Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain – Murder She Wrote: Murder on the QE2

Murder on the QE2

paperback
publisher: Signet
published 1997
pages 304

Book (English)

Blurb:

Bestselling mystery writer and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher is invited to travel to London on the grand dame of ocean liners, the Queen Elizabeth II, as one of seven guest lecturers. The night they set sail, a fellow speaker is found brutally murdered. Now Jessica has just four days at sea to find the killer…before she finds more of her colleagues, or even herself, dead in the water! (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ Novels based on the crime series Murder She Wrote
+ fun and entertaining read
+ whodunit crime story
– the solution might have been a little far-fetched, but that’s okay

My Opinion:

When I don’t have an Agatha Christie at hand I just turn to Murder She Wrote. Since I have watched all the seasons that I currently own on DVD several times, I decided to start another Murder She Wrote novel. This is my second MSW novel so far and I have to say that I enjoyed it.

Jessica Fletcher is on the QE 2 crossing the Atlantic and of course a murder happens. Why anyone would ever invite Jessica Fletcher at all still amazes me. I mean theoretically speaking everybody must know that people die around her and you should probably just run for the hills, but anyway. I am rambling. (Although a friend of mine and I agree, we would just run, when she was near :) )

So, of course Jessica being the observant sleuth that she is, starts to look a little closer. This time she has a new sidekick – a lady she met on the trip who is as observant as she is. Towards the end both know who the murderer is and when the police arrives at the scene (I mean on the boat), the true killer is revealed.

The book contains what you need, Jessica Fletcher, an annoying and incapable security chief, and a group of suspects with a lot of motive. Although the murderer was a little far-fetched for my taste it did confirm the traditional whodunit requirement: the person you least suspect.

The book was entertaining, the story interesting, the writing fast paced and on track, and there was Jessica. I can’t help it but I love her as much as Miss Marple.

Bottom Line:

A fun and entertaining read. No Marple, but exiting nonetheless.

Rating:

rating 3

Fiona Foden – Life, Death and Gold Leather Trousers

Gold Leather Trousers

paperback
publisher: Scholastic UK Ltd.
published 2011
pages 291

eBook (English)

Blurb:

Riley Hart is heart-stoppingly cute. Clover has a major crush. Unfortunately, Riley is also best mates with Clover’s arch nemesis, Sophie.
But right now, Clover’s life holds bigger problems. Jupe, her beloved rock-star uncle, has died and Clover will never know what she did to make him cut her out of his life
Is there anyone who can tell Clover the truth? Could Jupe have cared, even at the end? If only Riley would leave Sophie’s evil grasp and help her find out…(Goodreads)

In (Very)Short:

+ contemporary children’s/young adult novel (somewhere in between)
+ relatable and likeable main character
+ great way to deal with the topic of divorce and family

My Opinion:

It’s been quite a time since I read this book and I honestly don’t remember everything. Clover loves music, has a little sister with whom she shares a room, and her parents separate. As if that is not bad enough, she likes a boy who is best friends with her worst enemy and her uncle has broken of all contact with her.

Clover tries to deal with all the changes in her life and come to terms with her family situation. When her uncle dies and leaves everything to Clover’s mother, long-buried feelings start to unraveled.

I really enjoyed the book. It dealt with topics such as divorce, new family members, and death – all this without being in any way depressing. The book dealt with those topics without forcing the issues upon the protagonist or looking down on the Clover in any way. Everything progressed naturally.

Although I get quite frustrated with young protagonists, who make decisions that I don’t understand (and yes that is probably because I am old), I was able to relate to Clover and her feelings. I was as mad at Clover’s parents as she was and I was as frustrated as Clover was. Foden’s way of writing was so captivating, that I identified with her protagonist. Otherwise I would have not felt the way I did while reading the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and let’s be honest the title is just great.

Bottom Line:

A great book with a relatable and loveable main character, fluent writing, dealing with different forms of love and support.

Rating:

rating 4

Alexandra Pilz – Zurück nach Hollyhill

For a short English review please see below. The book is not published in English yet.

Holly Hill

Hardcover
Verlag: Heyne
veröffentlicht: 2012
Seiten: 348

Book (Deutsch)

Klappentext:

Ein Dorf im Moor. Eine Reise in die Vergangenheit. Eine große Liebe. Mit ihrem Besuch in England beginnt für die 17-jährige Emily ein Abenteuer voller Magie und Zauber. Und hinterher wird nichts mehr sein wie es wahr.

