Rikki by Abigail Strom (Book Review)

Rikki (Hart University, #1)Ever since junior high and an ill-fated game of seven minutes in heaven, Rikki Eisendrath and Sam Payne have hated each others’ guts. But when they end up at the same college—and the same dorm—they figure it’s time to declare a truce.
They even become friends . . . sort of. But when Sam asks Rikki to model for his sculpting project, they start spending more time together—and her feelings for him get more complicated.
She tries to focus on the guy she’s been crushing on instead. But Sam’s the one she can’t stop thinking about, even though their arguments are starting to heat up as much as the chemistry between them.
With antagonism and attraction this intense, there’s bound to be an explosion. But when the dust settles, will Sam and Rikki be enemies, friends . . . or something more?

(Goodreads)

I was provided with an eArc from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the contemporary and YA/New Adult genre, sprinkle it with a lot of romance and you definitely have my attention. That’s what first drew me to Rikki and I have to say I was not disappointed.

The novel is very fast paced, especially in the beginning it almost felt rushed. However, as soon as I settled in a bit, I really enjoyed it. While the plot – rivals falling for each other – may not be the most original one, it is well executed and features great characters that you care about. I thought that I would be frustrated with them not realizing that they have feelings for each other sooner, but I liked watching their fights and the development of their relationship. I could identify with Rikki so much, by the end of the book I was questioning some of my life choices because they were so similar to hers.

Another thing I really liked was the no-judgment vibe and the diversity of the novel. I think that it had some great messages concerning being open and responsible when it comes to sexuality.

There were a couple of things that I didn’t enjoy as much though. Being pretty impulsive and getting angry very easily can be a tad of an annoying trait, but I understood it because that behaviour is still sort of justifiable at 18. Yet, denying that you are jealous and obviously feel physical attraction towards someone is just silly. Also, Sam did something before they went to Hart University that just weirded me out. I don’t want to give it away here, but people who have read the book probably know what I mean. I am still surprised as to how casual Rikki reacted to it in comparison to his mistake towards the end, which wasn’t cool either, but I get why it happened – not so much the other thing though.

In the end, Rikki was a really fast, cute yet also very sexy read. It’s the first part of the Hart University books and I would gladly take up the next one to see where it is going. Maybe it will feature some of the side characters, since they didn’t get much spotlight this time around.

Fazit: 3.7/5 stars! If you enjoy New Adult Romance, you should definitely take a look!

The Infernal Devices Book Review

I know I am pretty late to the party when it comes to the Infernal Devices, but I have reasons for that … not any good ones, but still reasons … I’ve read the City of Bones trilogy (at least that’s what I believed it to be at the time) years ago – so many years, I don’t even remember. I read them in the German translation, so clearly the phase where I read everything in it’s original language hadn’t started yet. So, I was reluctant to buy anything associated with the series in English and I simply couldn’t get myself to continue reading it in German. But at some point I just couldn’t resist any longer. They look so pretty and they are about Shadowhunters – I mean that’s just cool!

Bildschirmfoto 2015-05-19 um 14.59.43

I’ve thought about this for a long time and I find it extremely difficult to do this without Spoilers, therefore there will be two parts to this review: one for everyone and one for the people who’ve read the book as well!

Spoiler-free section coming up!

The Infernal Devices is about the journey of Tessa Gray – about her encountering a world beyond what she thought was possible and of her realising what a special place she has in exactly that world. It’s a story about love, family, loyalty, honor and duty.

I like the universe Cassandra Clare has created. Opinions tend to differ on this one; some people just never really get into it and that’s okay too. But I wasn’t one of those people, I got sucked in and loved it. Not many authors manage to develop a story with so many side characters, you barely know who you want to keep track of most.

There was literally no one I didn’t like (except for the villains, who you still understood to some extant)! That doesn’t mean the characters are perfect, because as she states in the book “perfect is dull”, but they all have their quirks and habits that make them really lovable. Another plus: my all-time-favourite from City of Bones/Glass/Ashes Magnus Bane is in the books!

