Are Chris Evans and I compatible (readers)?

Disclaimer: I do NOT know Chris Evans. All the information is taken from various tweets and interviews and could potentially be outdated.


Welcome to the second installment of this very special feature! For those of you who missed the first one or don’t really know what’s going on, I’d recommend heading over to Are Tom Hiddleston and I compatible readers? I put a lot of work and passion into that post as well as this series as a whole, hoping it will bring you as much joy as it did to take part in it for me. You’ll definitely be able to see an explanation of the reading experiment at the beginning of the last feature, but in short, I read celebrities favorite books and determine if we would be a good match. All of that in good fun, obviously!


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Are Tom Hiddleston and I compatible (readers)?

Disclaimer: I do NOT know Tom Hiddleston. All the information is taken from various interviews and could potentially be outdated.


Welcome to the first of hopefully many installments in this brand new feature! I’ve already teased this “little” reading experiment in my May Wrap-Up post and am so excited to finally share it with you. When I was trying to think about something new and fresh that would fit well into the theme of the blog and also be a very me-thing to do, this was the very first thing that came to mind.
It basically boils down to me picking an actor or actress of my choice (Tom Hiddleston in this case), doing a little deep dive on their favorite books and then comparing how I feel about them. I think that a person’s taste in books reveals a lot about them and turning it into a sort of compatibility test felt like a neat idea. So, I hope you will all enjoy reading this as much as I did creating it!


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My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee (eARC Review)

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Page Count
: 496
Release Date: February 2, 2021

Further synopsis taken from Goodreads:

In the breathtaking, “precise, elliptical prose” that Chang-rae Lee is known for (The New York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller’s outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion–on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.

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

CW: parental abandonment, suicidal ideation, mental illness, forced labor, forced sexual intercourse, sex work

Let’s get it out of the way. Unfortunately, I was not the right reader for this book.

I had been very eager to pick up this novel, because of my own experiences abroad. Be it during my formative High School years or later on in life, every time I went to a different country for a longer period of time, I learned something about the world, about people and most importantly myself. No matter where I stayed, it changed me and taught me valuable lessons. I cherish those experiences and thought it would be a great connection to this story. But no matter how hard I tried, I constantly found myself losing interest.

Told between alternating timelines of now and the adventure that got Tiller to his present situation, I couldn’t always quite make the connection between the different scenarios. I felt that the story was disjointed and didn’t evoke the emotional effect I had hoped for. The journey abroad and its aftermath were so important, yet Tiller doesn’t even leave his country until about 40% into the book.

While everything Tiller describes has a purpose, it’s still hard to follow him as he finds value in situations you wish he had never gotten into. I don’t think anything ever goes smoothly when you set out for something potentially life-changing, but where he found himself along the way was among the worst that could happen. There are some clear themes around parenthood, taking action (which Tiller does very late in the book, mostly being an inactive protagonist who things happen to rather than someone who makes things happen – but that’s all part of the journey!) kinship and the privilege of certain opportunities. And yet, I still couldn’t always grasp the fondness for certain people and experiences I would have rather never thought of ever again, while Tiller had them on the highest of pedestals.

Ultimately, I think that this style of writing just wasn’t for me. I can see many literary fans rejoicing in the details, but I found myself drifting off mid-sentence as the descriptions became ever more elaborate and lengthy. In general, this book was just too long, offering pages of minute details of various foods and drinks or other things, just information on top of information, but not the connection to me as a reader I really sought. I am certain others will be able to appreciate Lee’s craftsmanship and skill more than I could. 

Fazit: 2/5 stars! Unfortunately, My Year Abroad failed to capture me.


Have you spent some time abroad? What was it like for you? Can you see yourself picking up a book like this?

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar/Max Gladstone (Book Review)

Publisher: Saga Press
Page Count
: 209

I went into this book pretty naive. I thought that if I could grasp movies like Inception (not that it thematically has anything to do with this particular book, I was more thinking in terms of complexity), I’d surely be able to understand This Is How You Lose the Time War. Oh, how foolish a thought of mine!

From the get go, you get plunged into a world or multiple complex interweaving time strings you are not going to be able to comprehend. There is no explanation of this universe. There is no easing you into the matter of Red and Blue (the main characters who tell the stories, partly through letters but also just as you follow their path) and their unique rivalry turned deep connection. You just have to accept prompts such as:

Burn before reading.
Bubble to read.
Every seed is a letter.

When you start out, none of this makes sense. How do you burn a letter and THEN read it? But you soon come to accept that there are words on the page you know, that are familiar, but that don’t make sense in this constellation or context to you. It’s a process that took some time for me to come to terms with and just read like I understood what was going on. But then, Red and Blue aren’t “normal” people/humans. You cannot expect them to operate the way you would and to be confined to our meager options. They are agents of the Garden and the Agency respectively and that means something entirely new and complex again.