In Kürze:

+ Zeitreise Jugendroman
+ spannend, unterhaltsam; sehr angenehmer und einnehmender Schreibstil
+ ein Zeitreisekonzept das nicht überfordert
+ interessante Figuren und spannenden Handlung

Meine Meinung:

Bei diesem Buch handelt es sich um eine Zeitreise Jugendroman – so würde ich es zumindest beschreiben und es hat mir sehr gut gefallen.

Emily bekommt nach dem Abitur einen Brief ihrer verstorbenen Mutter in dem sie Emily rät nach Hollyhill zu fahren. Das Dorf in dem ihre Mutter gelebt hat. Das überrascht Emily und ihre Oma (bei der sie lebt), denn ihre Mutter hatte nie etwas über ihre Vergangenheit verraten. Also macht Emily sich auf die Suche nach einem Dorf was auf keiner Landkarte zu finden ist.

Endlich angekommen, vermeiden die Dorfbewohner ihre Fragen zu beantworten und verhalten sich auch sonst komisch. Erst als das Leben ihrer besten Freundin in Gefahr gerät, wird Emily klar, warum man das Dorf auf keiner Landkarte findet.

Die Geschichte ist wirklich sehr interessant und auch wenn die ganze Zeitreiselogik für mich doch recht verwirrend ist, schafft die Autorin es, dies nicht als Problem darzustellen. Es ergibt alles einen Sinn, wird ausreichend erklärt, lässt vielleicht ein paar Ungereimtheiten offen, aber das stört nicht.

Der Schreibstil ist flüssig, leicht und schafft es einen schnell in die Geschichte zu entführen. Die Figuren sind etwas verschroben, Emily ist etwas naiv, aber das nimmt man ihr nicht übel, Matt ist da schon etwas anstrengender, aber auch das ist okay.

Während wir in diesem Buch in einige der Geheimnisse des Dorfes eingeweiht werden, ist schnell zu erkennen, dass wir nur wenig über die Vergangenheit der Mutter lernen und auch wenig über die Vergangenheit der Dorfbewohner. Das lässt natürlich genügend Stoff für Fortsetzungen.

Auch wenn die Idee an sich sehr schön und auch recht einzigartig ist, sind einige andere Ereignisse doch vorhersehbar – besonders natürlich die Liebesgeschichte. „Sie können sich nicht leiden, aber trotzdem können sie nicht ohne einander“ ist ein immer wiederkehrendes Motiv und kann auch sehr gut und überzeugend gemacht sein. Hier wirkte es allerdings ein wenig erzwungen in meinen Augen. Aber das ist auch nicht so schlimm und tut der Spannung der Geschichte keinen Abbruch.

Fazit:

Ein schöner, spannender Zeitreiseroman, der mich schnell in seinen Bann gezogen hatte.

In English:

This book is not translated into English yet. It is a good and entertaining time travel young adult novel. Emily receives a letter from her dead mother when she graduates college. She tells her to visit her old home Hollyhill to find out about her past. But the town does not exist. It is not on any map that Emily and her friend look at. Still Emily goes out to find Hollyhill. After a less than warm welcome in the town, Emily tries to learn about her mother’s past only to be drawn into an adventure she couldn’t even dream up. When her best friend is in danger she suddenly learns why the town is not recorded on a map.
The time travel concept (which can generally be very overwhelming when theories and such come into play) is kept simple and the idea of a time traveling town is quite unique really. The story has some crime fiction twists, the characters are likeable though some more so than others, the writing is captivating, and some plot twists are quite predictable as in many young adult books. The whole we-despise-each-other-but-we-are-so-drawn-to-each-other seemed a little forced. But all in all, this is a good and entertaining book.

Rating:

rating 4

Charlaine Harris – Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mystery #1)

Real Murders

paperback
publisher: Berkley
published 2007
pages: 290

Blurb:

Lawrencetown, Georgia,may be a growing suburb Atlanta,but it’s still a small town at heart. Librarian Aurora „Roe§ Teagarden grew up there and knows more than enough about her fellow townsfolk, including which ones share her interest in the darker side of human nature.
With those fellow crime buffs, Roe belongs to a club called Real Murders, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It’s a harmless pastime – until the night she finds a member dead, killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss. And as other brutal „copcat“ killings follow, Roe will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime-suspects – or potential victims…

In (Very) Short:

+ first book in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries
+ fluent and captivating writing, Harris has a way of drawing you into the story
+ likeable characters
– not necessary a mystery series: lack of sleuthing and more coincidences really

My Opinion:

The first book in the Aurora Teagarden Mystery Series was my third Charlaine Harris series. I have started Sookie Stackhouse’s books some time ago, I started the Lily Bard Mystery Series last year, and I like to return to Harris writing. It is always an easy and entertaining read. And so was Real Murders.

