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!

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 385

**TW: Self harm (blood mages need to cut themselves to use magic), parental abuse, war, torture and gore**

I’ve wanted to read this book for so, so long! And I know that it divides people, because so many hate it, a lot of people think of it only as “meh” but then there’s people like me who absolutely 100% LOVED this journey. It’s honestly not often that I see a book where I could throw my last name in and it would just blend in nicely with the others, also, if I am not mistaken entirely, there’s going to be a Katya in the sequel and that’s just one letter away from my name, so I am going to take it! All those minor details aside, monsters, gods and mortals with major morality quarrels are the way to my heart.

“There was madness in his black eyes – madness and something terribly close to divinity.
Which was, in essence, the same as madness.”

You don’t get much time to adjust to this very rich world before you are thrown into a war that has lasted centuries already. The different viewpoints are clear, but you uncover so much more to it all throughout the story, it’s hard to explain where you find yourself and your allegiances at the end of it all. Our three main characters all grew up within certain belief systems and it has shaped them into the people that are presented to us at the beginning of the tale. Especially Nadya’s religion plays a huge part of her self image and it’s understandable that she meets people who portray everything she was taught to hate with hostility. I thought I would be more annoyed at them for being so stubborn and unwilling to see the other person’s point of view, but ultimately, it just made for all the better tension when they all ultimately meet and have to team up. None of these characters are saints, even if some might believe differently, because they all have done terrible and selfish things at one point or another, but for me it was easy to see how (at least most of them) came to be that person. I did not hold their past against them, which made some betrayals sting all the more. But honestly, it’s not just the main three characters you find yourself easily attached to, I also found myself drawn to the fiercely loyal companions and was worried about their well being by the end just as much as the others. I am not exaggerating when I say I screamed “MY POOR CINNAMON ROLLS OF STEEL!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY BABIES?!?” during the final pages.

Now, I understand if the romance in the book might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It worked for me, but then … I am also someone who wasn’t bother by the Rey and Kylo Ren pairing in Star Wars? I chose that specific example, because I know the author is like the number 1 Kylo Ren fan and there are certainly some Reylo similarities to be found here. Just like that didn’t work for everyone, I am guessing it also won’t work for every reader here. I, personally, felt the tension and was fine with it.

“When he stepped past her, a smile flickered at the edges of his lips. There was darkness at the corners, something evil just underneath the surface, sinister. He turned and grinned at her, monstrous but beatific, holding out his hand, darkness gone. Maybe she’d just imagined it. She took his hand.”

There’s also the diversity I enjoyed a lot. While you feel this world largely inspired by Slavic culture, the world ranges from deserts to snow regions, includes people of color, with disabilities and different sexualities. To me, those are all parts of what makes for good and enjoyable world-building. I was most fascinated by the supposed gods and the religious texts and accounts of saints though! There’s definitely a lot more to it than meets the eye and I wonder what we will discover about their origin and purpose as the series goes on.

I am glad I waited beyond the hype and checked out the book myself, because for me, this was an immediate hit. Also, even though I still have to wait a couple months, I am way closer to the release of Ruthless Gods (aka the sequel) than I would have been had I read the book upon its release. I still want it so bad right now … the sooner the better!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Give me all the monsters, gods and mortals and the sequel while you’re at it!

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts on it? Let’s chat!

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (Book Review)

Publisher: Dutton Books
Page Count
: 240

This is my third Nina LaCour book and by now she definitely qualifies as an auto-buy author for me. I realise that some of her books are pretty hit or miss for a couple of people, but so far she hasn’t failed to capture my heart with her stories. We Are Okay is a really low-key tale about relationships, grief and forgiveness. You definitely cannot call it a plot-driven story, because barely anything happens. Instead Marin takes you on a journey through the past year of her life and how everything got turned upside down.  I tried to figure out what happened for quite a while, but I think I blew the whole thing up in my head. The reveal was way simpler than that, but it didn’t make the betrayal sting any less.

Something I really appreciated about Marin and Mabel’s relationship was how simple and complicated their love for each other was. Throughout life, they were friends, lovers and sisters – the lines were blurred, but it did not diminish their feelings for each other. Even as their relationship towards each other changed, they wanted nothing but the best. They worried and cared, even when it did not always seem that way. I just love when there is no malice between girls, they get pitched against each other or show signs of toxic friendships way too often in books for my taste. So here’s an example of just how beautiful and full of good will a relationship can be:

I look at her. I wish her everything good. A friendly cab driver and short lines through security. A flight with no turbulence and an empty seat next to her. A beautiful Christmas. I wish her more happiness than can fit in a person. I wish her the kind of happiness that spills over.

I always have troubles expressing myself when I loved a book, because I want to say more than what you can clearly see – that I enjoyed it. This book was not just about romantic relationships, in fact, that was the smallest and most insignificant part of it. Much more it dealt with family, knowing where you come from and who the people really are who are by your side all the way. It was about grief, and how everyone deals with it differently. And finally there’s the forgiveness and learning how to move on, which wraps it all up in so much hope. I loved all of those parts, the quiet, simple and real way it was told, which is why there were tears rolling down my cheeks by the end of it all.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! A slow and extremely moving story about grief.

