The Changeup by Nicole Falls (Book Review)

Publisher: Self-published
Page Count
: 144

CW: explicit sex scenes

Lately, a lot of conversations have centered around black pain, but there are also many stories of black joy out there and we should talk about them as well! When I saw the cover of this book and read the blurb, I was immediately reminded of one of my all time favourite sports dramas on TV, Pitch (seriously, if you haven’t watched that show yet, it’s SO good! It’s now streaming on hulu and if it makes numbers we might get another season even after FOX cancelling it). Having a black woman make it in Baseball is just always something worth writing and talking about. There was no way I could pass up on this book based on that alone and I am glad I read it, because it was such a cute story.

As you could likely tell from the very short page count, this is a fast read. You accompany Geffri on a whirlwind of a summer where things just get progressively more awesome for her. It’s rare for me to read a book where the main character has to face so few struggles, but I am definitely not complaining. It’s refreshing to not be confronted with unnecessary drama and miscommunication, but just a wave of support and good things happening.

I loved how deep it went into Baseball sometimes. While I enjoy the idea of this particular sport, I don’t know heaps about it, but I never felt overwhelmed or confused by anything I was reading. Obviously, I cannot attest on how accurate any of it was, but I could sense a deep appreciation and fondness for the sport, which makes me think that the author knows what they are talking about.
Geffri had that really special talent and I liked when we went a bit into how she struggles with praise and pressure as well. She seemed so cool and collected most times that those moments grounded her. I think we’ve all felt like that sometimes and stood in our own way.

Being singled out for excellence always caused me to put undue pressure and stress on myself which ultimately led to me being … where I was currently – plagued by doubts of whether or not I could really pull this off.

Another thing that was really cute, were the various relationships. I feel like some things were teased only and could result in spin-off books, but maybe that’s just the vibe I was getting. Geffri had such a great group of friends and such a deep and loving relationship with her very supportive dad. I loved that for her!

Again, I am sorry for comparing it to Pitch, because I do realise it’s very much its own story, but it’s really just a huge compliment from my side. Geffri and Noah, with their competitive flirtation, definitely gave me Ginny and Mike vibes (if Mike hadn’t been a slightly older white dude). There was mutual respect and common ground that would have likely been a great base for a friendship, but those folks were just too darn attracted to one other to keep their hands off each other. The progression of Geffri and Noah’s relationship was pretty quick, but not in an uncomfortable or rushed way. Sometimes you just hit it off with a person and while it got steamy, they also just talked a lot and got to know each other, so I have no quarrels with that at all.

There really isn’t that much more to say. I liked reading this story and I think we can all need something that is just so effortlessly positive in our lives every now and then. While I do think that it could have gone into depth more in certain areas had it been longer, I have no regrets in picking it up.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! If you enjoy happy romance set in the world of sports, this is for you!

Do you think this book might be for you? Were you as obsessed with Pitch as I was back when it first aired? Let’s chat!

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles (Book Review)

Publisher: Little Brown Books
Page Count
: 305

TW: police brutality, murder, violence, racism

Tyler Johnson Was Here was on my TBR before it ever even got released. When I saw the cover and read the blurb, I knew this was yet another very important read. It’s not the first time I am tackling the issue of police brutality through fiction on my blog. The thing is, those reads are never easy (and they’re not supposed to be), but that’s not the reason I hadn’t gotten to Tyler Johnson Was Here earlier. I don’t know why it slipped through my fingers, but the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed in the US and all over the world were a terrible reminder of how this is still very much the reality for Black people and people of color out there. So, I felt more compelled than ever to finally get to this book.

Jay Coles does not shy away from making it very clear that police brutality is a constant companion in some people’s lives. I hate the thought that children who should be carefree and playing with friends have to be educated by their parents about how to behave when the police stops them. How they could have done not even the slightest thing wrong, but everything they say or do could be construed as dangerous at the whim of some stranger. While most of the novels I have read before focus on one specific event of police brutality, Coles shows several incidents, each one shaking you to the core alongside the characters. So, while the main turning point that is mentioned in the blurb “only” occurs at the half-way point, you get this build-up of this constant companion of fear.

The cop yells, “Everybody shut the fuck up.” He looks at the three of us. “You three better get out of here before you’re next.” And now I’m wondering: What does next mean? Next to be treated like a punching bag or an animal? Next to lose my life?