Aurora Teagarden is a librarian who has an interest in real murders (usually committed some time ago). She meets with a group of people who are also interested in real murders and they discuss those cases. During one of those meetings a member is murdered in a way that resembles the murder that the club was about to discuss. Now, Aurora and her club members and friends are caught in the middle of it all and have to be careful not to be the next victim of the copycat killer.

The book was a good read. The story was fast paced, the writing was fluent and easy, and the main characters were interesting and likeable. Real Murders was not necessarily a mystery for me since Aurora was not really investigating a lot but was more caught in the middle of all this. She was and often seemed to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. But although I read this as a mystery and expected the main protagonist to be more of a sleuth, it was by far not disappointing.

It was a good story and Charlaine Harris is able to draw me into her stories, her characters, and her novels. In the middle of the book I noticed I cared about Aurora so that there was not a lot left to be disappointed about. I would have liked a character who does not perceive that being married with kids was the only way to be happy and who would not be so disappointed for being single – but I can overlook that in one book. I am not sure how I will feel about it should this continue throughout all books, but I will have to see.

Bottom Line:

A good and entertaining read, with a likeable protagonist. But it is less of a mystery than you would expect, so beware with your expectations.

Rating:

rating 3

Trudi Canavan – The Traitor Queen (The Traitor Spy Trilogy #3)

Traitor Queen

paperback
publisher: Orbit
published 2013
pages: 518

Blurb:

Events are building to a climax in Sachaka as Lorkin returns from his exile with the Traitor rebels. The Traitor Queen has given Lorkin the huge task of brokering an alliance between his people and the Traitors. Lorkin has also had to become a feared black magician in order to harness the power of an entirely new kind of gemstone magic. This knowledge could transform the Guild of Magicians – or make Lorkin an outcast forever. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ final installment of the Traitor Spy Trilogy
+ fluent and easy writing
+ even in the 6th book set in Sonea’s world there was still a lot to discover
+ I thoroughly enjoyed the book for its world creation and characters (maybe not all, but many)

My Opinion:

The Traitor Queen is the conclusion to The Traitor Spy Trilogy. If you have not read the previous two books please do not continue reading: Spoiler Alert.

The story continues where it had stopped in the last book and it did not get any less convoluted. There are still several storylines and perspectives present. While some of the story lines collide towards the end, the five narrative perspectives remain the same.

Lorkin is released from the Traitor Sanctuary to negotiate between the Guild and the Traitors. The Sachakan (who are the mortal enemy’s of the Traitors) imprison Lorkin to gain information which he does not share. This gives the guild the opportunity to send Sonea into Sachaka: officially to plead for her son, but unofficially to start negotiations with the Traitor Queen.

While the tensions between Sachakans and Traitors rise to the point of war, the Guild in Imardin is still busy trying to catch the Rogue magician that is running amok in the underworld and tries to gain control over the city.

The narrative is still slow and though I was expecting it to pick up pace, it did not really. The battle at the end was not epic, there was not a lot of danger and Sonea did nothing. I was most disappointed with that. Though I understand why she couldn’t do anything and I get that Lorkin was the one to be at the center of things, it was still disappointing. Lorkin is just not my favorite guy. He was a flat character that did not show a lot of development and was just a little boring.

And the attempt to make the Traitors look good and the Sachakans bad failed as well as the attempt to make Lorkin the hero. I get that the Traitors were constructed to be better than the Sachakans, but even though the flaws in the Traitor system were obvious, Lorkin and later the Guild tried to make them better than they were.

I was surprised that characters I loved in the previous books (going back to The Black Magicians Trilogy) were getting annoying. I really liked Dannyl once, but I was about to jump into the book and shake him. Cery was condemned to do nothing really, why I don’t know, but there you go.

Lilia, Anyi, Gol, and Kallen saved the Imardin storyline for me and Soneas’s temporary presence the Sachakan story line. I enjoyed spending time with them and they were interesting enough to hold up the book.

The writing and the world creation had the most to do with the good rating. I just love a great world where I can get lost in and that still offers so much to discover.  And although her trilogy might not have been as fast paced as the previous one, it is still marvelous to wander through her world and learn so many new things even in book six.

I know the ranting above might question my rating and my taste, but it really was a good book and it was okay that it wasn’t as fast paced as the previous trilogy (many of the characters did get older and slower ;) ) because I was in the mood for exactly that.

