December 2019 Wrap-Up / The Year in Review

I read a whopping 8 books in December, which was 100% a personal record for the year. I just really, really wanted to reach my adjusted Goodreads goal and with those books I did. Here’s the recent ones I read:

The Dire King (Jackaby, #4) Defy Me (Shatter Me, #5) Find Me The Pisces Animals Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening Noughts & Crosses (Noughts & Crosses #1) P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)

As per usual, when you click on the covers, you’ll get re-directed to Goodreads, where you are always welcome to add me as a reading buddy! For the books that I have written reviews for, you can find them by clicking on the titles above.

Because I did this last year, I am also going to share my entire year of reading with you. Goodreads is really great at putting together a fun summary to share with everyone and I am going to do that here in parts, but you can find my entire results here.

I didn’t read a massive amount of books in 2019, but I am quite content with it looking back at the year. I was really busy with work and had literal months where I didn’t pick up a single book, so I am glad to have gotten to a total of 26 books! However, I have noticed that I started to gravitate more towards shorter to medium-length books and entirely avoided epic series. There were also quite a couple comic books and novellas featured, if you look at my reading list as a whole.

Finally, my average rating for the books I read was 3.5, which is 0.4 stars lower than in the previous year. Considering that I read 10 books less and actively tried to look at books more critically without giving away high ratings as willy nilly as I have done in the past, I am also not disappointed with this result.

2019 wasn’t the easiest of years for me for a multitude of reasons that I don’t want to get into. I am not going to lie to you though, it did reflect heavily in my blogging habits and the resulting stats. I have been struggling more than usual to deliver steady content and it showed by being the worst year in blogging since 2014 (having started the blog in 2013). I don’t want to whine about it, and even though I strongly believe that stats aren’t everything, it has affected my relationship with the blog a little bit. I am still so very grateful for everyone who stuck around, even when there were sometimes weeks of only trailer posts and nothing else. I don’t really know if I can promise to do better in 2020, but I am not willing to give up just yet.

  • The blog currently has 2,470 WordPress followers, a number that keeps growing slowly but steadily. If I add the people who have followed via mail, we have surpassed 2,500 easily.
  • This is post #1113, so there is really a lot to plow through if you want to do a deep dive into the archives of Life and Other Disasters.
  • I really, really want to give a shout-out to my top commenters, because the interaction is what makes blogging so great and worthwhile. So, huge thank you to Rami, Lois, The Orang-utan Librarian, the Educated Negra, Caro and Marie!!

MOST POPULAR POSTS OF 2019

(click on the title of the post to read the full thing!)

Kiss, Marry, Kill – Marvel Edition: It was a big year for Marvel, so I am not surprised that it was a draw in terms of blog posts. The fact that this one was more about the actors than the characters didn’t really seem to deter anyone either.

The Rook: Book vs. TV Show: It makes me so happy to know that these book to screen comparison posts do so well, because I know that a lot of us bloggers struggle with the performance of review posts. The fact that this is one of my favourite shows of the year is just an added bonus!

Kiss, Marry, Kill: TV Edition: Y’all really like to know who I would kiss, marry or kill it seems? All I can say about that is that I really, really struggle with the last part with every single edition of this post I did. And … I think this was the 5th installment already?

What I’ve Been Binge-Watching #3: I’ve started this series either late in 2018 or early 2019 and toyed around with the format, making little adjustments here and there for a while. I am glad it resonates with people, although I have no idea why this one in particular did well.

Random Movie Recommendations: Karen Gillan Edition: Yay for all of you being as big Karen Gillan enthusiasts as I am! That’s probably the reason this post was interesting to some people out there.

MY 2019 RANKINGS

Last but not least, here are all the links for my 2019 rankings for movies, books and TV shows in case you missed them the past couple of days!

I hope you had a great start into the year 2020 so far! Is there something you really liked on the blog in 2019 and want to see more of in the new year? Let’s chat!

My Top 10 Books of 2019

As promised, this is the first post in a series of rankings for my reading and viewing experiences during the year of 2019. I have to admit that I started with the books, because it seemed like the easiest list for me personally. I didn’t have the best of reading years, so there weren’t too many books to pick from. I also want to note that not all the books were released in 2019, that’s just the year I read them in. Enjoy!

**Click on the covers to get re-directed to Goodreads**

10. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Noughts & Crosses (Noughts & Crosses #1)I mainly wanted to read this, because the BBC made it into a TV show that was supposed to premiere in 2019. In my typical review fashion, I wanted to make a comparison of the TV show and the book, but then they never released it, which was also partly the reason it took me forever to finish the read. However, Noughts and Crosses is a fascinating alternate history story, where dark-skinned people are the ruling class and “colourless” folks are the underclass, who were once slaves. It mirrors our own world’s racism and doesn’t shy away from showing terrifying consequences of not following the rules. I can definitely understand why these books are read in schools and people got invested in the series.

