January 2019 Wrap-Up

For the first time in a long time, this section in the beginning that is always dedicated to books, isn’t completely empty. I’ve gotten a bit of my reading groove back and had a blast with most of the reads I picked. Not gonna lie, I have become even more careful with the selection of stories I actually read, just because I don’t want to end up in the slump that was the previous year again.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea  Dumplin’ Movie Tie-in Edition  Welcome to Lovecraft (Locke & Key, #1)  Echo North

Like in the olden days, click on the titles to get to my reviews and on the covers to get re-directed to Goodreads!

January was a challenging month for me. I don’t want to get into the details as most of what happened was very private and took me a long time to come to terms with, so I’d rather not rehash it all. However, all of that made January feel like years and the blink of an eye at the same time. It was a strange one, so much so that I didn’t even hesitate for a second writing the date in the title. I am DEEP into 2019 already.

All that aside, I did actually post a couple new chapters in the Google Doc for the #witchyWIP that still roams my mind just … every single day. I haven’t had the time and energy to write the way I wanted to, but maybe going with the craze and switching to Comic Sans as a font did help a little bit. I have also decided to publish the existing chapters on wattpad in the near future. Any takers for that? (I hope so, because at least some people were interested in a little Twitter poll I did)

So, while I’ve been productive to a certain degree and able to balance some aspects of my life better than others, I am somewhat glad this month is over. It just wasn’t exactly a smooth start into 2019.

FAVOURITE THING OF THE MONTH

Hands down, it just HAS to be a tie between Halt and Catch Fire and the Roswell reboot on the CW. Both of those shows have completely enthralled me for very different reasons, so don’t make me choose!

Halt and Catch Fire has complex characters that aren’t really likable … at all. They are so very flawed, but as you watch, they grow on you big time and you cannot help but love them regardless. Also, it’s set in the world of computer programming and engineering in the 80s with excellent female badasses. 10/10 would recommend if you are into slow character studies (and a better Mad Men).

Roswell, New Mexico on the other hand is everything CW represents and I am here for it. It has beautiful actors and actresses, most of whom will look very familiar from previous shows on the network. It feels very current, with them not holding back on making political statements and trying their best at integrating LGBTQ+ characters (I say try, because sometimes they are misguided, but I give them A for effort). Most importantly though, I like this reboot so, so, so, so, so much more than the Charmed one (They lost me when they butchered the whole whitelighter storyline). Roswell, NM is nothing like the show from the 90s, but you DEFINITELY have the chemistry between the characters. It works that they are all aged up to adults and I feel like they all got more pressing conflicts than their High School equivalents did. It’s still early days, but I am in love.

MY POSTS

2018 IN REVIEW

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS

That was a short recap of my month of January! I hope you had a less turbulent start into the new year and I am looking forward to chatting with you!

Mini Reviews: Dumplin’ and Locke & Key

I am actually one book ahead of schedule for my Goodreads reading challenge and that has me super pumped. I started out the year definitely less in a reading slump than before, but now that some urgent stuff at work has crept in and I have been distracted, it slowed down again. Anyway, I wanted to share with you a couple more books I read this month, so here we go:

Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’ Movie Tie-in EditionI knew of the existence of this book for quite some time, but I never really paid attention to it (my bad, I am sorry). However, after the Netflix trailer for the movie adaptation dropped, I kind of knew I had to read it and I am so glad I picked up this book.

Dumplin’ was such a relatable and heartbreaking yet heartwarming read – I had the best of times flying through the pages. I don’t want to necessarily compare it to the movie (which Netflix still hasn’t released in my current territory by the way), but it had a completely different focus in my opinion. While I really enjoyed seeing more of Bo on the pages (he’s seriously such a great love interest. He’s not without flaws, but I love how he never really gave up on Willowdean), I felt like the mother-daughter-relationship was actually explored in a bit more depth in the movie. Both still had very interesting explorations of grief, confidence, changing relationships, experiencing life at different speeds and body shaming of all sorts; I enjoyed it!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! Would recommend, especially if you are into trying Dolly Parton as your reading soundtrack while you are at it.

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft (Vol. 1) by Joe Hill/Gabriel Rodríguez

Welcome to Lovecraft (Locke & Key, #1)Reading comics every now and then just makes sense to me. It cleanses my pallet, because there is so much less text and sometimes that’s just what I need. I picked this one in particular due to it being free on my Kindle at the moment of my reading it and because this is yet another comic book that is getting adapted for the small screen. By now I don’t think I need to explain that I have a thing for adaptations anymore.

The concept of the series is definitely fascinating. It opens up the doors for so many possibilities and I am more than curious to see how this will translate in the show they are making. I am a sucker for a good supernatural story after all! However, an issue I have found with quite a few comics lately is that I don’t enjoy violent content. Sure, it’s gritty and dark and often the igniting incident that propels the characters into a new life, but … I don’t particularly want to see that?

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Whenever we start telling stories without the gore, my ratings for comics will be higher than average.

That’s it from my side. I hope you’ve enjoyed those really rather short reviews! Let’s chat in the comments below!