Bottom Line:

A good conclusion to a trilogy, wonderful writing, fantastic world creation and enough things left unsolved for the other to potentially return to this world. I would pick it up again.

Rating:

rating 4

Trudi Canavan – The Rogue (The Traitor Spy Trilogy #2)

The Rogue

paperback
publisher: Orbit
published 2012
pages: 485

Blurb:

Discover the magic of Trudi Canavan with her brand new novel in the Traitor Spy Trilogy…
Living among the Sachakan rebels, Lorkin does his best to learn about their unique magic. But the Traitors are reluctant to trade their secrets for the Healing they so desperately want.
Meanwhile, Sonea searches for the rogue, knowing that Cery cannot avoid assassination forever — but the rogue’s influence over the city’s underworld, however, is far greater than she feared.
And in the University, two female novices are about to remind the Guild that sometimes their greatest enemy is found within… (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ 2nd installment in the Traitor Spy Trilogy
+ wonderful and complex world creation
+ reunited with old friends and met new characters
+ slow narrative pace that was right for me at the time, but might be too slow for others (not that action packed!!!)

My Opinion:

The Rogue is the second installment in The Traitor Spy Trilogy which in itself is the second trilogy centering around our main character Sonea. I met Sonea in The Black Magicians Trilogy and this trilogy is set 20 years later. I think one could read The Traitor Spy Trilogy without reading The Black Magicians Trilogy, but it might be more confusing. The world creation is very complex and the relationships between the characters would be less comprehensible without the first trilogy. If you haven’t read The Black Magicians Trilogy, you might not want to continue reading although I doubt I spoil things, you would just not understand.

If you did not read The Ambassador’s Mission (Book 1 in The Traitor Spy Trilogy) than: Spoiler Alert!

Sonea is now the Black Magician in Imardin and not allowed to leave the city. Having to accept Black Magic as necessity to defend the Allied Lands and the Guild was difficult for magicians, thus they restricted Sonea’s movement and life so the citizen would feel save.

Sonea’s son Lorkin has left Imardin to become the Ambassador’s apprentice in Sachaka, where he was attacked. He was saved by a slave, who is part of a group referred to by the Sachakans as Traitors. The traitor slave takes Lorkin to the Traitor sanctuary. Here he tries to establish relations between the traitors and the Guild. Sonea, who had to remain in Imardin, is busy protecting her old friend Cery from a new thief lord, who is also a magician – a rogue. At the same time two novices show the Guild that their biggest scare comes from within the Guild.

There are many different story lines combined in this trilogy: five different story lines narrated from five different perspectives. The switch between these narrative strands occurs quite frequently and can be a little bit of a challenge, but I got used to this quickly. Since there are not many long breaks between each narrative, the risk of forgetting and having difficulties of finding your way back into that story line is quite low.

While we meet many characters that we have known from the early books, there are many new characters. Some of them are sadly a little flat and not as intriguing as the old characters. I enjoyed reuniting with old friends again, but was also open to meeting new ones. However, the new characters themselves were less likable than the old ones. Lorkin (Sonea’s son) was bothering me a lot, Lilia was very naive (while I saw what was gonna happen to her a mile away), and Tyvara and her Traitors were also a little annoying at times. Though I understand that we were suppose to like the Traitors, the flaws in their system were just too big and the people were way to stubborn for my part.

The narrative pace might have been to slow for some people, but I really enjoyed it. I liked the complexity of the story, I enjoyed the world creation and was happy to find my way back to Imardin, but I also learned so much more about Sachaka and the Duna tribes. I was happy to spend time with Sonea, Dannyl, Lilia and Rothen. It was a good read and I was looking forward to finishing the trilogy.

Bottom Line:

A good read with a constant narrative pace, wonderful world creation, a fluent writing, and old and new characters.

Rating:

rating 4

 

Shawn T. Odyssey – Oona Crate und das Rätsel des Schwarzen Turms/ The Wizard of Dark Street

Oona Crate

Hardcover
Verlag: Thienemann
veröffentlicht 2011
Seiten: 315

Book (English/Deutsch)

Klappentext/Blurb:

New York, 1877: In der Dark Street, einer verborgenen,magischen Straße, lebt Oona Crate mit ihrem Onkel und Lehrmeister, dem großen Zauberer. Heimlich träumt sie davon, Detektivin zu werden. Dann wird der Zaubermeister von einem magischen Dolch getroffen und nur sein leerer Zaubermantel bleibt zurück. Kann Oona beweisen, dass sie das Zeug zur Detektivin hat? Gemeinsam mit ihrem sprechenden Raben macht sie sich auf die Suche nach ihrem Onkel und setzt alles daran, den Täter zu stellen…

Oona Crate was born to be the Wizard’s apprentice, but she has another destiny in mind.
Despite possessing the rare gift of natural magic, Oona wants to be a detective. Eager for a case to prove herself, she wants to show her uncle—the Wizard of Dark Street—that logic is as powerful as magic. But when someone attacks the Wizard, Oona must delve even deeper into the world of magic to discover who wanted her uncle dead.
Full of magic, odd characters, evil henchmen, and a street where nothing is normal, The Wizard of Dark Street will have you guessing until the very end.

