I really hope November is not a sign of what’s to come in the next few months because I barely had any time to read at all. My homework situation is absolutely insane at the moment: I seem to have a presentation or paper every other day, and at the same time, I’m trying to cram as much psychology as possible, since I only have two months left until my Staatsexamen, which, for those of you that don’t know, is this huge final exam you have to take in Germany if you want to become a teacher. (You have to take it in the two subjects you want to teach and in one methodology related subject – I’m only taking the methodology part this year, for which I chose psychology, not knowing the insane amount of studies and findings I’d have to memorize…).
So, anyway, I only got around to reading four books this month. Still, here are my brief thoughts on them:
Bayreuther Abgründe: Kommissar Kanters erster Fall – Ein Bayreuth Krimi by Herbert Meyer (2/5 Stars)
This is a German crime novel set in Bayreuth, the city I live in, and, even better, at the school I attended. Even though the school was renamed in the book, anyone who lives in Bayreuth can easily recognize what the author is alluding to, which made for a hilarious reading experience and was, quite frankly, the only reason I picked this up.
In other aspects, however, I found the book to be quite lacking. The writing included a lot of unnecessary explanations, repetitions and stereotypes, the characters were basically all 50-year-old Franconian men with the same personality or meek and obedient women who contributed nothing to the plot, and all the aspects of how the crimes were committed were revealed extremely early on, so that suspense was almost non-existent.
Still, for local people like me, I’d definitely recommend this, since all the inside jokes are fun to read about and discuss with fellow former students. For others, I’d say you’re probably better off choosing some other novel. In case you’d like to know more of my in-depth thoughts and speak German, also feel free to check out my full review (in German).
City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab (3.5/5 Stars)
This is the start to a new middle-grade series by Victoria Schwab, following a girl named Cassidy Blake, who can, after a near death experience, see and interact with ghosts. Cassidy’s parents are also exremely interested in the supernatural (though they know nothing about their daughter’s abilities), and when they are offered the chance to host their own TV Show about the world’s most haunted cities, they jump at the chance. The first episode is to be shot in Edinburgh, which means that Cassidy ends up with quite a different summer vacation than she had originally planned. Instead of relaxing at the beach, she gets to explore the darker sides to Edinburgh, learns more about her gift, and makes new friends and enemies.
All in all, this was a fun book and definitely got the Edinburgh vibes right – it really made me miss Scotland. However, in some parts, I felt like the story depended too much on descriptions of the city and pop-culture references, meaning that I thought these things overshadowed the actual plot a bit. That might just be a personal thing though – overall this is a solid start to a series, and I’m interested to see where it goes next.
Plus, for those of you who have also read this, I really want to know more about what Jacob’s agenda is. Something there is not quite right, if you know what I mean…
Sadie by Courtney Summers (5/5 Stars)
Since I had so little time to read in November but actually spent quite a lot of hours commuting to and from university, I decided it might be a good idea to get back into audiobooks. I used to listen to audiobooks quite a bit as a kid and I still listen to the Jim Dale Harry Potter audiobooks on repeat, but I somehow never wanted to pick up any new stories as audiobooks – it just takes so much longer than when I read myself and makes the suspense almost unbearable. Plus, what if someone’s listening with me and a sex scene or something comes up? I don’t particularly need my dad’s comments on that matter…
However, I’d heard so many people say that the Sadie audiobook was supposed to be amazing and I thought, Why not give it a try? I’m really glad I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sadie is a brutally honest story, showing the love that exists between siblings, but also what poverty and abuse can do to people. The protagonist, Sadie, has been taking care of her sister Mattie even before their mother took off on them, so when Mattie is found murdered, Sadie’s whole world falls apart. Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and sets off on a quest for revenge. Months later, radio host West McCray learns of a missing girl named Sadie and gets swept up in her story.
The book is told in a compelling format, alternating between Sadie’s perspective and a podcast in which West McCray tries to piece together what happened to her. The audiobook is also excellent – it has a full cast of narrators who really bring the characters to life and it also includes background noises that help set the scene. I warn you though – this is not the right book for anyone who gets queasy easily. It has trigger warnings for all kinds of violence, especially sexual abuse and rape, and it gets decidedly creepy at times. One night, I was waiting for my mom to pick me up at an empty bus stop in the middle of nowhere and decided to listen to this – let’s just say it was not the best idea… However, I still really loved Sadie and how it didn’t shy away from heavy topics that need to be addressed.
Furthermore, something I found interesting that I hadn’t known before going into this was that Sadie actually has a very bad stutter and often struggles to talk at all. This was the first time I had seen a stutter like this portrayed in fiction and I thought it was really well done. Sadie’s frustration at not being able to talk and at people treating her like an idiot because of it was so understandable and eye-opening, and I think it’s great that characters like her are getting the representation they deserve.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The Original Screenplay (Fantastic Beasts #2) by J.K. Rowling (3/5 Stars)
I doubt I have to explain what this is about, since, like anything Harry Potter related, it’s hard to go through life not hearing anything about it. Let’s just say that I enjoyed the movie and screenplay but was also bitterly disappointed. There were quite a few things that I felt did not make sense or weren’t true to the characters, and the pacing and character development felt a bit off at times.
I have a full review of both the movie and screenplay here, so if you want to know more about my thoughts, go check it out! Being the Potterhead I am, I’d be interested to know if you agree with me or not and what your own thoughts on Crimes of Grindelwald are 😉
Anyway, that’s everything I read in November. Feel free to let me know what you thought of these books if you’ve read any of them, and do tell me what you favorite November read was!