Books That Inspire Wanderlust!

At lot of us have been stuck inside for extended periods of times lately and it can get stifling for sure. So, I decided to compile a list of books that have taken me to places all over this earth as a means of distraction and escapism. Therefore, even if we may not be able to go there in real life right now, maybe this will be a nice way of planning for when this will eventually be over.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy & Roger's Epic DetourI wanted to start with something easy – a good, old-fashioned road trip through the USA. Morgan Matson is one of my favourite contemporary Young Adult authors and I really adore all her books. This one in particular is one of her earlier works though and just so much fun. While she always manages to have an emotional component and some depth to her characters, I definitely just wanted to get into a car with a potential love interest and drive around for a while after finishing the book …

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Again, but BetterThis is a read I finished only very recently. You’ll know that I had some points I didn’t absolutely love about this book, but if you want to imagine what it’s like to go explore Europe as an exchange student, this might just be something to look into regardless.

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

The One-Hundred Foot JourneyIt might not sound like a conventional travel book, and it’s not. The Hundred-Foot Journey focuses heavily on the culinary journey of a young man originally from India, however, you follow him around as you explore his life in his home country and later on in the UK and France. This is also one of my picks that is available as a movie, just in case you want to get really hungry from all the delicious food they are cooking on-screen.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyI have talked about this book a plenty, but it was just such a lovely read. Who says that every vacation or travel experience has to be packed full of excitement and rushes around every corner? If you maybe are longing for some calmness on the beautiful island of Guernsey, I wouldn’t fault you! (The book is set shortly after WWII and does explore the topic, just to be clear)

Memories of the Eagle and the Jaguar Series by Isabel Allende

From what I heard, Isabel Allende is really more known for her adult fiction, however, I was obsessed by this series as a kid/young teen. It follows teenagers Alex and Nadia through their adventures from the Amazon to the Himalaya and lastly to Kenya. It didn’t feel like it was written for very young readers, but it definitely was marketed as Young Adult. There are some really heavy themes explored and the books get more adult as the characters age. Still, I have very fond memories of it and therefore picked it as my only fantasy-inspired read.

City of the Beasts (Eagle and Jaguar, #1) Kingdom of the Golden Dragon (Eagle and Jaguar, #2) Forest of the Pygmies (Eagle and Jaguar, #3)

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Call Me By Your Name (Call Me By Your Name, #1)Do I even have to explain myself? I know this book has flaws, but to me the writing was magic and I felt like I had just spent a summer in the countryside of Italy myself. What more could you possible want? Maybe it’s time for me to check out the movie as well?

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWe are now entering memoir territory! This was not an easy read but since Cheryl Strayed had gone through all of it herself, it was very hard to rate. When you decide to go on the Pacific Crest Trail (from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State) all on your lonesome self, you have a lot of time to think and work on past trauma. This book deals with all of that!

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, LoveNow, we all know that this isn’t the most relatable journey for the majority of people. Very few of us can afford to just go travel all over the globe for a year, yet I found Elizabeth’s travels from Italy to India to Bali such a rewarding read. Depending on where you are in life, I think you might find yourself more interested in one specific part of Eat, Pray or Love in the book and that is totally valid. It will not connect with everyone, but I had some really enlightened moments during the whole affair.


These were all books I have read myself, but I am sure there are many I have missed. What are some books that have inspired wanderlust in you? I especially have taken care of mostly using real life settings, but are there some fantasy worlds you like to escape to? Let’s chat!

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 373

Again, but Better is a book with very mixed reviews, yet I felt absolutely compelled to pick it up for myself, because Christine Riccio was one of a handful of booktubers who inspired me to get into (book) blogging. (I even thought about doing the whole video set up, but then just was so disappointed with the light in my room, my lack of equipment, etc., I switched to plain writing my thoughts out on the blog) When it was announced that she was going to release her first book, I was all in! That book could have probably been a horror mystery thriller (a mix of all the things I do not like) and I still would have read it … maybe.

So, it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise to anyone that I did not read the blurb properly …

I just want to start out by saying that I thought and was pretty sure that this book was a contemporary YA … but it’s not? I would class this more in the NA age group, because the main character is definitely in her twenties, although it still has great coming-of-age characteristics that many of us YA readers like. But, that’s not the big shocker, I just really wasn’t prepared for there being any sort of magical element (despite it literally saying so in the blurb). It’s still very much contemporary, but it has a magically twisty component. With my expectations being so totally off for this book, I think I was just sort of thrown for a loop there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just felt … off?

