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!

July 2019 Wrap-Up

I am a tad bit late again with this wrap-up post, but rest assured this only ever happens when I desperately try to crank out a post before the end of the month and then it just won’t happen. The way this year has been going, I read comparatively a lot, but in the end the day has only so many hours and unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish the books on time for this post. Anyway, I did finish The Rook though and wrote a book-TV-comparison.

These posts are always a lot of fun and I think they attract readers too, because a lot of people are curious about the differences and such. I am not going to lie though, it’s also pretty hard to compare something, keeping it short and not spoiling everyone, especially since the most annoying things I didn’t like are often massive spoilers. If you haven’t checked out the post yet, feel free to click on the banner or the title of the book.

This hasn’t been a very blogging intensive month, because I have been super busy with work. There were a couple of 10+ hours at the office days and once I even worked on a weekend (for a movie premiere in places that weren’t Berlin, so it was exhausting but cool). My work contract was supposed to end come September, but now I extended it until the end of October and will be present for some more exciting projects (even though I honestly had to think about it for a long while). All of that, combined with a very steamy heat messed with my sleep rhythm and I was just happy to not do anything that required too many brain cells. I even started watching like 5 different shows that I still haven’t finished to this day … it wasn’t really an easy month sometimes. I just really can’t stand the heat.

On a whole different topic, I joined Bumble. For those of you have never heard of it, it’s basically a dating app HOWEVER it also has a bff function, where the app is supposed to help you find friends in the area. After living in Berlin for a year now, it still gets lonely sometimes and I am having a hard time making real connections outside of work, so, I thought why not give it a shot? At first, it all went really well. I got a lot of matches, but the conversations soon fizzled out, even with the people who were initially interested in meeting up. I don’t know if it’s just me or if anyone else on the app is having that problem, but it doesn’t seem very effective to me. We will see if anything happens on there …

THINGS I LIKED THIS MONTH

Aside from the Rook, which I talked about pretty much on a daily basis for a while the past month, I am currently obsessed with Davia and Dennis from Good Trouble. I know there’s a lot of great characters and representation on that show, also it’s just very entertaining, but those two really struck a chord with me. It’s probably all because I can relate to Davia’s weight struggle, even if she is a very body positive person, because that doesn’t mean all your doubts and unhealthy behaviors evaporate when certain people are around.

Unfortunately, I can just see Freeform messing with those two, which is why I dread the summer finale (not the season finale) next week. The last episode was just not ideal in terms of set up … and the promo for next week looks glum … people are crying … ANYWAY, until the bad stuff happens, I will just watch the video below on repeat.

MY POSTS

TV SHOW/BOOK RELATED

TRAILER POSTS

So, there wasn’t much happening on the blog this month, but I have a couple things planned already that I will post very soon! So, stay tuned!

The Rook: Book vs. TV Show

I haven’t done one of these posts in a long time, but they always used to be my favourites and since the views on them are pretty decent, I dare claim that you don’t hate them either. Sometimes the comparison isn’t entirely fair and I completely understand if your opinions differ. It’s really just my personal thoughts on the matter!

General Plot

A woman wakes up surrounded by dead bodies. She neither knows how she got into this mess nor who she is, however, there is a letter addressed to her for specifically that situation and it was seemingly written by … her? A journey encompassing secret government agencies, people with strange abilities (of which she is one) and vast betrayal begins.

Book

The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)I have to start by saying that I read this book AFTER I started watching the show. I feel like that is very necessary to point out, because I have a feeling that had it been the other way around, the end result of this post might have been very different.

From the get go, I could see that they didn’t take much more than the general idea when they adapted the book for the screen. Which is fine for me, but I suspect not so much for fans of the source material. Anyway, the start of this whole reading adventure didn’t exactly go smoothly. I was painfully aware that this was written by man, because no way on earth would a chick who had just been brutally beaten up and found herself without memory be blissfully exclaiming that she doesn’t have cellulite when she gets a first glimpse of herself in the mirror. Just nope. Throughout the remainder of the book, I felt like women were described in much more detail though, and often with the remark as to how they were more beautiful than the main character. Men on the other hand were shrugged of as being bodybuilder types, with their name not even being worth remembering cause they just didn’t get one, and I guess just everyone is handsome or beautiful, except of course, for the monsters. I was super curious about the story though and tried to shrug it off as best as I could. I am quite skilled in ignoring parts of things I might otherwise enjoy.

I had a distinct flashback to the Jackaby book series while reading The Rook, just in a far more modern setting. It is filled with all kinds of creatures and oddly placed humour in situations that are in actuality life and death. For me, that makes it hard to take it serious at times and lowers the stakes immensely. Also, when I am looking for something with “mutants”, I don’t really want vampires and such joining in.

I was disappointed by the villains as well. As much as there was good build up in the mystery department, all villains (there are really several) were just ridiculous and frankly … weird? And not in a good way for me. The kind of genetic and surgical “improvements” they made had me laughing out loud more often than trembling in fear. And again, those were supposed life and death situations. I may just be bitter though, because they made my favourite character from the show absolutely horrendous here.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! It wasn’t the worst book I have read, there are parts I quite enjoyed, but overall, I don’t think this will really stick with me.

