A Discovery of Witches: Book vs. TV Show

Every year, there is one of these book vs. TV show comparison posts among the most popular posts. I am so very glad you are enjoying them, because I so very much enjoy writing them. It’s been a while since I talked about this show, but here we go! I hope I remember everything correctly!

General Plot

It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.

Diana Bishop, historian and reluctant witch, doesn’t realise that the book she just requested at the library will change her life forever. The volume has been lost in history, but for her it appears and reawakens magic she never knew she had in her. Now being sought out by the entire magical community, she finds herself enthralled with the supposed enemy, vampire genetecist Matthew Clairmont. As they slowly warm up to each other, it turns out their connection is far deeper than anyone could have foreseen.

TV Show

There was a lot of controversy when the show first aired, because how dare anyone release something in Europe months before it is coming out in the US. I, for one, didn’t think it was such a big deal, because what do you think anyone outside the US has to deal with when it comes to books, TV shows and movies 90% of the time? Anyway, my point is that there was a lot of buzz before it even aired and seen as it wasn’t on any of the traditional networks or streaming services, I feel like that was a good thing.

When I started that first episode, I was immediately enthralled with the show. The cinematography is one of the most beautiful ones out there, the pacing is slow but without making it seem like they are dragging things out and the chemistry between the main leads is just on fire. I will admit that the romance felt cheesy or like it was developing too fast and too intensely, but I just as equally have to say that I didn’t mind? There was a magical connection between them and as you go along with the show (or book for that matter), you’ll notice that Diana and Matthew were inevitable. So, yes, you do have the cliché vampire who stalks the pretty girl, but you also have a fascinating magical system behind it to back it all up. Lastly, I also really enjoyed the way they incorporated science into it all!

Another thing I really liked about the show was the fact that you didn’t just get a glimpse of the main couple and their lives, but all the minor and major characters that surrounded them. It made for a better whole picture and while there are still a lot of unanswered questions, you can see why certain characters did the things they did. Especially the daemons get a whole lot more attention on screen than they did in the books, where it mainly revolved around vampires and witches alone.

The show was renewed for season 2 and 3, which likely means they will film the trilogy as it was in the book, since they also stuck to the storyline of the first volume for the first season. This is good news, because it will mean that there will be a proper ending guaranteed.

Book

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)Contrary to the show, the book is entirely told from Diana’s perspective. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it left the motivation behind certain characters’ actions up to your imagination, while I prefer knowing how things come to be that way. Especially when we are talking bad guys, I like them to be more layered than just plain “I prefer the old way and that’s why you can’t do what you want to do” behaviour.

Still, overall I struggled a little bit with the book. It could stem from me not being used to long and detailed storytelling anymore (it’s a whopping 594 pages filled with different languages and historical accounts as well as architectural observations), but I also found Matthew’s and Diana’s behaviour a little more irritating. In that universe, witches are wild and stubborn, while vampires are territorial predators. It is like that in the show as well, but I feel like they managed to tone it down and made it less aggressive traits of the characters.

The beginning wasn’t adapted to the screen very faithfully, because there definitely wasn’t any vampire yoga class (which I found silly), but the second half of the book felt very accurately represented. There are still some changes that I am intrigued about, because they didn’t seem minor to me, but since the show continues, I am not worried it won’t be addressed. However, there was a certain magical ability, that I don’t want to spoil, featured on the show and I had hoped that I would find it more comprehensive once I read about it, but I still don’t understand it. Seen as they literally described it, I find it frustrating that I wasn’t able to grasp the concept fully. I still have so many questions.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! It took me about a year to finish the book, because some of the descriptions were tiresome and the characters felt a little more irritating to me, but in the end, I was just as intrigued by it all as I was with the show.

Conclusion

In general, I believe the show found a way to bring the book to life in a graceful and comprehensive way. There are a couple of plotholes here and there, but they aren’t limited to the screen adaptation in my eyes. So, I prefer to watch it all unfold beautifully, than to be confused by overly detailed descriptive text.


Have you read or watched A Discovery of Witches? Did you enjoy it? Let’s talk!

Mini Reviews: The Pisces, Animals

Sometimes, during a spur of poor judgement, I am determined to read a bunch of adult general literature novels. There are a couple where I really ended up loving the stories, but more often than not, it’s a vast disappointment. However, I am super stubborn! I will finish even the most annoying reads, so here we are … with some new mini reviews of books I did not actually like.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

The PiscesHeads up, this book features a lot of sex scenes. You might have been smarter than me and already guessed that based on the cover, but I really didn’t go into it expecting that kind of content at all. I honestly don’t know why though, I am just naive like that.

