wrap-ups

Read in July

13/08/2019

Hoohoo, guys.

I know, I know, I’m late again. We’re already halfway into August but I was in London for a few days and on vacation in Poland right after, so this July wrap up had to wait for a few days. But now I have some more free time, so you can expect more posts again. Starting with what I’ve read in July. Despite having stress at uni I managed to read quite a few books.


Die Sterne über Rom by Karen Swan (review copy)

Original title: The Rome Affair | Publisher: Goldmann | Published: March 18th 2019 | Genre: adult fictional biography | Rating: ★★★

What’s it about?

1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can’t change it.
2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.
Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life.

What did I think?

I did enjoy this book, but it definitely wasn’t what I expected. I thought this was going to be a nice summer romance but instead I got high society drama, beautiful and detailed descriptions of Rome and family secrets. At some points it was quite slow and I didn’t get warm with Elena at all. While I understood some of her motives and behaviour, I just couldn’t bring myself to like her, not as a young woman and not as the old lady she became. I really liked Francesca with her quirly being. The romance was only a subplot which I enjoyed as well and this book really made me want to visit Rome.


Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Publisher: Simon and Shuster UK Children’s | Published: 16th May 2019 | Pages: 432 | Genre: Contemporary YA | Rep: narcolepsy, depression | TW: depression, suicide attempt, loss of loved ones | Rating: ★★★★

What’s it about?

Raised in isolation and home-schooled by her strict grandparents, the only experience Birdie has had of the outside world is through her favourite crime books.
But everything changes when she takes a summer job working the night shift at a historic Seattle hotel. There she meets Daniel Aoki, the hotel’s charismatic driver, and together they stumble upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—is secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell, and in doing so, realize that the most confounding mystery of all may just be her growing feelings for Daniel. (goodreads)

What did I think?

I loved this book right from page one. I don’t know what it is, but Jenn Bennett really manages to capture me with the beginnings of her books already. I mean, this is only my third book written by her but she’s already one of my favourite contemporary authors. While this book had a lot of fun, cute scenes, it was equally dark in others. Birdie has never known her father and her mother died when she was a child, so she was mostly raised by her grandparents. But her grandmother died only months ago and Birdie copes with it, but sometimes grief catches up with you. She also has narcolepsy, an illness that makes you fall asleep without much warning (among other things) and here’s point one why I loved this book so much. Narcolepsy runs in parts of my family as well and it was portrayed really well!
While I’m definitely no expert on depression, I think that this, too, was handled greatly.
The author manages to capture both Daniel and Birdie really well, the differences between them, their quirks, how they both cope with their lives and how they learn about the world and themselves. I loved both of these characters so much!
But I also need to mention aunt Mona, best friend to Birdie’s mother who helped her grandparents raise her. She’s an artist who loves costumes and is kind of a really loud persona. She’s impulsive and fun and I’d read books and books and books about her.
The setting of summery Seattle was great as well.


Relic by Bronwyn Eley (review copy)

Series: The Relic Trilogy #1 | Publisher: Talem Press | Publishing: 12th September 2019 | pages: 496 | Genre: YA fantasy | TW: blood, death, madness | Rating: ★★★★

What’s it about?

In the city of Edriast, there is no deadlier duty than to serve as the Shadow.
As the personal servant of the powerful Lord Rennard, the Shadow’s life is all but forfeit. Rennard possesses one of five rare and dangerous Relics – a jewel that protects his bloodline, but slowly poisons everyone else in its proximity. When the current Shadow succumbs to its magic, nineteen-year-old blacksmith Kaylan is summoned to take his place.
It’s an appointment that will kill her.
As the time Kaylan has left ebbs away, hope begins to fade… That is, until she discovers a plot to destroy all five bloodlines in possession of the Relics.
A rebel force plans to put an end to Rennard’s rule and Kaylan suddenly finds herself embroiled in a cause that might just be worth fighting for. But no cause is without its costs…
As her life hangs in the balance and rebellion bears down on Edriast, Kaylan must decide where her loyalties lie – and how she’ll leave her mark on the world. (goodreads)

What did I think?

