating in that they lacked the communication skills to just tell the other person outright what they wanted, when all they seemed to need was each other, happy. A connection like that is nonetheless rare and even when they, once again, messed everything up with each other and hurt deeply, it was undeniable that they preferred to be in each other’s lives.

It’s a tough read, because it feels truthful and real in a frightening way. The situations were always portrayed as vulnerable and ugly, but also warm and hopeful in far fewer but still existing moments.

This book carves a hole into your soul and leaves you with an empty pit inside you. There’s simply nothing there afterwards and you want to fill it with something, but just like the characters have proven time and time again, it’s really difficult to find something that will actually make you feel better instead of just more miserable. I don’t know if this open end was genius or the final cruel gut punch. It leaves it up the reader to interpret whether happiness is fleeting and we should appreciate the moments we get, or whether this is not the end. Not truly at least.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! The only reason I subtracted a star is because this book made me feel miserable in so many moments, but that’s a very personal reason.

Page Count: 290
Publisher: Faber & Faber

*click on the cover to get redirected to Goodreads*

TV Show

For those of you who know me, you are well aware that I watch a lot of shows and movies that have been adapted from books (sometimes even vice-versa), but this one truly hit me in an unexpected way. It’s rare to see something so flawlessly translate to the screen, where the vibe, the expressions, the dialogue, the atmosphere and the feeling remain exactly the same as I had felt them during my reading experience.

The casting of (at least to me) rather unknown Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones was a bold choice that paid of in its entirety. The show hinges a lot on their talent, but they were magnificent in their roles. Their performances felt authentic and raw, dragging you into the tumultuous emotional life of the characters even deeper. There was something so utterly intimate in the way they portrayed Connell and Marianne, I would have believed they were those people instead of acting if anyone had claimed it to be the case.

There’s a couple things that are hard to watch. All these moments are existent in the book as well, but there is something so very different about imagining it and seeing it actually happen in front of you.

The only real difference I could spot was maybe Marianne’s mother. It’s not that she was necessarily a better person, but while I found her completely uncaring and cruel in the book, I thought she had glimpses of thought and care for her daughter on the show.

I must give great credit to the various directors of the episode, editors and just all crew involved. Whoever did the score (actually let me look that up real quick to tell you) … it’s several people, but the score is comprised of mostly acoustic and instrumental tracks, with some covers here and there that fit the atmosphere perfectly. So, whoever did the song selection, you also did a phenomenal job! Everything about the show managed to convey emotions, be it in the framing of the shots, the music, the silences, the colors, the set design or looks interchanged between the actors. Everything felt intentional and there’s very few instances that don’t manage to hit home.

From the massive response the show has received, I can tell that there is a certain want or need for a second season. This sequel would be completely unrelated to the book, because it finishes the exact same way as the show has. Open, free to interpretation, mournful. I would be interested to see this end on a happier note, although I am not sure that’s what the story is destined to be. For now, the cast has said there is no definite talk of a continuation. Maybe that could change with the increased interest?

Until then, you can lust after Connell’s chain with me and the rest of the internet. I love how iconic it has become and that it has its own Instagram profile. Even more so do I love the fact that Paul Mescal is raffling off one of his chains for a good cause. You have until the 8th of June, 2020, to try your luck here. Paul chose a great organisation, Pieta, which provides free therapy to those engaging in self-harm, with suicidal ideation, or bereaved by suicide in Ireland.

Conclusion

There is no better or worse in this case. I have rarely encountered such a faithful adaptation that doesn’t just match the actual dialogue, but also manages to convey the exact same vibe of the story. While I do think that the book adds a bit of inner monologue that’s helpful in some scenes, and I’d therefore recommend reading it first, they are equally as good as the other.


Have you read Normal People? Have you watched it? Are you as obsessed with Connell’s chain? Let’s chat!

The “I Should Have Read That” Book Tag

I wasn’t very consequent with my Friday is tag day proclamation, but the lovely Kirstie Ellen @Upside-Down Books tagged me for the “I Should Have Read That” Book Tag and it seemed deliciously fun. I feel like I’ll have to expose myself with some of those answers, so, I want to thank her for the opportunity and hope you all enjoy it!