Anyway, I feel like opinions could be divided on this book. You’re either going to be all in and enjoy this or hate it … like me. Lucy, the main character, makes it really hard to root for her. I understand that her mental state was part of a series of questionable decisions, but she treated people who genuinely cared about her so terribly. Worst of all was, however, the animal abuse and neglect. That woman sedated a dog just because she was horny and wanted to be able to have sex in peace. It made me extremely uncomfortable to read. On a similar note in terms of my comfort with the story, there are also several mentions of suicide and it was brushed off way too casually for my taste.

Lastly, the actual reason I picked up the book – the merman/the magical realism. I think the fantastical elements were integrated in the story quite naturally and I can’t fault the author for that. My problem though is that I didn’t see the point of it all. The way I see it, any other love interest could have been added and the story would have resulted in a similar ending.

Fazit: 1/5 stars! It literally wouldn’t have made a difference if the merman had been replaced with another land-based dude …

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

AnimalsI don’t enjoy talking about books badly. In fact, if you go through the various reviews I have written on this blog, most of them are really praises or simply riddled with mediocre but not terrible ratings. But this book, I did not like it at all.

Laura lives with her wild best friend Tyler. They have a co-dependent relationship laced with alcohol and drugs. But Laura is also engaged to Jim, who pictures a more regular life for them now that they are taking on a serious commitment. Obviously, Laura can’t have both, but if you ask me, she doesn’t want both anyway. She wants to spend time and get wrecked with Tyler. She loves being miserable and every chapter was just an endless cycle of hangover induced bad decisions.

Maybe I envisioned something different for this book, but I simply could not see the point of it all. I did not understand why Tyler and Laura were so entangled and willing to destroy their health for … misery? I also did not see the point of dragging out the relationship between Laura and Jim when there wasn’t a single moment of them seeming compatible. Still, someone must have seen the point in it all, since this book was made into a movie.

Fazit: 1/5 stars! No, thank you.

Have you read any of those books? Did you feel differently about them? Let’s chat!

Mini Reviews: The Dire King, Defy Me, Find Me

You won’t believe it, but I have read THREE books THIS WEEK!? It’s been such a long time since I have done this, but it feels like old me. I am not saying I am back to my old form completely, but this is a really good thing. I missed books! (I mean, I love TV shows and movies, but there’s just something about creating a whole world just in your head. Still, because I don’t want a massive hold-back on reviews and I don’t actually have a huge amount to say about each book, I am just going to do mini reviews for them. Here we go:

The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

The Dire King (Jackaby, #4)

The Dire King is the last installment in the Jackaby series, a book series I mainly started due to cover lust, but never really regretted picking up. We are going to ignore the fact that it took me a year to finish this book, because I didn’t want to take it to Berlin with me and only read bits and pieces when I came back to visit, because overall, I really enjoyed this series.

The things I struggled with most, were probably during the crucial “finale battle” scenes. I had a hard time following descriptions of places and couldn’t really picture where characters were at what point during the fight – which is not ideal, to say the least. However, I loved how it all came together in the end! I don’t think this is my favourite part in the entire series, but I liked the thought process behind the end we got, because you could really see how it had all been building up to this.

Also, twains kind of rock!

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Not a bad ending as far as they go!

Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) by Tahereh Mafi

Defy Me (Shatter Me, #5)I may have given the previous installment in the ever growing Shatter Me series a good rating, but in all honesty, I was disappointed with it. The characters were barely recognisable and the writing style had changed drastically, although it had been one of my favourite components of the original trilogy. I struggled, to say the least. However, something brought me back into the fold with Defy Me.

I could see how this part of the series might split people into two camps, because nothing much happens. The events that took place during the 370-something pages could have probably be told in half that, but I am glad Tahereh Mafi took her time. I loved being back deep into the character’s minds. I loved getting all the angst and complexity that didn’t come from silly romance fails but from decades of abuse and the terrifying task of piecing a broken mind back together. It felt dark and like I couldn’t believe all the things that had happened to bring us to where the book is now.