TV Show

First off, I want to point out that at the time of my writing this post, there have only been three episodes released. I very much feel like this show is meant to be binged, rather than one week after the other, but unfortunately that’s not what Starz is giving me. I am therefore basing my opinions on what I have seen thus far.

If you enjoy a slowly told X-Men meets Jason Bourne, this show might be for you! It does have flaws in pacing and distribution of screen time to characters, but contrary to the book, the villains actually make sense. Here they are called vultures and they kidnap people with abilities in order to sell them on the black market. That is something I can handle better than Belgian weirdos who want to take over a country by riding in on horses with antlers or creating sentient fungus.

As I have mentioned before, the show took a lot of liberties with the story and characters. Myfanwy (which isn’t pronounced the Welsh way, but rather rhymes with Tiffany) has completely different powers, the main people have been vastly downsized and except for names, they didn’t keep much of anything else. I am personally very much in favour of this because of Gestalt.

For those of you who know German, you will realise that Gestalt means something like “figure” or “shape”. Here it is used as the name for my favourite character, a hive mind like being who lives in the bodies of four siblings. I am never quite sure how to describe it accurately, but imagine being one consciousness spread over several bodies. They can do individual tasks, but if you talk to one of them, you basically talk to all of them. Here’s a little visualisation to help along.

Naturally, I was beyond fascinated! The actors do such an amazing job and it must have been an intense experience filming it (especially since only one actor is portraying the “twins”). Add to the mix that in the show (other than in the book where they despised each other), Myfanwy and Gestalt seemed to have hooked up? And I am just so curious about the logistics of it all. But without trying to spoil you for anything major, it seems like they really care for each other and I am so here for that. During an attack on Myfanwy by the vultures, Eliza (the female Gestalt) got hit by a tranq dart and when Myfanwy visited her in the ward … just wow! What a powerful kiss it must have been when your alternate body crashes a car!? I am utterly in love with this plot point.

Conclusion

If you didn’t guess yet that the show downright won for me, then I cannot help you. I don’t want to trashtalk the book, but it just wasn’t for me. All the things that I found fascinating when I started watching the show just weren’t in the written version and therefore we just had a classic problem of expectations vs. reality. Also, Gestalt.

Have you read or watched The Rook? Do you see where I am coming from or feel the complete opposite? Let me know so we can chat in the comments!

June 2019 Wrap-Up

A tiny bit belated, but here I am with my wrap-up for the month of June. And you won’t believe it, but I actually read a book as well. It wasn’t my favourite book ever, not even a favourite of the year, but it is progress and I had a couple nice hours with it.

The Devouring Gray is an interesting mystery novel with magical elements. I had pretty high hopes for it, but didn’t click with the characters too much. That was probably the main downfall, because the story is intriguing for the most part and although not unpredictable exactly, still pretty nicely filled with twists.

Ultimately I could only give it 3 stars, which isn’t a bad rating, but also not a good one either. At this point, I would pick up a sequel although I wouldn’t be in a rush about it.

You can check out my review by clicking on the title and get re-directed to Goodreads by clicking on the cover.

June was just as packed as some of my previous months in terms of work and the end of my internship seems to be approaching just faster and faster. I don’t like this stage of actually having to do a lot, but simultaneously being sort of in the air in terms of what the future holds. I want to do everything right and apply for jobs and figure out where I am going to live, but it’s not that easy. However, my parents came to visit me in Berlin for a week and it was a really nice break from everything.

On the hottest day, we went up North to the coast and it was much cooler there. We weren’t too lucky with the trains, but honestly, who is? The German trains suck. Anyway, I always thought that any body of open water could make me happy, but apparently I actually do have a preference for the Pacific. Who would have guessed? *cough* everyone *cough* That’s not to say that the beach wasn’t nice and the destination a good idea for that particular day especially.

We also went to see a circus-esque performance. It was so weird, but also a lot of fun and very funny? There was just this one guy dressed in a bunny costume with a voice distortion thing going on and I swear it’s what nightmares are made of.

THINGS I LIKED THIS MONTH

I very much liked the new season of Dark, I super enjoyed How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast), but my heart goes out to Chuck. Sometimes I don’t need to binge all the new things, when there is some great stuff that holds up even close to a decade later. Just like with Veronica Mars, this show just sort of works for me, even when I know it’s not perfect (but honestly, what is?).

(lowkey can’t deal with the Australian voice over)

Other than that, I really enjoyed diving back into some old memories as I am prepping for a new super secret writing project. I have told a handful of people about it and I think it’s going to be fun! I am definitely looking forward to doing this all very differently this time around, with proper outlining and such. Usually, I just write about whatever comes to mind and then get stuck as soon as there’s a hitch because I have no clue where it’s all supposed to head to. Maybe this time will be different.

MY POSTS

BLOGGING ANNIVERSARY RELATED

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS

That’s it from my side! I hope you all had a great start into July. Stay hydrated and out of the sun!