Have you read We Are Okay? Have you read other books by LaCour?

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Book Review)

mby

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 448

There is so much hype around this book and there has been for a while, but I feel it has intensified ever since the Trailer for the movie came out. It’s as if that had been the final nudge for all the people out there who hadn’t read the book yet, including me, Cátia and Cristina as we once again attempted a buddy read together.

I was prepared with some tissues by my side and quite honestly a little surprised when it turned out to be a really easy and fast paced read. Lou’s voice is relatable and the few chapters that were thrown in from different POVs were a nice change as well, even if they weren’t always strictly necessary. I enjoyed it right from the beginning, the only thing that kept nagging me were basically all the side characters except for Nathan. I was able to get and even like some of them more by the end, but overall they were a selfish and nonsupporting lot.

The book gets more difficult as you get from page to page, asking some tough questions you will probably be glad not to have to answer for real. When I finished Me Before You, I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, however, I did NOT cry all that much and here’s why:

Lou’s and Will’s story is heartbreaking. There is no denying that. You get to see their relationship develop over time and you want them to be happy. But the thing is, their life will never be sunshine and rainbows and glitter bombs, that’s just not how it is. And even though you might wish for it to turn out differently in the end, a part of you always knew what this whole story would lead to. So, I shed that single tear when it was over, but I also recognised what the story was about – being granted the right to make your own choices. Something that, in my opinion, many people take for granted these days. It also encourages one to live boldly, a message that I always appreciate and try to embrace as much as possible.

Finally, I am glad I picked up the book before going to watch the movie. It looks great from the Trailer and as if they stuck really close to the original story, but I am still struggling with some of the casting (not Lou and Will – they look awesomepants!). I bet it will be fun either way and not only because of the bumblebee tights moment!

4stars

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A story that will target your heart viciously with main characters that are compelling until the final page.

Have you read Me Before You? Are you excited for the movie? How many packs of tissues did you need?

The OTP Book Tag

otp

Okay, I am terribly behind on my tags and I am sorry for that, so it has occurred that I wasn’t just tagged by one person, but by two people to do The OTP Book Tag! Thanks to Jordyn @J. Bookish and Cristina @My Tiny Obsessions for giving me the chance to talk some more about bookish love! ❤

1. AN UNPOPULAR OTP THAT YOU SHIP

So difficult! I can’t believe I am even saying this after Glass Sword, but Mare and Maven? I wouldn’t even know how to explain it and it’s not that I don’t like Cal, because I do, but … Maven. I think I might need help …

2. AN OTP THAT YOU DIDN’T SHIP BUT NOW YOU DO

Well, I definitely couldn’t see what all the fuss about Juliette and Warner was when I first started the Shatter Me series. By the end I most certainly got it and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! Go Warner!

3. YOUR MOST HATED OTP

Is that a thing? Do people really hate couples? … hmm, I know something! Whichever poor chap ends up with Eadlyn Schreave from The Heir has my pity. She’s more than just a piece of work.

4. AN OTP THAT TOOK WAY TOO LONG TO GET TOGETHER

Almost every book couple ever? Well, Lila and Kell from the Shades of Magic series sure are taking their time. We are on book two and they are clearly meant for each other but they are nowhere near that stage of getting together. I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating, but it definitely would be easier to just see them happy together.

5. YOUR FAVOURITE NON-CANON OTP

The Magicians are very different in their book-form than they are on TV, but then they are very similar again as well. I’m probably not making much sense to you right now. I just feel like Eliot loves Q more in the books and I kind of shipped them in a weird way, even though I know Q never really considered it. Doesn’t mean I can’t, right?

6. YOUR FAVOURITE BROTP

Ugh, my answers are so darn repetitive. I am going to think of someone other than Will and Jem from TID. I CAN DO THIS!

*15-30 minutes of thinking later* AAAAH! Why didn’t I think of that faster? Darrow and Sevro from the Red Rising trilogy belong together forever. They are bros for life and probably even after that, because let’s face it, not even death could really sever their connection.

7. AN OTP YOU ADORED IN THE BOOKS BUT NOT AS MUCH IN THE MOVIES OR TV ADAPTATION

I wouldn’t say I “adored” Clace during The Mortal Instruments, but I liked them. Obviously! They were the main characters and I stuck with them through 6 books. However, they don’t really work on Shadowhunters for me. Both, Dom’s and Kat’s acting improved over the season, but they are still not there for me. The looks they give each other and whenever they kiss … I am just scared that Kat is going to smear Dom’s runes because they look like bad make-up to me.

