The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn/David Levithan (Book Review, Dash & Lily #2)

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 226

**This is the second book in the Dash & Lily series. Please proceed with caution if you haven’t read the first one yet!**

I feel like I should start this review with a little disclaimer. I have read almost every single Rachel Cohn-David Levithan-collaboration there is. Honestly, I think there’s only one book missing, and I have enjoyed all of them. However, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares was always my very favourite one. Now that Netflix released it’s series adaptation of the material, I realised just how much I had forgotten about the book though. I watched and I adored the show, but I couldn’t remember much more than the general premise it turned out. Still, I wanted more, so, I turned to this little sequel, that I never actually intended to read, because I was quite fond of whatever the first book gave me. So, what I am trying to say is, my knowledge from the first book is basically non-existent at this point (am I getting old?) and I completely based off my feelings for the characters etc. on what I had seen on the show.

Here’s a look at what Netflix has done. I can really only recommend it to get you into the spirit:

Now on to the actual bookish thoughts for The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily!

When I learned what the sequel was going to be about, I actually thought it sounded like a neat idea. Adding an element of angst that would lead to the characters having to grow up a bit as well as giving them a chance to repeat the formula from the previous book sounded promising, but it wasn’t delivered in the right.

I feel like the book could have been a lot more clear cut in its timeline. Albeit maybe a bit formulaic, I would have loved to actually see them embrace the twelve days of Christmas theme, but it was abandoned after day one in favour of lots and lots of miscommunication and sulking. Dash and Lily were on the brink of breaking up so many times that, at some point, I actually wanted them to take a break in order to see clearly again. While I do understand that they are teens and maybe have some misconstrued ideas about love, it was ridiculous how Lily expected Dash to read her mind and say all the right things, when everyone else could see that he was trying his very best to DO the right thing at all times.

The grand gestures felt a bit strangely placed this time around and often ended in disaster, but I will give them that they really made it work in the end. The message came through clear and that’s something that saved the book for me. It was right then that I felt like we were finally at a place that was interesting and where the characters were more themselves again, but that’s also right when the story ended. (And how cruel it did end, they are SUCH a tease!) Dash and Lily really do have that annoying habit of making you want more of their cutesy love, so, on to Mind the Gap I go.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars! The ideas were all there, but the execution wasn’t it for me.


Have you read this sequel? Do you want to? How about watching the show? Feel free to chat in the comments!

October 2020 Wrap-Up

October was A LOT for me. Initially, I was still on a blogging and reading high, but then halfway through the month it all fizzled out as I got busy with something else. However, I did finish my Goodreads reading goal for the year (30 books) and even surpassed it. Usually I have to scramble to get all the reads in by the end of December, so, it’s super neat to not feel that pressure. Even if, all things considered, I put that pressure on myself.

Anyway, here’s what I read:

  • Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe (3 stars)
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (5 stars)
  • The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo (5 stars)
    I did not review this on the blog, because I didn’t know how. It’s like dark fairy tales, but everyone ends up being a saint in the Grishaverse. I think especially the later entries might have had more impact if I had read the Shadow and Bone trilogy, but it still worked great for me. I do love it when a universe is expanded upon.
  • DKMH by Dacre Montgomery (2.5 stars)
    While this had a great opening, I really struggled to connect to the actual poems. I know it was incredibly personal for Dacre, but they felt random to me.

Charming as a Verb Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1) The Lives of Saints DKMH

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 you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above if there are posts for them.

As mentioned above, I got super busy about halfway through the month. That is due to me finding a job (it’s a call center job, we don’t need to talk about) and having gone to multiple job interviews before that and also scheduling a bunch of doctor appointments to get check ups. I don’t know why I made life for myself harder, but yeah …

Now, my country is entering a second lockdown. I don’t think it affects my work (yet?), but we will have a curfew from 8PM to 6AM and I heard a lot of people went to parties this weekend to have like a last hoorah before it is mandatory … don’t think that was the smartest idea? This whole situation is just so endlessly frustrating. I really think this whole year is a dumpster fire, but I also don’t really see the prospect of 2021 being any better.

Sorry for having been such a downer! On to other things!

I wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo, but I don’t think I will have the time at all. Maybe I will check in every now and then though and try and get some words in. Will any of you be participating?

