Reviews

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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“A Discovery of Witches” is Deborah Harkness’s debut novel and tells the story of Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendent of witches, who discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. The manuscript’s reappearance summons a fantastical underworld full of witches, vampires and daemons, which she navigates with the help of vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

PLOT

Unfortunately, most of the plot was pretty boring and the story just dragged on quite often. Especially the middle part of the book was super slow and many things were described in way too much detail. But at the end of the novel it was hinted that they’d have to go on a quest soon. That quest is something I would’ve already liked to see in this book because I just felt like most of “A Discovery of Witches” was one big filler to get to the action that wouldn’t happen until the sequel. Something I really liked about this story though were the details about things like alchemy, biology, the history of witches and so on and I felt like you could really see that the author knew what she was talking about. I haven’t really had any touching points with those topics in real life since leaving high school, so I learned quite a lot of things while reading this novel.

CHARACTERS

The two main characters are Diana and Matthew. Diana is a witch and Matthew a vampire and I had my problems with both of them at the beginning of the book. During most of the first two thirds of the novel Diana was mostly being kind of dumb, annoying and sometimes even pretty naïve but she then started changing a little towards the end of the book and I started liking her a bit more. The same goes for Matthew though it wasn’t his characteristics that made me dislike him, but the fact that I couldn’t stop thinking about Edward Cullen whenever he made an appearance during the first half of the novel. He was just giving off such strong twilight vibes and I was so scared that wouldn’t change though thankfully it did and now I actually even like him a bit better than Diana. The romance between the two though was once again your typical case of insta-love and while I’ve seen worse cases, that still really disappointed me because I’d hoped to see an interesting love story between the two. But I  have to say that I really liked most of the side characters just like Marcus, Sarah or Em and of course Tabitha (Sarah’s cat) whose behavior made me laugh quite a lot.

WRITING STYLE

Deborah Harkness’s writing style is pretty descriptive and even though it made the story drag on quite a bit, I also really liked getting so much information sometimes. Overall, I would say this book was well written though I think she’s definitely not one of those authors that has a unique writing style you would recognize immediately.

OVERALL

All in all, I was a bit disappointed by this novel and it just didn’t meet my expectations. Due to the fact that it dragged on so much, it was a really slow read and I sometimes had to push myself to even continue reading the book. I have to say though that the last 20% of the novel definitely made up a bit for the rest of it and that things got a little more interesting then. There were also certain scenes in the rest of the novel that I really enjoyed and I think the side characters made the novel a lot better than it would’ve been without some of them. So overall, this is a solid 3 stars for me.

WILL I CONTINUE THE SERIES?

Even though this series won’t be on top of the list of series I still need to complete, I think I’ll definitely still give the second book a try. Like I said, the end of this book made it look like the next book would be a lot more interesting than this one and there’s also the TV show that is coming out later this year and I really don’t like watching an adaptation without having read the books first.

Have you already read “A Discovery of Witches” & what did you think about it? 🙂

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Reviews

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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“Better never means better for everyone … It always means worse, for some.”

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood is an adult dystopian novel set in the Republic of Gilead. The novel follows Offred who is a handmaid herself and only has one function: to breed. If she fails to do so, she will either be hanged at the wall or sent out to the colonies where she’ll die of radiation sickness.

PLOT 

The plot was something I was struggling with a little. The first 75% of the book were pretty boring and nothing much happened. Furthermore, if something happened, it often wasn’t explained at all or only much later, so there were many moments in which I was unfortunately struggling to follow the story. However, I still didn’t feel like I had to force myself through the book and the story definitely got better towards the end of the novel. 

CHARACTERS

I really liked Offred and the other handmaids such as Ofglen, Ofwarren or Moira. I just would’ve really liked it if I would’ve learned a bit more about the lives of the other handmaids as well. Since the book was written from Offred’s POV and because the handmaids don’t really talk that much to each other, you didn’t get to know the other ones as well as you got to know Offred. That’s something I wished had been different because the other handmaids seemed like they were pretty interesting characters who were also very different from Offred and much more rebellious than her. So learning more about them, would’ve definitely increased my interest in the novel.

WRITING STYLE

Despite thinking that the plot was a little boring sometimes, I actually really liked Atwood’s style of writing. Her writing is actually quite unique and I feel like she’s one of those authors you can recognize, simply on the basis of something she’s written even if you weren’t told it’s been written by her beforehand. 

OVERALL

Overall, “The Handmaid’s Tale” was definitely an okay book and I did enjoy reading it even though I’d really hoped I would like it a lot better than I ultimately did. I think my problem with the plot and the fact that I would’ve liked to know more about the life of the other handmaids could’ve been solved if the book had been written from different POVs because, unlike for example Ofglen or Moira, Offred was pretty passive when it came to fighting for her own freedom. Nevertheless, I think this is an absolute must-read. Even though I didn’t give “The Handmaid’s Tale” a full five stars, I still think this is a very important book and what shocked me the most about it is definitely that it was written more than thirty years ago, but that the topic unfortunately still is a very current one. 

