Underrated Books I Love (aka books with less than 5,000 ratings on GR)

I’ve recently seen this post over @Kristin Kraves Books, where she highlighted some books that had less than 5,000 ratings on Goodreads, but which she enjoyed a whole lot. I loved that idea so much and was surprised by how few ratings there were on some of my favorite reads from the past months, which is why I compiled my own list of seriously underrated books! I hope you enjoy it and maybe feel compelled to pick one of them up!

Any Place But Here – 28 ratings

Any Place But Here

To be fair, this book released less than two weeks ago, but I haven’t really heard of anyone who wanted to pick it up yet. Despite me finding some flaws in the story here and there, I really enjoyed it and want to give you a mini-insight on what to expect from this read:

  • photography nerds
  • strained family dynamic
  • changing relationships/friendships
  • exploration of sexuality
  • growing up and growing apart

Read my full review here!

The Summer of Broken Rules – 121 ratings

The Summer of Broken Rules

I have the absolute warmest memory of The Summer of Broken Rules and almost wish I could read it anew all over again. Like the previous pick, it’s also only been out in the world for about two weeks, so I expect the ratings to go up, but I still wanted to showcase it early on. I’m going to keep the bullet-point format going for what these books are about, so here are some short teasers:

  • big warm family vibes
  • feeling like you’re on a vacation
  • loss of a loved one
  • grief vs. joy
  • instant adorably hilarious love connection

Read my full review here!

Soulswift – 627 ratings

Soulswift

This book took my heart by storm and I cannot fathom how there aren’t more people out there who have read it. A lot of the time, due to Fantasy worlds being quite complex, stories like Soulswift tend to be part of a series, but it’s actually a wonderful standalone.

  • enemies to lovers
  • period talk in Fantasy world
  • exploration of faith
  • universe in balance
  • ending WILL make you cry
  • I’m still in pain

Read my full review here!

This Is Not A Ghost Story – 742 ratings

This Is Not a Ghost Story

As you all know, I went on a bit of ghost-centric reading binge last year, where almost all books I dealt with had some shape or form of ghosts in them for months. I still don’t think this was intentional, but here we are.

  • unique narrator
  • slightly creepy
  • controversial ending

Read my full review here!

Hana Khan Carries On – 904 ratings

Hana Khan Carries On

Hana Khan Carries On has been in the world for a month now and I just want to more people to enjoy it. I had such a great time while reading, because Hana is just a fantastic narrator, even when I disagreed on certain things the characters did.

  • South East Asian Muslim MC
  • Toronto based
  • podcast and radio love
  • enemies to lovers
  • “You’ve Got Mail” vibes
  • finding your voice!!
  • importance of community

Read my full review here!

Lock & Mori – 2,746 ratings

Lock & Mori (Lock & Mori, #1)

Lock & Mori is the first book in a trilogy, which showcases a teen version of Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty (a female incarnation in this version) and how they met and became “enemies”. All of it is told from Mori’s POV, which was what originally enticed me to pick it up.

  • AU Sherlock/Moriarty
  • meet the genius while he was still an awkward teen
  • nurture vs. nature
  • abusive homelife
  • could be a CW TV show

Read my full review here!

Charming as a Verb – 2,965 ratings

Charming as a Verb

I just love Ben Philippe’s books. And I want him to succeed so bad, because that means I get more books! It’s really simple math right here, but he became an auto-buy-author for me the second I first read one of his books.

  • Black Haitian own voices rep
  • realistic struggle with college applications and senior year
  • meet cute that starts with blackmail
  • great NYC setting and Montreal mention
  • funny banter

Read my full review here!

The Light Between Worlds – 3,140 ratings

The Light Between Worlds

When I first read The Light Between Worlds, it destroyed me! It’s not the first book dealing with children who go into a magical land and then have to deal with reality as grown ups, but it hit me really hard. I’m sure I cried through 100 pages straight.

  • mental health issues/suicidal ideation
  • leaving part of yourself in another place/world
  • bond between siblings
  • formidable love interests

Read my full review here!

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo – 3,220 ratings

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, #1)

Back in the day I saw everyone talk about The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, but the ratings now do not reflect that at all. I really thought it would have much more, but here we are with it deserving double, triple and whatnot in reality.

  • action, romance, comedy
  • HILARIOUS
  • Chinese folktales and mythology
  • balancing school and superpowers

Read my full review here!

