Alan Bennett – The Uncommon Reader

the uncommon reader

paperback
publisher: Profile Books
published 2007
pages: 121

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

Led by her yapping Corgis to the Westminster travelling library outside Buckingham Palace, the Queen finds herself taking out a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett. Duff read though it is, the following week her choice proves more enjoyable and awakens in Her Majesty a passion for reading so great that her public duties begin to suffer. And so, as she devours work by everyone from Hardy to Brookner to Proust to Beckett, her equerries conspire to bring the Queen’s library odyssey to a close.

In (Very) Short:

+ the Queen as main protagonist – that in itself should be enough
+ a story about the love for reading
+ what would happen to the Queen if her life was dominated by books
+ a little conspiracy thrown into the novella

My Opinion:

A lot of people have recommended this short book to me. Somehow I was afraid, that I would not like it as much as I was supposed to. And though I really enjoyed it, I was not so blown away as many wanted me to be. But I cannot say why.

It was a lovely book and lovely story: the Queen discovers her passion for reading. While that might be fine for many people, her staff and her people were not as thrilled. If you always wanted to know what her life would look like, if books ruled the world, pick Bennett’s story up.

I felt for her when her staff tried to discourage her habits, looking down on her new hobby. Something that I have somehow experienced myself, but to a lesser degree. I loved her desire to read, her tenaciousness about it, and the witty comments on particular authors whom I felt similar about.

The writing is wonderfully fluent and for the lack of a better word fluffy. I felt like the words carried me through the story and I felt very safe. There is something so serene and beautiful about the writing. The story idea is unique (I’d like to say) and the conspiracy gives it a little bit of spice. But for some reason I can’t help to like Gin O’Clock more and I know that is a very different genre.

Bottom Line:

All in all, this was a great and entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rating:

rating 4

Alison Goodman – Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye

Eon

paperback
publisher: David Flicking Books
published 2008
pages: 430

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

Two swords, angled for slicing, came whirring towards my chest. My block was simple: a step back of the back leg, a shift of weight, my right sword joining the left in front of me, cutting side slanted down. His blades hit mine. The impact resonated through my arm bones.
Does young Eon have the power to become a Dragoneye? Now the years of grueling training, under a ruthlessly ambitious master, will be put to the test: it’s time for the terrifying Rat Dragon to choose his next apprentice.

In (Very) Short:

+ a great young adult fantasy adventure
+ exiting, entertaining, thrilling
+ great world creation, wonderful characters
+ the struggle within the character do not overshadow the bigger battle fought between good and evil

My Opinion:

I had this book on my shelf for some time now, and I can’t quite believe that it took me so long to read it. I was a great book – entertaining, adventurous, and touching upon topics that I have not come across in fantasy yet.

Eon is really Eona, who pretends to be a boy in order to be chosen as Dragoneye. Girls are not allowed to have dragon magic. After a long time of pretending and living as a boy, after hours and hours of training, the time has come for the Rat Dragon to pick his new Dragoneye apprentice. Though the Rat Dragon does not choose Eon, the Mirror Dragon, which has been lost for over 500 years, returns and claims Eon. This miraculous return initiates a power struggle. Can Eon keep up appearance while being the center of everyone’s attention.

This story was an adventure story without the love triangle or any other true-love related theme. It focused on Eona’s identity crises and her journey of coming to terms with the truth. I enjoyed that Eona was not suddenly powerful and cunning, but that she was lost and slowly learning and understanding. This gave us time to learn and understand the world alongside her.

The world creation was wonderful, the characters well-developed, the writing vivid, fluent and yet again fluffy. I was carried through the story. I particularly liked that Eona’s gender crisis (having lived as Eon for so long, she has suppressed Eona, who struggles to break free) or issue was not limited to the main character. It is also present in other characters such as Lady Della. She is biologically a man who lives as a woman.

It is the first time for me that I came cross the transgender and transsexual topic as being part of a fantasy narrative. I would have preferred that the issue was more accepted and normal within this fantasy world. But I loved that Lady Della is respected in her own country and (partially) at court, and that she has accepted who she is.

Bottom Line:

A great story, wonderful world creation, and new and interesting topics. An exiting fantasy adventure.

Rating:

rating 4

March Book Haul

I did not plan to buy any. I never do. But they honestly just called my name. :)

march haul

Annelie Wendeberg – The Devil’s Grin

In Victorian London’s cesspool of crime and disease, a series of murder remains undiscovered until a cholera victim floating in the city’s drinking water supply. Dr. Anton Kronberg, England’s best bacteriologist, is called upon to investigate and finds evidence of abduction and medical maltreatment. While Scotland Yard has little interest in pursuing the case, Kronberg pushes on and crosses paths with Sherlock Holmes. The detective immediately discovers Kronberg’s secret – a woman masquerading as a man in order to practice medicine – a criminal deed that could land her in prison for years to come. But both must join forces to stop a crime so monstrous, it outshines Jack the Ripper’s deeds in brutality and cold-bloodedness.

