Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (Book Review)

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 272

CW: parental neglect, emotional and physical abuse, grief, ghosts

Nina LaCour is one of my auto-buy authors and I don’t even need to read the blurb to buy her books. However, when I first heard about this one, I was immediately drawn to it. I knew that once again, Nina LaCour would create an impeccable atmosphere that would eventually emotionally wreck me – and that’s exactly what happened, but more about that later!

I see this book being classified as Young Adult and I’m not sure I would necessarily agree with that. Mila, the protagonist, is 18 at the beginning of the novel and turns 19 during the course of it. She goes to live on a remote farm, where she works as a teacher and helps with the harvest as well as Sunday markets. Her life and her struggles very much came from the past, and thus her younger self, but it still felt like it could have just as easily been classified as an adult novel. That’s not to say that I minded the more grown up approach, but I just think it’s something to be mindful of when you pick up this book.

There’s something about Nina LaCour’s writing that just transports me into a whole different world. Usually, rooted in a lot of trauma but still very much in reality, Watch Over Me was a surprise with its literal instead of metaphorical ghosts.

Had we been telling the truth, he would have said, The place where I’m sending you – it looks beautiful, but it’s haunted.
Okay, I would have said.
It will bring everything back. All that you tried to bury.
I understand.
It’s going to make you want to do bad things.
I have experience with that.
And how did it turn out?
Terribly. But I promise to do better this time.

Mila yearns for something in her life. I would say for a family, a place to call home and someone or something to belong to. In her desperate need to hold on to these new people she is meeting on the farm, feelings of jealousy and self-doubt creep in. While I understood entirely where she came from, it was such an intense longing tied to strong emotions on her part that it sometimes felt off-putting. That’s not to say that she was unlikable, but she surely contained multitudes behind her quiet and pleasant demeanor.

When I read a LaCour book, I often associate it with very strong emotions of my own. While Everything Leads to You wasn’t all happy, I still associate a warmth and admiration for it due to its setting being in film. With You Know Me Well, I had found one of my favourite feel-good-books and We Are Okay drowned me in a world of sorrow. Watch Over Me is a bit harder to categorise. I could have easily read it in one sitting, it is poetic and beautiful and flows nicely. But something about it is also very eerie and strangely tied to a sense of dread, sorrow and grief. It made me sad to the core and sometimes I cried at passages that didn’t even seem so sad.

“Do you like it?” Julia asked. But I didn’t know what she meant. All I saw was the deep blue-green water, the white foam against dark rock. The wildflower-studded cliffs, and the tall grasses in the wind. “Because it’s magnificent,” she said. “But I don’t like it. It scares me.”

There is no explicit romantic storyline in this book! While there are hints that a character may be attracted to more than one gender, it is not discussed or a focal point of the story. Although, the relationships Mila forges and nourishes are definitely worth talking about. To me there are four worth talking about here (without giving away too much):

  • Her mother and Blake: the trauma she has to face on the farm mostly stems from them. There is guilt and relief, sadness and so much strength that was bred in that relationship. It’s what’s really haunting Mila.
  • Terry and Julia: they are basically the parents Mila never had and always wanted. They have taken in over 50 kids and fostered them, which put them on a pedestal in Mila’s mind.
  • Billy and Liz: as I said, there’s no romantic storyline, but I feel like there was definitely an air of possibility for a throuple here as Mila seems to be attracted to both of them and fantasizes about them.
  • Lee: Lee is Mila’s 9-year-old student and anchor during her first weeks. She feels like they are both outsiders in this family and she clings to him tightly. I often felt torn about their relationship, because I loved how close they grew, but I also hated the emotional baggage she put on that kid sometimes.

“I’ll never leave you,” I said to him. I closed my eyes. I felt his body relaxing, heard the slowing of his breath. “You’ll have to grow up and leave me first.”

Sometimes I didn’t realise just how much time had already passed on the farm. It went from days to weeks really fast and I think that’s why I sometimes struggled with the depth of attachment the characters already had to each other. When I turned that last page, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a timeline at all. However, I did feel like I had just been on a journey with Mila. I didn’t understand everything that had happened, but I doubted that she did either. The farm is a magical place that only becomes the bad kind of haunted if you let it.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! I feel like I just went on a whimsical journey of sadness and grief.

Do you plan on reading Watch Over Me? Have you read other books by Nina LaCour? Let’s talk!

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (eARC Review)

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 288
Publication Date: September 29, 2020

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: racial profiling, police brutality, incarceration, domestic abuse, mention of sleep paralysis, anxiety and depression

I have been a huge fan of Nic Stone’s novel Dear Martin and while I didn’t expect for there to be a sequel (or companion novel?), I was excited to get the chance to revisit these characters. However, this book isn’t as much about Justyce as it is about Quan, a boy with a very different life.