WILL I READ MORE OF MARGARET ATWOOD’S BOOKS?

As I’ve already said before, I really enjoyed her style of writing which is why I’ll definitely give her other books a try. Also, I’ve seen quite a few people that didn’t fully enjoy “The Handmaid’s Tale” say that they actually enjoyed some of her other works a lot more and I hope it’s going to be the same way for me. 

Have you already read “The Handmaid’s Tale” and what did you think about it? 🙂

Random Stuff

Most Anticipated Releases // Second Half of 2018

I didn’t really know what to post about today, but I have an Excel sheet for my most anticipated 2018 releases which I was scrolling through this morning, and thought I’d tell you about some of the books that haven’t come out yet, but that I can’t wait to read. There are 11 books on this list of which I’ve only preordered 4 so far. So there are definitely books on here that I’m more excited for than I am for others and there might even be one or two books that I’m not entirely sure I’ll actually end up reading at some point but I’ll explain more about that once I get to those books.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS – COLLEEN HOOVER // JULY 17TH

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This is one of the books that I’m not actually sure I’ll ever read. I put it on my most anticipated list because I’ve really enjoyed some of Colleen Hoover’s earlier works and hope that this one might be able to keep up with those. But I really, really disliked her last release “Without Merit” which was incredibly problematic. So I’m probably gonna wait for some other people to read it first and if there are reviews that are just as bad as those of WM, I’m going to give up on Hoover’s books.

CATWOMAN: SOULSTEALER – SARAH J. MAAS // AUGUST 7TH
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(Preordered) Overall, I really enjoyed the first two books in the DC Icons series and really hope this one will keep up with them and might even be as good as Wonderwoman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo.

JOSH AND HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING – CHRISTINA LAUREN // SEPTEMBER 4TH
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I finally read “Roomies” by Christina Lauren last month and really, really enjoyed it. The synopsis of this book definitely sounds like something I’d enjoy as well, so I can’t wait to read it.

ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI – KERRI MANISCALCO // SEPTEMBER 18TH
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This the second book I’m not entirely sure I’ll actually read. I read “Stalking Jack the Ripper” earlier this year and “only” gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars. But I really like the concept of this series, so if I enjoy “Hunting Prince Dracula” more than I enjoyed the first book, I’ll definitely still try to get myself a copy of it this year. If not, I might wait till next year until I can get my hands on a cheaper copy or even a used one.

BROKEN THINGS – LAUREN OLIVER // OCTOBER 2ND
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I really enjoyed “Before I Fall” by Lauren Oliver back when I read it last year and the synopsis of this one sounds very interesting which is why I put it on my list.

WHAT IF IT’S US – BECKY ALBERTALLI, ADAM SILVERA // OCTOBER 9TH
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(Preordered) I absolutely loved all of Becky Albertalli’s books and also really enjoyed Adam Silvera’s novels which is why I absolutely can’t wait for “What If It’s Us” and hope it’s going to be amazing.

BRIDGE OF CLAY – MARKUS ZUSAK // OCTOBER 9TH
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(Preordered) I actually preordered a signed hardcover of “Bridge of Clay” and just really hope the copy I’ll receive will actually be signed and that the bookstore doesn’t somehow mess it up. But I just love Zusak’s writing and can’t wait to finally read this book!

ODD ONE OUT – NIC STONE // OCTOBER 9TH
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I read Nic Stone’s debut novel “Dear Martin” earlier this year and really enjoyed it, so I’m very interested in reading “Odd One Out”.

KINGDOM OF ASH – SARAH J. MAAS // OCTOBER 30TH
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(Preordered) I really enjoyed the TOG series so far and can’t wait to finally be able to read the last book. The only problem is that I still haven’t read “Tower of Dawn” which I definitely have to change this summer and that I’ll have to find a good synopsis of the first five books because I don’t really remember that much about what has happened so far.

DANGEROUS EXES – RACHEL VAN DYKEN // NOVEMBER 6TH
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I was sent an ARC of the first book in this series (Dirty Exes) earlier this year and really loved it which is why I’m probably going to check out its sequel as well.

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD – J.K. ROWLING // NOVEMBER 16TH
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I’ve watched the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” movie a couple of times before I finally read the screenplay this morning. I wasn’t really sure if reading the screenplay after I’d already watched the movie would be something I’d also want to do for the second movie, but I actually really enjoyed the book and even though it was basically just the same as the movie, I noticed many details in it that I hadn’t noticed in the movie which I really liked.