Maybe, just maybe, not everything ties in nicely with the OG trilogy and I am a little sad at that too. But moving forward with these new books, you’ll just have to accept things or maybe don’t pick up the sequels at all. I was definitely much more on board with this than Restore Me (except for the last 3-4 chapters, because they were sappy and there was legit something that made me question if I just read a whole paragraph wrong with someone’s gunshot wound just disappearing from one chapter to the next …).

Fazit: 4/5 stars! My interest for this series is back again.

Find Me (Call Me By Your Name #2) by André Aciman

Find MeFor those of you who have followed me for a while, you know how much I adore the Call Me By Your Name book. I love to quote from it, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and all that despite knowing that it has some issues (nevermind the ones concerning the author himself), so when a sequel was announced, I was on board! BIGGEST. LITERARY. DISAPPOINTMENT. OF. MY. LIFE!

This was definitely marketed as a sequel. The blurb on the book (On Goodreads it does mention the dad in the synopsis, but not on the book!) just talks about Elio and Oliver and their love echoing through time, but you know what? That’s not what this book is about, because in the 260 pages I just read, Elio doesn’t show up until after 100+ pages and Oliver past the 200+ page mark. The time they have actual page time together isn’t even noteworthy. Instead, you get to watch Elio’s now divorced dad catch a bad case of instalove (yes, not just instalust, which I would get with this book) for a woman half his age on the train. And then you get to watch Elio do the same just in reverse at a concert.

Hear me out, I am okay with age differences in consenting adult relationships. You do you! I was, however, bugged by the constant mention of casual cheating, like monogamy is just the worst. I don’t mind people in polyamorous or open relationships, but that’s just not what these characters were in at the time of their story. I don’t even want to get started on the aphobic comments that were made either. It’s just not what I signed up for with this book! I was promised the continuation of an epic love … and I only got a rushed fake happy ending for them. I think I am just going to pretend I never read this …

Fazit: 1/5 stars! I regret getting this book so much.

Have you read any of these books or do you want to? Let’s talk about that!

Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke (Book Review)

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Page Count
: 320

It seems that I am making a habit of not reading book-to-movie adaptations, but rather the other way round, where books were specifically written AFTER their other-media-format successor became popular. Admittedly, it has been a long time since I watched the Pan’s Labyrinth movie, but to me, it makes sense to want to expand on the story a little bit.

To start with, let’s show you the trailer and then I will also talk about the plot a little bit. Usually, I don’t add my own summary in my review, because mostly Goodreads takes care of that and then I just use it in my graphic, but this time I found it too ambiguous. So, here is the trailer for the movie for starters (from a time when trailers still had overly dramatic voice-overs):

As stated in the brief summary above, the book follows the tale of the film, which is about a young girl by the name of Ofelia, whose mother remarried a cruel officer after the father died during the war. They move to a cold and cursed abandoned mill in the Spanish mountains, where rebels are trying to fight for their cause. Things get truly interesting when Ofelia, a girl who is mainly interested in books and still grieving her father, finds a fairy that leads her on dangerous adventures with the promise of becoming the Princess of the Underground world. This truly follows the film quite faithfully, sometimes word for word in terms of dialogue, but it also adds immensely to the world building by including short stories about objects and past events that happened at the very place the people are now.

Ofelia didn’t remind her mother that for her, there was nothing better than a book. Her mother wouldn’t understand. She didn’t make books her shelter or allow them to take her to another world. She could only see this world, and then, Ofelia thought, only sometimes. It was part of her mother’s sadness to be earthbound. Books could have told her so much about this world and about places far away, about animals and plants, about the stars! They could be the windows and doors, paper wings to help her fly away. Maybe her mother had just forgotten how to fly. Ir maybe she’d never learned.

Ofelia’s mother didn’t know it, but she also believed in a fairy tale. Carmen Cardoso believed the most dangerous tale of all: the one of the prince who would save her.

When I was younger, I gobbled up Cornelia Funke’s books like they were magic itself and could take me to foreign places. The Inkworld trilogy and the Thief Lord are still among my all time favourite books, however, I had never read her stories in English before. So, I don’t know how much of it all was Guillermo del Toro and how much of it was her. Either way, they managed to recreate the darkness and fantastic visuals from the movie with simple language and added background story and thoughts.

He abruptly dropped his hand, summoning the mask of confidence that had become his second face, merciless, determined. Death is a lover to be feared and there was only one way to overcome that fear – by being her executioner.