MY FAVOURITE THINGS

I was caught completely off guard by just how much I loved the Haunting of series but I completely lost myself in those ghostly love and family stories. It reignited my love for Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Victoria Pedretti, which had been pretty strong as is anyway. But now I just want to watch even more of all their existing and future work.

I made this for Oli’s birthday!

Also, I went back down a rabbit hole of watching Dylan O’Brien stuff. One was Love and Monsters and the other an episode of Amazing Stories (on Apple TV+) called The Cellar. Both were great and will be talked about in a separate post. But … Victoria Pedretti and Dylan O’Brien in the Cellar was just plain heartbreaking. I can’t stop thinking about them!

The fan video below is pretty spoilery, but SO. GOOD!

MY OTHER POSTS

VARIOUS TAGS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS


Hope you had a great month! Is there something you are planning on doing in November? How is the situation in your country? 

Spooky Scary Writing Tag

I meant to do something else today, but this seemed oddly more fitting for today. You know that I enjoy doing Write Tags every now and then and with NaNoWriMo RIGHT THERE and it being Halloween and all, it just works? The Spooky Scary Write Tag was created by Emma @Emma T. Fink but I saw it over at Caro’s blog. Therefore, this is once again not a creation of my own, but I am so, so looking forward to doing this anyway!

A lot of the questions are general ones about writing, however, a couple are about a specific WIP. In those cases, I will be answering for the Football WIP! I haven’t talked about it a whole lot, but most recently mentioned it in the All Hallows Write Tag.  I haven’t changed the blurb since, but I have worked on it mentally … you’ll still have to contend with this one though:

After a devastating loss, teenager Ivy moves to her estranged family in a small town in Texas. All she wants is to get through school as fast as possible and start over away from everything and everyone she knows, but this town has other plans. She never intended to get mixed up in the lives of the local Football team, who are worshiped like heroes in the community, but soon their drama becomes hers. If she can face her grief and guilt, she might just be able to find a new family in them.

Haven’t shared this aesthetic with anyone yet, so … it’s a premiere!! One that will likely only make sense to those that know more about the story and the main character.

1.Ghost // Have you ever originally put a character/scene/theme in the book and then later taken it out?

Character – no
Scene – yes
Theme – yes

I usually tend to stick with characters, although I will not hesitate to alter their personality/appearance/general role in the story. But when it comes to scenes and themes, I am often less attached.

2. Bat // Most misunderstood character in your WIP?

I feel like that has to be Taylor. He has this carefree attitude and seems like nothing in the world fazes him, but it does. His bad boy/charmer image is just a way to hide what’s happening on the inside for him. In his heart, he’s a good guy. He’s just really hesitant to attach to anyone.

3. Jack-O-Lantern // What’s your most common source of inspiration to write?

I can find inspiration in almost anything and everything! Sometimes it’s a song, sometimes it’s a theme in a TV show that I would like to explore on my own. Very often it’s just daydreams that get stuck in my head and need further development or I will never ever get rid of them again.

4. Zombie // Preferred form of writerly fuel? Coffee, tea, etc.

Tea. Always.

5. Vampire // Cheesiest trope that made it into your novel?

Okay, this is actually from the only novel I finished, as I don’t want to talk about WIPs in that much detail, but … Break Up Buddy literally ended with a proposal on live television. It was Hallmark-level-cheese perfection!

6. Spider // What’s a character in your WIP that’s fine from afar, but you would NOT want to interact with if they ever got close?

I … don’t know? Especially in the Football WIP, I don’t have any “villains” per se. There’s definitely conflict, but the characters are all just humans with flaws and mistakes. I don’t think I would really mind being close-ish to any of them. I might imagine Laurie stressing me out … let’s go with that if I have to answer.

7. Frankenstein’s Monster // Ever combined two characters into one/split one character into two?

Dang, my answers are so boring, but … no. I don’t think that option ever even crossed my mind.

8.Skeleton // Best tips for adding in character baggage without info-dumping?

Ha! I didn’t know I was supposed to offer actual helpful insight. Uhm, I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with that every now and then. I like to hint at past trauma/baggage in dialogue and actions until a certain reveal becomes inevitable. That way you prepare the reader that something is coming, even if they don’t yet have the full picture and/or understand it all. I’m not saying that always works and very much depends on the baggage you intend to include, but I definitely prefer behavioral clues rather than just lengthy explanations myself.