The pace of the story felt exactly right for the time period it played in and all the references to “A Tale of Two Cities” were great! Overall I enjoyed it very much and could’ve spent decades more with the characters.

Now Spoilers ahead!

All in all I liked all three books quite equally, although the ending was most superb. Clockwork Princess bothered me sometimes because the actual Mortmain-storyline was so minimal, but then again it was the best of the three books in terms of showing where all the characters will end up, who they truly love and what they are capable of becoming. But as always, I am just going to divide this part into the characters/pairings in order to get some structure into this whole thing:

  • Whoever said “You can’t have it all!” has clearly never read the Infernal Devices, because besides the immortality issue, Tessa Gray has about one of the best lives on the planet and she gets to live a whole and fulfilled life with both her true loves. I mean who gets to do that? Normal people have to choose!
  • I understand that everyone loves troubled Will Herondale and it’s not like I don’t like him, but I don’t seem to have been as affected by him as others. The only scene I absolutely adored and that shattered my heart was when he thought Jem was dead and his parabatai-rune faded. Other than that I think he’s fun and funny, has great taste in books and apparently looks quite handsome.
  • James Carstairs aka Jem is my second favourite character in the Shadowhunter world (next to the infamous Magnus Bane). I kind of preferred him to Will and hope people can live with that. When I thought he was dead I felt devastated and like a part of my heart was missing as well. Never would I have thought he would die, which essentially he didn’t, but I didn’t know that at the time. Very well played Ms Clare!
    I’m so glad he got to be with his Tessa in the end as well and I’ve read about a little sequel called “After the Bridge” which tells us more about what happened after the Epilogue of Clockwork Princess. I have to get my hands on that somehow!!
  • Sophie, dear stubborn Sophie, I was so happy to see her become a Shadowhunter herself and find her love in Gideon Lightwood. He was smitten by her from the first second and that was just so lovely.
  • Henry and Charlotte have to be the most adorable people ever! I love how strong of a person Charlotte is and even though I felt sorry for Henry getting injured, it doesn’t seem like a big issue and that’s great. Also, Charlotte is the perfect example of female empowerment for the time period.
  • I still think it’s a little weird that Gabriel fell in love with Cecily because of his past with Will and her resemblance to him. Still, she made him a better man for sure.
  • I have never heard Bridget sing, but her songs sound fascinating. I can imagine though that they would get on my nerves after a while.
  • I feel sorry for Jessamine (although I’ve never particularly liked her) and hope she will find peace, even as a ghost.

Oh my stars, this has become a looong post. What do you say? Any thoughts on the Infernal Devices from your side?

Side note: I would like to see THAT becoming a movie or TV show!!! Until someone makes that happen, I will contend myself with the Shadowhunter show.

Testament of Youth Review

A while ago I watched the Trailer for Testament of Youth and I knew I wanted to know more about it. I bought the book or rather the memoirs of Vera Brittain, which the movie is based on, but I haven’t managed to finish it yet. Nonetheless, I finally decided to watch the movie and I do not regret not having waited any longer! I will keep this post Spoiler-free but I cannot say the same about the comments!

Here some basic facts:

Genre: Biography/Drama/History

Length: 129  minutes

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Colin Morgan, Taron Egerton, Hayley Atwell, Emily Watson, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson …

Director: James Kent 

Testament of Youth is the real account of Vera Brittain’s life and keeping that in mind, the movie was just so much more heartfelt and heartbreaking than I thought it would be. I can tell you that they did not stick to the book a 100%, but that was a thing of impossibility anyway. What fascinated me so much about it though, was that the point of view wasn’t from someone at the front, someone involved in the actual fighting, but rather the view of a person who got left behind. Vera does everything possible to be of help, joining the volunteers as a nurse and in that way she witnesses her own horrors of war.

I always have my problems with war stories. There are never any real winners. Yet, the movie shows why people joined up, what their course of thinking was – their motivation. It also shows how war changed them and in consequence also their lives, their thinking and the people they love. Towards the end Vera gives an impressive speech in front of a pro-war crowd and she makes it her duty to never forget what happened to the people she cared about. I think we can all agree that she succeeded in doing that.