Death sighed. She was used to men begging for another few years or months, sometimes even hours. There was always something unfinished, something undone, unlived. Mortals don’t understand life is not a book you close only after you read the last page. There is no last page in the Book of Life, for thelast one is always the first page of another story.

One thing I am not sure about is the claim that this book is made for readers of all ages. The first chapter/the prologue is literally about a young girl dying by stepping into the world and forgetting who she was before. As I’ve also mentioned a couple times now, it’s quite a dark story and the happy end is debatable (as is tradition with old folklore, if you ask me). So, I could see a child who is dealing with matters such as death and grief themselves to maybe find solace in this book, but I wouldn’t give it to someone who was never exposed to it or gets easily frightened. Just like I definitely wouldn’t show the movie to a kid.

A groan echoed through the floor, the moaning of a hungry bloodstained mouth, and when she stepped back, she felt the Pale Man pushing against the floorboards. The worst fears are always underneath us, hidden, shaking the ground we wish to be firm and safe.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! I really enjoyed this, although I am not sure if it will stay with me forever.

Have you read Pan’s Labyrinth? Have you watched the movie? Let’s chat!

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Book Review)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 358

CW: anxiety, depression, suicide

If you are like me and you struggle to connect with musicals (even if I do occasionally adore some of them *cough* Hamilton *cough*), you will be happy to hear that there is a novel based on the hit show that is Dear Evan Hansen. I say this like it’s big news, but really, the book has been out for a year already. And I do even know and like some of the songs from the show, but I am not among the fortunate few who might get to experience it live and just listening to the songs gives me limited amount of joy, so I was really happy to dive into this in a more traditional book-format.

In all seriousness though, I was prepared to sob my way through this book from all I had heard, but I didn’t actually cry until very close to the end. It’s not that there isn’t inherent sadness to it all, but something about the way it was written and told just made it a very fast-paced and easy read for me. I don’t remember the last time I devoured a book in less than two days … Nonetheless, that didn’t keep me from connecting with the book on an emotional level too!

“If the pain is in you, it’s in you. It follows you everywhere. Can’t outrun it. Can’t erase it. Can’t push it away; it only comes back. The way I’ve been thinking, after all that’s happened, maybe there’s only one way to survive it. You have to let it in. Let it hurt you. And don’t wait. It’ll reach you eventually. Might as well be now.”

Evan Hansen is, at least to me, a deeply relatable character. He suffers from severe anxiety, feels lonely and like he doesn’t fit in. Although he has a very loving parent in his life, he feels expectations of what he should be and how he should act weighing him down and ultimately it leads to him making some really, really bad decisions out of fear. I cannot say that I have done anything nearly as terrible as what Evan did, but I like that the book did not try to make excuses for him. Not once did I feel as if this was a redemption storyline, but rather a plea to own up to your mistake, clearly communicate with the people you care about and maybe, just maybe, there is always someone in a similar situation as yourself, so don’t give up.

“I wish that everything was different. I wish that I was a part of something. I wish that anything I said mattered, to anyone. I mean, let’s face it: would anybody even notice if I disappeared tomorrow?”

If I had to criticize one part of it all, it would probably be the love story. I get that everyone handles grief differently, but the way this was told felt a bit off. But then again, so many of the decisions made were beyond questionable, so I don’t even know if you could consider that specific part strange. My head just wasn’t really in it, because all I really wanted was for Evan and Connor to have gotten the chance to be friends for real.

I obviously can’t attest to any of the differences between the musical and the book, however, from what I gathered from others, the book definitely expands on the story and the inner thoughts of the characters (which is neither good nor bad, but just a thing that comes with it being a different format that allows more content than a musical). As someone who did not know all the songs and all the details of what Dear Evan Hansen would be about, I can say that it’s a book you can definitely pick up if you haven’t had anything to do with the musical! 

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A heartfelt and relatable story about mistakes, loss, grief, family and much more!

Have you heard of the musical? Have you read the book? Do you want to? Let’s chat!

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Short Story Review)

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
Page Count
: 115

We all know that I haven’t exactly been reading up a storm these past couple of months. Even when I have been interested in the different stories, it was just hard to find the time and energy to really focus on it and keep at it. However, this book was offered for free on Kindle and is told entirely through letters (one of my favourite forms of storytelling if you remember this post), so I just couldn’t resist.