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer (Book Review)

Publisher: Page Street Kids
Page Count
: 400

I am on a roll, people! After flying through Dumplin’ and a comic book I picked up (mini-reviews coming for those at the end of the month), I feel like I really found my way back into reading with Echo North! I hadn’t realised just how MUCH I had craved a good Fantasy book until I started reading one. I have missed the genre, I have missed the escapism, I have missed exploring these beautiful and cruel made-up worlds. I have found my book haven again.

Before I get lost in my love for the genre in general though, let’s talk about Echo North instead. For those of you who say it sounds familiar and a little bit like a Beauty and the Beast retelling – I hear you. It does have that vibe, but it actually draws from many popular as well as less known tales while also simultaneously creating its entirely own story. I don’t mind finding familiar story elements in a book I read, as long as the writer is still able to make it their own and I think Meyer definitely succeeded in doing that. At one point, it even felt like the character in the book was breaking the 4th wall and it was such a great moment! It really makes you check the page twice in a way. (At least I thought that was very clever!)

“It is like any wild thing that has been tamed. It is sometimes safe, and sometimes not.”

One of my most favourite things (aside from the wolf, because I adore wolves and they are unrivaled) about Echo North was the magic house and its rooms. It had tame and dangerous rooms, spiders, snakes and poisonous flowers just as well as singing bears and an enchanted library full of mirrors that were actually books. I cannot imagine a reality in which I would not spend all my free time in that freaking room. Can you imagine walking through the silvery surface and being IN the story? Because I can and I would love nothing more.

“Wolf.” I stretched out a hand to touch the scruff of fur on his neck, and he didn’t pull away. I tugged the ribbon on the hat, thinking he hadn’t quite answered my question. “What did you lose? Who did you love?”

“Nothing. No one.”

But his eyes said Everything. Someone.

The book isn’t without flaws. I, personally, feel like the romance could have been a bit more developed. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful in its relentless power and the ever connected thread between the characters, but I maybe would have liked to read some more exploration of the feelings as they started blossoming. They went from being attracted to eternal loyalty in a heartbeat and in hindsight all of that makes sense, but considering the slow pace of the book, it would have been a nice touch.

“I made your life into something it never should have been.”

It wasn’t at all what I had expected. “Wolf, I’ve never blamed you.”

“Then why do you blame yourself?”

That was something I had no answer for.

But in the end, the writing, the characters, the story and the presence of enchanted wolves was all I could have asked for! I could not stop reading and I really didn’t want to either. What more could you possibly want from a book? A story that picks you up and wraps you up in its magic entirely. I think I am going to think of Echo North fondly for a long time and maybe some of you will pick it up as well and will want to chat about it with me.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! A new favourite of mine!

Have you read Echo North? Have you ever even heard of it before? Do you think this could be up your alley? Let’s talk about!

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

Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count
: 310

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mini Reviews: Heart of Gold, Venustransit and Ghostly Echoes

Coming home for Christmas, I managed to not only catch up on my reading, but surpass my (adjusted) reading goal for 2018. I’ve definitely read a lot less this year than in the previous ones, but overall I am still not unhappy with the outcome. So, there’s that!

Click on the covers to get redirected to Goodreads!

Heart of Gold: Act I by Eli Baumgartner/Viv Tanner

Heart of Gold Act II supported this graphic novel via Kickstarter and I am beyond happy I did. The final product is BEAUTIFUL with golden edges and a gorgeous sketch of one of the characters on one of the first pages for me. I adore it!

All the better that the content inside fits the great exterior. It’s such an interesting take on religion, damnation, love, faith and healing. It shows two entirely different approaches to those topics and keeps a mystery and tension going throughout the entire first act. The imagery is so beautiful and I honestly cannot wait to read more.

Heart of Gold is also available as a web comic here!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! I am 100% intrigued and here for it!

Venustransit by Hamed Eshrat

VenustransitVenustransit is a German comic about a guy who hasn’t quite figured out his life, gets dumped bis his girlfriend and is stuck in a job he hates. It’s set in Berlin and I can almost see the street I am living in on the cover (so close!). I like diving into things I know the setting of and can try and figure out if I walked the same streets. Stuff like that never gets tired to me (except when it’s only historical fiction … like so often with Vienna).

While I wasn’t as in love with the drawing style as I was with other comics I own, the story had a clear line and still took a lot of creative liberties. It was interesting and I am sure relatable to a lot of people out there.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Gets plus points for the setting.

Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby, #3)Ghostly Echoes is the third book in the Jackaby series. I only did a mini review for the second book, Beastly Bones, as well, so I feel like I should stick to that format of reviewing for now.

This series legit just keeps getting better and better. The story is becoming more complex, with more dots to connect and still so, so much to discover about the characters. The writing style isn’t really anything over the top and it all seems like light fun in the beginning, but by now there’s a lot more serious stuff happening and you are so emotionally invested in the fate of the characters. And there is a lot to worry about! This book even included a little detour to the underworld!

If you are into Sherlock-esque mysteries with a supernatural twist, have at it with this series. I can only recommend it!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! Here’s to hoping the last book will be equally as amazing, if not more so.