In Kürze/ In (Very) Short:

+ ein whodunit Krimi umringt von Zauberei und Magie
+ kecke Figuren
+ spannend, unterhaltsam, flüssig
+ vielleicht ein bisschen vorhersehbar und stereotyp, aber genau das richtige für junge Leser
+ a whodunit mystery with lots of magic and witchery
+ a cheeky character
+ fun, entertaining, thrilling
+ maybe a little predictable, but exactly right for young readers

Meinung/ My Opinion:

Oona Crate möchte keine Zauberlehrling mehr sein. Das 13-jährige Mädchen lebt mir ihrem Onkel Alexander, einem Magier, in der Darkstreet, die an die Grenzen New Yorks stößt. Onkel Alexander ist auch gleichzeitig Oonas Lehrmeister und traurig, dass Oona nichts mehr mit Magie zu tun haben möchte. Sie will lieber Detektivin werden. Als der Magier nun einen neuen Lehrling sucht und die Anwärter sich im Pendulum Haus (dem Zuhause von Oona und Onkel Alexander) eintreffen, sind Oonas detektivische Fähigkeiten gefragt. Ihr Onkel wird mit einem magischen Dolch angegriffen und es bleibt nur noch ein Umhang zurück. Oona muss jetzt alles geben ihren Onkel zu finden, bevor es zu spät ist.

Oona Crate und das Rätsel des Schwarzen Turms ist eine sehr schön, spannende und unterhaltsame Geschichte. Die Welt ist interessant gestaltet, da die Darkstreet nur einmal am Tag einen Verbindung nach New York aufbaut und gleichzeitig eine Verbindung zum Feenland ist. Das Pendulum Haus in dem Oona wohnt und alles geschieht, ist sehr eigen- und einzigartig und welches Kind würde nicht gerne die vielen thematischen Räume erkunden. Es gibt sogar ein Kapitänszimmer mit Seegang und frischer Seeluft.

Die Geschichte erfüllt bestimmte Elemente des whodunit Krimis (geschlossener Raum, eine begrenzte Zahl an potentiellen Tätern, unfähige Polizisten, und einen Amateurdetektiv) und vermischt sich mit Magie und Zauberei. Die Charaktere sind ein bunt zusammengemischter Haufen, der Schreibstil ist flüssig und wunderbar leicht, die Geschichte ist spannend, die Handlung vielleicht ein bisschen vorhersehbar und einige Charaktere recht Disneyesque und stereotyp. Aber trotzdem gelungen.

Oona Crate does not want to be a magician’s apprentice. The 13 year old girl lives with her uncle Alexander, who is the magician of Dark Street, a street that connects with New York once a day. Uncle Alexander is saddened that Oona refuses to learn and deal with magic, but accepts that she wishes to resign from her post as apprentice. So, he starts looking for a new one and invites all candidates to Pendulum House (his and Oona’s home). When her uncle is attacked with a magical dagger, it is up to Oona and her sleuthing abilities to find her uncle before it is too late.

Oona Crate and the Wizard of Dark Street is a exiting, fun, and entertaining story. The world creation is interesting. Dark Street connects once a day with the New York and is also connected to the world of the fairies (and not the tiny pretty Tinkerbells, but the scary, sharp fanged fairies).

Oona’s home is a unique house that contains many themed rooms such as the captain’s cabin which even has a swell and a sea breeze. Who would not want to explore that house.

The story fulfills certain features of the whodunit mystery: the looked room, the limited amount of suspects, an incompetent police officer, and an amateur sleuth. This all is mixed with magic and witchery. The characters are a divers and blended bunch of creatures, the writing is fluent and light, the story exiting, the narrative is maybe a little predictable and some characters a little disneyesque and stereotypical. But overall a great read.

Fazit/ Bottom Line:

Ein schönes, unterhaltsames Abenteuerbuch mit einer kecken Detektivin in einer magischen Welt.

A lovely, entertaining adventure with a charming detective in a magical world.

Rating:

rating 4