Evidence of the Affair feels like such a simple story, but managed to really get across a lot of emotion in its limited amount of pages. It’s always such a shame when I connect with a short story and then just want it to go on for 300 more pages. And that’s not to say that this book had a terrible ending at all, it was quite fitting and yet, it still left a lot to the imagination. I think that I would have personally preferred just a bit more, but I’d like to imagine that the next thing happened away from letters and notes and that makes it all the more beautiful in my mind.

Carrie and David’s struggles were so relatable throughout, I just wanted them to lead their best lives and be happy too. Even as someone who hasn’t been in a long term relationship, I could understand their doubts and fears.

Often, I feel overwhelmed by this sinking feeling in my heart that I will never be enough.

But those characters were definitely enough and their short story was too. I am a greedy reader, I always want more, but this is a great book if you need a change of pace or a quick way out of a reading slump.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! This is the perfect little palette cleanser and story to wet your appetite for more reading.

Have you read this little nugget of a story? Would you like to? What are your thoughts?

My First Experiences with Audiobooks!

When I was little, I used to love to listen to cassettes of fairy tales and little audioplays (not really something that was just narrated, but rather had an ensemble cast play different characters and such) as I was falling asleep. Those stories were often intentionally short, because I was a child and my attention span probably wasn’t the greatest to begin with, but they were also easy to follow in terms of story. Now, being much older (but not necessarily wiser), I thought it was time to try actual full length audiobooks.

There’s been a lot of discussion online about whether audiobooks should be considered real reading and that’s not even something I ever worried about. Of course, to me, if you have heard the story, it counts just as much as if you have read the words on the page. Also, it’s just a bit ableist if we are being honest, because not everyone can see and read words. So, this is not what this post is about at all.

This post is more about how I personally feel about audiobooks and why I think they do or don’t work for me. I found myself having two credits for free audiobooks on Audible and went with very different options to test my theory – one was a contemporary thriller (I wasn’t quite ready to dive into anything that was removed from reality) and the other was a non-fiction book by a British comedian. Here’s a bit more on those books:

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Something in the Water Something in the Water is a thriller that starts out with a seemingly regular woman burying a dead body in the first chapter and you subsequently find out how she got herself into that predicament.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while now, you know that I am not huge on thrillers or crime stories. However, I was a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of possible audiobooks, I wanted something new and as soon as I saw Catherine Steadman and that she narrated her own book, I just pressed the “buy” button. 

For those of you who don’t know, Catherine Steadman isn’t just an author, she is also an actress (currently starring as Eliza Gestalt in The Rook) and because I knew her and her voice, I was intrigued. With audiobooks, it’s important that you like the voice and intonation of the narrator. With Catherine, I knew that she would be great due to her acting abilities and that she was invested in the story too. Alas, I was not disappointed in her narrating skills. The story is another thing though …

I was so annoyed with the main character sometimes. It’s not that she was a bad person, but she made some really dumb decisions. Also, it’s pretty much a cautionary tale on what greed will get you. Anyway, my main issue though was that I simply couldn’t keep paying attention to the story and kept spacing out even if it was interesting. I learnt that I listened the most while I was walking around outside and didn’t do ANYTHING else, but had troubles as soon as I so much as glanced at my phone screen or attempted an activity that required as much as a single brain cell. So, I figured, maybe I needed something even more rooted in reality and turned towards non-fiction with my next book.

James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes by James Acaster

James Acaster's Classic Scrapes

James Acaster is one of my favourite comedians. This doesn’t necessarily mean much, because that list is pretty long (I like to laugh, okay!?), but it made getting his audiobook an easy choice. He obviously also narrated the book himself, which is probably best, since it’s like him telling short stories that happened in his life. The foreword is by Josh Widdicombe, also a funny dude, so what’s not to like?

Well, I knew some of the stories from James’ stand up program and his various visits on panel shows. Also, I once again just really had trouble not getting distracted. So, if a comedian with a funny accent and funny stories couldn’t hold my attention? What did that say about me?

THE RESULT

I think in the end I just have to accept that maybe audiobooks aren’t for me. I have real troubles focusing on what’s being told to me and I learned that I just prefer having the words in front of me. There is a consideration of maybe reading along AS someone tells me story, but I don’t have the funds of buying an audiobook as well as an ebook or physical copy. I am not that rich! It was worth a shot and I do get people who enjoy audiobooks. It’s so much faster to get through a book, but I can honestly say that I did not retain as much information from what I read this way than I did when I read the actual letters myself.


What’s your take on audiobooks? Do you like them? Do you loathe them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!