Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 368

I can’t believe I read this brand new 2020 release, but it was one of the easiest tasks ever to convince me to pick it up! Twitter wars, teen banter, copious amounts of Gossip Girl and Mean Girls references, grilled cheese and all the sweet goods one could imagine as well as the enemies-to-lovers trope – this book basically consisted of all the things I love and adore.

When you go into Tweet Cute, I feel like you very much know what to expect and that’s not a bad thing at all, because the execution is what matters. I went into it having quite a lot of the story elements that would be used in mind already, but I was still surprised when some of them were used. Sometimes a certain plot point would arrive much sooner and I’d be surprised by how much of the story was still left. Nonetheless, I never felt like the story was dragging on or stretching out parts of it too much, everything flowed nicely and made sense in the grand scheme of things.

This won’t be a very long review in total, just because there is very little to say other than my utter adoration for Tweet Cute. The characters were fun, the setting was cool (I like some preppy uptown New York academy), the banter was hilarious, but what I loved the most was the complex family dynamic. The pressure you sometimes get from wanting to please your parents, the rivalry that can ensue with a sibling because of different treatment and the fierce loyalty one might still feel, even when things are not at their best at the moment. All those things make a story feel real and relatable.

Now, can someone please make me a grilled cheese?? I am hungry!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Such good fun! (Caution: Do not read while hungry or craving food!)

Have you read this book also? Have you seen it swarm around the blogosphere as much as I have? Let’s chat!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #27

Sometimes I really underestimate just how much I watch in a short amount of time, but I hope you don’t mind if this post gets a little longer. I think most of you are pretty on board with this feature in general, so let’s go!

Ragnarok

Most of you already know that I quite like the Norwegian Netflix productions. One of them (The Innocents) even got me to start learning the language on duolingo and I am loving it. So, when I saw the first teaser and then even more trailers for Ragnarok, I WAS IN!

Basically it’s a modern take on Norse mythology, but it includes capitalism, environmental issues and gives you just the sweetest taste of just how broad the story could turn out to be. With only 6 episodes, Ragnarok very much feels like the beginning of something and I sincerely hope that we will get more seasons because it was fantastic. The show is incredibly atmospheric and has compelling characters. Some you will love to hate and others you will want to protect with everything you’ve got. I already have a couple theories, some definite favourites and enjoy the mystery that some characters are still shrouded in.

Fair warning though, there is a lot of animal gore (hearts getting ripped out, mouths getting torn open, …) and I do not recommend it if that is something you do not like to see.

For fans of: Norse mythology set in the now, giants and gods, European Netflix productions, M83 music

Dare Me

With the hype around Cheer (which I have actually also watched and never talked about, but boyo, did I cry during that last episode when they went to Daytona), this is the perfect counterpart in terms of fictional cheerleading content. You still get bone-grinding drills but the drama is more off mat than on it. I think there’s a lot more to the characters than you see at first and I am definitely loving the queer vibes off of basically all the ladies. I have absolutely no clue how I feel about half the relationships, because some of them feel so utterly inappropriate but none the less compelling.

It’s based on a book, that I haven’t read, and as far as I know, the author was very involved in the production and gave the actors a lot of freedom to expand and change the story wherever necessary. Everyone felt really comfortable with her on set, which is always good in my opinion.

I would like to offer a trigger warning for sexual assault as this is one of the themes explored throughout the series.

For fans of: cheerleading drama, all the girls giving off major bi vibes

BoJack Horseman (Series Finale)

I like BoJack Horseman as a show. It’s really depressing sometimes, but it also feels incredibly real despite it being animated. The voice acting is obviously phenomenal with a great cast for even tiny roles, but I did not feel the same emotional impact for all seasons equally. This last season especially, having been cut into two parts, didn’t hit has hard as some previous ones.

To this day, I think my favourite season was the 4th one, but that’s just my own preference. I liked when we dug deep into the messed up past of BoJack’s family. In comparison to that, some of the solutions and problems this season just felt superficial. I did get briefly emotional during the penultimate episode and the beginning of the last one, but ultimately the final minutes didn’t have as much of an impact on me as I had hoped. Still, if BoJack was a person, I’d wish him the best.