9. Cat // What’s a polarizing writing/bookish opinion that you have?

I don’t believe that you HAVE to or SHOULD write every day. There’s definitely people who it’s helpful for to write on a regular basis, but if you are not feeling it one bit and hate what you create because you forced yourself to write, what’s the point? I’d rather take a break and clear my head, maybe find new inspiration and then get back to it with all the more motivation. Obviously, that’s tied with a bit of self discipline and making sure a short break doesn’t turn into weeks and months of inactivity. But to each their own!

10. Demon // Most frequent writing distraction?

TV shows! I think I can handle not checking social media all the time, but when I get enamored with a TV show, I forget all other standing responsibilities and live in that world in my head. Especially my own stories take a back seat then, even if they shouldn’t.


What did you think of this tag? Could you relate to my answers? Let’s chat!

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (Book Review)

Publisher: Piatkus
Page Count
: 384

All my friends, and I really mean all of them, who have read this book (be it in physical form or via audiobook) have raved about it and loved it with all their hearts. Not going to lie, that set the standard for this book pretty high, but I am glad it didn’t disappoint in the end.

Chloe Brown, a chronically-ill Black woman, and Redford “Red” Morgan, a tattooed rough-looking whtie ginger guy, do not fall in love at first sight. In fact, they are so convinced that the other one doesn’t like them, that they end up not liking each other. It all perfectly makes sense, because once they actually take some steps towards each other and open up, they learn just how different their true feelings are. The fact that it really starts going because of a floof monster of a cat just makes it a plus point for me!

There’s much to like about Get a Life, Chloe Brown. The characters are well rounded and feel real. They have pasts that have created insecurities, they have lives that are complex and filled with people they have history with. So often, I feel like the baggage everyone carries isn’t addressed so much in the woes of new love, but Chloe and Red really had some interesting hurdles to master and it was nice to see that neither of them was perfect, but they were perfect for each other.

“So I’m doing it for you because that’s how people should behave; they should fill in each other’s gaps.”

To simply Talia Hibbert’s writing style in saying that it is merely funny would be a grave disservice to her. She manages to capture so many different emotions and really makes you feel in the moment! It was so easy to understand the thought process of the characters, be it in their pain or joy or lust, that you might have been in their heads just as easily.

I honestly don’t care much for the sexual and very physical parts. It’s not my thing or something I pay a lot of attention to, but I did find the writing very sensual and not unappealing? I really don’t know what more to say to that, because I do understand the physical attraction between the two and how it seemed to be amplified by the fact that they fit each other like two missing puzzle pieces in terms of characteristics and personality – like, it was sizzling – but also … I care more about the conversations they had? They really were so compatible on all fronts, it was just a joy to see them try to make this work.

“Life hurts,” he said fiercely. “It’s unavoidable. But I know the difference between torture and growing pains.”

Still, in the end, there’s really nothing not to like about this book! The conflict made sense in terms of character development, without suddenly disliking anyone for the choices they made to protect themselves. I had a blast with this one!

“Love is certainly never safe, but it’s absolutely worth it.”

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Already looking forward to diving into the rest of the Brown Sisters’ books in the near future!

Have you read a book by Talia Hibbert? Did you enjoy it? Do you plan to read one? Let’s talk!

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe (Book Review)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count
: 336

I have said it before and I will say it again, there’s something about Ben Philippe’s writing that just works for me. I was utterly smitten with The Field Guide to the North American Teenager and extremely pumped to read Charming as a Verb. From the first couple of pages, you just sort of get the characters and their personality. They come to life easily and grow on you quickly.

All children are charming as an adjective, but you’re charming as a verb. 

Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger is, in all possible meanings of the word, charming. He has a Smile (yes, capital S) for every situation and knows how to navigate people like the back of his hand. In addition to that, he is also extremely smart and funny and handsome – a combination that makes him likable in every social circle he encounters, despite some massive income differences between him and his other classmates. And while you read, you get it! Henri is a go-getter and not beyond a little con here and there to get to the places he needs to go. He just knows exactly what to say and makes his flaws look endearing, so, it comes as little surprise when Corinne, the social opposite of him, blackmails him into helping her get a social life. A meet cute started by blackmail, not something you see every day!