I found myself very quickly attached to Marvin, the main protagonist. He is gentle, kind and smart and has a voice I loved to read about. Tyler is different and similar to him, two sides of the same coin. They were on the verge of growing apart a little bit, but still had that unbreakable bond. Marvin’s sadness was palpable on every single page while reading and I was close to shedding tears more than once. I never doubted that he was stronger than he thought himself capable of (albeit sad he had to be), but he was so incredibly brave towards the end. It was great to see his development throughout the story and see him stand up for what he believes in.

Yes, I’m willing to die for this cause, but the fact that there’s even a chance that I’ll die, become a hashtag, be remembered briefly, and then be completely forgotten and marked as a statistic fucking terrifies me.

I only wish I would have learned as much or at least a bit more about his friends and love interest. I understand that his mind was very much occupied by a traumatic event and I could see how much he cared for and appreciated the people in his life. But still, they fell a bit flat for me in comparison to Marvin, who we got a great feel for! Nonetheless, I enjoyed the focus on community and how it can be a source of strength in such trying times.

Some days, when I do, I just stare at the blackness I see in the mirror hanging on my closet door. I tell myself that I love this skin, that I’ve always loved my blackness, that if the world doesn’t love me, I will love myself for the both of us. After reminding myself that I matter, that I’ve always mattered, that Tyler mattered and still does, I make a promise to myself. I promise to never be silent about things that matter.

I don’t think the story needed a stronger focus on the trial, because the outcome wasn’t what was most important to Marvin in the end. He found his meaning of freedom and what mattered most to him through other means and in honoring his brother in his own way. Still, I’d like to say something: Video evidence should not be necessary to get people heard or to get a conviction or even as much as an arrest. People should not have to be excellent in order to not get killed by the people who were supposed to protect them. It all makes me so very angry, but I’m not surprised anymore. If you are still surprised by any of this, you haven’t been paying attention, because this has been happening for a while now.

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! Another very important read!

If you want to engage with this topic through fiction some more, here are a couple books I have read and can recommend (as I am sure there are many more that I have not yet read that are really great):

The Hate U Give (The Hate U Give, #1)          Dear Martin (Dear Martin, #1)          All American Boys

Having said all that, I also encourage you to check out some non-fiction books. I have to work harder on that myself, but I found Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (part memoir, part essay) very insightful. I have also heard great things abut Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad.

More resources: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/


Have you read Tyler Johnson Was Here? Do you plan on picking it up? Let’s chat!

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!

#CurrentlyWatching: Friday Night Lights

I haven’t done an actual #CurrentlyWatching post over a year (I am not joking, the last one was back in 2018), so this should prove to you how important this show is to me. While I very much enjoy the short-opinion paragraphs I offer you in my “What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching” feature, I simply could not resist writing a proper full length post about Friday Night Lights. Yes, it was THAT good!

Friday Night Lights is a Football-centric sports drama series set in Texas that ran from 2006 until 2011 on NBC. Even before the show, there was a movie with the same title in 2004, however, the show is not a continuation, but the story told anew (names are different, etc.). I very much realise that I am super late to the party, but I don’t think the show ever aired in my own country and honestly, Football wasn’t much of a priority of mine until recently.

Friday Night Lights follows Football team at a Texan High School, with a special focus on the coach, Eric Taylor, his wife, daughter and a select number of players. The show highlights the struggles each and every member of this tight-knit community has to face.

I am not sure I have the vocabulary to describe how this show made me feel. A lot of people think that Friday Night Lights is a piece of flawless work of television, I do not agree with that statement. Do I think it is utterly brilliant? Compelling and emotional and addicting? Absolutely! But … it is not perfect and that is okay. Some characters fell victim to bad timing and writer’s strikes, some storylines never got resolved properly, but regardless, Friday Night Lights manages to reel you in, create an emotional connection and make this an unforgettable experience. I am not surprised that it has become a TV classic at all.

At first, I was unsure about the style. There’s mostly use of hand-held camera and extreme close ups that give the entire show a certain documentary-esque look. But after having gotten used to it, I found that these specific cinematographic choices added to the feeling of really being with the characters and in the moment yourself. After some time, you could almost think you are living in Dillon, Texas, yourself.

One of the massive strengths of Friday Night Lights is managing to create a universal appeal, despite a very specific setting and situation. I really am not a Football buff, but I was so invested in the outcome of these games. I literally jumped up and cheered or flailed in agony at a loss (to the dismay of the people around me) whenever the team played.