Echo North – 3,539 ratings

Echo North (Echo North, #1)

Echo North is one of those quietly beautiful magical books. It won’t destroy you, but it will leave you whimsical for mirrors that can take you to other worlds and wolves to fall in love with. It borrowed quite a bit from existing fairy tales, but made it completely its own thing.

  • lush setting
  • fairy tale vibes
  • fated love
  • just-roll-with-it magic

Read my full review here!


Have you read any of the books I mentioned or do you plan to? What are some actually underrated books you love? Let’s talk about it!

First Lines from Books Currently on My TBR

I’ve seen a lot of people share the first lines to books they had just read/were reading/wanted to read and I thought I should finally join in on the fun! I think it’s so interesting to reflect on just that first sentence and whether it pulls you in or not. For today, I want to focus on books that I already have at home and plan to read in the near future aka stories that are already on my TBR!

IF WE WERE VILLAINS by M.L. Rio

I sit with my wrists cuffed to the table and I think, But that I am forbid / To tell the secrets of my prison-house, / I could a tale unfold whose lightest word / Would harrow up my soul.

If We Were Villains

That is what I call an intriguing start! Throw in some poetry, people already being cuffed and my interest is definitely being held. I try not to know too much about books before going in, because I like discovering those twists myself, but I do know that a lot of my friends loved this story, so, I’m excited to get to it. There’s definite promise here.

REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

Rebecca

Okay, Rebecca is my effort of reading at least one classic novel every other year or so. If I hadn’t already seen the movies and enjoyed the Netflix adaptation, I doubt that one sentence would have caught my attention.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES by Rachel Griffin

Everything is burning, so many flames it looks as if we set the sky on fire.

The Nature of Witches

From what I’m understanding this is a novel about witches and climate change, so the first line seems very much on par with it. There was technically a quote preceding it, but I didn’t know if that counted, so I went with this phrase instead. It’s not the most revealing line yet.

THE ATLAS SIX by Olivie Blake

Perhaps it was a tired thing, all the references the world had already made to the Ptolemaic Royal Library of Alexandria.

The Atlas Six (The Atlas Series Book 1)

This is gonna be so packed with references and history. I just know it and that can always go one of two ways, with me 1.) loving the heck out of it or 2.) being completely overwhelmed with factual information that I then tend to ceremoniously skip through.

LEGENDBORN by Tracy Deonn

The police officer’s body goes blurry, then sharpens again.

Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)

Knowing that Legendborn is Fantasy and this is the first line – I am listening! 100%!

THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY by Alix E. Harrow

When I was seven, I found a door.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Going by the title, I’m gonna assume we are not in fact talking about a regular door here?

THE FEVER KING by Victoria Lee

Calix,
As I write this, they’re packing up the fighter jets.

The Fever King (Feverwake, #1)

Start a book with a letter and you have my attention. I don’t know if this will be a recurring thing throughout the book or just this once at the beginning, but I adore the incorporation of letters.

QUEEN OF THE CONQUERED by Kacen Callender

My mother kissed my forehead with a smile when I cried, upset that the party would carry on as I was sent away to sleep, and while I lay awake in my bed of lace, huddled beneath my covers and shivering in the cool trade-winds breeze, I heard when the tinkling piano stopped and when the laughter turned to screams.

Queen of the Conquered (Islands of Blood and Storm, #1)

And here I thought I was the queen of run on sentences! Despite this being very long in comparison to all the other examples, I think it definitely peaks my interest. I just want to know what happens next and isn’t that the absolute best outcome you can have with a first sentence?


Have you read any of those books? What do you think of my TBR and their first lines? Let’s talk!

April 2021 Wrap-Up

I can’t believe April is over already. I’ve had all these plans and ideas for the year, but once again, little of that is going according to said plans. Anyway, I managed to read/listen to three books and that’s what we will start this post with. It’s not a huge amount of reads, but my motivation in the reading department is a continuous flow and ebb.

  • Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (4 stars)
  • The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
    This book not having a rating has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, but simply with my decision not to rate and review books by friends and people I know. Elena is an old blogging buddy and I was so happy to see her dream of releasing her own romance novel come true. I HAD to support that and had a really good time reading The Spanish Love Deception. Romance isn’t my usual genre, so I don’t feel super qualified to comment on it anyway, but the banter between Lina and Aaron was so much fun.
  • The Sandman by Neil Gaiman/audiobook (3 stars)
    I still don’t know how people sit through audiobooks, because I’m apparently a very visual reader and completely space out after a while. The fact that The Sandman had a fantastic voice cast (with the likes of James McAvoy, Kat Dennings, Michael Sheen, Riz Ahmed and many more) and thus making it more of an audioplay than audiobook helped immensely. Still, I struggled with paying attention a lot … I keep trying this medium, but apparently it’s just not for me (as I’ve talked about before in this post)

Hana Khan Carries On The Spanish Love Deception The Sandman (Sandman Audible Original, #1)

As per usual, click on the covers to get re-directed to Goodreads, where you are always welcome to add me as a reading buddy! My own reviews (where there is one) you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above if there are posts for them.

At the end of April, I took a little social media break and I’m basically still on it and it feels quite nice. It’s not that anything in particular happened that drove me away, but I did not enjoy being constantly glued to my phone and putting my entire energy into that thing. After a while, it also spiked my anxiety to voice my opinions, despite no one ever coming for me and I just decided to dip out for a while. I’m not completely gone and if anyone needs me, it’s fairly easy to contact me, but I just thought I’d let you know why my timeline is a little bit more quiet. It definitely helped in eliminating one of the many excuses I had created for myself in order to not pursue any of my creative ideas (be that writing, drawing or something else entirely).

For those of you who are interested in the status of my Canada-move, it’s still very much looking grim. I have decided to apply for another extension of the visa once that is possible (you can only do so 30 days before yours expires), but that I cannot put my life on hold for this any longer. I’m currently taking steps to figure out what I might be able to do instead and how I could move on, but it’s all a process. This really still is my biggest dream and giving up on it is soul crushing to even contemplate.

My creativity still isn’t at a peak, but I can feel some of it returning. I may or may not have splurged on some new materials that I’m excited to work with, even though I still have to get acquainted with a lot of them. I don’t think I will post any portraits or other drawings in the near future, but rather just try to get a feel back for myself without having to put anything of it out into the world yet.

MY FAVORITE THINGS

As much as I struggled with the fact that the finale of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiered on the same day and at the same time as Shadow and Bone, I loved doing those weekly reviews. They may not have sparked as much engagement and views as some of the WandaVision content, but it was nice to dig deep on content I feel so passionate about. I’m still unsure whether to go through the trouble for Loki, but at the same time, I felt a big hole this past Friday without anything to review. Please, let me know in the comments which other shows (besides Loki) you could imagine me doing weekly or in depth seasonal reviews for! I obviously can’t promise anything, because I don’t know if I will always have the time for it, but I enjoyed the routine and if you *want* me to talk about something in particular, I’d really like to know what, so I can at least think about it!

I’m all ears for your ideas!

MY OTHER POSTS

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEWS/CONTENT

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

THURSDAY MOVIE PICKS

VARIOUS TAGS AND POSTS

TRAILER POSTS


Hope your April went well! What are some posts you enjoyed reading this past month? Did you encounter some great books and TV shows? Let’s talk!

Spring Cleaning Book Tag!

I’ve seen this tag around and I was like “Should I do it? Should I not?”, because I hate cleaning … BUT then the lovely Orang-utan Librarian tagged me for the Spring Cleaning Book Tag and I was all in. Originally, this tag was created by booktuber Jen @ Book Syrup. Let’s get started!

THE STRUGGLE OF GETTING STARTED: A BOOK/BOOK SERIES THAT YOU HAVE STRUGGLED TO BEGIN BECAUSE OF ITS SIZE.

A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara has caught my eye a long time ago, but it’s massive! The edition I saw on Goodreads has more than 700 pages and I’m not going to lie to you, I struggle with 500 pages already. I used to devour books of that size when I was younger, seeing it as a challenge and validation to get through them, but now they just scare me. Still, many have praised the emotional impact of A Little Life, so … I’d like to read it someday.

CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET: A BOOK AND/OR BOOK SERIES YOU WANT TO UNHAUL.