But as you go on, dive deeper, it doesn’t have to all seem logical to you. Maybe there is no universal logic that will ever be able to be applied to this novella and that is okay too. It works in its own unique way. I can see a lot of people struggling with it though and it is something to be aware of when you pick up This Is How You Lose the Time War.

What “saved” this book is the sapphic longing that oozed off the pages. It was beautiful and gave this confusing mess a purpose. There is really no other way to put it.

“I love you. I love you. I love you. I’ll write it in waves. In skies. In my heart. You’ll never see, but you will know. I’ll be all the poets, I’ll kill them all and take each one’s place in turn, and every time love’s written in all the strands it will be to you.”

Fazit: 3/5 stars! It makes more sense towards the end, but it’s still utterly confusing in its lyrical beauty.

What is the last read that had you all confused? How important is worldbuilding to you when the focus of the story lies on emotions? Let’s talk!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

Publisher: Gollancz
Page Count
: 458

**CW: rape, sexual assault, abuse, self-harm, murder, violence, vomiting, gore**

I like Leigh Bardugo as an author. I have not, in fact, read everything she has written, but just like about every human on earth, I have really enjoyed the Six of Crows duology and could easily have seen her become one of my household favourite authors. When it was announced that she had written her first adult book in a sort of dark academia setting, I was fully on board. And it’s not that this book didn’t deliver on what it advertised, it just turned out that I wasn’t really the right reader for it.

First of all, you get thrown into a world you understand very little of. Bardugo is great at creating a whole universe with magic, and rules that apply to it, that feels real and accessible, but I was just lost. I’ve never been to the Yale campus and even with a map, there were so many details I had a hard time connecting with. Aside from Gilmore Girl’s Rory, I really have no connection to it if I think about it some more. But then there are also the actual magical societies. I thought we would gradually get eased into the matter, but instead you start into the midst of it all, and believe me when I say it is a mess.

Aside from the confusing societies, it takes a while to get to know the characters and therefore really get into the story. To me, connecting with the people on the page and their journey is so important, but there were so many blanks that eventually got filled in, but it took me a good 100 pages to really get into it.
Alex Stern, the main character of the series and who’s real name is actually Galaxy, is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Her past is hard to swallow and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I understand her anger and her way of keeping people at bay, but at the same time, I felt like I was kept at bay sometimes. That’s maybe why I found golden boy Darlington (who I need back desperately and who will be the main reason I will pick up the sequel) and quiet but caring Dawes more accessible. Also, Turner was a big upside of the book for me, because he felt like the lawful good person the story needed. But I enjoyed the dynamic among all characters and the way we still got to explore how some of these relationships were formed. Where a lot of things felt like pre-established fixtures, at least this was something that felt like it was still in the making.

“I let you die. To save myself, I let you die. That is the danger in keeping company with survivors.”

So, there were some aspects I really enjoyed (especially the emancipation and handling of different female characters) and others I did not understand or connect to as much as I had hoped. The fact that a lot of it was presented in the shape of a paranormal crime story maybe didn’t help me personally. I understood that murder and mayhem would be involved in Ninth House, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be so much like a detective story. Those of you who know me, know that I get a little bored with the investigation-type plots. However, I can see how a lot of readers would be the opposite of me and enjoy those the most!

In conclusion, I would say that this book is A LOT. There is blood and gore and death around every corner. I understand if it is too much to stomach for some people, especially those who are more used to YA content. If you aren’t sure, I would just take a look at what different people who’s opinion you trust are saying about it and then make up your own mind. Or go in completely blind!

“Take courage; no one is immortal”

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Maybe this just wasn’t for me as much as other readers, but I would still continue with the series!

Have you read Ninth House? Have you read other books by Leigh Bardugo? What do you think about her first take on adult fiction?

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 Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (eArc Review)

animators

Publisher: Random House
Page Count
: 384
Release Date: Jan 31, 2017

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

I haven’t read any kind of general adult fiction for what seems like an eternity. I mostly dabble in Young Adult Fantasy and/or Contemporaries, but this book (still can’t believe it’s Whitaker’s debut) has reminded me as to why I shouldn’t forget about adult fiction any time soon!

It is not a story I immediately fell in love with. The writing flowed nicely, but there were a lot of references to old time cartoons that I did not get and felt like I would miss out on the full experience. The language is crude and foul sometimes, but always very direct. There’s an excessive use of alcohol and drugs and very few inhibitions when it comes to sex. Sharon and Mel aren’t exactly likable people at all times. They are loud, brash, unhinged, talented, selfish, messed up, brilliant; in simple terms – flawed but very real. That is exactly what made them work so well!

