Again Again by E. Lockhart (eARC Review)

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page Count
: 304
Publication Date: June 2, 2020

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

This is not a love story, or, at least, not a romantic love story.

I feel like that’s what the cover might suggest and what you could interpret the blurb to be, but it’s not. Maybe it is part of why I went into this book with a sort of wrong idea, but then, I learned a long time ago to never truly expect E. Lockhart’s books to be any specific way to begin with. I quite enjoyed her earlier chick-lit-esque work (for those of you who followed her career and are fans of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, you’ll get a fun little easter egg) but was truly the most enamored with We Were Liars, which was what I would consider more in the mystery genre. Now, Again Again, doesn’t really fit into either category and proves once again that E. Lockhart won’t be confined to any genre.

Again Again is partially written in verse and takes place in a multitude of universes, although mainly two. I think this approach could go over either way with the reader. Sometimes it felt repetitive in a tiresome way, other times it showed you how one moment can unfold in such vastly different ways that you yearn for a different outcome. It definitely takes time to get used to this unconventional style of storytelling, although I think the visual formatting helped get the point across. Still, I’m really torn on this matter myself, because I would be lying if I told you that the final universe wasn’t my favourite and I was so very relieved that it existed – imperfections and everything – whereas I really struggled with the others.

As far as the characters go, I found it a bit difficult to really fall for Adelaide. She was putting on this bubbly front of happiness, which didn’t reflect her inner sadness and turmoil at all, bordering on obsession in so many departments of her life. Her erratic behaviour made me dislike her sometimes, especially when she was impulsive and neurotic about boys that were only an escape, but not a solution. I understood why she acted the way she did.
Grieving for someone, even if it wasn’t the kind of grief related to death, and being burdened by constant worry will change you. It makes you act strange and impassive and everyone deals differently, but even though I got that on some level, it didn’t prevent me from getting frustrated with her sometimes. I appreciated the realness of her brokenness, while also resenting it. I am contradictory that way.
I did really like her creative side though! I would love to see some of the stuff she made in this book in real life!

However, as I said at the very beginning of this review, this is not a romantic love story, because all these boys (which were really only three) couldn’t have been more inconsequential, if I’m being completely honest. The most important relationship in this book, at least in my eyes, is the one between Adelaide and her brother Toby. Theirs is a love story of a different kind, because loving a family member can be just as hard and disappointing and necessary. Them finding their way back to each other was the only thing that really mattered to me.

Lastly, I just want to mention that I always love it when dogs are in the mix! I want to warn all of you that a dog gets punched in the face in this book (out of defense), but that they also seem to be able to talk to the main character in a way and that was surprising and quirky and I still don’t know what to make of it.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Hit and miss in a lot of ways.

Do you want to read Again Again? Have you read previous books by E. Lockhart? Let’s talk!

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!

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 368

I can’t believe I read this brand new 2020 release, but it was one of the easiest tasks ever to convince me to pick it up! Twitter wars, teen banter, copious amounts of Gossip Girl and Mean Girls references, grilled cheese and all the sweet goods one could imagine as well as the enemies-to-lovers trope – this book basically consisted of all the things I love and adore.

When you go into Tweet Cute, I feel like you very much know what to expect and that’s not a bad thing at all, because the execution is what matters. I went into it having quite a lot of the story elements that would be used in mind already, but I was still surprised when some of them were used. Sometimes a certain plot point would arrive much sooner and I’d be surprised by how much of the story was still left. Nonetheless, I never felt like the story was dragging on or stretching out parts of it too much, everything flowed nicely and made sense in the grand scheme of things.

This won’t be a very long review in total, just because there is very little to say other than my utter adoration for Tweet Cute. The characters were fun, the setting was cool (I like some preppy uptown New York academy), the banter was hilarious, but what I loved the most was the complex family dynamic. The pressure you sometimes get from wanting to please your parents, the rivalry that can ensue with a sibling because of different treatment and the fierce loyalty one might still feel, even when things are not at their best at the moment. All those things make a story feel real and relatable.

Now, can someone please make me a grilled cheese?? I am hungry!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Such good fun! (Caution: Do not read while hungry or craving food!)

Have you read this book also? Have you seen it swarm around the blogosphere as much as I have? Let’s chat!