I actually unhauled about 60 books these past months and managed to either give some to family or sell them via an online reseller for used books. I didn’t get a lot of money, but more than I would have likely managed to get at a flea market (which aren’t happening due to the pandemic anyway). So, it’s really difficult to think of books I don’t want to have anymore. Maybe I would let go of my Game of Thrones books. I read them a while ago, never finished the last one and just sort of feel like I am over the series, even if new books should release eventually. They are also just cheap paperbacks, so I am not attached to them because of aesthetic reasons either.

OPENING WINDOWS AND LETTING FRESH AIR IN: A BOOK THAT WAS REFRESHING.

The Summer of Broken Rules

I haven’t been super excited about books for a while, but this year has been great so far. I was especially fond of The Summer of Broken Rules, because it reignited my love for contemporaries. It was fun and emotional too and made me feel like I was really on vacation (which I could so need at this point). It might be a pretty regular formula for a book, but to me it was a breath of fresh air on my shelf.

Read my full review of the book HERE.

WASHING OUT SHEET STAINS: A BOOK YOU WISH YOU COULD REWRITE A CERTAIN SCENE IN.

Charming as a Verb

There is one scene in Charming as a Verb that made me so disappointed in the main character. It created one of the biggest conflicts, so it was obviously necessary for the story, but I just wanted Henri and Corinne to be happy. If that scene was rewritten, they’d have had the cutest story! Still, Ben Philippe has quickly become one of my auto-buy authors. I adore all his characters.

My full review of the book can be found HERE.

THROWING OUT UNNECESSARY KNICK-KNACKS: A BOOK IN A SERIES THAT YOU DIDN’T FEEL WAS NECESSARY.

This might be an unpopular opinion, but … I do not think the continuation of the Shatter Me series (hence everything after Ignite Me) was strictly necessary and even contradicted some of the earlier books. I’m not saying they are terrible, but I just didn’t connect to them as much. The writing style was different and the elements I liked most gone. Tahereh Mafi is still an excellent writer and I enjoy her books very much. Also, no shade on anyone who was into the series continuation, but it just wasn’t for me.

POLISHING THE DOORKNOBS: A BOOK THAT HAD A CLEAN FINISH.

The Dire King (Jackaby, #4)

I think I like books with ambiguous endings that still feel like they make sense. When everything is up to interpretation to you, but the journey there gives you clear indications of what you’re supposed to think? So, this question has me struggling a little bit, because apparently I’m messy.

I really like how the Dire King, the final book in the Jackaby series, ended and came together though. I’m obviously not going to go into detail because of spoilers, but the series as a whole is really worth the read!

My review for book 1 can be read here and for the final book here.

REACHING TO DUST THE FAN: A BOOK THAT TRIED TOO HARD TO RELAY A CERTAIN MESSAGE.

A Pocketful of Crows

I’m not sure A Pocketful of Crows tried to convey a message too hard, but I didn’t enjoy the message I was getting. Basically, this supposedly whimsical and poetic story was of the opinion that it’s fine to seek revenge, that it’s the eternal circle of life to punish those who wronged you. I did not agree with that one bit.

THE TIRING YET SATISFYING FINISH OF SPRING CLEANING: A BOOK SERIES THAT WAS TIRING YET SATISFYING TO GET THROUGH.

After an exhausting summer, where I missed my friends and turned to every distraction I could find, I binge-read the True Blood books. They were … not all great? Very repetitive in part, but unlike many, many, many others, I really enjoyed the final book. The ending made a lot of sense to me and I would have actually preferred the show to go a similar way, but yeah.


I TAG THEE

Whoever wants to do this! As you can see on the post I took this from, there’s actually a prompt to tag four people, but I’d rather give the option to whoever WANTS to do the Spring Cleaning Book Tag! It’s all yours!!


What did you think of my answers? Did you like seeing a book tag on the blog again? Let’s chat!

 

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 368
Release Date: April 13, 2021

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

CW: racism, Islamophobia, racially motivated hate crimes, loss of a loved one

Hana Khan Carries On releases soon and I cannot wait for everyone to get a chance to read this book. Set in one of my favorite places on this planet (Toronto), the book is a bold romantic comedy playing out in the world of rivaling halal restaurants, but it is also so much more than that. Let me explain!