The movie is so beautiful and sad to watch (I’ll admit to having cried … a lot). The combination of strong visual pictures and quite striking poetry was extremely touching. Everyone involved did an extraordinary job and I was delighted with the work of  Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Colin Morgan (Merlin), Taron Egerton (Kingsman) and even Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) whom I barely recognised at first. The real reason to watch is Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machina) though! She gives a strong, sympathetic and worthwhile performance, that I’ll be sure to remember.

Fazit: very recommendable!

Have you watched it as well? Have any of you read Vera’s memoirs?

Let’s talk about Movies!

As my rate of blog posts was barely existing during the past month, I’ve neglected to mention a couple of movies I’ve watched. I don’t see the point of discussing them all at length now, but I’ll give you a short take on things (Spoiler-free unless noted otherwise) and I’d love to discuss with you in further detail in the comments! So, here we go:

Kingsman: The Secret Service

I’ve read the graphic novel before watching the movie and I was of the opinion that they’d never actually do the things that happened in the written version … but they did! A lot of the characters were changed to some extent, but the general storyline wasn’t so far fetched from the actual comic. With creators Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons being the brains behind Kick-Ass as well, I knew the movie would have quite violent tendencies, but I didn’t expect Kingsman to be the way it ended up being. It was both hilarious and shocking and a great cinematic debut for Taron Egerton. Also, it was awesome to see Colin Firth in such an action-packed role!

Fazit: laughworthy and enjoyable

 

Insurgent

They’ve changed a lot from the book and I don’t care whatsoever. I really enjoyed the book, but I kind of liked the movies better so far. Maybe it’s because I dread Allegiant and I am hoping that they’ll change the events of that one as well. Also, I have to add that I love Miles Teller in these movies! (Okay … not just in the Divergent-Series …) [SPOILER] On a side-note: the betrayal by Caleb felt more real in the book … just saying.

Fazit: really cool!

 

Eden

Why only talk about mainstream-stuff? Eden is a film by French film director Mia Hansen-Løve about the guys who didn’t become Daft Punk. It is apparently a sort of semi-biography of her brother Sven’s life. You probably can’t imagine much after that, but let’s just say it’s a film about music, the perfect mix between euphoria and melancholy without any apparent goal except portraying the ups and overweighing downs of DJ Paul’s life.

Fazit: lengthy but deeply impacting (at least on me) movie

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

This is an Iranian Western-vampire movie – says it all! If that doesn’t convince you to watch this unique work of art, then I don’t know how to help you … I watched it in its original language with subtitles and it was beautiful to witness. The music is chosen perfectly and it’s just so intense. Sometimes it feels a tad long, but you forgive it that little flaw easily. Some may compare it to Only Lovers Left Alive, although I would hesitate to call it that, it’s quite it’s own piece of work. I’m not too big of a fan of open ends, but here the conclusion was quite fitting.

Fazit: A must-watch for vampire fans!

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron

I wasn’t as impressed as I wanted to be. I liked the movie and it didn’t feel long at all, but it just didn’t throw me out of my seat either. Love Spader as Ultron and Paul Bettany as the Vision! I think they could’ve used the creepy version of the Pinocchio song more during the film. [SPOILER] I am not at all okay with them killing Quicksilver though, because I adore the Maximoff-twins. His death had absolutely no emotional impact on me, the scene was just void of any feelings. My heart broke for Wanda, but before that … I mean he even cracked a joke while dying. Are you serious? I am still secretly hoping that his fast metabolism somehow healed him or that Scarlett Witch will resurrect him like she did in the comics.

Fazit: Another great piece of the Marvel universe

 

That was long enough a post I think. Hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. What are your thoughts? Would you like to have me do that once a month or do you prefer the more detailed posts?

The Librarians Season Finale

I really enjoyed watching this series and am quite sad that The Libarians are over for now. I’m really hoping for another season, but for now, let’s talk about what the first Season had in store for us. Spoilers ahead!