8. A POPULAR OTP THAT NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY YOU JUST CAN’T SHIP IT

Totally have to steal Jordyn’s answer here, but I simply don’t feel Emma and Jacob from the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children at all. They were children, that wasn’t love! It was just ridiculous. And the fact that she already unsuccessfully dated his grandfather should have been a serious red flag as well.

9. YOUR FAVOURITE LGBT+ OTP

I hope you are not getting bored of this answer, but it is still Malec. Those two just have the biggest room in my heart and they will stay there for a whole lot longer.

10. YOUR ALL TIME FAVOURITE OTP

That’s like asking me to choose a favourite child and I don’t even have children! Currently reading Lady Midnight makes me really like Emma and Jules together, but to say they are my favourite of ALL TIME would be the overstatement of the year.

I TAG:

This tag has been around for a couple of months and I have lost track of who has done it or not. That means, I tag EVERYONE who hasn’t done it yet!

The Love Tag

love

Remember back around the time of Valentine’s Day when all the love-related tags swarmed the blogosphere? Well, that’s when Lashaan and Trang @bookidote tagged me for The Love Tag and I can’t believe that it has been sitting around in my drafts until now. Sorry for taking so long and thank you so much for tagging me, here we finally go (better late than never)!

Books Other People Love But You Haven’t Gotten Around to Read

I feel like someone is going to punch me for this answer, but I still haven’t yet read the Harry Potter books and I don’t think I will anytime soon. However, I am not saying it won’t ever happen. Maybe … someday …

A Book That You Love But No One Else Talks About

I still feel like not enough people talk about Trial by Fire or the Worldwalker series in general. What’s up with that? It has a super intriguing world, an interesting love story, humour and magic! Like elemental, kind-of-scientifically-explained-magic! Read it!

Stand Alone Books You Love

There are way too many books for that category … here are just a few:

standalone

Favourite Book Couple

MALEC! Okay, I am not even sure that’s true. I love them to bits, but I’ve been heavily reminded of my love for them because of Shadowhunters, because otherwise I am not sure I really would have chosen them. There are just so many great couples out there in the bookish world, but just look at that gif …

Series That You Love

I can never choose just one … it’s just way too difficult!

serries

The Perfect Song

There is no such thing as perfection! I am just going to share one of the latest songs on my never ending earworm list:

A Cute DIY

Wow! This is hard! I used some leftover felt bits to make these little minions. I guess if you don’t make them 3-dimensional and flat instead, you’d get some monster-y bookmarks? So in the end it’s just cutting and gluing some felt … I am sorry, that was terrible! Just be glad I don’t have anything like a tutorial channel!

I TAG

*If you’ve done this already or don’t feel like doing it, just ignore that I tagged you!*

Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers (Book Review)

tonedeafHis world is music. Her world is silent.
Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.
When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.

Publishing Date: May 3, 2016
Page Count:
 310

**I was provided with a copy by the author in exchange for an honest review!**

When I find out about a book, I read the blurb, but to be honest I mostly only skim over it. That often leads to me being way more surprised about what happens than I would have been if I had read the summary in detail – this is basically what happened with Tone Deaf! I only knew it was about a former musical prodigy turned deaf and a boy from a band and that I wanted to read it. So, I don’t even want to talk about the content all that much, I want you to find out what it is about yourself. I can only say that it was funny, more intense than I thought and really heartfelt.

The thing I was most intrigued about was how language would work. Dialogue is such an important part of the books I read and I didn’t quite know how it would be executed here. I can only say that Olivia Rivers did it perfectly! ASL is a language of it’s own, comprised of a different kind of vocabulary, but it was incorporated in a way that made sense to me.

Also, Ali, the main character, was great at reading lips but it was also made clear that she couldn’t just follow any conversation, especially not if people talked quickly or turned their face away from her. Tone Deaf also worked with texts and even Twitter, so I thought that was such a clever way to incorporate modern day technology into the story.

I tore through the book within two days and I think I would have made it in one if it hadn’t been for work. The thing that made the book so enjoyable were the characters – they simply felt real! And I am not even talking about the main characters only. Arrow, Killer and Jon (the bandmates) are some of my new favourite people, even though I wish Jon had gotten some more page time. And I would definitely love a dog like Cuddles!
Also, the romance between Ali and Jace was lovely. Yes, they were physically attracted to each other even when they didn’t like one another, but their connection was something way deeper. And I honestly think that they could never find that with anyone else.

If I had to complain about something in this book, there really isn’t much I can find. However, I did not like that Jace didn’t appreciate his fans or how the storyline fit together a bit too conveniently sometimes, but those were minor details. Jace definitely struggled with a lot of things and I just have a feeling that he couldn’t fully glory in the love of his fans, because deep down he still felt broken and not like he deserved it. I am going to keep telling myself that in order to not see him as a jerk so much.

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! A super sweet read about taking your life into your own hands, while realising that there is no shame in accepting help. Also, definite plus for the Doctor Who references!

5stars

Are you interested in reading this book? Have you heard of it before? Have you ever read a book about a deaf MC?