Your WIP in Gifs Tag! (NaNoWriMo 2019 Edition)

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you’ve probably seen this tag before! I have previously done it for my project Arcadia (check out the post here) and for my #witchyWIP (which you can check out here) and both times, I just had a ton of fun. Now, I didn’t want to do an official NaNoWriMo announcement, because I don’t know how seriously I am taking it this year, but I figured everything that helps get me motivated is a good thing.

Disclaimer for those who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is: It stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a yearly event that takes place during the month of November. Writers all over the world attempt to write a novel with at least 50K words during the time constraint of that one month. I’ve done it previously, but only succeeded once.

Since you are not supposed to TALK about what your WIP is about, I am not going to for now. I might do a short summary at the end, but will mostly just let you guess?? Let’s do this!

THE RULES

💛 Thank the person who tagged you (no one tagged me this time, but still, thanks Michelle for creating this kind of post!)
💛 Credit the creator of this tag (Michelle!) and link back to this post so she can find out aaaall about your WIPs!
💛 Try to limit the amount of gifs you use per question – I’d say maybe stick to five or less but I’m not the boss of you

THE QUESTIONS

Sum up your WIP in 4 gifs!

(Keep in mind, this is just a regular old Contemporary YA. I wasn’t trying to hint at any sort of scifi connection or so …)

Time to introduce your main characters!

Karoline

Little bean thinks she can do anything!

Lena

There’s some stuff to unpack there. Who is she jealous of? Does it make her literally sick? Stay tuned!

Jack

Maybe that’s not so much Jack, as Karoline’s thoughts about Jack, but whatever.

Marcia

You don’t want to mess with that lady.

How would your main character react in a crisis?

I feel like Karoline would have a hard time asking for help. She’d just try to brave it on her own.

If you were to meet your main characters, how would you react?

This story has some … memoir-esque qualities …

And if you were to meet your antagonist?

It would be civil, but I don’t think we’ll ever be on the same page.

Is there any romance in your WIP? How would you sum it up in gifs?

Actually, despite Karoline crushing on one or two people, there isn’t really a romance. It’s super tame and just not about that.

How do other characters feel about this ship?

How do you want people to react to reading your WIP?

This is the evolution of how I hope everyone will feel about Karoline.

WHAT IS IT ACTUALLY ABOUT?

As much fun as it was to look up those gifs and pick them for this post, I could understand how you might not feel the connection to any of it, since I have told you literally nothing besides it being Contemporary YA so far. Let’s start with a little blurb maybe?

Karoline is ready to see the world! (Or at least she thinks she is.) After mountains of paperwork and considerable support from her friends and family, she is finally about to embark on her exchange semester in the US. But when she arrives, nothing is like she imagined it would be. Yes, every day in High School feels like she jumped right into one of the TV shows that have shaped her youth, but somehow she just can’t seem to make it work with her host family. Will Karoline manage and have to grow up in a foreign country with no support system from back home around?

I am still working on that pitch … but it’s basically what it’s about. This is very heavily influenced by my own experiences, but I threw in more than enough fiction to not make it awkward with real life people. At least I hope so … no one better try to find themselves in this story.

So far, I am not on target for the official NaNoWriMo goal at all, but it’s okay. I will write at my own pace. What do you think about my untitled exchange semester story? Are you interested? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Let’s chat!

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (Book Review)

Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count
: 310

Tahereh Mafi is one of my all-time favourite authors. I haven’t read everything by her, however, most of what I have read was more in the dystopian (??? gosh, I am terrible with genres) category, whereas A Very Large Expanse of Sea is Mafi’s first YA contemporary! I wasn’t sure how her writing style would translate to this genre, but it was a truly amazing read!

Where to even start? Set one year after the terrible events of 9/11, it chronicles a particularly memorable time for Muslim teenager Shirin. You can immediately tell that it is a very personal story and while I don’t know all the specifics that went into this book, I am certain that Tahereh drew some parts of it from her own experiences. Even though I can’t say I was really a teen in 2002 just yet myself, I was slowly getting there, and it instantly brought back some memories from that peculiar time. I remember the news reports and the fear and all that even though I was living on an entirely different continent. But I also associate those years with a certain kind of nostalgia, when everything was getting more digitalised while not quite being there yet.

