Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 352
Release Date: January 11, 2022

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

CW: depression, teen pregnancy, explicit sexual content, parental abandonment/tension, body insecurity

I have to start off by saying that this was the perfect end of the year/start of the new year read! It’s set around that time, in my beloved Seattle no less, and I just felt like all the fates aligned, especially with this being very reminiscent of my favorite Netflix RomCom Set It Up to bring this story to me. Honestly, it’s like this book was written for me.

The author preempted the story with a note on the depiction of depression in the book and how personal of a topic it was, while it may also be very different from other people’s experiences. I really appreciated having that insight before I dug in, but, from the beginning, I loved the setting (having worked in the TV world as well), the dynamic between the characters (not even just talking about the main pairing) and the themes that were presented. I could see a lot of myself in Ari and was immediately in love with her love interest, Russell. It’s not often that you get to read about a male plus-size love interest and one that is done so well no less.

In general, I found a lot of Weather Girl just laugh out loud hilarious, while simultaneously thinking that even the most over the top moments had a feel of authenticity to them. I enjoyed the great communication and could have even done without the obligatory third Act fight. However, I really have to emphasize that the fight made sense and added another point of realism. I just wanted everything to be happy, which, if you’ve paid attention to the book, is just not feasible or realistic. Sometimes, it takes time and work to get to where you want to be. Sometimes, you have to be vulnerable and take a risk in order to get a reward. And sometimes, it’s okay to bend a little for the right person. It was a lovely message.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed the whole book! I liked the pacing and the progression of the relationships, but also the challenges they had to face. In the end, I might have even wished for one or two more chapters before the epilogue. Still, this was such a satisfying read!

Fazit: 4/5 stars! The perfect way to end this year for me!


Are you planning on reading Weather Girl? Do you think this story might be for you? Let’s talk!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Book Review)

Ace of Spades

Publisher: Usborne
Page Count
: 480

CW: racism, homophobia, bullying, hate crimes, forced outing, emotional abuse, mention of suicidal attempt, anxiety and panic attacks, torture, blackmailing, violence, stalking, gaslighting and murder

This review is brought to you by the sheer generosity of my good friend Marie @Drizzle and Hurricane Books. She hosted a giveaway and I was the lucky winner, getting to choose from books she had previously talked about on her blog. I picked Ace of Spades (you can read Marie’s review here) and have not regretted that choice one bit!

This book was FANTASTIC! It genuinely deserves all the hype and I’m currently trying to wrap my head around how I could possibly put my thoughts into coherent words. The premise is pretty straight forward: the only two black kids at Niveus Private Academy suddenly get targeted by an anonymous presence called “Ace” in their final year at the school. While people don’t grasp the connection at first, a thrilling tale unfolds that will keep you at the edge of your seat the entire time.

I loved the hints that were placed throughout, but how I was still shocked and surprised at every single revelation. Maybe, sometimes, it wasn’t so much because I didn’t think it was possible, but just because I didn’t want to see the knives in those kids’ backs get twisted in any further. I was rooting for them so much as they showed strength and vulnerability, where I am sure I would have crumbled to pieces already. I would have loved to burn down that entire school for what was happening to them.
While it’s easy to love Devon from the get go, it’s Chiamaka who grows on you over time, as you learn more about her. Both were so different, yet such compelling personalities in their own rights. They created the perfect balance for each other. But so did the book as a whole, in general. The writing kept me on my toes, made me turn page after page and managed to be engaging, chilling and disturbing all at once.

As much as it was a magnificent thriller, it was also an exceptional commentary on elitism, racism and the intersectionality of being queer and Black/a person of color.

My recommendation is to go into this book with as little knowledge as possible and to get yourself swept up in the mystery and emotions. I was riled up and sad and shocked. My range of emotions was really exploited to its full extent and that means I can’t put it any other way than calling this book a masterpiece. That end is going to keep a wicked smile on my face for a while, I believe.

Lastly, yes, this book really did combine Gossip Girl and Get Out in the best way possible, while completely staying its own story. Please, convince yourself of its magnificence!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! A fantastic and thrilling read. HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!


Have you read Ace of Spades? Do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (ARC Review)

Dark and Shallow Lies Cover

Publisher: Razorbill
Page Count
: 432
Release Date: September 7, 2021

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

CW: mention of suicide and self-harm, domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse, graphic murder, death of children, hurricane/natural disaster

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve found myself drawn to darker and darker material as of late and ever since I read the blurb of this supernatural YA thriller, I knew I was going to love sinking into this world. Rich in atmosphere and magic, it still takes a while until you find your footing. While it’s a very interesting setting and concept, the beginning is a bit messy as you don’t completely understand what has been happening. Grey, our main character and narrator, is a decent guide though and introduces us to all the key players one by one … and there really are quite a few.