Right from the beginning, the author explains why she decided to write this book. As much as Dear Martin had quite the impact, the more readers Nic Stone met, the more she realized that a lot of people don’t get the same chances and opportunities as Justyce. There are people who feel trapped with a label that got stuck on them early on and like there is no escape from a possible future as a delinquent. People who are often at the wrong place at the wrong time and have no one in their corner. Things don’t always go right and one can feel powerless in the circumstances that you find yourself in. And they, too, deserve for their stories to be told and will hopefully see themselves in Quan’s experience.

Reminiscent of the format in the first book, we still have a bit of a mixed media style going on (letters, prose, etc.) and I found that specific writing style very engaging. It keeps the story flowing at a nice pace, without every getting confusing when it comes to timelines and so on.

Often, I am drawn to stories where characters need to find their family, their people, because for whatever reason their home life isn’t it. There might be a lack of support or an abusive environment the character will try to escape, but I rarely considered that finding a family – because you so desperately want someone to look out for you – can also end in a bad way. Quan makes some stupid choices, but once you hear how he went from one bad situation to another and at some point you are just done with the cards life deals you, you can’t help but feel for him and root for him. I was so happy to see that he had people in his corner, that truly only had his best interest at heart, even when he didn’t think he deserved them going to bat for him.

I appreciated Nic Stone’s letter to the reader and author’s note so much. She really put a lot into this book and I like that the she acknowledged how much of it is fiction and how Quan’s case would have probably ended differently in real life. But a lot of the story is about how we need to belief in people and let them know that we do, how it creates hope and a mindset that there can be a difference – that’s why I am glad the book ended the way it did! I think it will help create more open minds and hearts as well, as we all can believe in and support the people around us!

Dear Justyce is just as raw and real as its predecessor and can easily stand on its own. It shows how different experiences can be, but how far a little support can go. I hope that it will encourage people to reach out to those who struggle and prevent things from escalating the way they did for Quan.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! I think I liked this better than Dear Martin (not that they are really in competition though).

Are you planning on reading Dear Justyce? How did you feel when you heard there was a sequel to Dear Martin? Let’s chat!

Mini Reviews: Teen Titans: Raven/Beast Boy

As much as I like comic books, I always struggle to review them. Anyway, I really liked the Teen Titans, so, I figured I at least gave them a try with a mini review! Haven’t done of these posts in a really long time.

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia (author) and Gabriel Picolo (illustrator)

Teen Titans: RavenA while ago, I would have firmly claimed to be a Marvel girl, but if we are being entirely honest, I am mostly consuming DC content now. While I have never watched or read Teen Titans before, I did watch DC’s Titans and liked it for the most part. This is entirely different, but I feel like that previous knowledge came in handy with Raven anyway.

The graphic novel very much focuses on Raven’s insecurities and her way of trying to figure out who she is as a person. Since she can’t remember anything, she tends to question everything instead of listening to her gut. She’s a teenager, so, she sometimes makes cringy choices, but I found those were easy to forgive.

Something I found confusing at times were the transitions between scenes, as they seemed very disconnected. I also felt like there was definitely some prior knowledge required, or you’d be a bit lost when certain characters started showing up.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Interesting introduction to this series.

Teen Titans: Beast Boy by Kami Garcia (author) and Gabriel Picolo (illustrator)

Teen Titans: Beast BoyI loved the illustration in this one even more than in the first one, even though it was both done by the same person. Gabriel Picolo has mentioned several times that Beast Boy is very near and dear to his heart and it shows. Especially the pages where Gar uses his powers for the first time are just swoon-worthy.

Again, this one also heavily focuses on the insecurities of the main character. For now, it’s what ties them together as they haven’t met yet. Gar just wants to be popular, not because he likes the people so much, but because he wants to prove a point. I understood why his friends were annoyed with him at times and appreciated that they had their own struggles to face. Still, there was a definite relatability to it, which made Gar very endearing.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! I was never once bored while reading.


Over all, I was really happy with these graphic novels! I think the illustration especially was excellent and I cannot wait for the third book (Beast Boy Loves Raven in Fall 2021). Have you read these ones as well? 

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power (eARC Review)

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page Count
: 352

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: death, murder, arson, vomiting, unplanned pregnancy

I was supposed to read this book about two months ago, before it’s release in early July, but it was a struggle getting here. I want to start by saying that I have not read Wilder Girls and therefore had no expectations concerning the author’s writing style or way of storytelling. All I thought this would be was a family drama, which it was in part, but there is definitely so much more to it that I feel like I didn’t sign up for.

