I know it’s been quiet on here for a while but I didn’t have the time or motivation to prepare posts and then I went on a camping trip and couldn’t blog at all. But I’m back! Before we get to the books I read, let’s quickly talk about what else happened in my life.
I turned 24! This isn’t exactly old but I feel old. While simultaneously not feeling older than when I left school. I don’t know. It’s weird. But I spent a lovely birthday with my closest family. And I got some cool books and had delicious cake.
I didn’t do much for uni. Motivation where art thou? But during the first three weeks? I read and read and read and I watched Avatar the last Airbender. It wasn’t a rewatch. I probably am the last person to watch this show but I’m finally on the hype train! This show! Is! So! Good! I normally don’t watch many shows but I truly fell in love with it, binged it from start to finish and now need more of it in my life (and I will as soon as I have more time lol, Legend of Korra here I come). If you’re like me and haven’t seen the show yet… please do so. It’s so good. SO GOOD.
I then went on a camping trip and did… surprise surprise, no reading. Well, I read about 50 pages but there just wasn’t time to read more. There was hiking and sightseeing and playing Skat to be done. The trip was great though. It was really cold, especially during the nights. This was the first camping trip where I didn’t awake because it got too hot in the tent. We hiked around some maars and checked out castle ruins and looked at pretty villages. We just came back and because I ignored uni for over a month, I now have to do so many things. But I guess I can’t work properly without pressure.
And now on to the books I’ve read. There were many and there were really, really good ones! I don’t want to keep you further, so let’s head right into it.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
audiobook | argon edition | TW: death, suicide, manipulation, drugs | Rating: 4 swords
Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence.
Thoughts: This book was a good book, but so fucked up.It’s a well written child of its time. By that I mean, there is a lot of racism and even more sexism that was present in western society at the time. This is one of my biggest problem with many classics. And the main character was despicable. I both hated and liked the story, my feelings towards it are as twisted as itself. I’m sorry, proper words have apparently left me.
Riven by Bronwyn Eley
The Relic Triolgy #2 | Talem Press | 492 pages | 13.08.2020 | dark fantasy YA | TW: death, blood | Rating: 4 swords
Kaylan’s life as she knew it is over. Again.
Hunted by the guards of Edriast and their ruthless captain, Kaylan is forced to flee into a world she’s never seen, armed with a power she never wanted. With her brother Elias by her side, she escapes to the distant city of Stynos, where rumour has it a possible ally is waiting… An ally who might help Kaylan control the violent magic that’s become her burden to bear.
But Kaylan can’t hide forever – not from the forces that surround her, or from the darkness inside herself. Rebel leader Bellamy seeks her help to destroy a regime; Captain Thorn pursues her with a vengeance; and as her power grows, her inner demons begin to seep through the cracks…
Kaylan may be strong, but is she strong enough to resist the Relic?
Thoughts: I really, really enjoyed this book. It was even better than the first one with both action and slower moments in an amazing mixture. The character development was amazing, I liked the new characters and loved seeing known ones again. It was dark and twisted and I loved the pacing of the story and where it went. I absolutely cannot see where this is going now so I’m here, eagerly awaiting book three. (Click here if you want to read my full review of Riven)
Dating You, Hating You by Christina Lauren
Piatkus | 368 pages | 18.01.2020 | contemporary romance | TW: sexism, alcohol, sex | Rating: 4 swords
Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.
But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?
Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human?
Thoughts: I always enjoy Christina Lauren’s books so much and this was no different. I loved this play on the rivals to lovers trope. It was fun and had laughing-out-loud-moments but it also made me angry and wanting to slap the protagonist’s boss across the room. I liked the romance and the other relationships portrayed in this story a lot.
Loveless by Alice Oseman
HarperCollins | 435 pages | 09.07.2020 | contemporary YA | Rep: aro ace, gay nonbinary ace, aromantic bisexual, pan, latina lesbian | TW: aphobia, internalized queerphobia | Rating: 5 swords
Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.
As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.
But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.
Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?
Thoughts: I feel like I have been waiting for this book for ages and then I finally had it, opened it and it was exactly what I imagined it to be. Like with all Alice Oseman books, I found it easy to get into the story and to get to know the characters. This story felt so real, just like something plucked out of life. It shows a very individual aro ace experience, yet one that many could relate to. What I loved most about this book were the friendships and their importance. This whole book is an ode to friends.
Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green
Scholastic | 400 pages | 06.08.2020 | contemporary romance YA | rep: gay, bi | TW: homophobia, cheating | rating: 4 swords
Faking the best summer ever is a lot harder than it looks…
At the start of summer, Jack and Nate find themselves dumped as their respective exes, Dylan and Tariq, start up a new relationship together. Not only that, their exes start posting pics on social media, showing the whole world how fabulous their new life together is!
Jack and Nate are reeling. Not to be outdone, they decide to create their own ‘highlights reel’ and show their exes that they’re having an even better time.
But between the depressing motorway service station motels, damp campsites, and an ultimate showdown with the exes, something epic really is happening: Jack and Nate are learning to get over their heartache and open themselves up to new possibilities for love.
Thoughts: I loved this book! It has estranged friends going on a summer trip and having to juggle through the whole “I know you better than anyone” and “I haven’t spoken to you in years” mess which was so much fun to read about. There were moments I laughed out loud, others where I just went “awwww”. This is a perfect summery read.
The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth
Andersen Press | 384 pages | 04.06.2020 | contemporary YA | rep: lesbian | TW: dementia, alcohol | rating: 5 swords
Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.
But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.
Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.