For fans of: animated shows for adults with meaningful themes but also dark, dark humour

The Good Place (Series Finale)

I sobbed, I cried snot and tears, I was SO freaking emotional during the last episode. The Good Place is one of those very rare shows that is perfect from beginning to end. I will never forget the impeccable twist of the first season that was a real game changer for how the rest of the show would turn out. I love, love, love that they got to finish it on their own terms and that they didn’t drag it out.

The way this show ended made sense. It was beautiful and meaningful. To come up with such an out of the box idea for a show and to get to carry it through all the way, that’s a real feast and I am so very glad I got to witness it all. The Good Place is one of those cases where it’s best not to talk about what happens too much, to just let people experience it themselves, but I want to say that it was a great study in character development and I will cherish these characters forever.

For fans of: moral dilemma and afterlife hijinks

Next in Fashion

Usually, I just do fictional content, but I binged this show and really liked it, so I am going to include it here real quick as well.

I am a fan of shows like Project Runway (although I haven’t watched the latest seasons) and this is pretty much just Netflix’ take on it. I liked that people were paired into teams at the beginning and how reluctant some of them were to get separated later on. I realise that it creates extra drama when people who do not work well together have to create one garment or a cohesive look for several episodes and I felt truly and honestly so sad for some of the people who had to leave where it was definitely due to the partner.

But the judges were refreshing and opinionated and experts in their fields. I loved seeing one of my favourites soar to the finale (even if they didn’t win). I just like fashion shows, despite not being a fashionable person at all.

For fans of: Project Runway, but make it Netflix

Little Women

I love this movie so much, there aren’t enough words to describe just how much exactly. Considering how many people were so adamant that there was no way anyone could top the 1994 adaptation, I think this surpassed all the Little Women content I have consumed so far. It felt fresh, I liked how the narrative was presented and we don’t even have to talk about the amazing acting and chemistry between all characters.

Genuinely, I had the best of times watching this movie (and no, I am not late to the party, because I watched it on release day here in Austria. It’s not my fault we get movies super late!). The theater wasn’t entirely full (original language versions rarely are) but there were so many young women and men and they laughed, giggled, cried, sobbed and gasped in unison, it just made the experience all the richer. I know the story pretty well and yet I never felt bored, all I felt was pure joy at watching what was happening on the screen. I loved how the parallels played out, how Jo’s life mirrored Louise May Alcott’s and that Florence portrayed Amy in a way that made it easier to connect. I liked how much effort Greta Gerwig put into the distinguishable looks of past and present and the choreography of big ensemble scenes.

To me, Meg and Beth felt a bit blander than Jo and Amy, but you still felt with them. I just want to watch the movie a million times more.

For fans of: the novel, Greta Gerwig, period dramas, Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Florence Pugh, anyone from the cast really …

Code 8

If anyone asks me about my favourite characters in comics, it’s mostly mutants. So, this movie being about how 4% of the global population have superpowers and get discriminated because of them immediately had me intrigued.

I know that the Amell boys fought for this movie to get produced for a long time and I am happy for them that they got a deal on a spin-off series already. It makes sense, because it’s a vast world where you can explore so many more aspects of it. However, we are here to talk about the movie and that was … okay? I know that “okay” doesn’t sound like the biggest endorsement, but while watching the movie, I didn’t connect to the aesthetic as much as I had hoped. The struggle is very relatable and mirrors daily racism in a cohesive way, but it felt like a prequel or something that should have been a show to begin with! I felt like there was information on the characters that I was missing that would have been great to explore, but maybe that’s what they intend to do with the show. It just seemed like viewers were supposed to accept certain background stories without ever having been told what they were.

For fans of: The Amell family, superpowered humans, mutants (?)


That’s it for post #27! I am also halfway through the latest part of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but I am not particularly enjoying it, so it will take some time to finish. Let’s chat!