I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts for a while now, but can’t seem to make sense of it all yet. I think my main issue was that I went into this book thinking I’d get a twisted tale of a torn family, but really, it was more along the lines of horror? Those of you who know me, realise that in 9 out of 10 cases, I would not pick up a horror book on purpose and it was off-putting here as well.
I was prepared for an otherworldly, thick with the scent of buried secrets atmosphere (which Power manages to create quite well), however, I was not prepared for it to be so decidedly not our world in the end. When you start this novel, the characters take some getting used to, but it seems like we are here, in our reality. It takes almost half the book to come to the conclusion that you are not and at that point you are just confused.

This book features queer characters, a strained family relationship, a rural/small town setting – all factors that would usually entice me to read a book! So, why exactly didn’t it work for me?

Burn Our Bodies Down is told through the inner monologue of the main character Margot. She is a strange girl with very intense mood swings, something that didn’t always make it easy to follow her thought process. We get snippets of her personality as well as a bit of exploration of her sexuality (is she a lesbian? bisexual?), but it all gets dropped in favor of the “mystery” of the plot. And that mystery is really all that kept me propelled to keep reading, because I surely wasn’t able to connect or like any of the characters very much. I wanted to know how it would be resolved. I had my guesses early on and even though at that time, I had still thought this was just regular reality, I was right. That just added to me not feeling very satisfied by the pay off, because what else could it be?

Before I end this review for good, I just want to say that I saw a lot of people enjoy this book. It’s probably a very me-thing that I didn’t and which I mostly base on the inability to connect to any of the characters while reading. I highly recommend you check out varying reviews if you are still unsure whether you want to read this book or not.

Fazit: 2/5 stars! This was not meant for me.

Have you read this book? Do you want to? Have you read Wilder Girls? Let’s talk!

#CurrentlyWatching: Stargirl

It’s finally here – the post I have been talking about for weeks now! Stargirl has, more or less, taken over my life in the past months and I mean that in the absolutely best way. I did fanart and met some fun people through it, never mind the absolutely lovely cast. That show was a godsend during lockdown but while I have mentioned it regularly, I still wanted to wait until the season was out in its entirety before I reviewed it properly. So, after FNL, this is definitely the show that deserves a full on #CurrentlyWatching post!

Stargirl is a DC comic book adaptation that was released on the DC streaming platform as well as the CW and currently consists of one season of 13 episodes, but has already been renewed for a second season (which will air only on the CW). Thanks to one of the best people I know, Lois, I have actually been able to read the definite collection of Stargirl comics created by Geoff Johns, who is also in charge of the show! It’s probably due to that fact that it isn’t a 100% faithful adaptation, but one that rings very true.

After discovering that her step dad was a superhero’s sidekick and having been chosen by a powerful weapon to carry on the legacy, teenager Courtney Whitmore has to become a superhero of her own.

There’s something about Stargirl that is really special. I want to preface this for anyone who didn’t know this, but Geoff Johns, the creator of the comic book character Stargirl and the show, shaped Courtney Whitmore after his late sister. She passed away at a young age and he wanted to immortalize her in a way. Through that alone, the character has so many more layers and it was the loveliest way to honor her.

If you look closely, this photo of the real Courtney and Brec (who plays Courtney on the show) is featured in the pilot episode. Credit: CW

When I first started watching Stargirl, it didn’t feel like any of the other currently airing superhero shows out there. It had a cinematic look to it and was visually pleasing, but also included bursts of humour that made everything immediately more endearing, while maintaining a cast of relatable characters. A lot of the times people complain that the heroes are either all kids or all adults, but here there is a great mix of both. Whether you prefer a bit of high school drama or more grown up issues, there’s likely something in there for you.

Something I massively appreciated about the show was that everything felt incredibly intentional. No episode, and that is really rare, felt like a filler episode, as it was all leading up to something. While I will say that I sometimes wished that a couple characters got more screen time, everything we saw made sense and led towards the progression of the story and development of the heroes.

This season very much focused on Courtney and her journey, which is funny, because a lot of the time people were just really annoyed with her. But that’s the beauty of a show that isn’t afraid to show a flawed character growing. Courtney was so stubborn and sometimes even entitled, that her behaviour could be frustrating, but you really see how much she grows and where here insecurities and beliefs come from through the episodes. Her relationship with Pat (played by Luke Wilson) was one of the most precious things and an absolute joy to watch. In the end, the main theme of the show is found family (one of my absolute favourite themes ever) though and that affects so many more characters than just Courtney.

Another thing that I enjoyed about Stargirl was that it often threw you a curveball. The heroes don’t always win or succeed at the first try. It is stated clearly that they aren’t natural talents without any sort of training and that no one can really do it alone. There are consequences to actions and no one is really save. Oh, how I wished I could get some characters back, because they trick you and peel off layers to make you like someone you never thought you would just to rip them away from you.