I debated for a long time how I could possibly review this book, but I think I just have to resort to the good old “things I liked/disliked”-list situation, because I really feel a lot of different things.

WHAT I LIKED

  • Shane is a lot like Christine and that’s a lovely thing! When you see Christine on the screen, it’s sometimes hard to believe that she is an introvert who struggled to talk to people at college or who didn’t date a lot. But … that’s also how I think some people see/saw me? I am pretty good at some social events and like to be upbeat and friendly with everyone, but it’s hard and took a lot of time to develop to the point where I become more confident. A big change has happened for me when I was on my semester abroad and so it makes a lot of sense to me that she would put herself in the shoes of her main character and live through her that way.

“It’s weird how we have to get a little older to realize that people are just people. It should be obvious, but it’s not.”

  • The Shane and Pilot banter was spot on from the first time they met to the very last page! In general, Christine’s writing is just a lot of fun to read. It flows super easily and had me laughing out loud several times.

“Shane. Interesting name for a girl,” he teases. I narrow my eyes. “Pilot. Interesting name for a human.”

  • I really, really liked that Shane hadn’t done it all at twenty. There are so many people who do not enter into romantic relationships at high school and it’s not even that they wouldn’t want to, it just doesn’t happen. It’s not that weird and I need everyone to know that, because it makes you feel like in this quote:

“The young women in all the YA books I loved were high-school age. By eighteen, the majority of them had saved the world, not to mention: kissed people, traveled, been in a relationship, had sex. At twenty I felt like a pathetic, unaccomplished, uncultured, virgin grandma. It sounds like a joke now, but at the time, around all these people my age casually discussing all of the above, I felt so small.”

  • The end of the book reminded me of my own book ending (Break Up Buddy, the only story I ever finished) and I thought that was hilarious.

WHAT I DISLIKED

  • A huge reason I was excited for this book was that I have done a semester abroad myself (as mentioned above). In fact, I have spent a notable time in other countries when I was 15 (the US), 16/17 (France), 18/19 (US again) and 23/24 (Canada) and like to think I know what I am talking about when it comes to those experiences. Of course, everyone is different, but some stuff just nagged me, e.g. when Shane and the others went to Italy on their first weekend in London. That’s just not realistic? No one I know would spend their first weekend in a new city NOT in the city …
    Other than that, I suppose I know a lot of people who really went someplace new every weekend. Especially in the EU, travel is easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s super cheap. For college students who were all living off of internships, I was floored by what they could all afford to do.

“I suck in a deep breath as I plop one foot over the line and then exhale, knowing I’m standing on both sides of the world at once.”

  • The relationship that Shane had with her parents felt very … wrong? I’d like to say borderline abusive. I am not here to excuse any of their behaviour, BUT I’d also like to point out why I was not siding with Shane in certain instances. Her parents have paid thousands of dollars for an education she does not intend to use, she also cons them into financing her semester abroad by telling them it is useful to her premed major in NY. I just can’t.
    Their relationship was very complicated and Shane obviously wasn’t in a place where she could tell her parents how she really felt, but that kind of money is no joke? IF she had financed the trip herself somehow, I wouldn’t have minded at all, but that wasn’t the case and therefore just really not cool. Having never spoken to her parents about her concern before, I understand that it resulted in disappointment.

“I’ve been trying to make you happy for six years now, hoping somehow that would make me happy too, but I don’t think it’s working. You’re not really happy with me because I’m not happy with you because I’m not happy with me.”

  • While it was a fast and easy read, something about the pacing didn’t feel natural sometimes. It was difficult to gauge how much time had really passed and sometimes it was just hours and then suddenly weeks.
  • WHY could this girl not get up from a chair, without it crashing loudly to the floor and her flailing about??? Or, you know, put down a glass?

Lastly, I want to add that there is a significant cheating plotline. I didn’t feel any certain way about it, other than obviously not being for it, but it also didn’t ruin the book for me. I just thought I’d mention it.

So, I liked the book, but didn’t love it. I found Christine’s writing style had a great flow and made it easy to breeze through the pages, but maybe I will enjoy her next attempt more.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Solid debut book by a great booktuber!

Have you read Again, but Better? Was it on your radar? Let’s chat!