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 385

**TW: Self harm (blood mages need to cut themselves to use magic), parental abuse, war, torture and gore**

I’ve wanted to read this book for so, so long! And I know that it divides people, because so many hate it, a lot of people think of it only as “meh” but then there’s people like me who absolutely 100% LOVED this journey. It’s honestly not often that I see a book where I could throw my last name in and it would just blend in nicely with the others, also, if I am not mistaken entirely, there’s going to be a Katya in the sequel and that’s just one letter away from my name, so I am going to take it! All those minor details aside, monsters, gods and mortals with major morality quarrels are the way to my heart.

“There was madness in his black eyes – madness and something terribly close to divinity.
Which was, in essence, the same as madness.”

You don’t get much time to adjust to this very rich world before you are thrown into a war that has lasted centuries already. The different viewpoints are clear, but you uncover so much more to it all throughout the story, it’s hard to explain where you find yourself and your allegiances at the end of it all. Our three main characters all grew up within certain belief systems and it has shaped them into the people that are presented to us at the beginning of the tale. Especially Nadya’s religion plays a huge part of her self image and it’s understandable that she meets people who portray everything she was taught to hate with hostility. I thought I would be more annoyed at them for being so stubborn and unwilling to see the other person’s point of view, but ultimately, it just made for all the better tension when they all ultimately meet and have to team up. None of these characters are saints, even if some might believe differently, because they all have done terrible and selfish things at one point or another, but for me it was easy to see how (at least most of them) came to be that person. I did not hold their past against them, which made some betrayals sting all the more. But honestly, it’s not just the main three characters you find yourself easily attached to, I also found myself drawn to the fiercely loyal companions and was worried about their well being by the end just as much as the others. I am not exaggerating when I say I screamed “MY POOR CINNAMON ROLLS OF STEEL!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY BABIES?!?” during the final pages.

Now, I understand if the romance in the book might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It worked for me, but then … I am also someone who wasn’t bother by the Rey and Kylo Ren pairing in Star Wars? I chose that specific example, because I know the author is like the number 1 Kylo Ren fan and there are certainly some Reylo similarities to be found here. Just like that didn’t work for everyone, I am guessing it also won’t work for every reader here. I, personally, felt the tension and was fine with it.

“When he stepped past her, a smile flickered at the edges of his lips. There was darkness at the corners, something evil just underneath the surface, sinister. He turned and grinned at her, monstrous but beatific, holding out his hand, darkness gone. Maybe she’d just imagined it. She took his hand.”

There’s also the diversity I enjoyed a lot. While you feel this world largely inspired by Slavic culture, the world ranges from deserts to snow regions, includes people of color, with disabilities and different sexualities. To me, those are all parts of what makes for good and enjoyable world-building. I was most fascinated by the supposed gods and the religious texts and accounts of saints though! There’s definitely a lot more to it than meets the eye and I wonder what we will discover about their origin and purpose as the series goes on.

I am glad I waited beyond the hype and checked out the book myself, because for me, this was an immediate hit. Also, even though I still have to wait a couple months, I am way closer to the release of Ruthless Gods (aka the sequel) than I would have been had I read the book upon its release. I still want it so bad right now … the sooner the better!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Give me all the monsters, gods and mortals and the sequel while you’re at it!

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts on it? Let’s chat!

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe (Book Review)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count
: 384

I know it’s a silly point to start with, but I love the cover of this book! I love the colors, I love the illustration, I even love the extremely long title and the perfect placement of it. Most of all, I love that, now that I have read the book, I can tell you exactly who is who on that cover and it fits them to the t. Having said all that, my gushing shall continue about the contents of The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, because this book was so much fun!

When I was 15 years old, I did an exchange semester in the US. Even to this date, with many a different experience abroad, it is one of the most memorable times of my life. I don’t know why, but for a second I thought this book was about a French-Canadian exchange student (that did happen at my US high school, so it’s not that weird of a concept), but no, Norris’ mum plans to move her son to Texas permanently. In hindsight, that makes so much more sense! Because why else would he absolutely hate the idea of being there, since he would have never if he had chosen to go himself. Nevertheless, most things Norris knew about American high schools, he knew from TV shows (just like myself) and he wasn’t surprised to find a lot of these things actually being true, while then realising that there’s always more to people than what you can see at first glance.