I think Dark and Shallow Lies did an amazing job in portraying Grey’s confusion and grief due to the disappearance of her best friend and “twin flame” Elora. Not every decision will be rational when your heart is broken and reeling, so I decided to not be too harsh on her for her constantly changing feelings towards people.
Seen as she is the only one who lives away from La Cachette outside of the summer season, it felt natural that there was a bit of distance between her and the events of the past months. However, the story focused a lot on her potential love interests as well as her dependancy and need for certain people and not so much on the other “summer children”, which would have been a bit more interesting for me. They all have different powers and are supposedly inseparable, but we were mostly told about that instead of it being shown. No matter how often they said they loved each other more and in a different way than they could ever love anyone else, they sure didn’t seem as distressed about their dwindling numbers as they should have in my eyes.

The build up of the mystery was great and left you wondering about what happened for quite a while. Sometimes you might feel like you would want a quicker progression in the case, but I was so sucked into the story, I flew through it either way and just loved exploring every new page. Ultimately, everything does make sense! When the puzzle pieces eventually fit together and everything falls into place, you can’t help but think “of course, what else could it have been!?”, which I think is always a satisfying experience. More than anything, this book seems to be a lesson on trusting your gut instinct when you think something isn’t quite right. I still wish that some aspects were explored further and I’m missing one key explanation about a certain character, but I also wasn’t massively disappointed in the end.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! I decided to round up because of the atmosphere, although I think it could have dug deeper.


Do you plan on reading Dark and Shallow Lies? Are you into magical YA thrillers? Let’s talk!

Take Me with You When You Go by David Levithan/Jennifer Niven (ARC Review)

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: August 31, 2021

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

CW: parental neglect, parental abandonment, physical abuse, domestic violence

I have always been an ardent fan of David Levithan’s writing, with his books appearing on this blog plenty a time. However, I do believe that he does some of his best writing whenever he embarks on a journey with a fellow author, which had my curiosity piqued for this one. Although I know a few titles that Jennifer Niven has written, I hadn’t read any of her work before this book, but I still wasn’t about to pass up on the chance to see these two create a story together. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed!

Take Me with You When You Go is entirely told in emails. It’s a style of narration I absolutely adore, but also something that’s not always easy to pull off. The tricky part is to tell a story, without making it seem too constructed. The language has to evoke feelings and reflect a way people would actually write personal emails instead of how you would write dialogue in a book. I think Take Me with You When You Go handled it well for the most part, although I sometimes wasn’t as immersed in the longer messages as I would have liked to be.

It’s easy to get invested in the fate of Bea and Ezra. Their bond is quickly established and you more or less fly through the pages, hoping they make it out alright on the other end. The situation they had to grow up in is never easy to come to terms with and you shouldn’t have to, because there was nothing okay about it. And still, while reading, it never felt like it got too heavy or weighed me down too much, possibly because of the style of writing that was so easy to follow. Also, I really enjoyed all the Avengers references, because yes, please, talk Marvel to me! That’s my language!

While reading, I feel like you might get frustrated with the siblings’ behavior at times, but simultaneously, it all makes so much sense. Bea, especially, makes it hard at first, because her decisions seem selfish, but become more understandable the more you learn about her. The trauma they both endured made them clam up and build walls, no well-being person could simply climb over them. However, it was beautiful to watch them take charge of the situation and accept help, letting people in who were on their side. 

Something I credit the book highly for is that they put resources for people seeking help at the end of the novel (at least my copy). When dealing with such a real life issue, I appreciate the effort of not just discussing it through fiction, but also including ways to aid people who are actually suffering through these bad circumstances.

While I think many readers will believe that they know where Bea and Ezra’s journey will take them, there are plenty of surprises along the way. This book comes without much fuss, but still manages to pack quite the message. I’d love to leave you with a quote (and also little lesson) that stayed with me after reading to end this review:

It’s wonderful, when someone sees you, the real you, but – and this may be the most profound thing I’ve ever thought or said – maybe the most important thing is seeing yourself.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! A quiet but impacting book!


Do you plan on reading Take Me with You When You Go? Have you read other books by Levithan and/or Niven? Let’s talk!

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Book Review)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 358

CW: anxiety, depression, suicide

If you are like me and you struggle to connect with musicals (even if I do occasionally adore some of them *cough* Hamilton *cough*), you will be happy to hear that there is a novel based on the hit show that is Dear Evan Hansen. I say this like it’s big news, but really, the book has been out for a year already. And I do even know and like some of the songs from the show, but I am not among the fortunate few who might get to experience it live and just listening to the songs gives me limited amount of joy, so I was really happy to dive into this in a more traditional book-format.

In all seriousness though, I was prepared to sob my way through this book from all I had heard, but I didn’t actually cry until very close to the end. It’s not that there isn’t inherent sadness to it all, but something about the way it was written and told just made it a very fast-paced and easy read for me. I don’t remember the last time I devoured a book in less than two days … Nonetheless, that didn’t keep me from connecting with the book on an emotional level too!