March 2020 Wrap-Up

It’s been a year! Oh, wait … it’s just the end of freaking forever-March. I really thought January was the never-ending month, but March sure dethroned it. A lot has been happening, and very few of these things (or none) were according to plan, but more about that later. The one thing that March allowed me to do was get back into reading again. I still can’t plow through 10 books a month, like I used to do in my late High School/early college years (wow, am I getting old?), but I am quite happy nonetheless, because I am just really enjoying diving into books again. I am DEFINITELY on track for my Goodreads reading challenge.

Anna K. The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5) The Aftermath

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.

So, now let’s briefly talk about the obvious – the pandemic. I know, I know … we are all bombarded with it on a 24/7 news cycle and I can only imagine that you do not necessarily want to hear about it from me as well. I am not going to go into massive detail, but I just want to say that I hope you are all staying safe and at home (to the best of your abilities). These are trying times for everyone, but we need to remain patient and vigilant to continue flattening the curve. 

Having said that, I also want to say that it’s okay to mourn not being able to do something or see people you love. We are humans and therefore capable of more than one emotion. I can worry about the general human populace and still be sad about the fact that I had to cancel some important plans. As mentioned last month, I had planned to move to Canada this March with the work permit I acquired, but that has not happened. Not only was it my decision to cancel the flights and hotels I had already booked because traveling in this climate felt irresponsible, but a couple weeks later and literal all the borders are closed for non-essential travel. I am not going to lie, I threw myself a pity party and still am sad sometimes that I couldn’t do something I had worked towards for YEARS, but … in hindsight it might be for the better? I get to be with my parents right now. And even though it gets crowded sometimes, I am glad not to be entirely on my own an entire ocean away. It can get hard to find the positive, but I keep trying and just hoping that the more we band together (not physically, but by social distancing etc.) the sooner this will get managed.

Btw, don’t be like Vanessa Hudgens. Take this seriously!

Now, on to happier things! Life and Other Disasters has surpassed the freaking 2,500 follower milestone!!! I still can barely believe it, but I am so beyond grateful. As a way of looking back at years of blogging and which content stuck the most with you, my lovely readers, I published a series of posts titled “Kat Made Me Read/Watch It”. In it I listed all the shows, books and whatnot that you have told me you started watching or reading (partially) because of me and to this day, it’s one of the best things a blogger can hear. It makes our work feel appreciated and my heart sing. Here are the parts:

Aside from that, I don’t feel like I have been the most productive during this introspective time. I have barely picked up a brush, only honoring a couple actors for season finales or on their birthdays with a portrait. One was Ronen Rubinstein, who you will surely fall in love with just like I did once you watch 9-1-1 Lone Star (if you haven’t yet, what even are you waiting for?) and of course, the ever formidable Rupert Evans, who plays the whitelighter in the Charmed reboot.

I am serious, TK Strand will capture your heart (and not just that of hot police officer Carlos).

I thought it was especially cool that a friend of mine animated my drawing of Rupert, which made it eerily realistic and like it came to life!

MY FAVOURITE THINGS

I really had to think about this a whole lot, because I initially couldn’t think of something I had enjoyed over the top this month, but then it struck me! I absolutely 100% could not forget about Vampires. I mentioned it in this post, but to sum it up briefly. Vampirism is a matriarchy. This show creates vampires like humans (through birth) and deals with a girl who seems to be a hybrid. Her mother has broken off contact with the rest of the community, but when news gets out about Doina (the hybrid girl), they WANT her. It has a completely toxic ship, but one I am so here for? Like … I just need a second season to have Ladislas and Doina date. That’s literally all I want.

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve done this, but so many bloggers have been so very kind to me. They keep highlighting posts of mine and I always seem to have been too self-absorbed or busy to return the favour. So, here are a couple posts from around the blogosphere that I enjoyed.

  • Marie (Drizzle and Hurricane Books) talked about her book buying process and the fact that she HAS a real, several steps process is just wow! I love that girl!
  • Caro (Bookcheshirecat) has reviewed one of my all time hidden gems – Jackaby! You should really check it out if you haven’t yet.
  • Lois (My Midnight Musing) recommended some binge-worthy TV shows (including some shows that I absolutely 100% endorse as well), so give it a go if you need some more stuff on your quarantine watchlist.
  • Over at The Punk Theory, Becks has reviewed Season 1, Season 2 and Season 3 of Riverdale. That show is a trash fire that I once upon supported and now only hate watch. It’s beautiful to watch her confusion grow as she keeps with it … cause like a train wreck, you can’t seem to look away).
  • Maha (Sunshine n’ Books) made a plan for what she wants to accomplish during self-isolation. Since her to-do-list and mine are quite similar, I just felt the need to share it here too!