I was at a reading of The Devil’s Grin and I really wanted to know how it continues. It’s a crime story and it is set in Sherlockian England, so I couldn’t resist and I have read it already.

Mary Janice Davidson – Sleeping with the Fishes

Fred is a mermaid. But stop right there. Whatever image you’re thinking of right now, forget it. Fred is not blonde. She’s not buxom. And she’s definitely not perky. In fact, Fred can be downright cranky. And it doesn’t help matters that her hair is ocean-colored.
Being a mermaid does help Fred when she works at the New England Aquarium.But, needless to say, it’s there that she gets involved in something fishy. Weird levels of toxins been found in the local water. A gorgeous marine biologist wants her help investigating. So does her mer-person ruler, the High Prince of the Black Sea. You’d think it would be easy for a mermaid to get to the bottom of things, Think again…

I stumbled over this book and I got it for a bargain. The cover caught my eye. I am not sure I actually like it, but I have never read anything about mermaids (except for The Little Mermaid and that was a long time ago). So, why not include another supernatural creature.

Walt Disney Comic Collection

This collection contains 10 Disney Comic Books. I don’t think this is essentially the correct term and genre, but since I don’t know any better, I am just gonna call it that. I have been eyeing it for a while and I finally couldn’t resist. I love them. They are so beautiful and precious and wonderful.

Agatha Christie – The Thirteen Problems

One Tuesday evening a group gathers at Miss Marple’s house and the conversation turns to unsolved crimes…
As each of her guests is mystified by the sinister tales they tell one another, the company is inclined to forget their elderly host. But there is a ruthless precision in Miss Marple’s pursuit of the killers in each tale…and a few surprises in store for ‘The Tuesday Night Club’.

Another Christie. What more can I say. I have to keep my Agatha Christie Reading Challenge in mind and so I really was „forced“ to buy one. :)

Alan Bradley – Speaking from Among the Bones

Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of Saint Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face inexplicably masked. Who held such a gruesome vendetta against him? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s no such thing as an open-and-shut case.

Flavia de Luce, my (currently) second favorite sleuth in the book world. This is the 5th book in the series. I doubt she has aged a day and the people in her village just die like flies. I am really looking forward to this. Bradley has never disappointed me so far.

My Reading Month March

Lately, coordinating life, work, writing, and reading has been a little tricky. That’s why I am so behind on everything. I really hope to catch up soon. Please bear with me.
My reading month was quite good. Though it is not a lot, I enjoyed the books and they helped to stop my brain from going into overdrive.

Adam Switz – Eine Dunkle und Grimmige Geschichte

I started my month with this little treasure. It is a retelling of many of Grimm’s fairy tales (supposedly the true story). All the fairy tales are beautifully connected and you can still read this story by story without loosing sight of the overall link. When I read it, I thought is was actually quite bloody and gruesome, but thinking about the original fairy tales – it really isn’t different. They are brutal. Still, I have never perceived them that way. Anyway. It was a really good and entertaining read.

eine dunkle und grimmige geschichte

Jesse Andrews – Ich und Earl und das sterbende Mädchen

There are a lot of cancer/terminal illness books and/or movies out there apparently. I have to confess that I have not read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, yet. But after reading this book, I will some time soon. I really enjoyed the read. It was an interesting way of addressing the topic of death and loss. The writing was fluent and altogether a really good read.

ich und earl und das sterbende mädchen

Annelie Wendeberg – The Devil’s Grin

After my dose of serious contemporary fiction, I fled into Sherlock’s arms. The Devil’s Grin is a crime story, with a female protagonists, who dresses as a man in order to work as a bacteriologist. Her secret is discovered by Holmes, who does not tell, but helps her investigate a case the police has dropped. Altogether, it was a solid read. I am not sure, how I feel about Anne Kronberg (the protagonist), and this version of Sherlock, but with Benedict Cumberbatch in my head, everything is good.

the devil's grin

Dieter Nuhr – Nuhr auf Sendung

This is a book by a German comedian and it contains short diary-like pieces in which the author reflects on his life, his country and the world. Really funny and enjoyable. Loved it because it was short and I could read it in between appointments or during a break.

legend

Marie Lu – Legend

I have been eyeing my final book for a while now and I finally caved. I really enjoyed it. The story might have been a little predictable and some readers did not like the very fast developing love between the protagonists. It did not bother me, because it did not feel like it was dominating the narrative. I really enjoyed the world building, which I hope to read more about. The entire conspiracy is intriguing. So, I am very interested to see how this one turns out.