I thought this book was a fresh take on usual high school stories. I especially appreciated how the end wasn’t an end at all, while it still left you at a very satisfactory place. Norris, while being very judgmental to the point that it can get annoying sometimes, is a really funny character. I found myself laughing out loud several times. That’s not to say that there aren’t also deep and personal issues discussed. There’s moving to another country, getting raised by one parent and getting neglected by another, the expectation for children of immigrants to succeed, living with mental health issues, being black in America, selflessness and selfishness and to what degree we need to act upon them. Those weren’t even all topics mentioned, but somehow they were all included in effortless ways that made sense for both the story and character. Really, every character has their own story to tell and layers to uncover. I can always appreciate that! 

Lastly, the only reason that this isn’t a 5-star-read is that I found myself incredibly frustrated with the romantic storyline. Norris early on crushes on someone he himself calls a “manic pixie dream girl”, which should already tell you that she is not who he is meant to be with. Yet, he keeps pining after her even though she is downright mean to him sometimes and stringing him along in the most obvious ways, even when there is the kindest and sweetest girl right in front of him! I know it’s part of the drama and obviously was also needed for the big blow-up in the last act of the story, but I wouldn’t have minded if none of that ever happened. It was quite nice to just have a mostly happy story trickling along, with hick ups along the way, but just people who dealt with it rather than had a massive drama.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A fun and quick read about a very teen experience.

Have you read this book? Do you want to? Let’s talk about it.

December 2019 Wrap-Up / The Year in Review

I read a whopping 8 books in December, which was 100% a personal record for the year. I just really, really wanted to reach my adjusted Goodreads goal and with those books I did. Here’s the recent ones I read:

The Dire King (Jackaby, #4) Defy Me (Shatter Me, #5) Find Me The Pisces Animals Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening Noughts & Crosses (Noughts & Crosses #1) P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)

As per usual, when you click on the covers, you’ll get re-directed to Goodreads, where you are always welcome to add me as a reading buddy! For the books that I have written reviews for, you can find them by clicking on the titles above.

Because I did this last year, I am also going to share my entire year of reading with you. Goodreads is really great at putting together a fun summary to share with everyone and I am going to do that here in parts, but you can find my entire results here.

I didn’t read a massive amount of books in 2019, but I am quite content with it looking back at the year. I was really busy with work and had literal months where I didn’t pick up a single book, so I am glad to have gotten to a total of 26 books! However, I have noticed that I started to gravitate more towards shorter to medium-length books and entirely avoided epic series. There were also quite a couple comic books and novellas featured, if you look at my reading list as a whole.

Finally, my average rating for the books I read was 3.5, which is 0.4 stars lower than in the previous year. Considering that I read 10 books less and actively tried to look at books more critically without giving away high ratings as willy nilly as I have done in the past, I am also not disappointed with this result.

2019 wasn’t the easiest of years for me for a multitude of reasons that I don’t want to get into. I am not going to lie to you though, it did reflect heavily in my blogging habits and the resulting stats. I have been struggling more than usual to deliver steady content and it showed by being the worst year in blogging since 2014 (having started the blog in 2013). I don’t want to whine about it, and even though I strongly believe that stats aren’t everything, it has affected my relationship with the blog a little bit. I am still so very grateful for everyone who stuck around, even when there were sometimes weeks of only trailer posts and nothing else. I don’t really know if I can promise to do better in 2020, but I am not willing to give up just yet.

  • The blog currently has 2,470 WordPress followers, a number that keeps growing slowly but steadily. If I add the people who have followed via mail, we have surpassed 2,500 easily.
  • This is post #1113, so there is really a lot to plow through if you want to do a deep dive into the archives of Life and Other Disasters.
  • I really, really want to give a shout-out to my top commenters, because the interaction is what makes blogging so great and worthwhile. So, huge thank you to Rami, Lois, The Orang-utan Librarian, the Educated Negra, Caro and Marie!!