The story was rather slow at some points, though in my opinion it was a great mixture of faster, action packed episodes and slower parts in which Kaylan has to decide what is real and what isn’t. The madness and pain inflicted by the Relic keep her constantly on edge and she’s never sure who she can rely on. And alongside with Kaylan, the reader delves deeper into the secrets behind the castle walls and the ones hidden inside a human’s body, not only Kaylan’s, but other people’s as well. The world building is good, but slow, there are still many open questions which I hope I’ll get the answers to during the next books. But since it’s written from Kaylan’s POV, we only ever really know as much as she knows and I’m excited to see what she’s going to discover.
I wasn’t a big fan of the romance, so far it just isn’t developed enough and I can’t really see the two of them together.


The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Series: The Devouring Gray #1 | Publisher: Titan Books | Published: 16th April 2019 | Pages: 400 | Genre: paranormal YA thriller | Rep: bisexual | TW: death, blood, loss of a family member, murder | Rating: ★★★★★

What’s it about?

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.
Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.
Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.
The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families‘ abilities—before the Gray devours them all. (goodreads)

What did I think?

So this somehow has a feeling of Riverdale, but so, so much better. It has all the death and mystery and family dramas, but none of the ridiculous trash. It’s more serious and darker, with the right touch of magic and just glimpses of the mysterious evil.
The Devouring Gray is a book that is full of bisexuals. And that makes me so happy! I really enjoyed the cast of characters and their different PoVs and stories, the past they share and the future they might. Nothing of the romantical side seemed forced, I really liked that there is still a lot of potential to make something outt of the character’s relationships. Not only romance-wise, but also in cases of friendships. I’m super excited to continue the series!


Feel Again by Mona Kasten (German)

Series: Again #3 | Publisher: LYX | Published: May 26th, 2017 | Pages: 466 | Genre: contemporary NA | TW: death of loved one, loneliness, slut shaming | Rating: ★★★★

What’s it about?

Unter normalen Umständen würde Sawyer einen Typ wie Isaac keines zweiten Blickes würdigen. Er ist zu nett, zu höflich, zu schüchtern – und damit das genaue Gegenteil von ihrem üblichen Beuteschema. Doch als sie mitbekommt, wie sich ein paar Mädchen über ihn lustig machen, kann sie nicht tatenlos zusehen. Kurzerhand tut sie so, als wäre sie sein Date, und küsst ihn leidenschaftlich. Isaac, der ziemlich überrumpelt ist, bittet sie daraufhin um Hilfe: Er will dringend seinen Ruf als Nerd loswerden. Die beiden schließen einen Deal: Sawyer macht aus Isaac einen Bad Boy und darf dafür seine Entwicklung als Fotoprojekt für ihr Studium festhalten. Doch aus dem Deal wird schnell mehr. (goodreads)

What did I think?

Die Again-Reihe gefällt mir von Buch zu Buch besser. Feel Again ist mein bisher liebstes. Ich mag sowohl Sawyer als auch Isaac sehr gern und die beiden harmonieren wunderbar miteinander. Was ich an dieser Reihe ganz besonders toll finde, ist, dass der Love Interest nicht immer der totale Bad Boy ist. Die Geschichte kann natürlich nicht ganz ohne Drama auskommen, aber das hat mich hier erstaunlich wenig gestört. Allgemein fand ich die Geschichte sehr gut, der Schreibstil war locker und passte super zu den Charakteren.


Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

Series: The Four Horsemen #1 | Published: 14th September 2018 | Pages: 381 | Genre: adult, apocalyptic | TW: blood, death, sickness, violence | Rating: ★★★

What’s it about?

