After July, August was a welcome relief. Since university was over, I finally had time to read again! I still had two exams to prepare for, but I did read a little during study breaks, and then a lot once my last exam was over. Also, there were some books in here that I genuinely loved, so overall, I’m pretty pleased 🙂
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (3/5 Stars)
Before I read this, I’d already seen two theater adaptations of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so this story wasn’t completely new to me. Still, it was very interesting to finally have read it in its original form and to compare that to the productions I’d seen. One thing I found particularly intriguing was the manner or Dr. Jekyll’s relationship to Mr. Hyde. In the beginning of this story, he actually saw Hyde as a way to escape the confines of his everyday life and thus, as something positive rather than evil – I don’t remember that from the play versions at all, although that could just be because it’s been a while and I forgot a lot… However, I thought this way of handling things made for a much more interesting study of human nature, which was, in my opinion, one of the strongest points of the tale. Apart from these vague hints, I’m not going to say anything about the plot here, since I actually think that this is a story you benefit most from if you go into it blind. Of course, I highly doubt that’s possible, with this being one of the most famous classics out there and all, but it’s still worth knowing as little as possible if you want to be surprised by the plot twists. Overall, I thought this was enjoyable but could have benefitted from being just a little bit longer. I wanted more! Also, I think that me already knowing what was going on took a lot of the suspense away – if I had read this without any prior knowledge, this would probably have been a true mystery story and the ending would most likely have come as a much bigger surprise.
Verity by Colleen Hoover (4/5 Stars)
This is a thriller I had heard many good things about, and as I was trying to read up more about it, I saw that it was available on kindle unlimited. The only problem was: I didn’t have kindle unlimited. However, when you first join, you get a thirty-day trial period, and that’s all the time I needed. I decided to sign up and cancel my membership before those thirty days were over. I know, I know – that’s not really how it’s supposed to work. But the selection of books on there just isn’t broad enough to entice me to spend money on a monthly subscription. And in a way, figuring that out is the purpose of a trial period, right? Anyways, I downloaded the e-book and started reading. The story follows a struggling writer named Lowen Ashleigh, who, just as she is about to be evicted from her apartment, gets a job offer she can’t turn down. Jeremy Crawford, the husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, who has fallen into a coma after a car crash, asks Lowen to continue writing his wife’s book series. In the hope of finding notes explaining where Verity intended her series to go, Lowen visits the Crawford family home. But when going through Verity’s office, she finds something else: an unpublished biography. Lowen starts to read, and in the process, she realizes that there is something more sinister going on in the Crawford family than she could ever have imagined. This book was extremely suspenseful, had some horrifying revelations, lots of smut, and tons of plot twists I never saw coming. Though it freaked me out at times, I really enjoyed it, and would definitely recommend it to someone looking for a good thriller.
Truly, Devious by Maureen Johnson (3.5/5 Stars)
This book had always sounded interesting to me: I’d heard that it took place at a boarding school (a setting that immediately has me intrigued) and that it was a YA detective story. I’ve read tons of crime fiction, starting with The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew and Enid Blyton’s Mystery books when I was little, and progressing to Agatha Christie and the likes when I got older. However, I hadn’t really seen many YA mysteries out there and was interested in what this book had to offer. Then, when I went to apply for my visa to Russia, I happened to have some hours to spare in Munich, which has bookstores with a much better selection of foreign language books than Bayreuth does. I found a copy of this, started reading, and was hooked. Since I’d already finished Verity (the e-book that was also supposed to keep me occupied on my train ride back to Bayreuth, not just the ride to Munich), I decided to splurge and just go ahead and buy the book. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty solid read, although I do wish that this book had more of a story arc of its own. Nothing gets resolved here, instead, you have to read the sequels to find out how and why the crime was actually committed. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but in this case, it felt that this book just ended relatively randomly. You definitely can’t read it and expect a full story. In addition, I wish there had been a bit more exploration of the characters and their development. Apart from that, though, I had a lot of fun with this. The story follows Stevie Bell, a teenager who has been obsessed with true crime her entire life. One case in particular has always fascinated Stevie: In 1936, shortly after the prestigious Ellingham Academy first opened, the founder’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and a student murdered. The only clue to what happened is a mocking riddle, signed “Truly, Devious”. It’s one of the nation’s biggest unsolved cases, and Stevie has read everything she can find about it. When she is admitted to Ellingham Academy and given the go ahead to look into it, she is thrilled. However, she soon realizes that there is someone out there who doesn’t want anyone to get to close to the truth and is prepared to do anything to keep it from resurfacing. To sum up my thoughts on it: an engaging read, but there are also much better crime novels out there.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (4.5/5 Stars)
Although quite predictable, this was a great hate-to-love romance that I thoroughly enjoyed reading! It follows Olive Torres, who is used to her twin sister Ami being the lucky one in the family. However, when all guests at Ami’s wedding except for Olive and Ethan, the groom’s annoying brother and best man, get food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, it seems that Olive has finally had a stroke of luck, too. Since she looks exactly like Ami, she can pretend to be her sister and claim her nonrefundable honeymoon trip to Hawai’i. The only problem: she needs a fake husband with the right last name, which means that Ethan, whom Olive has hated ever since he made fun of her at a baseball game, is going, too. Overall, this book had a ton of great romance tropes (like there only being one bed in the honeymoon suite Olive and Ethan are forced to share), but they were all used in fresh ways that made sure this book didn’t get boring. Though it also deals with a few darker topics, it was mostly really cute and funny, and exactly the right read if you’re looking for something to cheer you up.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (4.5/5 Stars)
This is yet another adorable romance, though this time, it’s YA and very, very gay. Ever since his mother became President of the United States, main character Alex Claremont-Diaz has been under the continuous observation by the public. Normally, Alex doesn’t mind much: He’s smart, charismatic and the White House’s golden boy, so what could go wrong? One day, however, the tabloids snap a picture of an argument gone wrong between Alex and Henry, Prince of Wales, whom Alex has been squabbling with pretty much ever since the two of them met. To repair whatever damage the picture might have done to US-UK-relations, the two governments decide Alex and Henry should spend more time together (and use their social media accounts to show the world just how great their bromance is). Slowly, First Son and Prince get to know each other better, and each realizes the other might not actually be so bad at all. Their fake friendship turns into a real one, and eventually, into more. However, both Alex and Henry know that they have no chance of ever pursuing a public relationship. Alex’s mother is already worried enough about being reelected without adding a bisexual son to the equation, and a gay British prince just won’t do. All in all, I adored this book – it was well-written, super cute, and full of banter, it included a ton of politics, as well as great friend and family relationships, and was, on the whole, pretty close to perfect 🙂
[Note from my later March-2020-editing self: I originally docked half a star from my rating because I thought some aspects of the book seemed a little bit unrealistic, but looking back on it, I think I was a bit too strict there. After having reread this, I think it deserves 5 stars. Just saying. Since I’m the one organizing my privated notes into a readable post, I feel like I have the authority to criticize my past self’s opinions 😉 ]