MOST POPULAR POSTS OF 2019

(click on the title of the post to read the full thing!)

Kiss, Marry, Kill – Marvel Edition: It was a big year for Marvel, so I am not surprised that it was a draw in terms of blog posts. The fact that this one was more about the actors than the characters didn’t really seem to deter anyone either.

The Rook: Book vs. TV Show: It makes me so happy to know that these book to screen comparison posts do so well, because I know that a lot of us bloggers struggle with the performance of review posts. The fact that this is one of my favourite shows of the year is just an added bonus!

Kiss, Marry, Kill: TV Edition: Y’all really like to know who I would kiss, marry or kill it seems? All I can say about that is that I really, really struggle with the last part with every single edition of this post I did. And … I think this was the 5th installment already?

What I’ve Been Binge-Watching #3: I’ve started this series either late in 2018 or early 2019 and toyed around with the format, making little adjustments here and there for a while. I am glad it resonates with people, although I have no idea why this one in particular did well.

Random Movie Recommendations: Karen Gillan Edition: Yay for all of you being as big Karen Gillan enthusiasts as I am! That’s probably the reason this post was interesting to some people out there.

MY 2019 RANKINGS

Last but not least, here are all the links for my 2019 rankings for movies, books and TV shows in case you missed them the past couple of days!

I hope you had a great start into the year 2020 so far! Is there something you really liked on the blog in 2019 and want to see more of in the new year? Let’s chat!

Mini Reviews: The Pisces, Animals

Sometimes, during a spur of poor judgement, I am determined to read a bunch of adult general literature novels. There are a couple where I really ended up loving the stories, but more often than not, it’s a vast disappointment. However, I am super stubborn! I will finish even the most annoying reads, so here we are … with some new mini reviews of books I did not actually like.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

The PiscesHeads up, this book features a lot of sex scenes. You might have been smarter than me and already guessed that based on the cover, but I really didn’t go into it expecting that kind of content at all. I honestly don’t know why though, I am just naive like that.

Anyway, I feel like opinions could be divided on this book. You’re either going to be all in and enjoy this or hate it … like me. Lucy, the main character, makes it really hard to root for her. I understand that her mental state was part of a series of questionable decisions, but she treated people who genuinely cared about her so terribly. Worst of all was, however, the animal abuse and neglect. That woman sedated a dog just because she was horny and wanted to be able to have sex in peace. It made me extremely uncomfortable to read. On a similar note in terms of my comfort with the story, there are also several mentions of suicide and it was brushed off way too casually for my taste.

Lastly, the actual reason I picked up the book – the merman/the magical realism. I think the fantastical elements were integrated in the story quite naturally and I can’t fault the author for that. My problem though is that I didn’t see the point of it all. The way I see it, any other love interest could have been added and the story would have resulted in a similar ending.

Fazit: 1/5 stars! It literally wouldn’t have made a difference if the merman had been replaced with another land-based dude …

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

AnimalsI don’t enjoy talking about books badly. In fact, if you go through the various reviews I have written on this blog, most of them are really praises or simply riddled with mediocre but not terrible ratings. But this book, I did not like it at all.

Laura lives with her wild best friend Tyler. They have a co-dependent relationship laced with alcohol and drugs. But Laura is also engaged to Jim, who pictures a more regular life for them now that they are taking on a serious commitment. Obviously, Laura can’t have both, but if you ask me, she doesn’t want both anyway. She wants to spend time and get wrecked with Tyler. She loves being miserable and every chapter was just an endless cycle of hangover induced bad decisions.

Maybe I envisioned something different for this book, but I simply could not see the point of it all. I did not understand why Tyler and Laura were so entangled and willing to destroy their health for … misery? I also did not see the point of dragging out the relationship between Laura and Jim when there wasn’t a single moment of them seeming compatible. Still, someone must have seen the point in it all, since this book was made into a movie.

Fazit: 1/5 stars! No, thank you.

Have you read any of those books? Did you feel differently about them? Let’s chat!