Their relationship is just as complex as they are as individuals. They push each other to extremes, drive each other crazy, but are always there when it counts. While Mel may date half the women in New York and Sharon remains hung up on the first boy she ever loved, it still comes down to them and their all encompassing bond in the end. They weren’t just a team at work, they were a team in life as well.

aquote1

I am trying to find a way to express my feelings about this book. I don’t see the point of talking about the plot, that is something each and everyone should discover on their own. However, this book treated a lot of topics and very dark ones at that, which in turn made me feel an unexpectedly large amount of feelings that I simply didn’t see coming. There are themes of loss – quite literal loss of a person you love but also the loss of innocence. Family – the one you choose and the one you don’t. Love – the pure, platonic and romantic kind. The Animators makes you aware that the world isn’t rainbows and sunshine, there are dark alleys and predators. Amidst all of that gloom, it still never lets you forget that there is always someone, even if it’s someone unexpected, who will be there to help you through it.

aquote2

The book is “only” 380 pages long, but somehow it felt like three times as much. It’s almost as if you are accompanying Sharon, who narrates the whole story in her unique voice, for an entire lifetime. She grew on me so much and I felt with her whenever life threw her another curveball. It’s such an ingenious debut, so very well crafted, however, I don’t think this is really for everyone. At times, it felt like going into a really deep, really warped and disturbed rabbit hole. It makes sense in hindsight, a necessary journey for the characters to go through, but even I felt like it was too much for me and too crass in some parts and I watch the weirdest stuff on TV. Still, it didn’t keep me from enjoying the story and I doubt that it will leave me anytime soon!

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A stunning debut about partnership and adulthood and all the struggles coming with it!

4stars

Could you see yourself enjoying this book? Can you sometimes find joy in really messed up stories too?

Writing Insights #6: NaNoWriMo

nano

It’s been a while since I have posted a Writing Insight, but November is the perfect month to dive into a little bit of NaNoWriMo. It’s the third year I am participating and for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s quite the international venture though, with people from all over the world trying to write 50,000 words for the first draft of their novel in 30 days. Of course you can rebel and edit a previous work, choose your own word count or don’t write a comprehensive story at all. The spirit of the event is to write, no matter how you do it!

When I first tried, I “won” immediately, the second time around I honestly didn’t even try as hard (but I am still proud of getting to 25,000 words) and this year? Well, I am semi-nanowrimo-ing. My current WIP is called Arcadia, as I’ve mentioned several times before, and I don’t just want to rush it. However, I do try to write something every day. (If you haven’t seen it yet, you can read the Prologue + 6 Chapters right here!) So, there’s something that just really makes me want to participate, even when I don’t have the time or brain cells to be full in and here’s why:

  • I know that NaNoWriMo is a pressure of sorts, but it is also a lot of motivation. I am a competitive person, so when I get a task with a specific goal, such as reaching a certain word target each day, I WANT to do it. Also, you can earn badges and I just want to have them aaaaall!
  • If you sign up on the official NaNoWriMo website, you can connect with fellow writers online by adding them as writing buddies (my handle is Kat_Impossible if you want to add me!) BUT you can also come together with people from your region. This isn’t happening everywhere, but many places try to organise kick-off events, write-ins and planning sessions. It’s a fun way to meet new people who have similar interests to you and to find people who will hold you accountable during the month!
  • Whatever you write, know that it is not supposed to be perfect. The whole point of this venture is to get you to creative freedom. Write away, leave all the plotholes in the world in it and at the end of the month, you will have a first rough draft of your story and it’s the most glorious feeling! I am holding back this year, because I am sharing my story as I write it. That’s a scary thing in itself, but I at least try to make sense with it nonetheless. I am not saying that it won’t need a lot of work and time to edit Arcadia in the end, but it might be the tiniest bit easier than it would be if I didn’t care at all.

In the end, there’s no right or wrong way to do NaNoWriMo. I kept this post intentionally short, because I was wondering if you had specific quesitons about that topic? Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Did you like the experience or not? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Writing Insights #5: Lacking Energy

lackenergy

Writing is great! It’s a way to express yourself, to tell your story. However, that doesn’t always mean we have the time or energy to actually write. What can one do in such a case? This question was asked by Chrissie @Bloggin’ and Writing and it’s such a good topic, so I am going to center this whole post around it. (Which is also a reminder that if you ever have questions or want me to talk about a certain topic, just say so in the comments or shoot me a mail! I am very open to ideas!)

I’d say there are two reasons of why we aren’t writing when we want to. One is that life is simply getting in the way and we actually don’t have one free minute to do what we would like to do. And the second is that there is something blocking our writing chi, and that’s always extremely difficult to pin down, and then we end up in an endless loop in procrastination station. Well, fear not! I have some tips for you (but without guarantee, because all writers are unique unicorns and the same methods don’t work for us all)!