Hana is a fantastic narrator, which makes sense as she hosts her own podcast and pursues a career in the radio industry. I loved following her thoughts and quarrels from the get go. We quickly learn that she is a South Asian Muslim woman in her twenties and daughter to immigrant parents, who juggles many things in her life even before the real drama starts. While there were always hints at what all this book would ultimately deal with, it starts out with all the makings of a romantic comedy that promises rivals to lovers excellence. There was an immediate attraction and familiarity between Hana and Aydin even when they clashed. They are not afraid to play dirty in order to come out on top, which leads to many a regretful decision. The fire and sparring between them was definitely fun, even when it was easy to guess the big revelation they’d both eventually have to face.

Around the halfway point of the book, the story shifts into something more serious though. As I said, the groundwork for this was laid, because this book was never going to be “just” a romantic comedy. While out with Aydin and her cousin, Rashid (who is visiting from India), Hana encounters a group of hate-filled racists and the situation soon escalates on a much grander scale than she could have ever anticipated. It’s never easy having to come to terms that there are people out there who want to harm you and push you out of a country you were literally born in. It was even more painful when no one came to Hana’s aid (please never be that person when you see someone being attacked. Not doing anything is being complicit), that is until she found the courage to seek refuge in her community.

As much as Hana Khan Carries On is about love and finding your place in the world, it is also about family – the one you are born with and the one you choose. This was an excellent example of how gratifying being part of a community can be and how they can help you through the darkest times. Hana always had to deal with people who were willing to talk over her (a boss using covert racism to undermine her ideas, a co-worker so desperate to fit in that they sold out and a myriad of other characters that show up and will have you wringing your hands not to punch them), but she also had people in her corner willing to go to bat for her and you were right there with them, rooting for her when she found her voice and spoke up. And that’s not an easy thing to do, to stand up to people knowing that it will leave you vulnerable. But she had a life made up of choices, choices she was very grateful to have, and she wanted to make the right ones.

I really loved reading this book and to follow along as Hana uncovers family secrets and finds her voice. I cannot possibly put myself in her shoes, but I was filled with pride and joy at her development regardless. There’s no denying that I would understand if people would rather not be faced with reliving that particular trauma when seeking out a romantic comedy, but I personally appreciated that there was no sugarcoating of racist situations like it happening still. Those parts will never get easier, but we’re not doing anyone a service by ignoring them either.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! An amazing romantic comedy, if you are also prepared for hard-hitting reality.


Would you like to read Hana Khan Carries On? I seem to pick up at least one “You’ve Got Mail”-esque book per year now and I have no regrets! Let’s talk!

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 386
Release Date: May 4, 2021

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

CW: loss of a loved one

Sometimes a book comes around and it just sweeps you off your feet. The Summer of Broken Rules was definitely that for me! It’s not easy for a story to be fun as well as moving, but somehow this one struck the perfect balance and just made it an incredibly engaging read.

You meet Meredith and you can easily relate to her. I think anyone who has ever lost someone close to them understands the way you yourself get lost in your grief. Every corner you turn, you see that person and remember how things used to be, but can’t be anymore. The Summer of Broken Rules managed to make this story a beautiful exploration of grief, while also the journey of reemerging from that cloudy haze that comes with loss, without it ever feeling too heavy. I may have shed a tear or two, but I laughed and smiled even more.

From the get go, I was just in love with the setting. I haven’t been on a vacation in forever and definitely have never been to Martha’s Vineyard (it feels like a rich people destination in my head and I cannot explain why?), but I could almost feel the sun on my face, smell the ocean breeze and couldn’t shake that odd feeling when you just know it’s unavoidable to get sand everywhere. Add to that a huge group of relatives and friends, where you sometimes lose track of just how you are related, but you know you are family either way because of the shared bonds and you have captured my heart. At times, I had trouble following the who’s who, but never when it came to the important players.

When it comes to the love story, I thought it was interesting how easily I was swayed by Wit. Many times, I have complained about insta-love and insta-lust, but somehow the connection between Meredith and Wit just felt natural. You basically just follow them through the course of a week, but every interaction felt authentic and made me root for them rather than roll my eyes at their quick attachment.
I’d also like to praise that there was a discussion, albeit brief, about how Meredith tends to latch on to her love interests and detach from her friends as a coping mechanism for her grief. Having scenes with that as a context puts them in a different light and, in this instance, makes them work all the better. With the characters being aware of how fast things are developing and even questioning their behavior, I thought it was refreshing. In the end, it didn’t change how I felt about them though and I was happy to see them grow together through the hurdles they had to overcome.