So, the show definitely had it’s ups and downs, but all in all I liked it very much – more than I liked the second and third movie of the franchise at least. One thing I am sad about is that the way the first Season ended would be the perfect ending for the show, but I still want more and I’m afraid it’s going to ruin a future ending. But, a second Season still isn’t confirmed, so maybe they just wanted to make sure it didn’t end on a huge cliffhanger (I seriously appreciate that!). Now, let’s talk about the Season finale:

  • The alternate librarians were absolutely amazing, but Cassandra was definitely the coolest of them all. I loved her all through this season, because she’s sweet and innocent but also so incredibly intelligent. Aside from that it was interesting to see how Baird played a different role in all their lives and how different the world could’ve turned out to be if it weren’t for Flynn.
  • Talking of Flynn – I loved him in the movies, but I wasn’t really bothered at all that he barely appeared in the show, because I found him a bit annoying. Yet, he did save Baird in the end, so I will give him credit for that.
  • The final revelations about Dulaque, who’s really Lancelot Du Lac, and Jenkins, who’s Galahad were a bit rushed for me. They did make the finale a double feature, but the episodes didn’t have anything to do with each other and I would have preferred it, if they spent more time talking about this. The fact that Jenkins had something to do with Camelot was already hinted at by his meeting with Morgana, but I did not see that coming. I have no idea how closely the show follows the Arthurian legend, but that revelation would basically mean that Dulaque is Jenkins’ father (because Galahad was Lancelot’s illegitimate son) … talk about family issues.
  • As I mentioned above, the actual finale would have been worthy of a series finale, even though I imagine there is still a lot to tell. Everything was so resolved though – We got the library back, Baird and Flynn are together, fighting the bad guys and cutting the others loose to go on their own adventures, who in turn decide to stay together as well, rather than splitting up.
  • The first Season as a whole was quite interesting. Sometimes it got a bit too silly for me, but I liked the mix of more serious cases versus the casual ones. I am still not a huge fan of the visual effects, but they did get better with time. Maybe I’m just imagining that though. My favourite episodes include the one with the haunted house and the one where they all turned into fairy tale characters. Any favourites you want to talk about?

It was a good start for the series and I am eager to find out if there will be more. What are your thoughts on the Librarians?

Bitten Book vs. TV Show

Bitten is a TV show produced by the Canadian channel Space (shown on Syfy in the US), but it’s originally based on the “Women of the Otherworld“-series by Kelley Armstrong. The show started airing earlier this year and I just finished reading the first book of the 13-part-series by Armstrong two days ago, so I thought it would be fitting to compare the two by the end of this year. There will be a spoiler-free and a spoiler-y section, so beware as you read on!

First, let me start by saying that I love both, the show and the book. I like supernatural stuff and this series just really hit the right tone with me. I always thought that I wasn’t a big fan of werewolves, but since I watch Teen Wolf, True Blood (rooting for Alcide all along) and Bitten, there is really no use in denying that they are sort of cool. I think the problem I have with the visualisation of werewolves is that the CGI and visual effects are mostly terrible and unfortunately I can’t say that they are very good in Bitten either. But that is totally besides the point, because I still very much enjoyed the show. Let me try to sum it up for you:

Elena Michaels is the only female werewolf on the planet, but she never wanted to be turned. All Elena wants is to be normal, so she tries to live as normal a life as possible given the circumstances with her unknowing boyfriend in Toronto. She thought she’s finally gotten rid of her past, when her Pack Alpha, Jeremy Danvers, summons her back for a Meet. Not being able to ignore his call, she has to go back to her former home, Stonehaven. There she has to deal with her ex, her true nature and murderers of a different kind.

The story is mainly focused on Elena and how she has to deal with her two lives. Especially while reading the book, I thought that Armstrong was great at conveying Elena’s thoughts and feelings in a way that we could entirely understand her even though this is such a surrealistic topic. Bitten is fast-paced, thrilling, exciting, dark, violent, funny and lovely at the same time –  I can only recommend it!

I guess this is all I can say for the non-spoiler section, because from now on everything I say gives something away. In short: Spoilers ahead!