9. The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

The Dire King (Jackaby, #4)I mainly read the Jackaby series due to massive cover lust, but I am very happy about the fact that it was a great series overall. There were so many supernatural creatures included that don’t always make it into stories and it ended on a hopeful and happy note, while still fulfilling my expectations of where it was supposed to end.

8. Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) by Tahereh Mafi

Defy Me (Shatter Me, #5)I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 4th installment of the series and still believe that the new “trilogy” isn’t exactly on the same level as the OG books, but Tahereh got me back with Defy Me. It felt more introspective again and while I still think some actions and decisions were out of character, I enjoyed the slow pace and inner monologues.

7. The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

The Wicker KingThis book has so much to offer. I am glad I bought it as a hardcover, because it has a beautiful aesthetic. Also, whenever someone names their character August, they already have part of my heart. I don’t make the rules, that’s just the way it is. The book is both soft and sad, but there were a couple parts that I just wish I could have connected more with.

Check out my review here!

6. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of SeaTahereh Mafi is one of my absolute favourite authors. To read her most personal book yet was an absolute joy. I could see why it meant so much to her and was surprised by how light and fast of a read it was, despite the sometimes quite serious topic. I think that lighthearted-ness was good in some parts, but it’s also why the ending didn’t impact me as much and I found myself not caring as much.

Check out my review here!

5. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’I think I read the book after watching the Netflix movie and I really enjoyed it nonetheless. In fact, I think mixing the two together makes for the perfect story. It was super relatable and had a great message, it was heartbreaking and heartwarming and even though I was sort of late to the party, I am glad I picked it up.

4. Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Justin Paul, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek

Dear Evan HansenI was not super familiar with the musical before picking up the book, but I had a lot of fun reading it. I want to point out again that the book was written AFTER the musical got popular, not the other way around. Still, it offers even more insight into the characters and I, personally, enjoyed that a lot.

Check out my review here!

3. Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro, Cornelia Funke

Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the FaunThis, too, is a book adaption of a film and not the other way around. I feel I am coming across them more and more, but I love that the director of the movie was so thoroughly involved in the book as well. It’s a very whimsical and magical story with some parts being 1:1 what was said in the books and other parts being a great addition to make the memories of the film more impactful and give them more background.

Check out my review here!

2. Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Echo NorthI was in so many massive reading slumps this year, but Echo North was one of the real highlights for me. It reminded me of why I loved Fantasy novels and fairy tales. It’s not that it’s a flawless story, the love that turned very intense very quickly was (despite the explanation at the end) not 100% my cup of tea, but it still had such a great amalgamation of familiar stories while making it their own.

Check out my review here!

1.  The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

The Light Between WorldsThis was my favourite story of the year! Hands down, I still think about it so much and I think I cried through about 100 pages straight at some point. It sounds similar to the Wayward children series or Narnia, but when I read it, I soon forgot about it all. I love how you can interpret the ending and I choose to interpret it in a hopeful way.

Check out my review here!


So, those were my top 10 books of the year! Did you read some of those books as well? What were some of your bookish highlights? 

Mini Reviews: The Pisces, Animals

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

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

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

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

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

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

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

The Dire King (Jackaby, #4)

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

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

Also, twains kind of rock!

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

Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) by Tahereh Mafi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 2019 Wrap-Up

Sooo, I started November super strong on the blog, but it unfortunately fizzled out fast. It’s not that I don’t care about blogging anymore, but reading isn’t really a priority and I haven’t been watching/bingeing as much content as I used to. I’ve spent more time drawing writing and dealing with life stuff aka adulting, that it simply didn’t remain a priority.

The books I did get around to weren’t really worth reviewing on their own either. On the one hand, I listened to another audiobook (read here why that’s usually not my thing) by James Acaster called Perfect Sound Whatever. It was about him going through a break up and coping by getting obsessed with one particular year of music. It’s not that the book was bad overall, but since it was about music and I was listening to an audiobook, I had hoped for samples of the songs he mentioned, which obviously didn’t happen (I know that’s not feasible, but I wasn’t going to look up every song and stopping the audiobook every couple of minutes either).

And on the other hand, I read a comic I had supported during their Kickstarter campaign called Our Super Canadian Adventure. It’s perfect if you like short stories, cute drawing styles and cats! (Also, if you love Toronto and the Canadian East coast as that’s mainly where it took place.)

Perfect Sound Whatever  Our Super Canadian Adventure: An Our Super Adventure Travelogue

As per usual, when you click on the covers, you’ll get re-directed to Goodreads, where you are always welcome to add me as a reading buddy!

I have moved back to Vienna and am living with my parents again. It’s an adjustment to say the least, as I’ve been living very independently in Berlin for the past 14 months. Anyway, I have plans that I am still not really willing to get into just yet, but they’ll likely take me out of the country soon-ish again.

Moving has been much more taxing than I thought. I own so many things and I don’t know where they come from or what to do with them. Some I use regularly, others have sentimental value, but a lot of the past couple weeks involved throwing stuff away and donating everything that could possibly bring others joy even if it doesn’t spark that feeling in me anymore.

