Ryan Attard – The Pandora Chronicles (#1)

ThePandoraChronicles-4

e-book
publisher: AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc.
Published 2014
pages in print: 208

Book (English)

Blurb:

A nomadic alien species found itself trapped on a new-born Earth billions of years ago. And they were here just long enough to leave a legacy behind – buried in our DNA.

1713 – Captain Jack Finnegan’s remarkable success as a pirate and privateer turns out to be something much deeper. He’ll need all of his wits, and a bit more, to survive his quest for the powerful relic left behind by the gods.

2012 – The famous archaeologist Nick Solomon never could pass up a good adventure, especially not the search for a mysterious artifact. He’d just prefer not being stuck between a crime lord, a secret government agency, and the past he’s tried so hard to forget. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ adventure/conspiracy story with pirates and aliens
+ fast paced, enjoyable, solid read
+ first installment of a series

My Opinion:

The Pandora Chronicles is the first book I was asked to review and I was thrilled. So first of all thank you to Ryan Attard and Shannon A. Thompson for thinking of me and providing me with review copy. This time I feel really nervous about writing a review, but I’m gonna stick to what I usually do: I tell you what I think – organized or unorganized as those thoughts may be.

This is the first science fiction book that I have read in a long time and it is more than just Sci Fi. The story follows two characters: the pirate Captain Jack Finnegan (yeah for pirates) and the archaeologist Nick Solomon (yeah for the history nerd) both searching for relics, artifacts and secret places. Add some aliens to the mix and you have a book that is Sci Fi novel, adventure story, conspiracy narrative and lots of agencies and secret societies blowing things up and shooting.

The book was an enjoyable, good, and solid read. It was less of a Sci Fi novel than I have anticipated, but more of an adventure, thriller, conspiracy plot with a little alien technology (and Them) thrown in. I enjoyed the main characters – I do like pirates and history nerds who desperately try to be the next Indiana Jones – I enjoyed the writing, I enjoyed the story.

Despite all the stuff I liked, I also have a few issues with this book. The story was fairly predictable (given that most of it was already in the story summary) and I did not necessarily knew what I was reading for – it lacked some mystery for me personally. I knew what was gonna happen and those twists and turns that I did not know, I figured out pretty soon. I think since this book is the first in a series, the world has to be set up and that is always quite difficult within the limited narrative frame of one novel, so it sometimes lacked some mystery.

The chapters (and I do love many short chapters because I have the chance to finish one and not stop in the middle) were a little rushed and honestly this time (surprise) too short. Within the chapters there were so many short passages one after another that I sometimes wished they would have been longer and more detailed to give the characters a little more space for development. Although again I understand the lack of that because it would have slowed down the narrative pace and this is more of an adventure story. Still sometimes it felt rather rushed than fast paced.

Still, I especially liked the hint at a little more Sci Fi in the epilogue and with a little less predictability (don’t reveal everything in the book’s summary) and a little more unsolved mystery, the next installment could be my Sci Fi dream.

Bottom Line:

All together an enjoyable and solid read. If you like adventures, conspiracies, pirates, history nerds and a little extra terrestrial something thrown in the mix… here you go.

Rating:

rating 3

(more 3 1/2 quills really)

Octavia E. Butler – Fledgling

feldgling

paperback
publisher Grand Central Publishing
published 2007
pages: 310

Book (English)

Blurb:

Fledgling, Octavia Butler’s new novel after a seven-year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted–and still wants–to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it means to be truly human. (Goodreads)

In (Very) Short:

+ interesting new take on the vampire myth
+ the myth is wrapped in a mystery
+ the story gives us a flawed vampire and no supernatural perfect being
+ the story is a commentary on race and society

My Opinion:

Although the cover does not reveal that this is another vampire book, it is well a book about vampires. Since a friend of mine is writing his dissertation about Octavia Butler’s work, I already knew quite a bit about this book before reading it. So, I decided to just give it a go and I really enjoyed it.

It took me a little to get into the story, but after about 50 pages in I was hooked. (It’s not my first Butler book that I read and it took me about the same amount to get into each of her stories. Interesting. Anyway, I digress.) A young girl (Shori) wakes up in a cave, close to death, and does not remember anything at all – not what happened to her, who she is, where she is, and what she is. After a recovery period she meets Wright and slowly starts to discover what and who she is and that someone really wants her dead.

The book is an interesting take on the vampire myths (and there are quite a few out there): for example that humans are bound to the vampires due to what is in their saliva. All vampires are completely incapacitated during the day, only Shori is of being awake during the day. (I am close to spoiler territory, so you have to discover the rest, when you read the book.)