Aside from a setting I could easily wrap my head around, I was most enamored with the characters. Shirin is a no-bullshit kind of narrator and a really smart one at that. She manages to paint a picture of all the people in her life in a way that makes them seem real, even if you only meet them briefly on the page. Her growing relationship to Ocean was exactly how I picture teens in love for the first time. Everything happened fast but at the same time with caution and the awareness that the other person might just have the power to break their heart.

The entire story tackled so many different topics. This isn’t just a love story, although there certainly is a focus on it, but also a tale about family, friendship, finding your passions and having to handle racism and Islamophobia. It hurts deeply to know that there are such vastly ignorant and hateful people out there. I always wished that those parts of the story were fiction only, but unfortunately that’s not the case.

Lastly, Tahereh Mafi finished the story off in the most bittersweet way. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I am not going to go into the details here, but it felt right to end it in that certain way, while you also wanted so much more afterwards.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! This book was packed with so much in such few pages in comparison.

Have you read A Very Large Expanse of Sea? Is it something you’d be interested in? How did you feel about Tahereh writing in another genre? Let’s talk about it!

Contemporary Witches are BACK on TV!

When I was little, I was always fascinated by any story that involved magic. However, in fairy tales, the witches are often the baddies, but growing up, I mostly saw them as powerful, good (or at least morally ambiguous) women on TV. I adored those portrayals and that’s part of why I am so happy that contemporary witches are having a real comeback on the small screen. Not to say there’s anything wrong with historic settings, but I do like to see them integrated in life nowadays – makes the daydreaming easier, if you know what I mean. Here are some of the most recent examples that you can currently find on the telly:

**Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the full season of any of these shows yet!**

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Very few people seem to know this, but The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina isn’t just a remake of the 90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it’s actually based on a series of comics that are part of the Archie universe. Yes, that means that Riverdale and Greendale are effectively in the same universe and a crossover is not unlikely. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Just yesterday, Netflix released the full first season of the show. Even a cursory glance at it will show you that it has very little to do with the 90s show some of us might still remember, but that is probably for the best. It rarely works if you try to recreate something exactly the same way (although they should have kept the talking cat – Salem was just too iconic).

The visuals now are a lot darker, with a modernised perspective on things as well as a certain touch of retro to it all – I haven’t seen so many people use landlines in a decade! You can be certain that the set designers and cinematographers took great care when they created this show, especially in terms of playing with colour. While I do appreciate the new spin on things, I can’t say I love the show. It’s hard to put my finger on what it is that I am missing, but maybe it’s just moving a tiny bit too slow for me.

Light as a Feather

Staying on a darker path, this show is for people who enjoy the horror side of it all. Based on a former wattpad story and now published book, Light as a Feather is a new Hulu show that draws on works such as Final Destination and Carrie.

I may have expected this to be even creepier and gruesome than it was, but so far there were still a couple nice twists and turns. Albeit it being a little predictable at times, it’s still interesting to see the characters react to certain situations they are put in. My main complaint for it would probably be that I really didn’t understand the why of it all after watching 2/3 of the first season. I hope it will explain things to some extent, as I am really not expecting a full on tell all in the final three episodes, but a little clarification as to what’s going on would be nice.

Having said this, putting the show in a post about witches might have been a bit of a stretch since I don’t know what’s happening. But the whole “Light as a feather …”-chant does always remind me of witchcraft, so there’s that …

Charmed

A couple of you already know this, but I was one of the biggest fans of the original Charmed show. If I had any say in this matter, the CW reboot would have never happened and we would have gotten a Next Generation kind of show instead. Alas, that’s not what happened and here we are.

I think the biggest mistake the CW made with this show is alienate some of the original fans previous to the reboot’s release by saying that the new version is a feminist spin on the original. Three powerful women living by themselves, rocking their careers and not actually being all about men despite that being part of their life sounds great to me, but apparently it wasn’t enough for the CW. Nevertheless, I really wanted to give this a try. If it could introduce a new generation to the power of three, why not? Right?

Well … I am not entirely convinced. I am glad there seem to be more inclusion in terms of casting and portrayal, I would never ever argue with that. However, to me, the charm of the original was that they had to figure out the magic on their own. Their guardian whitelighter didn’t show up in the first episode to explain everything like it happened here. Furthermore, in terms of visuals, this new Charmed just seems to draw from a lot of modern day pop culture and I think that’s a bit lazy. The first demon you see could be a Game of Throne’s Ice King doppelganger and the way their whitelighter teleports looks like apparation from Harry Potter. Why did they change that anyway?