RULES

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post
  • Link to the creator’s blog (booksnest.co.uk) in your post
  • Answer the questions below
  • Tag 10 others to take part (I’ll just leave this up to whoever wants to do it)
  • ENJOY THE TAG!

A book that a certain friend is always telling you to read

Beartown (Beartown, #1)Alright, so, Lois never specifically urged me to read Beartown in any way, but she knows me so well and every time I see her talk about it, I just want to pick it up right away … I just haven’t even bought it yet …

For real though, it’s a small town sports drama with deep human emotions and I just know I’d be so here for it!

A book that’s been on your TBR forever and yet you still haven’t picked it up

Testament of YouthI actually have briefly picked it up, because I adore the movie with all my heart, but I never made it all the way through Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. It’s quite heavy and since they are her diaries, it’s all real life stuff and I just couldn’t … I think I’d rather rewatch the movie.

A book in a series you’ve started,  but haven’t gotten around to finishing yet

Dark Age by Pierce Brown is still chilling on my shelf. That book scares me SO much! I don’t know why, but it’s just MASSIVE and I haven’t really read any big books like that for a long time and I know it’s likely going to wreck me emotionally on top of it all too.

Just look at it compared to some other books on my TBR …

A classic you’ve always liked the sound of, but never actually read

War and Peace? I don’t know … it’s just that I know quite firmly that I don’t enjoy very many classics, but I quite like movie adaptations of Russian materials, so that’s one of the few I could think of.

A popular book that it seems everyone but you has read

HA! I know that one! Harry Potter, and I truly mean the entire series. Sometimes (looking at you Percy Jackson), I start a series and then life gets in the way and I forget to continue, but I’ve literally never picked up the Harry Potter books and at this point, I just don’t see it happening.

A book that inspired a film/TV adaptation that you really love, but you just haven’t read it yet

The GoldfinchLet’s not go overboard by saying I really loved loved The Goldfinch, but I loved the trailer? I enjoyed the movie, I just thought it would have been a better fit for a limited series or some other longer format. Anyway, haven’t read it, but can definitely see the appeal.

A book you see all over Instagram but haven’t picked up yet

The Priory of the Orange TreeHmmm … a confession that wasn’t even prompted her but that is coming regardless is that I’m not really in the bookstagram realm. A book I kept seeing everywhere, especially on Twitter too was The Priory of the Orange Tree and it’s another very daunting size.

 

 

 

 


I TAG THEE

I haven’t really been up my blogging game, so I’d like to leave it up to anyone who sees this tag and wants to do it. CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED!


What did you think of this post? Can you relate? Are you shocked? Let’s talk!

Again Again by E. Lockhart (eARC Review)

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page Count
: 304
Publication Date: June 2, 2020

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

This is not a love story, or, at least, not a romantic love story.

I feel like that’s what the cover might suggest and what you could interpret the blurb to be, but it’s not. Maybe it is part of why I went into this book with a sort of wrong idea, but then, I learned a long time ago to never truly expect E. Lockhart’s books to be any specific way to begin with. I quite enjoyed her earlier chick-lit-esque work (for those of you who followed her career and are fans of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, you’ll get a fun little easter egg) but was truly the most enamored with We Were Liars, which was what I would consider more in the mystery genre. Now, Again Again, doesn’t really fit into either category and proves once again that E. Lockhart won’t be confined to any genre.

Again Again is partially written in verse and takes place in a multitude of universes, although mainly two. I think this approach could go over either way with the reader. Sometimes it felt repetitive in a tiresome way, other times it showed you how one moment can unfold in such vastly different ways that you yearn for a different outcome. It definitely takes time to get used to this unconventional style of storytelling, although I think the visual formatting helped get the point across. Still, I’m really torn on this matter myself, because I would be lying if I told you that the final universe wasn’t my favourite and I was so very relieved that it existed – imperfections and everything – whereas I really struggled with the others.