I can’t say I’ve ever been as competitive or invested in a game as the entire extended Fox family is when it comes to “Assassin”, but what a treat it was to follow them for a week. As serious as they take it, it also created some hilariously brilliant moments and I understand how it became a tradition for them. It’s almost something you’d want to revisit yourself every year to see how everyone was doing, which was why I was so grateful for a little epilogue from the future!

As a final note, this was my first time reading a book by K.L. Walther, but I heard that there are lovely little easter eggs to her previous novel “If We Were Us”. I adore when authors put in those tiny references for readers and it has me very tempted to check out her debut novel.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Fun and moving – a great summer read along the lines of Morgan Matson books!


Could you see yourself picking up The Summer of Broken Rules? What are some summer reads you enjoyed a lot? Let’s talk!

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Page Count
: 514

With the imminent release of the Shadow and Bone Netflix series (if you haven’t heard me talk about that basically all the time as of late, where have you been? Watch the trailer here) and the even closer release of the second book in the duology King of Scars is a part of – Rule of Wolves – I thought it was time I finally caught up on the Grishaverse.
It’s been a while since I’ve read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, but I still vividly remember how easily I fell in love with the characters and the world they inhabit. It has been much more recent that I tore my way through the Shadow and Bone trilogy, finally catching up on Alina’s storyline and getting that proper introduction to Nikolai Lantsov. He deserved that grand entry like no other! I’m glad I picked up all the previous books before reading King of Scars, because I think I would have been lost without people’s backstories. 

That’s the thing with the books in the Grishaverse; in the beginning you might have been able to just read one series or another, but we are in so deep now, with everything being interconnected, that it would do you a disservice not to know the previous material. In fact, it’s necessary, because so much of this series is built on your feelings for the characters and what is about to happen to them.

“The monster is me and I am the monster.”

King of Scars, just like the Six of Crows duology, offers multiple POVs. The most important ones are likely Nikolai, Zoya and Nina, although I have to say that I struggled to really find a proper connection between Nina’s storyline and the others. She felt very much apart with her mission in Fjerda, even if her plot made sense for her character development and offered a great new path for Nina. It’s something only she could effectively pull off. And I could see those small crumbs that tried to hint at how it would link to the business in Ravka, but (at least in this part of the duology) it felt very much like it could have been a completely unrelated just simultaneously running story.
So, I couldn’t help but feel more drawn to what was going on with Nikolai. I think I wasn’t alone in quickly having him become a favourite even without him having his own perspective back in Shadow and Bone. This broken golden boy just has his charms, as every other character in the Grishaverse could probably attest to. The fact that he now has a major part in this duology just shows that Leigh Bardugo knows what her fans like to read about.

“Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.”

While I felt like the plot was moving along quite slowly at times and not necessarily contradicted previous books, but definitely rewrote a couple narratives (just throw out your knowledge about amplifiers now for example …), which I did not care about massively, I did appreciate how much more we got to know the characters.
Again, Nikolai is not just charming, he is a really good man. The way he puts Ravka above all his needs is incredible and possibly not healthy, but he just wants to do better than the weak men who came before him. He would give his life if it meant that the people he is trying to serve as a ruler will get to have a more stable and prosperous life. As boisterous and superficial as he can seem, he is one of the most selfless characters.
But most of all, I appreciate that I got to know Zoya more. I’m not going to lie, I struggled with her character for a long time in previous books, because I just couldn’t forget her mean girl behaviour from the beginning. I don’t enjoy people who make others feal scared or lesser than just to feel superior and she has always given off that vibe. She was never kind, nor good, she was ruthless. Now though, I feel like this showed us why she is the way she is. Why she thinks kindness is such a weakness, even if that’s not true at all. Why she is all prickly like thorns despite her beauty like the most gorgeous flowers. There’s really quite a lot of selflessness in her too.

“Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers, but we who wield power adorn ourselves with flowers to hide the sting of our thorns”

King of Scars definitely isn’t my favourite book in the Grishaverse, but it does what it is supposed to – it keeps me wanting more. I always want to know and probably always will want to know how these characters are doing and if lasting peace is an option. But it’s Ravka … something always goes wrong.

Lastly, which is really more of a personal side note than a criticism, I wish there wasn’t this incessant need to always pair everyone up. Tolya is literally the only person I can think of who currently doesn’t have a crush and it’s a lot to me. Sometimes characters can just be friends … or partners in crime … or confidants … or alone?