MY OTHER POSTS

VARIOUS TAGS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS

As I said before, I hope you are all staying safe and healthy! Here’s to hoping that we will all be able to accomplish the tasks we set for ourselves this April! If you ever feel like chatting, I am here.

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brooks (Book Review + Movie Trailer)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 325

I am struggling with how to even start this review. You all know how torn I am when it comes to the topic of books set during or closely after World War II. Some of my favourite reads treat that topic (check out Wolf by Wolf or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for some great examples) and I was ready to love and get my heart broken by The Aftermath as well. But somehow, that’s not what happened at all.

Rachael could find no solace in other people’s tales of woe. Pain was uniquely one’s own, and undiminished by a democracy of suffering.

The Aftermath certainly offers a perspective not too often shown. It deals with former enemies living in close quarters. With legitimate resentment and unwillingness to forgive and forget, while simultaneously needing to move on and let go. There is a constant push and pull as the story is mostly told from the confines of the families Morgan and Lubert, one English and one German. And that’s the whole point. These families have never done anything to each other per se, but their nationalities and what those countries have done during the war has led to loss on both sides and that in term to suffering. There are no real winners in war, so pain exists everywhere.

That is exactly what the book tried to show from as many angles as possible. There are complex moral questions to answer as you get confronted with what surely was the reality for many people. I am in no way EVER going to excuse the atrocities Germany (or Austria for that matter) has committed during the war, however, how can you judge every single person of a country for what the government did? How can you decide who has a clean slate and just did their best to survive or who willingly and eagerly participated? What about the children who were taught a certain mindset, sometimes too young to question what was going on – is their resentment towards the occupation justified?

And that is not all! The people who now want to rebuild the country and set it on a rightful path again, how much are they allowed to interfere really? If they disdain the entire populace, are they really able to help or are they making things worse? 

I’ve not met a German who has difficulty believing that they have been defeated, Wilkins. I think they have, to a man, accepted it, gladly, and with some relief. The real difference between them and us is that they have been comprehensively and categorically fucked, and they know it. It is we who are taking too long to adjust to that fact.

I don’t feel in any position to give or come up with proper answers here, but I was glad to have the book shine a light on those intricacies. I am not going to lie, some parts really hurt to read about. My grandmother was a young girl during the occupation and she had bad memories that haunted her until the end. I am not here to judge anyone’s right or wrong-doings, but I liked that the book showed that things weren’t that simple, that every side had its flaws.

However, why did I not love this book then? Everything felt very clinical and presented to me. There weren’t just the families, but also the Trümmerkinder (children living in the rubble), who basically started and finished the book and felt detached from everything else (despite providing a pivotal turning point for the story). While everyone had their part to play in showing what was going on, I had an immensely difficult time connecting to anyone in particular. While I was on board with some of the pain and resentment, some people felt manic and others had me furious at their unwillingness to adapt.

My biggest issue was probably the fact that the story just trickled along and then threw everything at you in the final 40 pages. I don’t mind introspective, slow stories. I don’t even mind it when nothing monumental happens at all and you just get a glimpse at a moment in time, but rushed endings have the tendency to ruin things for me. They never quite feel as satisfactory as the slower and intimate moments suggested it would all be thoroughly explained.

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! An interesting view at post-war Germany that failed to fully capture me.

Now about the movie. I haven’t watched it yet, but I intend to at some point, because an actor I know has a role in it. However, I thought I would still share the trailer with you. From what I could see, it mainly focuses on the affair between the British wife of the colonel and the German man living in their requisitioned house. I love Alexander Skarsgard, so I don’t exactly mind that they didn’t use a German actor for the role (even though Alexander’s German does not sound authentic). Still, I could see almost all the characters from the book appear at one point or another. The piano music (especially in the second trailer) is also very much in tune with the book. It looks faithful enough, but I suspect that there wasn’t enough room in that one film to really explore all angles.


Have you read The Aftermath? Have you watched the movie? Let’s talk!