“You want me to She’s All That you?” I manage to say, hiding the smile creeping on my lips.
“What’s that?”
“Oh, my God,” I groan. “Watch more movies. Maybe that’s been the missing ingredient all along.”

From there on, things evolve quickly and you have a sort of rivals to friends to lovers situation. Corinne and Henri are incredibly cute together and will have you smiling like crazy with their banter and endearing get-to-know phase. However, this book isn’t just a romance. It’s about so much more!

A much bigger component, and the source of many a problem, is the fact that Corinne, Henri and their friends are in their senior year at High School. Being at a very competitive private school is one thing, but Henri simultaneously has to keep his dog-walking-business running, help out at home and fulfill his dad’s dream of getting into Columbia. And that’s the source of one of the main issues!

Despite our both being the O-Generation – a concept I have to admit rings terribly true the more I think about it – Corinne isn’t an immigrant. Or the child of immigrants. It’s a distinction that’s mostly irrelevant except in the moments like these, where it could easily place us on two different wavelengths. There’s no Haitian in her, no Jamaican, no Puerto Rican. Her Blackness is American, born and raised. Stolen and enslaved, technically, but still, it’s rooted here. She never aspired to be here from another shore elsewhere. She might not understand.
“If I give up on Columbia, then … I don’t know.”
“Then it’s like you’re no longer Haltiwanger Hungry?”
“Something like that.”

So, Henri has to figure out why he wants to go to Columbia and how far he is willing to go to get there. I call it the main issue, because it leads to Henri doing something that just made me so irrefutably angry. Maybe it’s not fair for me to hold Henri to such a high standard, but I truly expected better from him and that just made me so disappointed in his actions.
Then again, that’s another sign of great writing! I was so invested in the life of the characters, I wanted them to do better. I wanted everyone to succeed and live their dreams. And I don’t even speak of just Corinne and Henri here, who were so lovable, but also side characters like Henri’s best friend Ming. That dude was exactly the kind of friend I wish everyone had!

To recap, Ben Philippe’s writing style is still something that I enjoy very much. He manages to not feel the need to detail every second of every day the characters live through and yet you always feel like you have the full picture. His characters are full of life, relatable and fun. I didn’t enjoy the conflict in this one as much as in The Field Guide … but I still thought it had amazing parts focusing on the family-theme and very cute romance moments!

Fazit: 3/5 stars! I really wish Halti hadn’t done that one thing …

3s

Are you planning on reading Charming as a Verb? Have you read Philippe’s other book? Let’s talk!

September 2020 Wrap-Up

So, the dreaded block editor has caught up with me. I have no idea if this post will work the way I want it to at all, but I am going to try my best? To everyone’s surprise, including my own, I actually have a lot to show for this first section of the monthly wrap-up. I always use it to talk about the books I have read and I have finished a total of SIX this last month. It’s certainly one of the higher outcomes this year!

Teen Titans: Raven Teen Titans: Beast Boy Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2) A Deadly Education (Scholomance, #1) Watch Over Me The Black Veins

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 you’re able to find by clicking on the titles in the list above.

This month passed by rather quickly. I don’t even remember what I did for most of it. However, one of the highlights for me was the show Julie and the Phantoms. I did not expect to like it as much as I did, but it’s really so wholesome and sweet and the songs are real bops. If you want to check out the art I did for the show, you can always do so on my art instagram account (SO close to 400 followers there!).

I don’t know what else to tell you. I did continue with my MasterClass subscription after finishing the Natalie Portman acting class with the Shonda Rhimes class on writing for television. I got super interesting insights on Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, but also realised that Shonda works in specific ways that might not work for me. However, she did get me inspired to work on a novel with an actual outline and let me tell you, that’s rare! It could be beneficial for the upcoming NaNoWriMo though.

MY OTHER POSTS

VARIOUS TAGS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS

I hope you all had a lovely September and are ready for the Spooktober season! I, for one, am glad that it’s a little more chilly outside and I get to wear layers again.