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! I rounded up, but I did struggle with this book at times.


Have you read King of Scars? How deep are you into the Grishaverse? I, for one, can’t wait for the show and the upcoming release of Rules of Wolves!

The Wine Book Tag

I was tagged for this such a long time ago, I won’t even comment on the specific year. Let’s just say it has been an embarrassing time period, but Flo @FlowlessBooks asked me to do the Wine Book Tag and I think it is fun and … better late than never?

Box Wine – a book that people will judge you for liking but you like it anyway!

Let me think about all the embarrassing things I could have read and liked. I know that the author of Call Me By Your Name has some questionable views (did he sexualize underage girls or did I imagine that interview?) and that puts the age difference in the book in an even worse light. I know all that and I know the book is far from perfect, but I really loved it when I read it. I can’t just forget some of those beautiful quotes between the mess.

Read my review HERE.

Organic Wine – a book that doesn’t have any added crap in it and is just written perfectly

SoulswiftYou better not get tired of me mentioning Soulswift, but to me that book was perfect. As a standalone fantasy novel, it’s a rare bird anyway and it’s hard to get the pacing and content just right, but this book managed to do it all. I didn’t feel like I was overwhelmed with information or missing anything crucial. I was just heartbroken in the end, but that was to be expected …

Read my review HERE.

Gluehwein – a really spicy, wintry read

Don't Tell a SoulNot sure this really qualifies as spicy, but Don’t Tell a Soul definitely takes place during winter. I still remember the descriptions of mountains of snow and wading through snow storms to get to the manor. This story is not a ghost story, but is sure brings some along on the ride, which might work for the second part of the prompt? I hope so.

Read my review HERE.

Sauvignon Blanc – a really sharp and aggressive read that you couldn’t put down!

My mind immediately went to the Red Rising saga! I don’t usually get angry, but woah, I was shaking because I was so furious in parts of those books. They are also violent and brutal, but so well written and they keep you hooked. I still have Dark Age (the most recent book in the series) staring at me accusingly from my shelf, because I still haven’t picked it up. It’s so intimidating though!

Sevro will forever be one of my all time favourite characters and I cannot wait to see who they cast should they move forward with the TV show. My fingers are forever crossed for it to be Richard Harmon.

Read my review of the first book in the series HERE.

Pinot Noir – a book you didn’t expect much from but ended up getting blown away!

I try to not go into books with too high expectations to begin with. Hype is scary and can quickly drain joy once you read something. I’m, however, always a bit wary when it comes to World War II related content, be it alternate history or authentic, so I did not expect too much from the Wolf by Wolf duology, but it is now one of my favourite duologies out there. I wish more people had read it!

Read my review of the first book in the duology HERE.

Chardonnay – a good summer read that was super-zesty?

The Unexpected EverythingWhat constitutes a super-zesty read? Anyway, I might just ignore that bit, but summer is something I associate with Morgan Matson books. I could probably choose any of her stories and would be able to fulfill that part of the prompt, but I’m going with The Unexpected Everything, just because I thought of it first. As always, it has a cute love interest, dogs and some lovely self-exploration.

Read my review HERE.

Rose – a book that has a little bit of everything in it

Maybe Beartown? When I tried to write my review of the book, it was hard to find an aspect the story did not cover. It’s about community, family, culpability, love, friendship, responsibility and so much more. Really, no clue how to summarize it other than it wrecked my feels. There’s an HBO series coming out for it soon and I cannot wait to feel devastated again.

Read my review of the book HERE.

Shiraz – A full-bodied book that is dark and juicy

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)I’ve delved more and more into darker stories, but I kind of thought of Ninth House first. It has so much death and mystery, which qualifies for the dark part, but I also think the relationships could be categorized as juicy. The full-bodied aspect is probably the fact that it has a very complex secret society and includes a lot of information, which bordered on overload for me at times.

Read my review HERE.

Merlot – a smooth easy read with a soft finish

Tweet CuteTweet Cute! Everything about reading that book was easy and fun and soft and warm. It was like a modern day Young Adult version of You’ve Got Mail, just with a foodie aspect instead of bookstores. What’s softer than that?

Read my review HERE.

Champagne – Your Favourite Book

AS IF I HAD JUST ONE!?!?!?