Alyson Noel – Fated

Fated

paperback
publisher: MacMillan
published 2012
pages: 448

Book on Amazon

Blurb:
Strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her,glowing people appear from nowhere. Worried that Daire’s having a breakdown, her mother sends her to stay with the grandmother she’s never met, who lives on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico. There Daire crosses oaths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes.
Her grandmother recognizes Daire’s episodes for what they are – a call to her true destiny as Soul Seeker, a persn who can navigate between the living and the dead. Guided by her grandmother, Daire must be quick to learn how to harness her powers, because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter, out to steal them.
Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and discover whether Dace is the guy she’s meant to be with … or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

In (Very) Short:

+ young adult fantasy novel
+ Daire’s a soul seeker, who has to fight evil and save the world as we know it
+ I enjoyed the Native American spiritual aspects
- the story itself was slow at times
- typical YA: I’ve never met you before but I am in love after 5 seconds

My Opinion:

I am not necessarily sure why I picked this book up, but I did. It sounded good and I took it home from the library. The story itself was that of a typical young adult fantasy novel:

  • girl has supernatural powers and weird dreams
  • girl has to discover her true destiny
  • girl has weird sex dreams of boy
  • girl meets boy and is in love
  • girl has to save the world from being annihilated by evil (in form of boys twin brother)

The spiritual aspect was actually quite fascinating and intriguing. I enjoyed the fantasy world that was introduced although it lacked a little explanation, but I am sure that will come later. There are several worlds – the Upperworld, the Lowerworld and the Middleworld. The Middleworld is the one that we inhabit, but we are unable to truly see. Soul Seekers and Shamans, however, can. I like the idea of the spirit animal and as usual I liked the side kicks more than the main protagonists.
But since I have read quite a few Y/A fantasy books, I get a little annoyed with the whole „I never met you, but I am so in love with you“ vibe. Apart from that and the fact, that the narrative had some quite slow moments + a temporarily really annoying teenage protagonist, it was a solid read.

Bottom Line:

Good book for someone, who is not familiar with spiritual journeys and symbolism.

Rating:

rating 3

Melanie Welsh – Felicity Gallant und Das Auge des Sturms/ Mistress of the Storm

felicity gallant

Hardcover
Verlag: Dressler
veröffentlicht: 2012
Seiten: 319

Book on Amazon (Deutsch/English)

Klappentext/Blurb:

Im verschlafenen Städtchen Wellow passiert einfach nichts Aufregendes. Dabei wünscht sich Felicity Gallant sehnlich einmal ein richtiges Abenteuer zu erleben. Als ein rätselhafter Fremder auftaucht, der ihr ein altes Buch und einen geheimnisvollen Gegenstand überreicht, geht Felicitys Wunsch plötzlich in Erfüllung. Kurz darauf legt die sagenumwobene „Sturmwolke“ in Hafen an und es geschehen bedrohliche Dinge! Aber was hat das alles mit Felicity zu tun? Wird es ihr gemeinsam mit ihren Freunden gelingen, die Geheimnisse von Wellow zu ergründen?

Verity Gallant has always struggled to fit in. Outshone by her perfect sister and tormented by her schoolmates, she knows there is nothing special about her.

But everything changes when the Storm docks at the quiet harbour town of Wellow, and Verity receives an ancient book from a mysterious stranger. It tells the chilling story of the Mistress of the Storm – a story that has been kept from Verity all her life.

Suddenly Wellow is stirring with long-hidden secrets and bitter rivalries. As dark clouds roll menacingly above and Verity begins to uncover the truth about her family’s past, she becomes dangerously entangled in a web of dark magic and powerful revenge.

In Kürze/ In(Very)Short:

+ zeitlose Geschichte von Freundschaft und Abenteuern
+ schön, spannend, unterhaltsam
+ schöne und nachvollziehbare Charakterentwicklung
+ Piraten, Geheimnisse, Freundschaft und übernatürliche Elemente
+ timeless story about friendship and adventures
+ beautiful,entertaining, thrilling
+ understandable character development
+ pirates, secrets, friendship and supernatural elements

Meinung/Opinion:

Eine zeitlose Geschichte von Freundschaft und Abenteuern. Felicity ist eine Außenseiterin und wird in der Schule gehänselt und auch in ihrer Familie fühlt sie sich recht fehl am Platz. Ihr einziger Trost sind ihre Bücher.