Where do I even start? I fell in love with so many characters, whether their roles were small or big, I have no clue what to say! The cast of villains was some of the best I have ever encountered. The Injustice Society of America, while ruthless, made sense and you even found the occasional scene where you rooted for them. Not to mention that they were just highly entertaining and I would watch a spin-off show of Icicle, Brainwave and/or Tigrees & Sportsmaster without so much as a second of hesitation.

Every character had their own journey to undertake and many still have so much more story to tell, but I guess if I had to pick a major draw for me, I would say HourNite! It has the grumpy angry guy and smart cheery girl dynamic that I love and while there were hints and crumbs, I just knew I’d ship them unconditionally when episode 8 happened.

Rick (Hourman) and Beth (Dr. Midnite), who make up the ship that is Hournite, are both such great characters on their own. I would legit do anything to protect Beth, who is bold and so smart and always positive. People were giving her a hard time, because she didn’t know how to fight on the show, but honestly, we need people who do the intel stuff and despite not having combat skills, she still went into dangerous situations to help her friends. I wanna see those critics do that!

And Rick, my angry angry boy, he came such a long way this season. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was just so proud of him in the finale. That’s what I call growth!

Putting those two together would be such a smart move, and not just because they are canonically married in the comics, but because Beth can logically argue and calm Rick when his temper gets the better of him and he is there to make sure nothing harms her when she puts her life on the line for the people she cares about it. It just works!

I KNOW that I could go on and on about so many more characters, but this post is already over 1K long and I know that it’s the breaking point for a lot of my readers. I hope this enticed you to check out he show if you haven’t yet! Season 1 ends beautifully with a tease of what’s to come, but no brutal cliffhanger at all.


Did you watch Stargirl? If so, who is your favourite character? Who do you want to see more of in S2?

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles (Book Review)

Publisher: Little Brown Books
Page Count
: 305

TW: police brutality, murder, violence, racism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Again Again by E. Lockhart (eARC Review)

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page Count
: 304
Publication Date: June 2, 2020

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

This is not a love story, or, at least, not a romantic love story.

I feel like that’s what the cover might suggest and what you could interpret the blurb to be, but it’s not. Maybe it is part of why I went into this book with a sort of wrong idea, but then, I learned a long time ago to never truly expect E. Lockhart’s books to be any specific way to begin with. I quite enjoyed her earlier chick-lit-esque work (for those of you who followed her career and are fans of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, you’ll get a fun little easter egg) but was truly the most enamored with We Were Liars, which was what I would consider more in the mystery genre. Now, Again Again, doesn’t really fit into either category and proves once again that E. Lockhart won’t be confined to any genre.

Again Again is partially written in verse and takes place in a multitude of universes, although mainly two. I think this approach could go over either way with the reader. Sometimes it felt repetitive in a tiresome way, other times it showed you how one moment can unfold in such vastly different ways that you yearn for a different outcome. It definitely takes time to get used to this unconventional style of storytelling, although I think the visual formatting helped get the point across. Still, I’m really torn on this matter myself, because I would be lying if I told you that the final universe wasn’t my favourite and I was so very relieved that it existed – imperfections and everything – whereas I really struggled with the others.

As far as the characters go, I found it a bit difficult to really fall for Adelaide. She was putting on this bubbly front of happiness, which didn’t reflect her inner sadness and turmoil at all, bordering on obsession in so many departments of her life. Her erratic behaviour made me dislike her sometimes, especially when she was impulsive and neurotic about boys that were only an escape, but not a solution. I understood why she acted the way she did.
Grieving for someone, even if it wasn’t the kind of grief related to death, and being burdened by constant worry will change you. It makes you act strange and impassive and everyone deals differently, but even though I got that on some level, it didn’t prevent me from getting frustrated with her sometimes. I appreciated the realness of her brokenness, while also resenting it. I am contradictory that way.
I did really like her creative side though! I would love to see some of the stuff she made in this book in real life!

However, as I said at the very beginning of this review, this is not a romantic love story, because all these boys (which were really only three) couldn’t have been more inconsequential, if I’m being completely honest. The most important relationship in this book, at least in my eyes, is the one between Adelaide and her brother Toby. Theirs is a love story of a different kind, because loving a family member can be just as hard and disappointing and necessary. Them finding their way back to each other was the only thing that really mattered to me.

Lastly, I just want to mention that I always love it when dogs are in the mix! I want to warn all of you that a dog gets punched in the face in this book (out of defense), but that they also seem to be able to talk to the main character in a way and that was surprising and quirky and I still don’t know what to make of it.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Hit and miss in a lot of ways.

Do you want to read Again Again? Have you read previous books by E. Lockhart? Let’s talk!

#CurrentlyWatching: Friday Night Lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.


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

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

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Page Count
: 350

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 544

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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