I don’t know how anyone else does it, so I’m going to cheat a little bit. I’m just going to pick a random book that I gave a high rating to recently and haven’t mentioned in the post already.

We ended on The Light Between Worlds! It’s heartbreaking with a touch of Narnia, just more heavily focused on the returning part  and mental health rather than the one about being in a magical kingdom. I mentioned several trigger warnings in my review, because I think that’s really necessary with this read, but I loved it.

The Light Between Worlds

Read my review HERE.


We’ve seen how bad I’m with sticking to tags, so I’ll just do the same I’ve been doing these past months: if you think you’d have fun with this yourself, CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED!!


What did you think of my picks for the different topics? Let’s talk!

Any Place But Here by Sarah Van Name (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: May 1, 2021

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

CW: underage drinking

Any Place But Here is my first encounter with Sarah Van Name’s writing and I immediately felt drawn into the world of her characters. You meet June and Jess at an evening that feels like it could be any night of the week for them, beyond tipsy and definitely drunk, just that it’s at a school venue and things are spiraling fast after they get discovered with booze in the bathroom.

After that, no matter what June says, her parents don’t trust her anymore and send her off to live with her grandmother (lovingly called Oma, which is also what I have always called my grandmothers too) to attend an all-girls-school. In the beginning, I struggled a bit with that punishment. I understand the concern of June’s parents and the way they mostly blame it on her “friendship” with Jess, but June is literally a straight A studen and … I come from a country where the legal drinking age is 16, so I always roll my eyes a bit at American laws. Of course, there is a difference between drinking responsibly and just getting wasted and I don’t condone the reckless kind since I’m not much of a drinker myself, but it’s always a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around why it is such a huge deal. I literally had bartending classes at my school when I was 16, but I’m veering off course. This conflict sets up the rest of the novel and does so really well.

Who would want to leave behind everyone they know, including the person they care about most, to live in a town where they know no one and nothing ever happens? I can tell you that the answer is not June.

As we see the world through her eyes, it quickly becomes clear that June’s relationship with Jess was more than “just” a friendship. Whenever she speaks about her, their shared bond seems undeniable, but the longer they spend apart, the harder it becomes. And you also start to wonder what held them together in the first place. Things become even trickier when June’s new friends bring up the question of her sexuality (in an intimate and non-pressure related setting) and June has no real answer for it, especially since she finds herself drawn to one of the new acquaintances. I find it’s not often that bisexuality is explored in young adult books, but I enjoyed the way it was done here.

I have spent my fair share of time away from family and friends and I always felt like I was a different person when I came back. Sometimes I was shocked to see how much had changed in my absence, other times I found myself annoyed with the lack of change in my environment when I felt so utterly different. This book perfectly mirrored my emotions and dealt with how hard it can be to let go or fight to keep someone in your life. It’s always a decision you have to make and sometimes you don’t ultimately get what you want.

When you meet new people that enrich your day to day and you find new hobbies that bring you joy, it can be hard to arrange and combine this with your old life. Things change and so do people. Aside from this beautiful exploration of love and friendship, it was also a great but nonchalant portrayal of family. The messiness of it, but the love that was woven through all decisions really warmed my heart. Even with them being miles apart, June’s younger siblings were always present in her thoughts and the struggle with her parents was so relatable. They always made her feel like she had to compete for their approval, but when she lived with her grandmother she experienced such a different parenting style and through that could actually find things she enjoyed.

Overall, I loved being on this ride with June and seeing her find her own way. It also got me really interested in photography, which I didn’t expect, but hey, maybe I’ll find my own Sam there.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A great read about changing relationships, family and expectations. Enjoyed it a lot!


I know the release is still a while away, but could you see yourself pick up Any Place But Here? Have you had experiences with toxic relationships? Let’s talk about it!

Evermore Book Tag!

I wasn’t actually tagged for the Evermore Book Tag, but I saw it over at my friend Stephanie’s blog Adventures of a Bibliophile and felt like it would be fun to do. In all honesty, I always vibed more with evermore than with folklore, so, coming up with books to fit song titles should be fun!

RULES!

  • Link back to the original creator’s post: Ahaana’s at Windows to Worlds
  • Tag at least 5 people
  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post!!
  • Feel free to use the graphics from Ahaana’s original post/or mine, but please credit back because they took a lot of time and effort to make (:

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