When Pestilence comes for Sara Burn’s town, one thing is certain: everyone she knows and loves is marked for death. Unless, of course, the angelic-looking horseman is stopped, which is exactly what Sara has in mind when she shoots the unholy beast off his steed.
Too bad no one told her Pestilence can’t be killed.
Now the horseman, very much alive and very pissed off, has taken her prisoner, and he’s eager to make her suffer. Only, the longer she’s with him, the more uncertain she is about his true feelings towards her … and hers towards him.
And now, well, Sara might still be able to save the world, but in order to do so, she’ll have to sacrifice her heart in the process. (goodreads)

What did I think?

I did not like the beginning, but I really enjoyed where this was going. I do understand Pestilence’s nature, he’s no human and of course thinks differently and his purpose is to spread sickness among the peoples of the Earth, but I really, really did not enjoy how his and Sara’s relationship started. I quite liked Sara, she’s loyal and has a strong mind, but is inferior to Pestilence in physical strength, which makes it easy for him to have his mind with her. At first she’s his prisoner and to be honest, I did not completely understand why she fell in love with him and he with her. I mean, it had to happen but still, I did not like the beginning of their relationship much. But I did enjoy the development they both go through, the things they learn about humankind and themselves.


Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green

Publisher: Scholastic | Published: 6th June 2019 | Pages: 400 | Genre: contemporary YA | Rep: gay, bisexual | Rating: ★★★★★

What’s it about?

In the town of Newsands, painfully shy Alex is abandoned by his two best friends for the summer. But he unexpectedly lands a part-time job at Wonderland, a run-down amusement arcade on the seafront, where he gets to know the other teen misfits who work there. Alex starts to come out of his shell, and even starts to develop feelings for co-worker Ben… who, as Alex’s bad luck would have it, has a girlfriend.
Then as debtors close in on Wonderland and mysterious, threatening notes start to appear, Alex and his new friends take it on themselves to save their declining employer. But, like everything in Wonderland, nothing is quite what it seems… (goodreads)

What did I think?

I absolutely loved this book! I bought this in London and read it in one sitting on the train ride home. It’s adorably hilarious with a great and fun gay protagonist and an amazing cast of characters surrounding him. I enjoyed the blooming friendship and romances, the whole plot… basically everything! The only tiny thing were a few pages towards the end, but it didn’t make me like the book any less! I don’t even know what to say, as always with books I absolutely adored.


Heartstopper Vol. 2 by Alice Oseman

Series: Heartstopper #2 | Publisher: Hodder Children’s | Published: 11th July 2019 | Pages: 296 | Genre: contemporary YA graphic novel | Rep: gay, bi, lesbian |  Rating: ★★★★★

What’s it about?

Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t.
But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself. (goodreads)

 

What did I think?

This is another story I adore! I love Nick and Charlie so much, they’re so cute and my heart feels full and content and warm reading their story. The drawings are simple, but I think this really fits the story, the plot and characters and drawing really work with each other. I don’t know what to say except that I had a huge grin on my face while reading this.


Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry (review copy)

Publisher: Soho Teen | Publishing: 8th October 2019 | Pages: 176 | Genre: contemporary YA | Rep: lesbian, gay, trans | TW: queermisia, mental and physical abuse, torture, self-harm, attempted suicide, blood | Rating: ★★★

What’s it about?

Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has hidden her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are caught in an intimate moment, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival Raya vows to assume the mythic role of Orpheus to save them both and to return them to the world of the living, at any cost. (goodreads)

What did I think?

Wow, this book was a lot to take in. It was dark and heavy and I strongly advice you to only read it if you’re in a good mental place. It was painful and hurting me. But it wasn’t bad. It was haunting, raw and scary. Scary because I do know that there are people thinking this way, thinking that LGBT+ folx are sinners. The story definitely gives you a lot to think about. And while it only has 176 pages, it is not a fast read with the heavy topics it features. I did like the teenagers though, especially the protagonist Raya.


And you? What did you read in July? Which was your favourite book?


Until next time,

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