Thoughts: Definitely one of my highlights this year. It’s sapphic and manages to perfectly balance fluff with more serious topics. The romance was super sweet and while the characters are really different, they fit together so well. But then there is the rest os Saoirse’s life that’s anything but sweet and fluffy. I liked how the author wrote all of this, it felt real and was put together in an amazing way.
Nick & Charlie by Alice Oseman
Solitaire #1,5 | Harper Collins | 176 pages | 06.08.2020 | contemporary romance YA, novella | rep: gay, bi, trans | TW: alcohol | rating: 5 swords
Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!
But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever …
Thoughts: What can I say? I love Alice Oseman’s writing. I actually read this a few years ago when it was first published but now it has illustrations that make it even better. I love Nick and Charlie with all my heart, they’re probably my #1 canon OTP. This novella really shows the anxiety and the struggles of relationships that go through a big change. The characters are lovely as ever and if you’ve read Solitaire, I’d definitely recommend this one as well.
You should see me in a crown by Leah Johnson
Scholastic | 324 pages | 02.07.2020 | contemporary YA | rep: black, sapphic, sickle cell disease | TW: racism, homophobia, (past) death of loved one | rating: 4 swords
Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay – Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
Thoughts: This book combines a strong will, fierce friends and all the awkwardness of high school. I couldn’t really get behind the whole prom thing (sorry, when Germans finish schools it’s often boring and there are no kings or queens) but I still enjoyed reading about it. I also really liked the characters, especially Liz who was a fantastic protagonist. This is a quick read that has fun moments but also discusses serious topics.
Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass
Flux Books | 392 pages | 15.09.2020 | contemporary thriller YA | rep: gay, bi, lesbian, black, trans | TW: violence, queer pain, homophobia, queerphobia, abduction, blood, murder, abuse, conversion therapy | rating: 4 swords
Connor Major’s summer break is turning into a nightmare.
His SAT scores bombed, the old man he delivers meals to died, and when he came out to his religious zealot mother, she had him kidnapped and shipped off to a secluded island. His final destination: Nightlight Ministries, a conversion therapy camp that will be his new home until he “changes.”
But Connor’s troubles are only beginning. At Nightlight, everyone has something to hide from the campers to the “converted” staff and cagey camp director, and it quickly becomes clear that no one is safe. Connor plans to escape and bring the other kidnapped teens with him. But first, he’s exposing the camp’s horrible truths for what they are— and taking this place down.
Thoughts: This book wasn’t what I expected. That doesn’t make it a bad book. In the contrary, it was actually really good, but you should definitely take the trigger warnings seriously. It is a very heavy book you should only read when you’re in the right state. I liked the characters a lot, Connor is a headstrong protagonist with a great narrating voice. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the pacing. It all went really fast while simultaneously no time passed and I thought a lot more time must have passed. (click here to read my full review of Surrender Your Sons)
Ink & Arrows by Shruthi Viswanathan
self published | 127 pages | 25.01.2020 | fantasy romance | rating: 2 swords
An artist who inks magical tattoos….
Rea is a Suveri, part of a tribe that can create tattoos with devastating powers. Bitter after the death of her father at the hands of a cruel general, she tries to get revenge…only to fail at her mission and be saved by a mysterious stranger who demands to know the secrets of the Suveri’s tattoos.
A prince searching for power..
Sebastyen is the heir to the throne and a warrior who has shed more blood than any other on the battlefield. But the woman he meets offers a glimpse of peace. Intrigued by her rebellious nature, he agrees to fulfill three of her wishes in return for learning how to tattoo with magic.
Thoughts: Everything went too fast for my taste. I have no idea really how the romance came into being and how it developed. I couldn’t really see the chemistry between the two characters. I did like Rea as a character but unfortunately I never really got to know much about Sebestyén. And where was the world building? All I know is that there’s a war? I just wish this would have had at least 200-250 pages more to fully develop because I really liked the concept.
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Harper Voyager | 527 pages | 18.10.2018 | fantasy with historical elements | rep: Chinese & Japanese inspired characters | TW: drugs, blood, death, abuse, torture | rating: 5 swords
When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
Thought: Amazing. Great. Perfect. Love it. This book is brutal and haunting, it does nothing to sugar coat war and what it brings with it. What really did it for me were the characters and especially the protagonist, Rin. She is fierce and strong and has yet to learn where her limits are. While she accepts help and advice from others, she ultimately does what she thinks is best. This novel is fast paced and violent and it managed to kept me hooked from page one. It is fantastic but please mind the trigger warnings!
And that was my August! How was your month? What did you do? What did you read?
Until next time,
OMG you finally watched ATLA ISN’T IT AWESOME
(Okay, I, myself, haven’t watched it until last year but yeah, I rewatched it this year and I’m definetly a fangirl.) I mean – this world building! This character builiding! This storytelling! It’s just awesome!
Anyway, your camping trip sounds nice! 🙂
Haha, I like your opinion on “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. I mean it’s one of the best classics I ever read, just because of the writing style and the whole concept, but on the other hand, I really despised most of the characters. “Fucked up” describes it pretty good. In addition, racism and sexism are also aspects why I am struggling with classics. For instance, the Sherlock Holmes-stories are a fun read but ust so racist and sexist and I hate it.
I also read “Loveless” in August and loved it. Awesome book.
“The Poppy War” is still on my wish list but I really want to read it!
I’m already rewatching ATLA! I AM OBSESSED!! I love everything about it so much!
I’m always super torn with classics because most of them are written by white men who have usually been racist and sexist and it shows. Yet they are children of their time and it’s so hard to form an opinion thorugh modern glasses… The books often have a great story but I’m so put off by all the negative values.
The Poppy War is AMAZING!!!