This show is about so much more than Football though. It’s also so much more than the artistic choices taken. It’s first and foremost about people. People you root and care for. Great storytelling that involves aspects of life that feel authentic and relevant. Not everyone is nice all the time, not everyone is perfect and not every conflict gets a satisfying resolution, but that is life. And life is messy and beautiful.

So, there are some seasons that are better than others, but if you look at the show as a whole, it’s really a piece of television art. I didn’t need them to pair everyone up all neat and nicely, but I did appreciate that we got a look at what was in store. At how the lives of everyone changed and how they were impacted by the relationships they formed in that small town in Texas.

Now, there are very many characters to love. Picking just one honestly feels a little bit like a crime. Obviously, Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) is an iconic character and so is his wife, as portrayed by Connie Britton. Both carried a heavy portion of this show on their backs and respect that to no end. They were the adult voices of reason and are 100% the kind of educators and support system I wish every child would receive in their academic career. Then there are so many fantastic characters on and off the field that brought me laughter and tears alike. I don’t want to go into too much detail in case anyone still wants to check it out or hasn’t seen it, but it all comes down to one thing: Looking at the five glorious seasons that I have just watched, the standout character for me remains Tim Riggins (portrayed by Taylor Kitsch).

While the team constantly changed and not even all adults stuck around, you get to follow Tim Riggins’ journey through all seasons. You meet him as a bit of a mess and watch him grow and change, while one thing remains – he cares so much about everyone around him! He was never after glory or recognition and I will never forget the one ultimate sacrifice he pulled, because IT. BROKE. MY. HEART. And yes, I went so far as to draw that very moment, because I am that extra.

Just thinking back to this moment, I get anxious for Tim.

Everyone sort of used Tim as their personal punching bags. He was called “useless”, “disgusting”, “unwanted”, “lazy”, “mediocre” and many more ugly words, while all I saw was a very lost boy. Kitsch was probably in his 20s when this was filmed, but all I could see was the fragility of abandoned youth. Someone who put everyone’s needs above his own. He wasn’t a perfect gentleman or anything like that, he made plenty of mistake and probably drank way too much, but he also had a certain nobility about him and he loved those around him unconditionally. Every time he was on screen, my heart broke just a little bit and while many wanted more out of the finale (which I kind of get but also not), I thought Tim was exactly where he was supposed to be, doing exactly what he wanted to do.

I can honestly say that I feel like this show has spoiled me for almost all other TV. I am nursing a huge hangover now, after I decided to watch the final episode on this very Friday. There’s just something poetic about ending it all on this day.

So, there is only one thing to say to finish this post:

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.


Have you watched FNL? Do you want to? What is a show that has completely grabbed you lately?

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel (Themis Files #3, Book Review)

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Page Count
: 350

Only Human is the third and final book in the Themis Files series. If you want to read my review of book 1, Sleeping Giants, click here and if you want to read my thoughts on book 2, Waking Gods, click here!

It has been a while since I read the previous books in the series, but my statement that this is like an adult and more Earth-centered version of the Illuminae Files still stands … sort of. I was surprised at how easily I found myself back in this world, remembering (almost) everything that had happened previously.

This story is still very much about humanity. However, a large part of this book didn’t take place on Earth and that was to be expected after the cliffhanger ending from Waking Gods, but I think I thought that the aliens would be different. I had a VERY hard time taking the aliens seriously. Something about them and their way of life just seemed silly (I really had a tough time with their language for some reason) and even when situations became really dire, it just did not feel that way. There were some serious life and death scenarios in the past that often didn’t end well and I appreciated this cold and almost detached analysis of “mistakes were made” and “wrong decisions were made”, but nothing in Only Human felt as severe as it should. Even some real blowbacks didn’t affect me at all and that was a real shame.

I don’t remember if that was the case in the previous installments, but I also struggled a bit with the copious amounts of time jumps. I guess it wouldn’t have worked to just tell it chronologically, but it just felt more scattered, whereas I always considered this series to be very focused. Also, certain scenes quickly gave off a repetitive vibe, as the same characters fought over the same topics over and over again, without making much progress or trying to see the other’s perspective. To say that ended in a couple useless fights is the understatement of the week …

As far as endings for a series go, this was really decent though. Questions that were asked throughout all books were (partially) answered or dealt with, no characters were forgotten or left behind. Everything sort of came full circle and that’s always enjoyable in a way, even if you don’t know every itsy bitsy detail about the character’s lives in the “after”. It leaves you with less of a sense of wondering about humanity as I expected though. We are and always will be judgmental and ready for a fight it seems, it just depends who we choose to see as our villain.