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine Book Tag

I’ve been looking through my 75+ drafted posts and I am trying to get to some that have been in there for literal years. Back in early 2018 Fadwa @Word Wonders tagged everyone who loves the show for the Brooklyn Nine-Nine Book Tag. (I would like to link to the original creator, but Em doesn’t have a blog anymore?) I don’t know why I didn’t do it back then, because I sure seemed to have saved it? I really love Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so it would be a natural fit. But that doesn’t stop me from simply doing it now, especially since I am trying to get a kind of blogging routine back (Fridays for tags maybe?). Let’s go!

Jake Peralta

Starts off goofy and kind of a sh*thead and then becomes a lovable goofball.

I am picking Jack from Tweet Cute! (and not just because his name is so close to Jake …) In general, I feel like the Pepper-Jack-dynamic is very similar to the Amy-Jake-one (if I wasn’t trying to pick a different book for every prompt, I’d definitely also say Pepper was Amy). Jack isn’t that much of a sh*thead, but he is a bit of a prankster and snarky and bitter.

Raymond Holt

Starts off as intimidating robot, then becomes the dad figure you secretly (not so secretly) wanted in life.

Okay, hear me out! I know that Mr. K from Anna K is NOT the perfect father. The way he treats Steven and then does a 180 in how he treats Anna is … less than ideal? However, he seems strict and intimidating, but still loves his children and wants the best for them. Even when it takes him some time to come around, he definitely comes through for Anna in the end.

Amy Santiago

Type A who’s in control but geeks out over nerdy things like stationary and tries to be cool (and fails).

Okay, so Maddison from The Field Guide to the North American Teenager actually IS cool, but she is Type A if I have ever seen one. The way she coordinates everyone’s life is a miracle and I definitely think she has a nerdy side to herself for sure.

Gina Linetti

Lovable narcissist who everyone is lowkey afraid of, extremely smart yet uses their power for evil.

I am sure there are loads of characters like that in more recent fiction, but somehow the only one I could think of was Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby? I don’t think I need to explain the narcissistic qualities of him, how his plans couldn’t exactly have been called “good” and how everyone was a little intimidated, yet enthralled by him?

Charles Boyle

The most loyal of friends, would memorize everything about you to make sure you’re always happy, also a foodie.

When I think about good literary friendships, somehow Morgan Matson always comes to mind. My favourite of hers is still Since You’ve Been Gone and Emily definitely has the loyal best friend thing down (Sloane not so much?). She also works in an ice cream shop during the summer, if memory serves me right, and that totally fulfills the foodie component.

Terry Jeffords

Always trying to have a self-care day but failing miserably because they need to take care of their rowdy children.

Apparently I like to throw in a childhood favourite for all these tags nowadays. It was a hard tie between Prosper and Scipio from The Thief Lord, because both have to act like the parents of the group in a way, even if they are all just trying to survive and live their lives.

Rosa Diaz

The less you know about their past … the better. Would kill to see them smile though.

Malachiasz? Malachiasz! (Wicked Saints remains a fave!)

Norm Skully

Loves food so much, they’d probably kill you for a donut. Would fake a heart attack for anything.

A little bit of a cop out, but the only character so obsessed with food that they’d do anything and that I could think of right now was Jughead. I mean, the only time he thought he might have romantic feelings for someone was when the other person was dressed as a hamburger?

Michael Hitchcock

Surprisingly a very good friend, though he seems like he’d sell you out for anything.

I am pretty sure that NO ONE believed in Sevro‘s loyalty when they first started this odyssey of Red Rising, but he has proven himself to be a formidable friend despite his shadiness.


CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED!!! Especially if you like the show! 


What did you think of my answers for the prompts? Did they make sense? Let’s talk!

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher #0.5 Book Review)

Publisher: Gollancz
Page Count
: 280

It is a well known fact on this blog that I very much like the Netflix adaptation of the Witcher (it made a surprise entry into my favourite shows of 2019 list, because I couldn’t stop watching it upon its release). However, before that, I never played the games and honestly didn’t even know that the books existed. The Last Wish was originally published in 1993 (my birth year, or as I like to call it, the best vintage) and just completely escaped my notice until now. Upon closer inspection, it turned out that The Last Wish wasn’t a Witcher novel but a Witcher anthology instead, with everyone recommending to read it first. That truly explains a lot about this book!

Much like the show, you have to be prepared to not really know when things are happening and what their connection is. Reading The Last Wish, I felt like the show had done a great job, as I could clearly identify the contents of episodes 1 to 5 (not necessarily in that order) within the pages. Some character names were changed (why is Dandilion called Jaskier on the show?) and some might not have appeared yet (or will never appear at all?), but I think I had a grand advantage having watched the show before reading the book. I was prepared for the jumbled up timelines, for the messy tasks Geralt has to perform and for the characters that slowly crept into his heart.