Have you read any of the books/comics I mentioned? Are you interested in some of them? Let’s talk!

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Review + Movie Trailer)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 249

It’s been so long since I have done a regular review for a book and I know because I checked (for real, I haven’t written one since the end of July). I am not exactly ecstatic that the first book after all these months is Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby now to be honest and it’s a little tough to explain the why of it all.

First, Juliet, Naked isn’t a bad book. It’s about people who feel they have wasted years of their lives, whole decades even, due to wrong decisions and a lack of action to change their less than ideal situations. Even as someone who isn’t in her 40s or 50s, I can relate to that topic. There are times I wonder what I am doing with my life and whether I have gotten into enough trouble, taken enough chances or simply whether I am on the right path for future me. This book chronicles how Annie, Duncan and Tucker have to live with their regrets and make the best of it, all packaged with a good measure of dry English humour, a deep fascination with 80s music, a spin on modern day online conversation/dating and unhealthy fandom culture.

Usually, all those aforementioned elements would draw me in immediately! Who am I kidding? The mere suggestion of them here was the reason I picked up the book and in the beginning it was all really funny. I could see myself in parts of each character, like in Duncan’s passion for something he loved (although I never was on his level of obsession for anything ever and I go deep sometimes), Tucker’s ability to share his deepest thoughts with a stranger on the internet but his inability to do so with his closest family and friends or Annie’s fear of having missed the opportunity to have a family of her own by getting comfortable in a situation because it was easy rather than the right one. I don’t mind having people be the main characters who aren’t perfect. In my eyes, it makes them more realistic and human to have various flaws and even flaws that you don’t have to forgive sometimes.  got all that and I felt that and even though it all sounds rather serious and gloomy, it also had some great humour sprinkled in.

But then there were also all these disjointed parts and characters that truly weren’t necessary. And worst of all the conclusion … it felt so open-ended and with a lack of, well, closure. I understand that not ever story needs to tie all ends together, but here it felt like we stopped a couple chapters short of where Juliet, Naked was supposed to end. I didn’t need for them to live happily ever after, but I did need a couple more infos on their fate. So, while I enjoyed the themes and characters (to some extent), the ultimate execution of the story just lacked something for me. I feel like there was a lot more in there we didn’t get to see.

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! A rather average story that could have been more.

Now, as the title promised, I am also going to share the movie trailer here. I believe, and please don’t hold me accountable on this, the movie is currently in theaters (at least at the time of writing this post). I haven’t seen the movie yet, so no comment on that, but from what I gathered from the trailer, it looks like a faithful adaptation that expands on all the elements that were lacking or not quite right for me in the book. I am curious to see if I am right and whether they will change the end, but take a look for yourself:

Have you read or watched Juliet, Naked? Are there any other Nick Hornby books you’ve checked out? Let me know in the comments below!

Mini Reviews: Parsnips, Buttered and The Darkest Minds

It’s no secret that I have read very little during my time in Berlin so far. Being busy, tired and just generally occupied with other things will do that. I also have a very short way to and from work (which I love), so there’s not even really an opportunity to read on the train or so. But I am nonetheless quite happy I read something and here’s what that something was:

Click on the covers to get redirected to Goodreads!

Parsnips, Buttered: How to win at modern life, one email at a time by Joe Lycett

Parsnips, Buttered: How to win at modern life, one email at a timeEvery now and then, when the mood strikes, I like to dabble in some non-fiction books. And when I do, I am mostly drawn to works written by either actors or comedians I already know – Parsnips, Buttered was no exception to that.

People who have seen some of Joe Lycett’s work, know exactly what kind of ridiculous email-exchanges he gets himself tangled up in. This book is a hilarious compilation of some of his mischief, but it is by no means a guide or how-to-book. It’s just a little bit of short-lived fun that definitely got better with me hearing Joe’s voice narrate the whole thing in my head.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! I can see this working for some people and not at all striking the right chord with others.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)Some of you already know this, but I won tickets to see a preview of The Darkest Minds in August. Even though I usually try to avoid dubbed versions of movies, I didn’t even mind it as much for this one and really enjoyed the film. In my opinion, that movie would have worked a whole lot better a couple years back, because dystopian YA book adaptations just aren’t really that sought after these days and all the adult reviewers kept comparing it to the likes of Hunger Games and Maze Runner, even though it could have been its own thing.

I am rambling too much tough. What I meant to say was that I enjoyed the movie, but that made reading the book in hindsight a little more tricky. It’s not that I think one or the other is better per se, just that there are almost as many similarities as there are differences and therefore reading can get a little tiresome.

For me, the book filled in some questions that were left open after watching the movie, while I generally enjoyed some of the visuals better than reading about those events. I am curious where this story will go, but it is not exactly a priority of mine. Chubs is definitely one of my favourite characters now and the guy who played Liam in the movie is on my radar for young talent!

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Is it wrong of me to say that the prime of those kind of stories is past?

3s

Have you read either one of those? Did you read more installments in the Darkest Minds series? Did you see the movie and would you like a more thorough comparison from me? Let’s talk about it!