August 2019 Wrap-Up

This post is so long overdue, but I’ve just been super busy and haven’t really been able to do much blogging in the past weeks (which you probably noticed due to the lack of activity on my part). However, I do think that August went a lot better overall. I started strong, but then it just sort of fizzled out again. I am now on one of those very long train rides again and hopefully, if the wifi doesn’t crap out on me, I will be able to do this post … hence, if you’re reading this, all went well.

In August, I read a lot more than in previous months. At least, that’s what it felt like, even if page counts would probably tell you otherwise. First of all, I tried audiobooks for the first time in my blogging career. It could have gone considerably better, but now I know what I am talking about when I say that they aren’t for me.

I also read a lovely novella by Taylor Jenkins Reid, who only just about everyone in the community seems to adore. That felt like a really good palette cleanser and I thought I had gotten back my reading spirits, but alas, life through me another curve ball. Time really wasn’t an easy commodity to come by, so I went for an easy route – comics! Seen as Disney introduced a whole lot of their upcoming content, among them the Eternals, I felt it was my duty to read up on them. There’s some really cool content there, but I also am intrigued by the fact that some characters seem to be gender swapped and that the ages have also been changed quite a bit. The casting is high quality for sure, so I cannot wait to see which story they are going to with.

These are the volumes I have read (so not the Neil Gaiman ones) and you can check them out on Goodreads by clicking on the covers:

Eternals: To Slay A God: v. 1 (Eternals (2008-2009))   Eternals: Manifest Destiny

What else is new? I’ve been working a lot, so I didn’t really put in the necessary time to go looking for a new job. I still want to say thank you to all of you who keep inquiring and sending me job advertisements that reminded them of me. It’s much appreciated and I so very much love the gesture, even if I don’t end up applying for all of them. I wish there was more to tell, but I am not sure where to start?

When I am not at work, I’ve been trying really hard to get out of the house and just DO stuff more often. Sometimes I am successful at that and I have had a great time at several movie premieres and open air concerts and such in the last couple of weeks, but in the end they are never so much about meeting anyone new. That’s still something I don’t really know how to do exactly.

THINGS I LIKED THIS MONTH

I suppose at some point I had to stop talking about The Rook, so I reluctantly did. Instead, I switched to bombarding everyone with tweets about Four Weddings and a Funeral (the TV show), because it is really, really lovely. Mindy Kaling hits home with me about 80% of the time and I enjoy the content she creates for us and she was heavily involved in the making of this show. It’s super sweet, heart-warming but also heart-breaking. It’s square in the old-school RomCom genre but with far more diversity. I just loved it so, so very much, even if it was heavily predictable at times, because it was so reminiscent of all the things I used to love but that don’t get produced the same way these days anymore. It’s proof that you can still make these silly romances but keep them up to date. And for real, the most unrealistic part about the show isn’t that everyone meets their ideal love interest, but rather that these people seem to work and live in different countries on a whim without having to go through mountains of paperwork, visa and work regulations …

Also, if you are a Duffy – hit me up! I’d like 100% date someone like him and I am not really a Maya at all, so no heart breaking from me. Words I have spoken: “That stupid dork is like my ideal guy”

MY POSTS

TV SHOW/MOVIE RELATED

TRAILER POSTS

How was your month? Was summer as busy for you as it was for me? Let’s chat a little bit!

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Short Story Review)

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
Page Count
: 115

We all know that I haven’t exactly been reading up a storm these past couple of months. Even when I have been interested in the different stories, it was just hard to find the time and energy to really focus on it and keep at it. However, this book was offered for free on Kindle and is told entirely through letters (one of my favourite forms of storytelling if you remember this post), so I just couldn’t resist.

Evidence of the Affair feels like such a simple story, but managed to really get across a lot of emotion in its limited amount of pages. It’s always such a shame when I connect with a short story and then just want it to go on for 300 more pages. And that’s not to say that this book had a terrible ending at all, it was quite fitting and yet, it still left a lot to the imagination. I think that I would have personally preferred just a bit more, but I’d like to imagine that the next thing happened away from letters and notes and that makes it all the more beautiful in my mind.

Carrie and David’s struggles were so relatable throughout, I just wanted them to lead their best lives and be happy too. Even as someone who hasn’t been in a long term relationship, I could understand their doubts and fears.

Often, I feel overwhelmed by this sinking feeling in my heart that I will never be enough.

But those characters were definitely enough and their short story was too. I am a greedy reader, I always want more, but this is a great book if you need a change of pace or a quick way out of a reading slump.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! This is the perfect little palette cleanser and story to wet your appetite for more reading.

Have you read this little nugget of a story? Would you like to? What are your thoughts?

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman (Book Review)

Publisher: Titan Books
Page Count
: 400

It has been a while since I posted a book review on here, or since I have read a book in general if we are being real. I remember the days when I, no matter how busy I was, could just gulp up one story after another, but somehow that has just not been possible these past couple of months. I don’t blame the books for it. They are still filled with all the magical words! However, something about me and how I spend my time has changed and made it increasingly hard to focus on all the writing and retain the information it tries to convey after a long day at work. Who know? Maybe it will change again soon, but for now I am afraid you are stuck with less output in that department.

