June was another great month. We started it off with an amazing long weekend in Dresden, in which we walked 68km in three and a half days and ate tons of delicious food. Shortly after we got back, the World Cup started, which means we watched one to three soccer games a day. Maraia read during the games, but for Sebastian it was all soccer, all the time. Somehow we still managed to make it to the movie theater (finally!) – once in Dresden and once at home – and we finished watching a few TV shows.
Books & Audiobooks
The Golden Fool – Robin Hobb
This is very much a second book, a bridge between the first and third book in the series. Not a lot happens, plot-wise, but it’s also never boring. There are so many great and painful interactions between the characters, and the ending sets the reader up for the epic conclusion ahead.
Der Angstmann – Frank Goldammer
We picked this audiobook to listen to during our car drive to and from Dresden since the story is set in this city during the Second World War but we both had a hard time finding into the story, mostly because the plot started off a bit random and had very little suspense. While Maraia gave up after a while and used this audiobook to fall asleep in the car Sebastian surprisingly really enjoyed the second half where the book became MUCH better, finally made use of the interesting setting and also developed quite a gripping murder mystery.
The Body in the Library – Agatha Christie
We liked The Body in the Library almost as much as we like the cover, and we now have a second-tier Agatha Christie favorite. The murder case is more interesting that in the first Miss Marple book we read, and we were surprised by the ending. We’re still a little confused by Miss Marple’s low-key presence in the the books, though, considering that the series is named after her. She did solve the case, but her page time is both limited and shared with many other characters.
Das Spiel: Opfer – Jeff Menapace
I have to admit that my expectations for this book weren’t very high and I only wanted a few hours of suspenseful and bloody entertainment – and that’s exactly what I got. If you’ve seen a few of the „Funny Games“ kind of horror movies in your life you won’t find a lot of surprises and original ideas in this straightforward book but I never felt bored and for most of the time enjoyed reading it. I’m not sure though if I’ve liked it enough to read the other two books in this trilogy, also because the ending of book 1 works just fine for me.
Der Hirte – Ingar Johnrud
My coworker (who had listened to this audiobook before me) warned me that the story might be a bit challenging due to a huge amount of characters and also multiple timelines so that I kinda expected the worst but to my surprise I enjoyed this audiobook from the first to the last minute. The case was really captivating, the plot complex but not as chaotic as I had feared and Dietmar Wunder’s narration was great as always, so that now I have already downloaded the second Fredrik Beier mystery and won’t wait too long to continue this series.
Moonatics – Arne Ahlert
I’ve been sitting on this review copy (which I’ve never asked for btw) for almost two years now and finally gave this German sci-fi novel a try, but while I managed to be patient for the first 150 (of almost 600) pages I soon got the feeling that the introduction would never end and was desperately searching for the actual story. The moon setting was kinda interesting and the author had some nice ideas about it but most of the time I was just bored by the non-existent story and the (in my opinion rather lame) humor also became a bit annoying after a while.
In eisiger Nacht – Tony Parsons
I’ve had my issues with this thriller series in the past but I’m glad I didn’t quit on it since the books are actually getting better – not that the first three books were bad, they just had nothing special about them. However this one had a mystery that turned out to be much more interesting that I had expected (I’m usually not really into human trafficking stories) but I liked that the author focussed more on the victims and not on the criminals which made this case surprisingly emotional. Also Max Wolfe (the investigator) behaved a little less stupidly in his fourth appearance and I had already developed a really high opinion on this book – but then the author screwed it up a little bit with another nonsense scene that reminded me what I didn’t like about the earlier books. But it was still the best book in this series yet.
Failure to Communicate – Kaia Sønderby
This was one of my favorite books last year, and my love for it grew the more I thought about it. It’s self-published, so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to convince people to buy and read it. Since the second book just came out, I decided to reread, and I loved it even more. I love the characters, the world, and the hints of romance, and Xandri is one of the coolest characters ever.
Cibola Burn – James S.A. Corey
I enjoyed the first two books in this series but was less enthusiastic about the third book. Fortunately, this one ended up being my favorite yet. I particularly loved the setting in this one, and I always enjoy reading about Holden and his crew. I’m looking forward to more.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
Rereading this was definitely the right choice. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed these awesome characters! I don’t care that there’s no plot; I could read about their daily lives for hours. The two things I like most about this book are the crew dynamics and the effortless diversity.
Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman
Akemi Dawn Bowman’s first novel, Starfish, was one of my favorites last year, so I was nervous that her second book wouldn’t live up to her amazing debut. In the end, it both did and didn’t. Starfish is more powerful overall, but Summer Bird Blue has its powerful moments, and they’re what make me love this book despite my small issues with it. The message of the book is one that needs to be heard, and I think it will resonate with many teen readers. I know I wish I’d had a book like this growing up. I’ll be posting my full review closer to the publishing date.
Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
Aside from The Fault in Our Stars, I haven’t been too impressed with John Green’s novels, but I promised my friend Anja that I’d at least give it a try. To my surprise, I immediately fell in love. I know people love to give John Green crap for writing unrealistic, pretentious teenagers, but at least in this book, I think the things they think about are completely realistic. This book is #ownvoices for OCD representation, and I’ve heard that it’s a good portrayal. I certainly felt as if I were trapped in Aza’s thoughts along with her. I also appreciate that romance didn’t take over the plot and that Aza isn’t magically “cured” by a boy. My biggest quibble (and I still can’t tell if this is actually a bad thing or not) is that I kept forgetting that Aza is a girl, not a boy.