Mini Reviews: The Dire King, Defy Me, Find Me

You won’t believe it, but I have read THREE books THIS WEEK!? It’s been such a long time since I have done this, but it feels like old me. I am not saying I am back to my old form completely, but this is a really good thing. I missed books! (I mean, I love TV shows and movies, but there’s just something about creating a whole world just in your head. Still, because I don’t want a massive hold-back on reviews and I don’t actually have a huge amount to say about each book, I am just going to do mini reviews for them. Here we go:

The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

The Dire King (Jackaby, #4)

The Dire King is the last installment in the Jackaby series, a book series I mainly started due to cover lust, but never really regretted picking up. We are going to ignore the fact that it took me a year to finish this book, because I didn’t want to take it to Berlin with me and only read bits and pieces when I came back to visit, because overall, I really enjoyed this series.

The things I struggled with most, were probably during the crucial “finale battle” scenes. I had a hard time following descriptions of places and couldn’t really picture where characters were at what point during the fight – which is not ideal, to say the least. However, I loved how it all came together in the end! I don’t think this is my favourite part in the entire series, but I liked the thought process behind the end we got, because you could really see how it had all been building up to this.

Also, twains kind of rock!

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Not a bad ending as far as they go!

Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) by Tahereh Mafi

Defy Me (Shatter Me, #5)I may have given the previous installment in the ever growing Shatter Me series a good rating, but in all honesty, I was disappointed with it. The characters were barely recognisable and the writing style had changed drastically, although it had been one of my favourite components of the original trilogy. I struggled, to say the least. However, something brought me back into the fold with Defy Me.

I could see how this part of the series might split people into two camps, because nothing much happens. The events that took place during the 370-something pages could have probably be told in half that, but I am glad Tahereh Mafi took her time. I loved being back deep into the character’s minds. I loved getting all the angst and complexity that didn’t come from silly romance fails but from decades of abuse and the terrifying task of piecing a broken mind back together. It felt dark and like I couldn’t believe all the things that had happened to bring us to where the book is now.

Maybe, just maybe, not everything ties in nicely with the OG trilogy and I am a little sad at that too. But moving forward with these new books, you’ll just have to accept things or maybe don’t pick up the sequels at all. I was definitely much more on board with this than Restore Me (except for the last 3-4 chapters, because they were sappy and there was legit something that made me question if I just read a whole paragraph wrong with someone’s gunshot wound just disappearing from one chapter to the next …).

Fazit: 4/5 stars! My interest for this series is back again.

Find Me (Call Me By Your Name #2) by André Aciman

Find MeFor those of you who have followed me for a while, you know how much I adore the Call Me By Your Name book. I love to quote from it, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and all that despite knowing that it has some issues (nevermind the ones concerning the author himself), so when a sequel was announced, I was on board! BIGGEST. LITERARY. DISAPPOINTMENT. OF. MY. LIFE!

This was definitely marketed as a sequel. The blurb on the book (On Goodreads it does mention the dad in the synopsis, but not on the book!) just talks about Elio and Oliver and their love echoing through time, but you know what? That’s not what this book is about, because in the 260 pages I just read, Elio doesn’t show up until after 100+ pages and Oliver past the 200+ page mark. The time they have actual page time together isn’t even noteworthy. Instead, you get to watch Elio’s now divorced dad catch a bad case of instalove (yes, not just instalust, which I would get with this book) for a woman half his age on the train. And then you get to watch Elio do the same just in reverse at a concert.

Hear me out, I am okay with age differences in consenting adult relationships. You do you! I was, however, bugged by the constant mention of casual cheating, like monogamy is just the worst. I don’t mind people in polyamorous or open relationships, but that’s just not what these characters were in at the time of their story. I don’t even want to get started on the aphobic comments that were made either. It’s just not what I signed up for with this book! I was promised the continuation of an epic love … and I only got a rushed fake happy ending for them. I think I am just going to pretend I never read this …

Fazit: 1/5 stars! I regret getting this book so much.

Have you read any of these books or do you want to? Let’s talk about that!