The Fall Book Tag

I was tagged for this, brace yourselves, back in 2017. That is the shelf-life a lot of my tags have to endure until I get to them and I am so incredibly sorry for that. I’m not sure if Beth @Reading Every Night will even see this post now (I miss her on the blogosphere), but I’m doing the Fall Book Tag anyway. The weather is slowly getting colder, I can wear layers again … I just like the transition to this new season and wanted to celebrate that by doing a tag (and I haven’t posted anything else yet this week).

RULES

  • Please link back to Bionic Book Worm, as the creator of this tag. She wants to see your answers.
  • Use her graphics—if you want to.
  • Have fun!

*click on the covers to get redirected to the Goodreads pages of the books. If I have reviews up, they will be linked in the titles in the text bits!*

CRISP FALL AIR – a book that felt fresh and new

Charming as a VerbI’m like 11 pages into this, so maybe not the best judge, but I just get exactly that fresh and crisp vibe from Charming as a Verb. If you’ve followed me for a bit, you will have noticed my utter enthusiasm for Ben Philippe’s first book, The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, and his style of writing that I really enjoy. Everything flows so easy and feels natural.

HOWLING WINDS – an ending that blew you away

A Deadly Education (Scholomance, #1)This award 100% goes to A Deadly Education, because it was a really fun book to read for me. I liked it a lot, but also felt like it could just be a standalone and then THE FINAL LINE HIT ME! It made me question everything I had just read and I love it when that happens. Seriously cannot wait for you all to be able to read that book too!

COMFY SWEATERS – a book that gave you the warm and fuzzy’s

Tweet Cute*me going through my pile of books filled with sadness and misery* – Ah, yes, here we have something!

Tweet Cute was one of those books that just made you smile. The banter is fun and the grilled cheese references WILL make you hungry. But that’s just what you’ll have to endure for a lovely contemporary romcom sometimes.

BRIGHT COLORS – a cover with either red, yellow or orange in it

Burn Our Bodies DownI’m sure there’s plenty of people who already love and adore Burn Our Bodies Down, but I will never be one of them. Something about that book just rubs me the wrong way and I did not enjoy it. However, it fits the category like a glove!

LEAF FIGHT – a book with non stop action

The Black VeinsAnother book I am currently reading (and please don’t ask me why I can’t focus on just one book, cause I don’t know) is The Black Veins. There’s magic and road trips and monsters and people getting kidnapped. I’m not even at the halfway mark and so much has happened!

PUMPKIN SPICE – your most anticipated read

This is a bit tricky for me, because I’m at a point in my book blogging life where I just don’t keep very much up to date with new releases. Sometimes something catches my eye, but I have so much backlisted that I would be completely helpless without some of my blogging buddies and blogger blast mails from publishers to keep me up to date.

Something that releases soon though (October 6, 2020) is Spoiler Alert and it sounds so much up my alley:

Spoiler Alert

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he’s known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster.  Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.

Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?


I TAG THEE

Since it took me, hold up … checking again, 3 years to do this tag, I just kind of want to leave it open for anyone who wants to join in no the fun. IF YOU READ THIS (and you want to do it) CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED!

What did you think of my answers? Let’s talk!

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (Book Review)

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 272

CW: parental neglect, emotional and physical abuse, grief, ghosts

Nina LaCour is one of my auto-buy authors and I don’t even need to read the blurb to buy her books. However, when I first heard about this one, I was immediately drawn to it. I knew that once again, Nina LaCour would create an impeccable atmosphere that would eventually emotionally wreck me – and that’s exactly what happened, but more about that later!

I see this book being classified as Young Adult and I’m not sure I would necessarily agree with that. Mila, the protagonist, is 18 at the beginning of the novel and turns 19 during the course of it. She goes to live on a remote farm, where she works as a teacher and helps with the harvest as well as Sunday markets. Her life and her struggles very much came from the past, and thus her younger self, but it still felt like it could have just as easily been classified as an adult novel. That’s not to say that I minded the more grown up approach, but I just think it’s something to be mindful of when you pick up this book.

There’s something about Nina LaCour’s writing that just transports me into a whole different world. Usually, rooted in a lot of trauma but still very much in reality, Watch Over Me was a surprise with its literal instead of metaphorical ghosts.

Had we been telling the truth, he would have said, The place where I’m sending you – it looks beautiful, but it’s haunted.
Okay, I would have said.
It will bring everything back. All that you tried to bury.
I understand.
It’s going to make you want to do bad things.
I have experience with that.
And how did it turn out?
Terribly. But I promise to do better this time.