I am not exactly sure what drew me to picking up the Devouring Gray. The neon pink on the cover with the misty mountains definitely helped, but the promise of it being beautiful yet also terrifying and filled with magic was probably what sealed the deal. Having now read the book, I kind of get why everyone kept comparing it to the Raven Boys. However flawed that series might have been, I still loved it a whole lot and while reading The Devouring Gray, it kept popping up in the back of my mind constantly. I think it has something to do with how the group is set up and how the relationships among the different members are portrayed. I am not saying it is all love, but there are deep ties with the main four characters that will very likely continue to intertwine and strengthen and change in the follow up books.

Overall though, I can’t say that loved this read. I have definitely had worse and would probably pick up a sequel, but something didn’t quite click with me. I am still torn whether it had to do with the way it was written (which sometimes felt a little clumsy to me) or with me not entirely connecting to the characters. Too often, I felt like I was told how the people feel towards each other and how their pasts shape them instead of letting me naturally discover it. Everything was very direct and on the nose, even the secrets didn’t feel like anything I had just found out and gotten surprised with but rather like I had known all along and therefore didn’t care much now.

“People could hurt each other without being monsters.
And they could love each other without being saints.”

Still, it has some interesting family dynamics and the overall mystery with the monster remains. If I had to ship anyone (I know that I don’t have to at all, but since almost every second character in this book is bi, I feel like I am allowed to), I’d want the two broken beings that are Violet and Isaac to mend each other. The spark that usually makes me adore a read just wasn’t here with this one, but as I have mentioned before, I would maybe pick up any follow up books just to see how this plays out.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Intriguing but not quite there for me.

Have you read The Devouring Gray? Do you want to? What are your thoughts on it?

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (Book Review + The Legend of the Golden Raven Novella)

Publisher: Imprint
Page Count
: 305

CW: hallucinations, unhealthy co-dependency, negligent treatment of children, harmful behaviour and self-endangerment 

I’ve wanted to pick up The Wicker King ever since I saw a finished hardcover copy of it in a store in Canada almost 1.5 years ago. If you are a sucker for beautiful covers and extravagant design inside and outside of books, you will have a hard time resisting this one. Although I try to get better at not just buying books because of their beauty, the Wicker King definitely paid off.

All the superficial details aside, I honestly am glad I finally read the book. It’s not an easy read for sure, but it has lovely characters and such an important story to tell. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you don’t necessarily wonder as much about what is fantasy and what is reality as it might seem at first glance. I’ve had my fair share of books that mastered the art of completely bending your mind with the possibility of what might be happening, but there were very few doubts about the going ons in the Wicker King for me, which is probably why it was almost scary to read sometimes.

August and Jack are wonderful characters and I often just wanted to jump into the story and mother them, hug them and protect them. I did not agree with all the choices they made nor the behaviour they sometimes showed, but those boys did the best they could and deserved so much better. It’s not that I believe their parents didn’t love them, but they did a terrible job at it. Circumstances can make life hard and people crumble and break at times, but if you have kids, you really have to power through regardless. I know it’s easier said than done from where I am comfortably sitting childless behind a computer screen, but wow, did I wish that I could somehow help them and care for them, because their parents sure didn’t. In the end, it was good that they took care of each other, even if they could have done with a guardian in their lives.

There are a couple reasons I didn’t fully adore this book though and I think those are just very me reasons. While I love myself some short chapters, I was confused about the POV in the beginning (which is August’s by the way) and then felt like they hindered me from really connecting in some moments. I also didn’t love the continued hook ups, but my main sore point of the book was the relationship between August and Jack somehow. I liked that it was ambiguous in the beginning, because I am not the kind of person who just puts a romantic label on things just because I can. However, the longer I read on, the more I got afraid for them. They were so important for one another, so entangled in each other’s lives. The presence of August was like a necessity to Jack and vice versa. I understand that it’s one of the main points of the book, but it almost seemed unhealthy to me and therefore I couldn’t 100% root for them to be together. As I said though, this is a very me thing and maybe that worked perfectly fine for other people.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Definitely worth a read even if I didn’t click with every part of it.

If you know me, you also know that I am not much of a novella person, but The Legend of the Golden Raven was free for Kindle, I got it and really enjoyed it.

In only 40 pages, The Legend of the Golden Raven shows Jack’s condensed view of the events of The Wicker King. I thought that was a really neat addition to the main book and was happy to see a whole lot more magical/fantastical elements included. Obviously, the author couldn’t go into detail with it, but it still fills some gaps and rounds up the tale nicely.

It’s most likely not a must-read, but if you enjoyed the Wicker King, then I would recommend this as well.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! 

 

Have you read The Wicker King and it’s companion novella? Do you want to? Let’s talk about it!

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!

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: 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!