When I actually read the book, I was surprised at how faithful they stayed with the storyline throughout the show. Of course there are differences in appearances of the characters and the likes, but they totally managed to capture the gist of it. The various actors and actresses portray their characters so well, I can’t say anything other than that I’m really happy (especially because Steve Lund plays my favourite Nick Sorrentino just perfect!). The changes they did make, don’t actually bother me that much. Remember though, that I’ve only come as far as to read the first book. I don’t know what happens in the rest of the series (not yet!). Having said that, here are the most obvious things I noticed that differ between the book to the TV show:

  • In both, the book and the show, two major Pack members die. While it’s Logan and Peter in the book, Peter and Antonio are the ones to die in the TV show. I don’t know which combination I prefer, because I was truly sad in both cases. Since Nick is somewhat of my favourite, I was sad to see him having to deal with his father’s death, but it couldn’t have been easy for Elena to loose her best friend either. And Peter was just a really nice guy.
  • Speaking of Logan surviving, that of course opened up a whole new storyline (him getting his girlfriend pregnant and not wanting to give her up, etc.) in the show that will be important during the second Season as well. Also, Logan did keep in contact with Elena in both cases, but they didn’t actually both live in Toronto in the book. I guess while reading the book, I connected a lot more with Logan because I saw the show first though. Just wanted to add that.
  • Elena’s life in Toronto is a lot more detailed in the TV show than it is in the book. Because of that, Philip and his family play a far more important role as well. They are slightly different than they are in the book, even though the general constellation of Philip having two sisters stayed the same. Additionally, Elena has a different job. She’s a photographer in the show and a journalist in the book.
  • While Elena’s backstory wasn’t changed that much. The child molester turned mutt wasn’t her abuser in the book though, only in the TV show. But I think we got that she had a rough childhood nonetheless.

I love it when TV shows just add to the story instead of changing it entirely. I can’t wait for the next season, coming February 2015, and reading the rest of the books from the “Women of the Otherworld“-series. Let’s discuss in the comments! Did I miss something crucial?

The Librarians Series Premiere

I’m so excited about this, I’m having a hard time putting it into words. When I was little (or at least younger than I am now) I completely and utterly fell in love with the Librarian movies. Well, not all of them, but definitely the first one, the others were sort of meh. After watching it for what feels like a million times, I so wanted to become a librarian, even just an ordinary one. I strayed a bit from that path, but it’s always a possibility that I keep coming back to, so you can’t imagine my joy when I found out they continue the series on TV – calling it The Librarians! TNT I truly love you for that!

It’s a bit difficult to talk about it without spoiling it, but I’ll try my best!

In case you’ve totally missed out on the movies. Flynn Carson (Noah Wyle) was a long-time student, getting one Doctor title after the other, until he got an invitation for an interview at the Metropolitan Public Library for the position of librarian. He doesn’t yet know that the job description includes much more than you would guess by its title. He is now the protector and keeper of ancient secrets and magic artifacts – basically the best job ever.

The show now takes place approximately ten years after Flynn started the job. He’s dealt with everything on his own so far and has survived longer than any other librarian, but the library thinks he could use some support. Especially now that the Serpent Brotherhood is killing off potential future librarians while being hellbent on unleashing magic on the entire world. This time it’s not only Flynn’s life that’s on the line, but the entire existence of the library and humanity.

Next to Noah Wyle‘s main character, we get appearances from old friends such as Excalibur, Charlene (Jane Curtis) and Judson (Bob Newhart). The new cast includes John Laroquette as a caretaker as well as a new guardian played by Rebecca Romijn and three librarian “interns” (Christian Kane, Lyndie Booth and John Kim). The series’ reccuring antagonist is played by Matt Frewer. The show certainly has a sort of “Indiana Jones“-remake vibe to it, could use some better visual effects and graphics from time to time, but nonetheless doesn’t fail to entertain. I am happy to see where the 10-part first season will take us and which legends they’ll dig up.

With its fast pace, wit and humorous approach during even the most dire of times, I am sure that fans of the movie franchise will find comfort in this spin-off. Even though Noah Wyle will not be the main focus of the episodes from now on (maybe sit some of them out completely), I am definitely looking forward to more.

Have you heard about the movies? Did you watch the show?