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman (Book Review)

Publisher: Titan Books
Page Count
: 400

It has been a while since I posted a book review on here, or since I have read a book in general if we are being real. I remember the days when I, no matter how busy I was, could just gulp up one story after another, but somehow that has just not been possible these past couple of months. I don’t blame the books for it. They are still filled with all the magical words! However, something about me and how I spend my time has changed and made it increasingly hard to focus on all the writing and retain the information it tries to convey after a long day at work. Who know? Maybe it will change again soon, but for now I am afraid you are stuck with less output in that department.

I am not exactly sure what drew me to picking up the Devouring Gray. The neon pink on the cover with the misty mountains definitely helped, but the promise of it being beautiful yet also terrifying and filled with magic was probably what sealed the deal. Having now read the book, I kind of get why everyone kept comparing it to the Raven Boys. However flawed that series might have been, I still loved it a whole lot and while reading The Devouring Gray, it kept popping up in the back of my mind constantly. I think it has something to do with how the group is set up and how the relationships among the different members are portrayed. I am not saying it is all love, but there are deep ties with the main four characters that will very likely continue to intertwine and strengthen and change in the follow up books.

Overall though, I can’t say that loved this read. I have definitely had worse and would probably pick up a sequel, but something didn’t quite click with me. I am still torn whether it had to do with the way it was written (which sometimes felt a little clumsy to me) or with me not entirely connecting to the characters. Too often, I felt like I was told how the people feel towards each other and how their pasts shape them instead of letting me naturally discover it. Everything was very direct and on the nose, even the secrets didn’t feel like anything I had just found out and gotten surprised with but rather like I had known all along and therefore didn’t care much now.

“People could hurt each other without being monsters.
And they could love each other without being saints.”

Still, it has some interesting family dynamics and the overall mystery with the monster remains. If I had to ship anyone (I know that I don’t have to at all, but since almost every second character in this book is bi, I feel like I am allowed to), I’d want the two broken beings that are Violet and Isaac to mend each other. The spark that usually makes me adore a read just wasn’t here with this one, but as I have mentioned before, I would maybe pick up any follow up books just to see how this plays out.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Intriguing but not quite there for me.

Have you read The Devouring Gray? Do you want to? What are your thoughts on it?

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (Book Review + The Legend of the Golden Raven Novella)

Publisher: Imprint
Page Count
: 305

CW: hallucinations, unhealthy co-dependency, negligent treatment of children, harmful behaviour and self-endangerment 

I’ve wanted to pick up The Wicker King ever since I saw a finished hardcover copy of it in a store in Canada almost 1.5 years ago. If you are a sucker for beautiful covers and extravagant design inside and outside of books, you will have a hard time resisting this one. Although I try to get better at not just buying books because of their beauty, the Wicker King definitely paid off.

All the superficial details aside, I honestly am glad I finally read the book. It’s not an easy read for sure, but it has lovely characters and such an important story to tell. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you don’t necessarily wonder as much about what is fantasy and what is reality as it might seem at first glance. I’ve had my fair share of books that mastered the art of completely bending your mind with the possibility of what might be happening, but there were very few doubts about the going ons in the Wicker King for me, which is probably why it was almost scary to read sometimes.

August and Jack are wonderful characters and I often just wanted to jump into the story and mother them, hug them and protect them. I did not agree with all the choices they made nor the behaviour they sometimes showed, but those boys did the best they could and deserved so much better. It’s not that I believe their parents didn’t love them, but they did a terrible job at it. Circumstances can make life hard and people crumble and break at times, but if you have kids, you really have to power through regardless. I know it’s easier said than done from where I am comfortably sitting childless behind a computer screen, but wow, did I wish that I could somehow help them and care for them, because their parents sure didn’t. In the end, it was good that they took care of each other, even if they could have done with a guardian in their lives.

There are a couple reasons I didn’t fully adore this book though and I think those are just very me reasons. While I love myself some short chapters, I was confused about the POV in the beginning (which is August’s by the way) and then felt like they hindered me from really connecting in some moments. I also didn’t love the continued hook ups, but my main sore point of the book was the relationship between August and Jack somehow. I liked that it was ambiguous in the beginning, because I am not the kind of person who just puts a romantic label on things just because I can. However, the longer I read on, the more I got afraid for them. They were so important for one another, so entangled in each other’s lives. The presence of August was like a necessity to Jack and vice versa. I understand that it’s one of the main points of the book, but it almost seemed unhealthy to me and therefore I couldn’t 100% root for them to be together. As I said though, this is a very me thing and maybe that worked perfectly fine for other people.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Definitely worth a read even if I didn’t click with every part of it.

If you know me, you also know that I am not much of a novella person, but The Legend of the Golden Raven was free for Kindle, I got it and really enjoyed it.

In only 40 pages, The Legend of the Golden Raven shows Jack’s condensed view of the events of The Wicker King. I thought that was a really neat addition to the main book and was happy to see a whole lot more magical/fantastical elements included. Obviously, the author couldn’t go into detail with it, but it still fills some gaps and rounds up the tale nicely.

It’s most likely not a must-read, but if you enjoyed the Wicker King, then I would recommend this as well.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! 

 

Have you read The Wicker King and it’s companion novella? Do you want to? Let’s talk about it!