As far as the characters go, I found it a bit difficult to really fall for Adelaide. She was putting on this bubbly front of happiness, which didn’t reflect her inner sadness and turmoil at all, bordering on obsession in so many departments of her life. Her erratic behaviour made me dislike her sometimes, especially when she was impulsive and neurotic about boys that were only an escape, but not a solution. I understood why she acted the way she did.
Grieving for someone, even if it wasn’t the kind of grief related to death, and being burdened by constant worry will change you. It makes you act strange and impassive and everyone deals differently, but even though I got that on some level, it didn’t prevent me from getting frustrated with her sometimes. I appreciated the realness of her brokenness, while also resenting it. I am contradictory that way.
I did really like her creative side though! I would love to see some of the stuff she made in this book in real life!

However, as I said at the very beginning of this review, this is not a romantic love story, because all these boys (which were really only three) couldn’t have been more inconsequential, if I’m being completely honest. The most important relationship in this book, at least in my eyes, is the one between Adelaide and her brother Toby. Theirs is a love story of a different kind, because loving a family member can be just as hard and disappointing and necessary. Them finding their way back to each other was the only thing that really mattered to me.

Lastly, I just want to mention that I always love it when dogs are in the mix! I want to warn all of you that a dog gets punched in the face in this book (out of defense), but that they also seem to be able to talk to the main character in a way and that was surprising and quirky and I still don’t know what to make of it.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Hit and miss in a lot of ways.

Do you want to read Again Again? Have you read previous books by E. Lockhart? Let’s talk!

Lowest Rated Books (According to GR) I’ve Read

I thought it was very interesting to dig into my Goodreads archives last week to take a look at some of the highest rated books I’ve read according to the average star rating on the site. Now, this week, I’d like to try the reverse and see if I disliked the lowest rated books as much as the general public! I’m usually more on the generous side with my ratings, so this will be interesting, at least for me. (But hopefully also you!)

**Disclaimer: I chose to focus on novels here and exclude comics and graphic novels again. Last time I went from highest to lowest rating and I will do so here as well (aka the lowest of the lowest rated book is the last one) **

Anything You Want

Anything You WantAverage rating: 3.35
My rating: 5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: Woah! First one and the opinions already differ. I remember how I knew a lot of people that didn’t enjoy it as much, but I had a great time with my buddy-reading-group. Maybe I wouldn’t feel as enthusiastic about it now, but back then, it struck a chord.

Snow White & the Huntsman

Snow White & the HuntsmanAverage rating: 3.34
My rating: 3
Thoughts: Hear me out! This is a screen-to-book-adaptation and not the other way round. I was really in love with the aesthetic and soundtrack of that movie back in the day and was intrigued by the idea of learning more about the characters in the book. That didn’t happen, it was super mediocre, BUT unlike in the first movie, Chris Hemsworth’s character has a name in the book.

Find Me

Find MeAverage rating: 3.34
My rating: 1 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: Do you know how often I give 1-star-ratings? The answer is: close to never. I was so in love with Call Me By Your Name (I do realise it has its flaws and I found out about the author being a weirdo very late, but I loved the writing) and was so excited but I HATE Find Me with a passion. Hate it! I wish it had an even lower average rating …

The Colorado Kid

The Colorado KidAverage rating: 3.32
My rating: 3
Thoughts: I don’t read Stephen King books, because 1) a lot of them are massive and I’m not feeling that and 2) I don’t enjoy being scared. However, I was a huge fan of the TV show “Haven” (still am) and it’s based on that book. It’s so loosely based on it that I didn’t really find much enjoyment in the book at all. I do realise that it’s not representative of King’s work in general.

Almost Adulting

Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get It Together (Sort Of)Average rating: 3.32
My rating: 3.5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: Books by YouTubers are always tricky! I didn’t hate this one, but I found that it wasn’t exactly what it advertised to be. It felt more like an autobiography than a fun self-help book about how to adult.

The Movie Version

The Movie VersionAverage rating: 3.30
My rating: 2 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: First of all, the book advertised something completely different and made you go into it believing it was going to be cute and fun, when in fact, it was about a serious topic such as mental health. The representation was terrible and the main character insufferable. It’s a real shame.

Sweetbitter

SweetbitterAverage rating: 3.29
My rating: 2 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: Oh wow, did I have things to say about that book. I did a very detailed comparison to the TV show (which went on for two seasons) and couldn’t find much love for either. There was just something toxic about it all.

Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful SymmetryAverage rating: 3.25
My rating: 2
Thoughts: I blocked out a lot of what happened in this book, but after liking The Time Traveler’s Wife so much, this book felt like an utter disappointment in comparison. The premise of this one was so absurd, I don’t even want to talk about it.

The Pisces

The PiscesAverage rating: 3.22
My rating: 1 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: Look, I knew in the opening chapters that it wasn’t for me and because I’m a super stubborn person, was determined to finish it anyway. I know a lot of people actually liked it a lot, but I wanted something far less crass and more traditionally merman-esque. I was blinded by the cover …

The Film Club

The Film ClubAverage rating: 3.18
My rating: 4
Thoughts: I actually quite enjoy slowly told family stories without much plot. You want to reconnect with your son through movies and write about it? Sure, I’m here for it.

This Song Is (Not) For You

This Song Is (Not) for YouAverage rating: 3.13
My rating: 3.6 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: It sure wasn’t perfect, but I found a poly-amorous relationship with an asexual partner explored in a rather positive light to be rather interesting. The characters are often still judgy hypocrites, but yeah … it wasn’t the worst.

Anne & Henry

Anne & HenryAverage rating: 3.03
My rating: 2 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: This book had so much potential, being a modern day teen retelling of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, but they completely blew it. If you are a fan of Tudor history, spare yourself!

Stealing Candy

Stealing CandyAverage rating: 2.86
My rating: 2.5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: This book … the main character … basically, it’s about a girl who falls in love with her kidnapper. It’s not the first time that story is told and it probably could be done well? But Candy, she fell in love THE MOMENT he abducted her but had a nice jawline … come on!

Gone Wild

Gone WildAverage rating: 2.73
My rating: 2.5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: I have a hard remembering much about the book other than that it was very short. I think the characters were relatable enough, but there just wasn’t much time to see any development and that irked me.

 

 


What are your thoughts? I feel like I mostly went with the trend again? Were you surprised to see some books have such low ratings? Did you find you didn’t know as many of these books as you did in the highest rated list? Let’s chat!

Highest Rated Books (according to GR) I’ve Read!

I was inspired by my friend The Orang-utan Librarian, who wrote a fantastic post, which was in turn inspired by something they saw on Thoughts of a Reader. So, I really hope no one will mind that I am going to take a look at some of the highest rated books (according to Goodreads) that I’ve read and how I saw them in turn. It should be a fun exercise to see if my taste goes against the grain or not! Let’s go!

**Disclaimer: I chose to focus on novels here and exclude comics and graphic novels. That’s a topic for another day maybe? Also, whenever the list was dominated by a series, I just picked the highest rated part instead of all the separate books.**

Fleabag Scriptures

Fleabag: ScripturesAverage rating: 4.83
My rating: 5
Thoughts: I think Phoebe Waller-Bridge is one of the great script writers we get to enjoy this decade, so I absolutely loved getting the opportunity to relive the Fleabag series in written format. It gives you a great insight into how she writes and what television scripts look like. Also, I’m not surprised by the high rating, as I suspect only fans will even check it out.

A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)Average rating: 4.65
My rating: 5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: I don’t like Maas writing and her books as much as I used to, but I was in love with the way it defied my expectations of how this sequel would turn out. I really liked the switch of who was the bad guy in the scenario.

Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)Average rating: 4.60
My rating: 5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: I loved my heist gang and know that many, many Leigh Bardugo fans do too. I think we’re all pumped for the Shadow and Bone Netflix series.

Clockwork Princess

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)Average rating: 4.58
My rating: 5
Thoughts: The Infernal Devices is my favourite series in the Shadowhunter universe so far/out of all the ones I’ve read. I found the end here weirdly satisfying and even got to love a love triangle.

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)Average rating: 4.54
My rating: 5
Thoughts: I’ve definitely struggled with the Song of Ice and Fire books and just straight gave up somewhere in the fifth, but this was a good one. Maybe the best of the series, so it makes sense.

Obsidio

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)Average rating: 4.53
My rating: 4.5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: According to my rating on Goodreads, I liked this more than Gemina … and yet, in my brain I liked Gemina best. Memory is a weird thing, but maybe I deducted points for Gemina because some of the later pages were almost illegible due to dark font on dark paper.