As you can see, I am very skeptical. The second episode was better than the pilot in my opinion, but it has a long road if it wants to become a fan favourite like the original.

A Discovery of Witches

Did I save my favourite one for last? I absolutely did! So far A Discovery of Witches, based on the book by the same title, has only aired on Sky One in the UK, but it will be out in the US in 2019.

There’s a lot that is wrong with this show. In my heart and my mind, I absolutely 100% know that. People who compare it to an adult Twilight are spot on. It has the cliché vampire who stalks the girl who falls in love with him anyway, the forbidden love and whatnot. But it also has an intriguing system of magic and a scientific background to support it. Combine all that with a perfect casting of Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer as the leads (their chemistry is off the charts) as well as beautiful scenery shots of Oxford, Venice and remote places in France – I was hooked immediately.

Maybe, as I get older, I am more drawn to adult shows? I feel like that’s not universally true, but little did I know that I was still craving vampire stories just like I did when I was 13 years old. Out of all the shows I mentioned, this is the one I am yearning to see the next episode of. I know that the book is a tome, so in comparison I think they are moving quite fast on the show without making it look like a rush job. This is for sure my latest obsession.

Honorary Mention – Legacies

I really only want to mention this briefly, but Legacies is CW’s latest spin-off show of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. I can’t really recommend this for anyone who hasn’t watched the previous shows at all, as they don’t really waste time explaining who’s who, but rather just assume it’s a given that you know them. Still, it does have witches, vampires and werewolves – so it definitely fits the theme and if you are into that and liked the previous shows, then it might be worth checking out. The first episode was decent enough.


What’s your take on witches? Are you glad they are back as well? Don’t hesitate to comment if you want to chat about any of the above mentioned shows! 

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali (Book Review)

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon and Schuster
Page Count
: 336

First of all, I want give a huge shout out to Analee @Book Snacks because she hosted a giveaway which let me pick this fabulous book as my prize. Thank you so, so much! I rarely ever get lucky with giveaways, so this had me jumping up and down with glee when I found out. On to the actual book now! (TW: sexual assault!)

It’s no secret that I have been in a bit of a reading slump these past months, with things other than books occupying my mind. But even before that, I can’t remember the last time I stayed up until the early hours to keep reading like I did with Saints and Misfits. It’s not that this was such an action-packed story, quite the opposite, but it had me stressed out about 80% of the time. Janna’s story is one of a regular Muslim teen and super relatable at that even if you aren’t 100% familiar with her culture and religion. I truly loved that about the book. Aside from a dark twist early on, it’s very much grounded in her High School experience, struggle with finding her place in her community and family as well as figuring out how her belief fits into her daily and romantic life. Simultaneously, there’s this dark cloud following her every step in the shape of “the monster”. I don’t want to give away what exactly happens, but whereas the book gave me so many characters to love (Pick a favorite!?!? Janna, Nuah, Sarah, Tats – I CANNOT EVEN CHOSE!), it also gave me that one person to channel all my anger towards. I didn’t always agree with other people’s take on the events that happened, especially the ones calling Janna “weak”. I believe that most of us think that we would fight back immediately when something bad happens to us, but that is far from reality when the situation actually occurs. Her initial helplessness was contagious and I think that’s why I felt so connected to Janna all through the story. Add the side tale with Mr. Ram, with her emotions and thoughts very much mirroring my own after something that happened in my life and this book was sure to have me hooked forevermore.

I was sobbing during the last chapters. I was sad and touched and glad and angry. Any book that evokes so many emotions in me is one that I can only recommend to others as well. As much as I enjoyed the book, I couldn’t give it a full 5 stars, because of the pacing and the flow. Especially in the beginning, I thought that some of the story felt a little hacked up and not cohesive enough in terms of how it flowed. And then the end came very abruptly. I am a person who enjoys finding out about consequences as well and that wasn’t really given in the final pages. Still, I feel like this book will stay with me for a while and I am sure I will revisit these characters again and again in the future.

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! I will cherish this one in my heart for a long time!

Have you read Saints and Misfits? Do you want to?