Mila yearns for something in her life. I would say for a family, a place to call home and someone or something to belong to. In her desperate need to hold on to these new people she is meeting on the farm, feelings of jealousy and self-doubt creep in. While I understood entirely where she came from, it was such an intense longing tied to strong emotions on her part that it sometimes felt off-putting. That’s not to say that she was unlikable, but she surely contained multitudes behind her quiet and pleasant demeanor.

When I read a LaCour book, I often associate it with very strong emotions of my own. While Everything Leads to You wasn’t all happy, I still associate a warmth and admiration for it due to its setting being in film. With You Know Me Well, I had found one of my favourite feel-good-books and We Are Okay drowned me in a world of sorrow. Watch Over Me is a bit harder to categorise. I could have easily read it in one sitting, it is poetic and beautiful and flows nicely. But something about it is also very eerie and strangely tied to a sense of dread, sorrow and grief. It made me sad to the core and sometimes I cried at passages that didn’t even seem so sad.

“Do you like it?” Julia asked. But I didn’t know what she meant. All I saw was the deep blue-green water, the white foam against dark rock. The wildflower-studded cliffs, and the tall grasses in the wind. “Because it’s magnificent,” she said. “But I don’t like it. It scares me.”

There is no explicit romantic storyline in this book! While there are hints that a character may be attracted to more than one gender, it is not discussed or a focal point of the story. Although, the relationships Mila forges and nourishes are definitely worth talking about. To me there are four worth talking about here (without giving away too much):

  • Her mother and Blake: the trauma she has to face on the farm mostly stems from them. There is guilt and relief, sadness and so much strength that was bred in that relationship. It’s what’s really haunting Mila.
  • Terry and Julia: they are basically the parents Mila never had and always wanted. They have taken in over 50 kids and fostered them, which put them on a pedestal in Mila’s mind.
  • Billy and Liz: as I said, there’s no romantic storyline, but I feel like there was definitely an air of possibility for a throuple here as Mila seems to be attracted to both of them and fantasizes about them.
  • Lee: Lee is Mila’s 9-year-old student and anchor during her first weeks. She feels like they are both outsiders in this family and she clings to him tightly. I often felt torn about their relationship, because I loved how close they grew, but I also hated the emotional baggage she put on that kid sometimes.

“I’ll never leave you,” I said to him. I closed my eyes. I felt his body relaxing, heard the slowing of his breath. “You’ll have to grow up and leave me first.”

Sometimes I didn’t realise just how much time had already passed on the farm. It went from days to weeks really fast and I think that’s why I sometimes struggled with the depth of attachment the characters already had to each other. When I turned that last page, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a timeline at all. However, I did feel like I had just been on a journey with Mila. I didn’t understand everything that had happened, but I doubted that she did either. The farm is a magical place that only becomes the bad kind of haunted if you let it.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! I feel like I just went on a whimsical journey of sadness and grief.

Do you plan on reading Watch Over Me? Have you read other books by Nina LaCour? Let’s talk!

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (eARC Review)

Publisher: Del Rey Books
Page Count
: 336
Publication Date: September 29, 2020

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

CW: a bunch of really murderous monsters of various kinds

This was my first Naomi Novik book and I had an absolute blast with it. From the premise alone, I already had a strong feeling I would enjoy A Deadly Education, the first book in the Scholomance series, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much fun I had with it.

From the beginning, Galadriel, who is usually just going by the name of El, was a hilariously snarky narrator. She finds very little to like about the people around her or the situations she finds herself in. Where other people try to see the good to get by, she is utterly prepared for the worst and expects nothing from no one. The amount of times she described herself as not being able to stop seething almost felt like a running joke at some point, because she really did have the hardest of times feeling anything but angry, which makes the moments she feels vulnerable all the more special.
However, what could have easily been an annoying trait after a while, worked well for her. Death seems to be a constant companion at the school and everyone is way too okay with more than half the class dying until graduation. They had to prepare to be eaten by monsters pretty much their entire lives (unless they were from a well-off enclave … which weirdly are only New York and London?). It felt so callous and cold, but I tried to jot it down as a coping mechanism. All I wanted from El was for her to actually care for someone, to break that carefully crafted facade, and during the course of A Deadly Education, that’s exactly what you get, which is what makes it such a joy to read.