What are some of your most anticipated releases of the second half of 2018? And which of them have you already preordered? 🙂

 

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Top Ten Tuesday // Red, White and/or Blue Covers

I’ve seen the top ten Tuesday everywhere recently but have never participated in it so far which is going to change today. The Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, so check out her blog for more information! Today’s topic is Red, White and/or Blue covers because of July 4th coming up. As a German, I could’ve now given this a spin by choosing books with my own country’s colours, but I don’t own any yellow books and honestly can’t think of any yellow covers that are remotely pretty. So I’m instead going to give it a spin by showing you some blue, white and red books I want to read this summer, instead of some that I’ve already read!

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  4. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
  5. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  6. You by Caroline Kepnes
  7. All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
  8. Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
  9. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
  10. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Have you already read any of these books and what did you think about them? 🙂

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Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag // 2018

The first half of the year is over and I’m officially on summer break now,  so I thought today would be a good day to do the “Mid-Year Book Freakout” tag. So far I’ve read 82 books this year and I already know it’s going to be super hard for me to choose just one book from this group for some of the categories!

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2018

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The best book I’ve read this year so far is definitely “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The book was incredibly entertaining, very well-written and just so unlike anything I’ve read before. I’m actually pretty sure no other book I’ll read during the second half of 2018 is going to top this one.

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2018

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I’ve already read a few very good sequels this year but my favorite so far was probably “The Mime Order” by Samantha Shannon which is the second part of the “The Bone Season” series. It’s one beast of a book but I really enjoyed it. It was super gripping and I definitely need to read the next part soon because it (unfortunately) ended with a pretty big cliffhanger.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT WANT TO

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For this one I think I’m going to go with “Legendary” by Stephanie Garber. I’d already preordered my copy last fall and it actually came like three weeks early. But I unfortunately just don’t remember anything about “Caraval” which is why I need to reread that one first and I just haven’t found time to do that yet. But I really, really hope I’ll get to both books this month!

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

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I think it’s definitely “Bridge of Clay” by Markus Zusak which is coming out in October. I can’t wait for that book and preordered my signed copy (let’s hope it’s actually gonna be signed and they won’t mess it up!) a couple of weeks ago.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

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My biggest disappointment of the year so far is easily “An Enchantment of Ravens” by Margaret Rogerson. Everyone was raving about it back when it came out at the end of 2017 and so I was super excited to start it and thought I’d fall in love with it. Instead I ended up DNFing it because I just couldn’t get through a book with a non-existing plot and badly-developed characters. If you want to hear more about my thoughts on it, I actually posted a full review here on the blog!

BIGGEST SURPRISE

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So far that’s been “If I Was Your Girl” by Meredith Russo. I’ve never read a book with a transgender main character before so I was really interested in checking out this book. But the only thing I’d read by Russo prior to this book was her short story in the anthology “Meet Cute” and I just absolutely didn’t like that one. Thankfully, this book was so good and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I’m definitely gonna keep an eye out for anything she’ll publish in the future!

FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR (DEBUT OR NEW TO YOU)

I’ve already found a handful of new-to-me authors this year whose books I’ve really enjoyed but my favorite out of them are definitely Erin Watt. I’ve read all their books this year, starting with the “The Royals” series back in February and March, “When It’s Real” I only just read last month and my preorder of “One Small Thing” is either already waiting for me at the post office or is in the parcel that’ll arrive at my house tomorrow. Their books are probably not the most original ones I’ve ever read but I always just fly through them and they’re incredibly entertaining. I highly recommend you check out their work if you’re looking for some good romance books!

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

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I only just read the book that includes this character last month but it’s definitely Calvin McLoughlin from the novel “Roomies” by Christina Lauren.

NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER

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It’s definitely Simon from “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” and “Leah on the Offbeat”. I absolutely love him and can’t wait to watch “Love, Simon” which also finally came to German cinemas last week. Let’s hope my sister and I will still find time to see it this week and that we might even find a screening of the OV instead of the German version!

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

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For this one I decided to go with the book that’s made me cry the most so far this year and it’s definitely “We Are Okay” by Nina LaCour. Based on the synopsis of the book I never thought I’d be a sobbing mess at the end of it but I was and the book was worth it!

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

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I’ve read many books during these past six months that have made me very happy but ultimately, I decided to choose “The Last Piece of my Heart” by Paige Toon for this category. Not only because the book was amazing and made me smile a lot but mainly because this is the first of her books I was finally able to give a full five stars to. I absolutely adore her novels and always fly through them but so far I always had one or two small things that bothered me and so I was incredibly happy about the fact that I didn’t have anything to criticise about this one.

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR (OR RECEIVED)

I know it says book and I chose several books here but it’s definitely the “Grisha Trilogy Box Set” published by Macmillan.

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

What are some of your favorite books you’ve read during the first half of the year and what are some you definitely still want to get to before the end of 2018? 🙂