  • If you are just hurrying from one appointment to the other, how about you take a little notebook with you? And I am not talking massive, heavy thing that will just weigh down your purse/backpack/whatever-you-use-to-carry-things. I am talking about something that’s maybe an A6-format notebook with about 30-40 pages. It’s thin and very easy to take with you. I have about a gazillion of them, because they cost approximately 1 Euro each at the art supply store. They are filled in no time, because unlike with super pretty notebooks, I am not afraid to write in them or to mess up and scratch things. Since I suggest you use them on public transport, lunch break or while you are waiting for an appointment, it’s not even meant to be filled with full sentences, but notes that you can get back to later on. As long as you can read the handwriting, you WILL be able to transcribe it later on.
    Side note: they are also super handy for sketches and observations!

So, that advice was obviously for people who don’t have much time, but what if you are like me and YouTube, Tumblr or Pinterest swallows all your free time? Deep down, you know that there’s a story just waiting to be written down, but … cute kittens can be so distracting! Well, here are some ways to channel that procrastination power:

  • YouTube and Spotify can be a hole that’s difficult to get out of. But if you hear a song that really speaks to you, start making a playlist for your story. Maybe one of the songs seems like the perfect theme song for your character or it inspires you to write a certain scene. It may seem unimportant in that moment, but it might just trigger a great writing session later on!
  • Not all of us are artistically inclined people, but some of you out there can draw and paint things that give me serious heart-eye-emoji! So, why not get inspired by your own work? Even if you aren’t a painting wiz or super tech savvy, there are a lot of things you can do. How about a map for your world? I once had a story set in the real world, but I printed out different Google maps images, rearranged them and added in parts with pencil. It was so much fun. Or how about character aesthetics? I just made one for a new character in the story called Findlay. Finding pictures that I thought would be fitting for him took a long time, but it also gave me a clearer picture of who I wanted him to be. Even if I changed my mind afterwards, it was a sort of character study.

findlay3

Obviously nothing t I just said is fool proof! But it is a way to get to know yourself, the story and characters a little better, so that even when you aren’t writing actual chapters, you don’t forget about your WIP altogether. That’s already worth something in my book.

Finally, I have updated Arcadia on wattpad again! You can read the whole story as well as the new chapter here. Since I wasn’t able to post much last week, I might treat you to a second chapter and maybe even Writing Insights post this week!

How do you feel about my advice? Do you have helpful tips to add?

Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty (Book Review)

lockIn modern-day London, two brilliant high school students—one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James “Mori” Moriarty—meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.
Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more…

FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. The police have no leads.
FACT: Miss James “Mori” Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.
FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.
FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule—they must share every clue with each other—Mori is keeping secrets.
OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can’t trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Page Count: 256

Everyone knows that I have taken quite the fancy to contemporary Sherlock stories. So, upon hearing that there was a new YA trilogy with the characters as teens in present day London – they definitely had my attention. I was a little surprised by how thin the book actually was, but I have no doubt that it would have been a quick read either way.

Lock & Mori, despite having both names in it, is written from James “Mori” Moriarty’s POV. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but since Mori is a girl here, I was sure that it wouldn’t be a strict mystery novel. I think that the balance between the romance and the rest of the story was handled pretty well. Maybe there could have been a couple more deduction scenes or general research and case-related talk, because that isn’t entirely resolved yet, but then again, it is a trilogy and I think that the case will be important for the remaining books as well. It was a little predictable in that department at times, but what can you do?

What I was most fascinated by was the fact that there was so much that reminded me of the Sherlock stories I knew, yet it had it’s completely own take on the story. After all, they are still teens in the book and that means they sometimes react more emotionally or silly than their grown-up versions might have, despite the style of writing not reflecting the young age all that much. So, I didn’t agree with some of the choices Lock or Mori made, but I loved getting to know Mori and seeing how circumstances changed her life and her relationships to other people. She is an extremely smart and strong character and it was extremely intriguing to see the hints of who she might become one day!

I don’t want to give anything away anymore, but I just want to add that my fear of it being too fluffy was not justified at all. It was surprisingly intense and my inner Sherlockian fangirl squealed every time someone I knew was mentioned. The blurb can be pretty misleading in some department though, because I don’t feel like it is the real representation of the story that is told. But in the end I am only sad that it wasn’t longer and that I now have to wait for the next book …

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! It could have done with a couple more deductions every now and then, but I am hooked! I will surely devour the rest of the series!

5stars

Did Lock & Mori grab your attention as well? What was your favourite Sherlock portrayal so far? I’m going to go and continue slaying my TBR!