The strong suit of the story is definitely El’s interaction with her fellow classmates, be it with enclave kids she hates, the few kids that tolerated her or, most fun of all, shinning knight and do-gooder Orion. If I had to describe him, I’d say he was a classic example of a himbo – not the brightest bulb out there, but a boy with a heart of gold … and not bad to look at either. His banter with El was really EVERYTHING! If you can give me a good “Why are you being nice to me? Are you mad at me?”-kind of dynamic, I am hooked! I don’t really want to speak more to the nature of their relationship, because I don’t even know if I can call it fake dating or not, but it’s hilarious.

Where the novel struggles a bit is the world building. I never really found myself confused by the concept of the school, the international aspects with students from literally all over the globe being in this one void place or the onslaught of murderous monsters. What I did struggle a bit with was the enormous info dumps though. El is telling everything from her point of view (with a really interesting 4th wall break at some point), with long paragraphs of inner monologue and little else, which establishes her voice nicely, but also just means info on info on info in some sequences of the book. I wish there had been a sleeker way to introduce all that to us, but it kept happening throughout the novel, even after the initially very info-dump-heavy first chapter.

What really throws you for a loop is the final line of the book though! Honestly, this could have easily been an interesting standalone book (with only a couple unanswered questions left), but with that one last line, it turns your whole world and the experience you just had upside down. Now I am really full of questions and anxious to find out what the frick is going on!

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Absolutely loved this and am already so looking forward to the sequel!

Do you intend to read A Deadly Education? Have you read other books by Naomi Novik? Let’s chat!

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (eARC Review)

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 288
Publication Date: September 29, 2020

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

CW: racial profiling, police brutality, incarceration, domestic abuse, mention of sleep paralysis, anxiety and depression

I have been a huge fan of Nic Stone’s novel Dear Martin and while I didn’t expect for there to be a sequel (or companion novel?), I was excited to get the chance to revisit these characters. However, this book isn’t as much about Justyce as it is about Quan, a boy with a very different life.

Right from the beginning, the author explains why she decided to write this book. As much as Dear Martin had quite the impact, the more readers Nic Stone met, the more she realized that a lot of people don’t get the same chances and opportunities as Justyce. There are people who feel trapped with a label that got stuck on them early on and like there is no escape from a possible future as a delinquent. People who are often at the wrong place at the wrong time and have no one in their corner. Things don’t always go right and one can feel powerless in the circumstances that you find yourself in. And they, too, deserve for their stories to be told and will hopefully see themselves in Quan’s experience.

Reminiscent of the format in the first book, we still have a bit of a mixed media style going on (letters, prose, etc.) and I found that specific writing style very engaging. It keeps the story flowing at a nice pace, without every getting confusing when it comes to timelines and so on.

Often, I am drawn to stories where characters need to find their family, their people, because for whatever reason their home life isn’t it. There might be a lack of support or an abusive environment the character will try to escape, but I rarely considered that finding a family – because you so desperately want someone to look out for you – can also end in a bad way. Quan makes some stupid choices, but once you hear how he went from one bad situation to another and at some point you are just done with the cards life deals you, you can’t help but feel for him and root for him. I was so happy to see that he had people in his corner, that truly only had his best interest at heart, even when he didn’t think he deserved them going to bat for him.

I appreciated Nic Stone’s letter to the reader and author’s note so much. She really put a lot into this book and I like that the she acknowledged how much of it is fiction and how Quan’s case would have probably ended differently in real life. But a lot of the story is about how we need to belief in people and let them know that we do, how it creates hope and a mindset that there can be a difference – that’s why I am glad the book ended the way it did! I think it will help create more open minds and hearts as well, as we all can believe in and support the people around us!

Dear Justyce is just as raw and real as its predecessor and can easily stand on its own. It shows how different experiences can be, but how far a little support can go. I hope that it will encourage people to reach out to those who struggle and prevent things from escalating the way they did for Quan.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! I think I liked this better than Dear Martin (not that they are really in competition though).

Are you planning on reading Dear Justyce? How did you feel when you heard there was a sequel to Dear Martin? Let’s chat!