I have not managed to make a YouTube reaction video, BUT I have made a lot of Charmed fandom videos. It’s crazy to think that some of them have reached 7.5K views (like this one), but I legit haven’t posted anything that surpassed 1K views easily and now I am not surprised people switched to YouTube from blogging from time to time.

I am no editing genius, but others are really, really good at that stuff. A thing I am pretty good at though, is drawing! It’s been incredible to get so much positive feedback on my drawings. Here are the most successful of the past month as I promised I would share them on here again as well.

Image   Image

My next step will be venturing out into the territory of some other shows. The writer’s room of Legacies has already expressed interest in me drawing their characters and I am more than happy to oblige. It’s kind of crazy how much I am into the CW shows.

Lastly, I also claimed to try and work on a new WIP for NaNoWriMo, which ended up being a lie. I wrote 1K words and then changed my mind and went back to working on the #witchyWIP, because I am just THAT much into witches right now. I am at about 12K words for that now, which also isn’t the amount you need to “win”, but I am still proud of getting back into writing again. I even went to a local meet-up and writing in a group always motivates me so much!

THINGS I LIKED THIS MONTH

Honestly, it’s mostly been interacting with more people in the online community again. I plan on trying to visit some more of your blogs this upcoming month again (no promises, but I shall try!!!), because I’ve missed this. I just need to try and not get so distracted. To spur me on a little bit, I’d love it if you posted the link to your favourite post from the last month in the comments (either your own or of another blogger) and I will promise to check them out!

MY POSTS

WRITING RELATED

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS

I hope you had a great month and will have a lovely December! And if you celebrate them, I already hope you’ll have great holidays!

August 2019 Wrap-Up

This post is so long overdue, but I’ve just been super busy and haven’t really been able to do much blogging in the past weeks (which you probably noticed due to the lack of activity on my part). However, I do think that August went a lot better overall. I started strong, but then it just sort of fizzled out again. I am now on one of those very long train rides again and hopefully, if the wifi doesn’t crap out on me, I will be able to do this post … hence, if you’re reading this, all went well.

In August, I read a lot more than in previous months. At least, that’s what it felt like, even if page counts would probably tell you otherwise. First of all, I tried audiobooks for the first time in my blogging career. It could have gone considerably better, but now I know what I am talking about when I say that they aren’t for me.

I also read a lovely novella by Taylor Jenkins Reid, who only just about everyone in the community seems to adore. That felt like a really good palette cleanser and I thought I had gotten back my reading spirits, but alas, life through me another curve ball. Time really wasn’t an easy commodity to come by, so I went for an easy route – comics! Seen as Disney introduced a whole lot of their upcoming content, among them the Eternals, I felt it was my duty to read up on them. There’s some really cool content there, but I also am intrigued by the fact that some characters seem to be gender swapped and that the ages have also been changed quite a bit. The casting is high quality for sure, so I cannot wait to see which story they are going to with.

These are the volumes I have read (so not the Neil Gaiman ones) and you can check them out on Goodreads by clicking on the covers:

Eternals: To Slay A God: v. 1 (Eternals (2008-2009))   Eternals: Manifest Destiny

What else is new? I’ve been working a lot, so I didn’t really put in the necessary time to go looking for a new job. I still want to say thank you to all of you who keep inquiring and sending me job advertisements that reminded them of me. It’s much appreciated and I so very much love the gesture, even if I don’t end up applying for all of them. I wish there was more to tell, but I am not sure where to start?

When I am not at work, I’ve been trying really hard to get out of the house and just DO stuff more often. Sometimes I am successful at that and I have had a great time at several movie premieres and open air concerts and such in the last couple of weeks, but in the end they are never so much about meeting anyone new. That’s still something I don’t really know how to do exactly.

THINGS I LIKED THIS MONTH

I suppose at some point I had to stop talking about The Rook, so I reluctantly did. Instead, I switched to bombarding everyone with tweets about Four Weddings and a Funeral (the TV show), because it is really, really lovely. Mindy Kaling hits home with me about 80% of the time and I enjoy the content she creates for us and she was heavily involved in the making of this show. It’s super sweet, heart-warming but also heart-breaking. It’s square in the old-school RomCom genre but with far more diversity. I just loved it so, so very much, even if it was heavily predictable at times, because it was so reminiscent of all the things I used to love but that don’t get produced the same way these days anymore. It’s proof that you can still make these silly romances but keep them up to date. And for real, the most unrealistic part about the show isn’t that everyone meets their ideal love interest, but rather that these people seem to work and live in different countries on a whim without having to go through mountains of paperwork, visa and work regulations …

Also, if you are a Duffy – hit me up! I’d like 100% date someone like him and I am not really a Maya at all, so no heart breaking from me. Words I have spoken: “That stupid dork is like my ideal guy”

MY POSTS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS

How was your month? Was summer as busy for you as it was for me? Let’s chat a little bit!

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?