“If the pain is in you, it’s in you. It follows you everywhere. Can’t outrun it. Can’t erase it. Can’t push it away; it only comes back. The way I’ve been thinking, after all that’s happened, maybe there’s only one way to survive it. You have to let it in. Let it hurt you. And don’t wait. It’ll reach you eventually. Might as well be now.”

Evan Hansen is, at least to me, a deeply relatable character. He suffers from severe anxiety, feels lonely and like he doesn’t fit in. Although he has a very loving parent in his life, he feels expectations of what he should be and how he should act weighing him down and ultimately it leads to him making some really, really bad decisions out of fear. I cannot say that I have done anything nearly as terrible as what Evan did, but I like that the book did not try to make excuses for him. Not once did I feel as if this was a redemption storyline, but rather a plea to own up to your mistake, clearly communicate with the people you care about and maybe, just maybe, there is always someone in a similar situation as yourself, so don’t give up.

“I wish that everything was different. I wish that I was a part of something. I wish that anything I said mattered, to anyone. I mean, let’s face it: would anybody even notice if I disappeared tomorrow?”

If I had to criticize one part of it all, it would probably be the love story. I get that everyone handles grief differently, but the way this was told felt a bit off. But then again, so many of the decisions made were beyond questionable, so I don’t even know if you could consider that specific part strange. My head just wasn’t really in it, because all I really wanted was for Evan and Connor to have gotten the chance to be friends for real.

I obviously can’t attest to any of the differences between the musical and the book, however, from what I gathered from others, the book definitely expands on the story and the inner thoughts of the characters (which is neither good nor bad, but just a thing that comes with it being a different format that allows more content than a musical). As someone who did not know all the songs and all the details of what Dear Evan Hansen would be about, I can say that it’s a book you can definitely pick up if you haven’t had anything to do with the musical! 

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A heartfelt and relatable story about mistakes, loss, grief, family and much more!

Have you heard of the musical? Have you read the book? Do you want to? Let’s chat!

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (Book Review + The Legend of the Golden Raven Novella)

Publisher: Imprint
Page Count
: 305

CW: hallucinations, unhealthy co-dependency, negligent treatment of children, harmful behaviour and self-endangerment 

I’ve wanted to pick up The Wicker King ever since I saw a finished hardcover copy of it in a store in Canada almost 1.5 years ago. If you are a sucker for beautiful covers and extravagant design inside and outside of books, you will have a hard time resisting this one. Although I try to get better at not just buying books because of their beauty, the Wicker King definitely paid off.

All the superficial details aside, I honestly am glad I finally read the book. It’s not an easy read for sure, but it has lovely characters and such an important story to tell. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you don’t necessarily wonder as much about what is fantasy and what is reality as it might seem at first glance. I’ve had my fair share of books that mastered the art of completely bending your mind with the possibility of what might be happening, but there were very few doubts about the going ons in the Wicker King for me, which is probably why it was almost scary to read sometimes.

August and Jack are wonderful characters and I often just wanted to jump into the story and mother them, hug them and protect them. I did not agree with all the choices they made nor the behaviour they sometimes showed, but those boys did the best they could and deserved so much better. It’s not that I believe their parents didn’t love them, but they did a terrible job at it. Circumstances can make life hard and people crumble and break at times, but if you have kids, you really have to power through regardless. I know it’s easier said than done from where I am comfortably sitting childless behind a computer screen, but wow, did I wish that I could somehow help them and care for them, because their parents sure didn’t. In the end, it was good that they took care of each other, even if they could have done with a guardian in their lives.

There are a couple reasons I didn’t fully adore this book though and I think those are just very me reasons. While I love myself some short chapters, I was confused about the POV in the beginning (which is August’s by the way) and then felt like they hindered me from really connecting in some moments. I also didn’t love the continued hook ups, but my main sore point of the book was the relationship between August and Jack somehow. I liked that it was ambiguous in the beginning, because I am not the kind of person who just puts a romantic label on things just because I can. However, the longer I read on, the more I got afraid for them. They were so important for one another, so entangled in each other’s lives. The presence of August was like a necessity to Jack and vice versa. I understand that it’s one of the main points of the book, but it almost seemed unhealthy to me and therefore I couldn’t 100% root for them to be together. As I said though, this is a very me thing and maybe that worked perfectly fine for other people.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Definitely worth a read even if I didn’t click with every part of it.

If you know me, you also know that I am not much of a novella person, but The Legend of the Golden Raven was free for Kindle, I got it and really enjoyed it.

In only 40 pages, The Legend of the Golden Raven shows Jack’s condensed view of the events of The Wicker King. I thought that was a really neat addition to the main book and was happy to see a whole lot more magical/fantastical elements included. Obviously, the author couldn’t go into detail with it, but it still fills some gaps and rounds up the tale nicely.

It’s most likely not a must-read, but if you enjoyed the Wicker King, then I would recommend this as well.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! 

 

Have you read The Wicker King and it’s companion novella? Do you want to? Let’s talk about it!