Als die sagenumwobene Sturmwolke in das kleine verschlafene Städtchen Wellow kommt, bringt die auch gleich ihre Großmutter mit. Eine Frau von der Felicity bis dahin nichts wusste. Nun wird das junge Mädchen nicht nur in der Schule gepiesackt, sondern auch von ihrer gemeinen Großmutter gequält. Doch bei einem ist sich Felicity sicher: Irgendwas stimmt nicht mir der Frau. Mit ihren beiden Freunden Henry Twogood und der belesenen Martha versucht sie zu erfahren, was ihre Großmutter im Schilde führt und was sie herausfindet, übersteigt ihre kühnsten Erwartungen. Plötzlich sind die drei Freunde mitten drin in einem Abenteuer von dem man sonst nur in Büchern liest.

Das Buch ist sehr schön geschrieben. Der Spannungsbogen wird langsam aufgebaut und man kann das Buch am Ende kaum aus der Hand legen. Felicity wird von der Außenseiterin zu einer kleinen Heldin, die sich auf ihre Freunde verlassen kann, welche ihr mit Rat und Tat zur Seite stehen. Sehr viel Aufmerksamkeit hat die Autorin der Charakterentwicklung geschenkt und diese ist wirklich gelungen und sehr nachvollziehbar.

Ein wirklich gelungener Abenteuerroman mit Piraten, die Macht der Geschichten und ein paar übernatürliche Elementen.

A timeless story of friendship and adventure. Verity is an outsider who is teased at school and feels like she doesn’t belong not even to her own family. Her only comfort are her books.

When an alleged pirate ship returns to Wellow so does Verity’s grandmother. A grandmother she has never heard of before. Now Verity is teased in school and harassed at home. But Verity is sure of one thing: there is something wrong with that woman. With help of her friends Henry and Martha she wants to discover her grandmother’s secrets. And suddenly the friends are in the middle of an adventure that only happen in books.

The books is written beautifully and the arc of suspense develops slowly. I could not put the book down. Verity, the former outsider with no friends, turns into the heroine, with friends she can rely on and that stand by her side. The author payed much attention to character development.

A great adventure story about pirates, the power of stories, and some supernatural elements.

Fazit/Bottom Line:

Ein toller, spannender Abenteuerroman mit Piraten, Geheimnissen und einer kleinen, rothaarigen Heldin.

A fantastic and exiting adventure story with pirates, secrets and a little redheaded heroine.

Rating:

rating 4

Febuary Book Haul

Michael Grant – Hunger

It’s been three months since all adults disappeared. Gone.

Food ran out weeks ago and starvation is imminent. Meanwhile, the normal teens have grown resentful of the kids with powers. And when an unthinkable tragedy occurs, chaos descends upon the town. There is no longer right and wrong. Each kid is out for himself even the good ones turn murderous. But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling them, guiding them, manipulating them. The Darkness has awakened and it is hungry.

I have read the first book in the first half of the last year and I enjoyed it. It was interesting to see, what would happen if all adults suddenly disappear and how the youth would cope with the loss and their increasing supernatural powers. There have been many unanswered questions after GONE, but since this is a series, I doubt many will be answered any time soon. I am interested to see how it continues and how the author keeps up the arc of suspense.

Febuary Haul

Cassandra Clare – City of Lost Souls

The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace freed. But when the Shadowhunters arrive, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing, but so is the boy she hates: her brother Sebastian, who is determined to bring the Shadowhunters to their knees. The Clave cannot locate either boy, but Jace can’t stay away from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror of Lilith’s magic – Jace and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become a servant to evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but it is impossible to harm one boy without destroying the other.

Only a few people believe Jace can still be saved. Together, Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle make hard choices that get them no closer to severing the tie between Jace and Sebastian. They turn at last to the merciless, weapon-making Iron Sisters. If the Iron Sisters can’t help, their only chance is to challenge Heaven and Hell – a risk that could claim their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary is playing a dangerous game utterly alone. The price for losing is not just her life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love.

The fifth book in the Moral Instruments series was in a bargain bin and I couldn’t leave it there all on its own. I have read the first book, but I am still missing book 2 and 3. I think, I will start to marathon some series and for that I need to collect first. But I am interested to see how the series develops and if Clare can keep up the suspense over so many sequels.

Peter Pan

My last book this month was a children’s pop up book with sound effects. And I am in love. It is the story of Peter Pan and it is so beautiful and wonderful. I am all for children’s books, but I have never really looked at books for smaller children. Since so many of my friends are currently having children and desperately trying to regain control over their sleeping habits, I had a look around. And I came across this. And I had to have it.

CIMG4783 CIMG4671