Ultimately, I don’t know if it’s due to me having stepped away from the series for so long or this just really not grabbing me as much, but Only Human was my least favourite part in the series. I still have no regrets reading it in general, even if a very big reason for it was me falling utterly and endlessly in love with the covers.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! A good but not brilliant ending to a very interesting series.

Have you read the Themis Files? Do you want to? Are you as in love with the covers as I am?

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 544

**Ruthless Gods is the second book in the Something Dark and Holy series! There are likely going to be SPOILERS for the first book. If you want to read my review of Wicked Saints click here!**

I was very excited about the release of Ruthless Gods and remain a big fan of this series, despite it being in a more horror-esque genre than I am used to. Still, I can see how these books keep dividing readers and there are a lot of people who absolutely do not enjoy it. All I want to say to that is, if you didn’t really enjoy Wicked Saints, I find it very unlikely that you will all of a sudden like this one?

Okay, on to the actual review. Ruthless Gods picks up a couple months after the last novel finished and usually I am always bit iffy about a lot of time passing and us not actually getting to see what happens on the page, but it was handled well here. I was a little worried, that this book might turn out to be some sort of filler, as it really didn’t feel like they were making much progress in the grand scheme of things and with another book on the way, they definitely wouldn’t resolve anything just yet. However, I was surprised by just how many pieces were moved and how much information was revealed in the end, because it sure didn’t feel like it halfway through the book.

Something I enjoyed very much in Wicked Saints and that still fascinates me is the belief system and the numerous gods and beings of power in this series. The more I read about them, the more I was filled with this deep-rooted feeling of dread and I was so very glad not to be in the shoes of any of the characters. People who had asked for this series to become darker sure got their fill!

Divinity and the concept of forever sometimes feel so beyond my small little brain and it’s also what makes this book so special. These characters have no idea just how big the scope of things are and how much they are in completely over their heads. It’s difficult to describe something that’s just beyond your grasp of understanding and I think Duncan does a masterful job of invoking curiosity in all the things left to discover, while also showing that it might be too big of a knowledge to grasp. If the characters can’t do it, why should the reader?

The gods were ancient and unfathomable. There were older, deeper things, but how much farther could a mortal’s brain comprehend than beings of forever? Nadya had so much more to learn about the gods who had touched her and led her down this dark and terrible path.

What I really loved about the first book was the dynamic between all the characters. I think I was very heavily focused on Nadya and Malachiasz last time, but this book my heart belonged to Serefin “moth boy” only. I was a little upset when the groups parted ways, because 1.) Serefin was in danger and all by himself and 2.) I just really enjoy his banter with everyone, but especially his peculiar relationship with Nadya. I am not saying I ship them, because they so very clearly are in love with other people, but I friend-ship them? None of the characters really chose the life they were thrust in, but something about Serefin’s fate particularly breaks my heart and all I want to do is protect that silly moth boy and give him a more peaceful life. (Let’s face it, most of these characters deserve better than the hand they were dealt, but it felt like there was the least agency and free will involved in Serefin’s mess.)

A Serefin-inspired aesthetic, because what else? I need everyone to keep my moth boy safe!

So many of the relationships in this series are beyond complicated and tainted and warped. I can see why some people think it doesn’t make sense for the pining to continue after one betrayal after another, but … I do? Something about this torturous cycle of lies and distrust and love and deep-rooted care foiled by other people’s or other beings’ plans just works. These characters are tied by something greater, finding their way to each other even under the most unlikely of circumstances, so yes, I can suspend disbelief and see how they cannot quit each other (be it friendships, lovers, confidants, whatever).

This was going to kill her. This, right here, this beautiful boy and his monstrous power and his lies and the knowledge that nothing mattered, they would always betray each other in the end.

In the end, the only thing I asked myself is: Will all of this have a happy ending? Will everyone be okay?
The most likely answer to that is: no.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! The horror increases as I keep worrying about all my favourite characters.

I can’t wait to see how all of this is supposed to pan out! Did you read Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods? Do you find yourself interested in the series? Let’s chat!

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 373

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

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

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

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

WHAT I LIKED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT I DISLIKED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 325

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Publisher: Gollancz
Page Count
: 280

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anna K. by Jenny Lee (Book Review)

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Page Count
: 374

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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