The Hate U Give

The Hate U GiveAverage rating: 4.51
My rating: 5
Thoughts: Hands down, I think this book was so necessary and important and I loved the impact it has had. I would also love for Dear Martin and All American Boys and similar reads to get equal attention, because I’ve seen so many people have their eyes opened due to them.

Morning Star

Morning Star (Red Rising, #3)Average rating: 4.49
My rating: 5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: I’m offended on behalf of the Red Rising series that it hasn’t shown up before and with a higher average rating. Literally one of my favourite series in this world. I’m not sure Morning Star was my favourite installment, but they are all fairly equal.

Born a Crime

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African ChildhoodAverage rating: 4.46
My rating: 5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: As an equal fan of Trevor Noah as a person and him as an autobiographical writer, I’m all for him showing up on this list! Born a crime was a feast in my eyes.

Hamilton: The Revolution

Hamilton: The RevolutionAverage rating: 4.46
My rating: 5
Thoughts: I took this book everywhere with me for weeks and it’s not small. Also, it’s perefection. PERFECTION!!!

We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be FeministsAverage rating: 4.45
My rating: 5
Thoughts: I found this to be such a valuable read! Enough said.

Ignite Me

Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)Average rating: 4.41
My rating: 4
Thoughts: I liked this series a lot and would have been fine with this book being the end of it all. Not as fond of the continuation to be honest.

It Ends with Us

It Ends with UsAverage rating: 4.40
My rating: 4 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: This was a tough read for me, but I know how big of a fanbase Colleen Hoover has.

The Martian

The MartianAverage rating: 4.40
My rating: 5 (click here for my review)
Thoughts: Mark Watney is only one of THE best fictional characters. I’m not biased at all.


Are you surprised by me going with the flow so much? I always found that I was rather generous with my ratings, so it’s not that much of a shock to me. Although, I really thought that there would have been at least one or two books with a completely different rating from me. Oh well … did you miss any big books or series here?

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel (Themis Files #3, Book Review)

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Page Count
: 350

Only Human is the third and final book in the Themis Files series. If you want to read my review of book 1, Sleeping Giants, click here and if you want to read my thoughts on book 2, Waking Gods, click here!

It has been a while since I read the previous books in the series, but my statement that this is like an adult and more Earth-centered version of the Illuminae Files still stands … sort of. I was surprised at how easily I found myself back in this world, remembering (almost) everything that had happened previously.

This story is still very much about humanity. However, a large part of this book didn’t take place on Earth and that was to be expected after the cliffhanger ending from Waking Gods, but I think I thought that the aliens would be different. I had a VERY hard time taking the aliens seriously. Something about them and their way of life just seemed silly (I really had a tough time with their language for some reason) and even when situations became really dire, it just did not feel that way. There were some serious life and death scenarios in the past that often didn’t end well and I appreciated this cold and almost detached analysis of “mistakes were made” and “wrong decisions were made”, but nothing in Only Human felt as severe as it should. Even some real blowbacks didn’t affect me at all and that was a real shame.

I don’t remember if that was the case in the previous installments, but I also struggled a bit with the copious amounts of time jumps. I guess it wouldn’t have worked to just tell it chronologically, but it just felt more scattered, whereas I always considered this series to be very focused. Also, certain scenes quickly gave off a repetitive vibe, as the same characters fought over the same topics over and over again, without making much progress or trying to see the other’s perspective. To say that ended in a couple useless fights is the understatement of the week …

As far as endings for a series go, this was really decent though. Questions that were asked throughout all books were (partially) answered or dealt with, no characters were forgotten or left behind. Everything sort of came full circle and that’s always enjoyable in a way, even if you don’t know every itsy bitsy detail about the character’s lives in the “after”. It leaves you with less of a sense of wondering about humanity as I expected though. We are and always will be judgmental and ready for a fight it seems, it just depends who we choose to see as our villain.

Ultimately, I don’t know if it’s due to me having stepped away from the series for so long or this just really not grabbing me as much, but Only Human was my least favourite part in the series. I still have no regrets reading it in general, even if a very big reason for it was me falling utterly and endlessly in love with the covers.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! A good but not brilliant ending to a very interesting series.

Have you read the Themis Files? Do you want to? Are you as in love with the covers as I am?