Void Black Shadow – Corey J. White
I really enjoyed the first book in the series, but this one fell flat for me. Maybe it’s because I read half of it on my phone while waiting for an appointment, which is never conducive to focused reading, or maybe it’s because I don’t remember what happened in book one. Either way, I something felt off. The violence felt too extreme, and I was uncomfortable rather than impressed by it.
Monday’s Not Coming – Tiffany D. Jackson
This book wasn’t quite what I expected, although to be fair I didn’t know anything about it other than the fact that I liked the author’s debut novel. The main character is younger than I prefer to read about, and I didn’t quite follow the timeline. My biggest problem, though, is that the book only touches on important issues without actually unpacking them. We see glimpses of gentrification, child abuse, gaps in the social services system, and the disadvantage black kids are at when they go missing. There’s so much there to explore, but the message is too subtle, especially if the readers are as young as the main character.
The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater
I’ve now read/listened to this four times, and I’m officially declaring it my favorite Maggie Stiefvater book. It’s just so good. It’s magical, dreamy, a little dangerous, and completely captivating. The narration by Steve West takes an already amazing story to a whole new level, making it one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever heard.
Ancillary Mercy – Ann Leckie
I’ve both enjoyed and struggled with this trilogy. Even after three books, I still find it difficult to distinguish between and remember characters, and I still don’t feel familiar with much of the terminology. On the other hand, I absolutely love that there’s only one gender pronoun. It tells you a lot about your own prejudices! Ancillary Mercy has so many hilarious moments, making it my favorite, and it’s a great conclusion to the trilogy.
Girl Made of Stars – Ashley Herring Blake
What do you do when something you love is accused of rape? Who do you believe? How do you reconcile the person you think you know with someone who could commit such a horrible act? These questions aren’t easy, and Girl Made of Stars doesn’t give any definitive answers because there aren’t any. Along with Summer of Salt, this is one of the most powerful books I’ve read this year. It wasn’t easy to read, but it tells an important story that deserves and needs to be heard. It’s also full of girl power and positive, supportive female friendships, which are all too rare in YA.
The Last Jedi – Jason Fry
I never thought I’d get into the Star Wars novelizations, and yet I’ve now listened to four of them and have no plans to stop. The narration was fantastic, and I’m really impressed with Marc Thompson’s ability to do different voices. Many of the characters sound just the way they do in the movie! The book follows the movie pretty closely, but we do get a little more insight into characters‘ thoughts, which I enjoy. As always, it left me itching to watch the movie again.
Baker Thief – Claudie Arseneault
This is my second book by Claudie Arseneault, and I’m officially a fan. Reading diverse fantasy makes me so happy, and this book is full of it. One of the main characters is aromantic and bigender, and the other is biromantic and demisexual. I learned a lot while watching two of them navigate a relationship together. My praise for Baker Thief doesn’t stop at the great representation, though. It also has magic, an interesting mystery, a daring thief, a determined policewoman, lots of croissants, and a great cast of characters. What more could I ask for?
- SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY: We went in with relatively low expectations (i.e. to be entertained) and therefore weren’t disappointed. Solo can’t quite live up to the last three new Star Wars movies, but it was still a lot of fun, and we loved seeing how Han and Chewie met. Also the movie was surprisingly funny.
- JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM: It’s Jurassic Park, so of course we loved it. This one has some surprisingly sad moments that were hard to watch. Our only complaint is that so little time was spent on the island.
- THE KILLING: We finally finished season one! The ending was different than in the American remake, which explains why Sebastian suspected all the wrong people when we watched that version (to his defense: at least he still remembered correctly who the killer was after more than 5 years) 😛
- LIFE IN PIECES: This show makes us want to headdesk about every 5 seconds, but it’s simultaneously a lot of fun and always hilarious.
- 13 REASONS WHY: Our opinion of season 2 changed drastically as time went on, and in the end we found it more thrilling and addictive than the first season. We won’t deny that it has problems, major ones in some cases, and we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to teens, but we can’t deny that it had us completely hooked.
- DESIGNATED SURVIVOR: We’re disappointed that this show has been canceled, as there’s still a lot of story left to tell. It ended with a terrible cliffhanger!
- SAFE: Despite not really caring about any of the characters, this was a compelling mystery series. We liked that it’s one case over 8 episodes, and we hope Harlan Coben makes more series like this.
- THE RAIN: We didn’t love this one as much as we’d hoped. We realize the characters are young, but they are just so stupid, and we struggled to connect with them. At least the plot got more interesting toward the end, so we’ll probably watch the next season. This one didn’t really give us any answers. (Note: the English dubbing is terrible!)
- FRESH OFF THE BOAT: This season ended too early, but the finale was fantastic. We’re so proud of Eddie! (Never thought we’d say that, ha.) We’re definitely glad this show has been renewed.
- MODERN FAMILY: This was the last currently running show to check of our list, leaving us caught up on everything. We’re already looking forward to the next season.
- SECRET CITY: Apparently we’re on a Netflix series kick, lured in by the short seasons. This one would be interesting enough for the Australian setting and accents alone, but there’s also layer upon layer of secrets that we’re eager to uncover.