I was especially surprised by the nonchalant mention of several well known fairy tales (such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, etc.), because they weren’t just tales within that universe, they actually happened there (even though in an even more sinister way than most remember it). Some got their own chapter, others were just mentioned in passing, but the inspiration was very clear behind the use of those characters/tales. That really made me think that Geralt was always just a village away from all the nighttime stories I knew so well from my childhood. A strange thought, a bit of a funny one too, but also a befitting one for it helps build a familiarity with an utterly different world.

“Evil is evil, Stregobor,” said the witcher seriously as he got up. “Lesser, greater, middling, it’s all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I’m not a pious hermit. I haven’t done only good in my life. But if I’m to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

So, if you pick up The Last Wish, you will find a series of tales introducing Geralt to you. He will show his true character and keep you guessing at what kind of massive mess he has gotten himself into. It ends on such note, that you will want to know more about the (in this version not THAT stoic) witcher and the trials that await him. It’s exactly what was promised on the cover! However, you should not expect a traditional story with beginning, middle and end. There are hints at something that spans greater for sure, but it’s just really not what The Last Wish is.

I am definitely intrigued and would pick up further novels. My only problem for now is that I am an absolute cover snob and this is the only one Netflix has released with the TV show cover and I would like matching ones. There are about eight or nine books in total though, so I feel like the show still has a lot of material to draw from and will hopefully release the other books with the tie-in covers as well!

Never not proud of this drawing I made. Geralt, my foul-mouthed hero.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of the show (or games too, I suppose)!

Have you read any of the Witcher books? Have you played the game? Loved the show? Let’s chat!

Anna K. by Jenny Lee (Book Review)

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Page Count
: 374

It’s time to make a confession: I have never read or watched Anna Karenina in all my life. Why is that little tidbit of info about me avoiding/being oblivious about a Russian classic vital to you in this very moment? Well, Anna K. is a the glorious modern retelling of said classic and I hereby freely admit that I have no way of comparing the two, but I hope that still gives me a “unique” view on the book. It definitely made me curious about the original novel, that’s for sure.

Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way.

This book really left me in some sort of emotional state of mind! It took me a bit to find my footing, but from the get go, Anna K. is a fast-paced whirlwind of amazing characters. A lot happens as you sort of play tag with the characters and switch from one POV to the next almost seamlessly. At first, I was a bit unsure of just the vast amount of characters, but they were interconnected beautifully and each had their own voice and personality and depth to them despite all of it being told in the 3rd person (to me that sometimes feels a little less personal, but not here). On the one hand, it felt like you were just observing the characters’ lives, but on the other hand, you had clear insight into all their motives and desires.

What I first believed to be a superficial glitzy love-at-first-sight teenage foolery, turned out to be so much more than that. I loved the upperclass Manhattan/Greenwich setting. I loved that Anna K. was a Korean-American teen and that her family’s tradition clashed and blended with American society standards. I adored the character dynamics and how everyone was connected in a more or less expected way. I loved how heightened and extra a lot of it was. At some point, there was one tragedy after the other and each time I thought my heart couldn’t possibly break any more, but then there was another one just around the corner. Yet, you don’t leave this book sad (maybe a little wistful), but rather full of hope and love for all these characters.

There’s not much fault one can find with this book in my opinion. The characters aren’t perfect paper cutouts, but actual human beings with faults and flaws. Anna and Steven even made it into my list of favourite literary characters and that’s not an easy one to get on. So, if you aren’t into cheating plotlines and characters using an excessive amount of drugs, maybe this isn’t the read for you. The love is also very … insta? Love at first sight in general comes quick to these characters. But if you want a Gossip Girl approach to a Russian classic (and I’ve been told Jenny Lee did a pretty remarkable job with the retelling) with a more diverse cast of characters, you should definitely check it out! I promise you will keep turning page after page in anticipation of what might happen next and how things could possibly go so terribly wrong for someone so lovely.

As a last thought, I would really encourage you to check out the Author’s Note at the end of the story. It really added even more spark to an already very entertaining and heartfelt rollercoaster of a read for me.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A fun and emotional take on an old classic!

Have you read Anna K. or Anna Karenina for that matter? Would you be interested in doing so? Let’s chat!