The writing is fluent and the story surprisingly slow and fast-paced at the same time. I enjoyed the story and the mystery and I even got used to Shori though I had a few problems warming up to her in the beginning. Wright, however, was someone I did not warm up to at all. He was annoying and the relationship with Shori was just a little weird to me. The book is not only a great vampire story, but also a commentary on race and societal workings and gives us a vampire that is flawed and plagued with racism, ignorance, and bigotry.

Bottom Line:

All in all, a great take on the vampire myth wrapped in an interesting mystery with an interesting outlook on society.

Rating:

rating 4

Top 5 Stand Alone Books

Here is my next installment of my Top 5 and this time it is stand alone books. Since I do read a lot of series and trilogies (because that has become a thing now), I had a harder time to come up with some and then it was difficult to cut it down to these 5. If I think about it longer it will probably change again. So here they are for now:

  •  Joyce Carol Oates – Rape: A Love Story

  •  Maggie Stiefvater – The Scorpio Races

    CIMG0104

  •  Marcus Zusak – The Book Thief

  •  P.D. James – Death Comes to Pemberley

  •  Jane Austen – Persuasion

Thomas Thiemeyer – Das Verbotene Eden: Logan und Gwen (#2)

This book is not published in English yet. I have no idea if it ever will be, but I will keep an eye and ear open and let you know. Look further down for a short review in English.

verbotene eden 2

Hardcover
Verlag: Knaur
veröffentlicht 2012
Seiten: 464

Book (Deutsch)

Klappentext:

Seit Juna aus dem Land der Frauen geflohen ist – mit einem Mann –, fühlt sich die junge Heilerin Gwen einsam und nichtswürdig. Sie schließt sich einem Spähtrupp an, der durch verlassene U-Bahn-Schächte in die Stadt der Männer vordringen soll. Doch der Einsatz scheitert grausam, und Gwen fällt in die Hände des jungen Kämpfers Logan, der sie als Sklavin verkaufen will. Logan aber hat die Rechnung ohne seine Gefühle gemacht – und setzt damit Ereignisse in Gang, die das Ende beider Welten bedeuten könnten … (Amazon)

In Kürze:

+ 2. Buch in der Verbotene Eden Reihe
+ gute Umsetzung einer interessanten Idee
+ unterhaltsam, schnell, flüssig

Meinung:

Hierbei handelt es sich um das zweite Buch in der Reihe Das Verbotene Eden. Den ersten Teil habe ich als Hörbuch gehört und er hat mir gut gefallen. Die Idee, dass Männer und Frauen durch einen Virus dazu gebracht werden sich zu hassen und somit unterschiedliche Zivilisationen zu bilden, war sehr faszinierend. Und da das Hörbuch gut war, habe ich mir den zweiten Teil aus der Bibliothek mitgenommen.

Die Geschichte ähnelt dem ersten Teil, Logan und Gwen treffen aufeinander (d.h. Logan nimmt Gwen gefangen und will sie auf dem Sklavenmarkt verkaufen) und sind das erste Mal mit dem anderen Geschlecht konfrontiert. Während Gwen noch ihrer Gefährtin Juna hinterher trauert, die Protagonistin im ersten Teil der Trilogie, scheint Logan allem gegenüber doch etwas offener zu sein. Er ist gerade Champion seines Stammes geworden, was ihm den Respekt und die Loyalität des Stammesführers einbringt, aber auch den Neid dessen Sohnes und damit einen gefährlichen Gegner.

Der Geschichte an sich war sehr gut. Der Schreibstil war flüssig und die Handlung schnell und vorwärts treiben – wie bei einer Strömung, die einen sanft mitnimmt. Ich hätte gerne mehr über die Welt erfahre, leider kam das ein wenig kurz. Auch wenn der Leser mehr über die Zustände und ein wenig über die Geschichte von einzelnen Charakteren und damit über die Geschichte der dystopischen Welt erfährt, hätte ich trotzdem gerne mehr Hintergrundinformationen erhalten.

Und auch wenn die beiden Protagonisten keine Abklatsch der Protagonisten des ersten Teils und durchaus eigenständige Charaktere sind, konnte ich sei streckenweise nicht ganz fassen. Ich hatte ein paar Probleme mich mit ihnen zu identifizieren, da ich einfach einige der Entscheidungen nicht nachvollziehen konnte und auch nicht verstanden hab, wie blind man durch die Welt läuft. Ich habe einige Fallen schon gefühlte Kilometer vorher gesehen und trotzdem sind die beiden da blind hineingelaufen. Aber trotz meines Ningelns, war ich gut unterhalten.

Fazit:

Ein solider 2. Teil einer Reihe. Schnelle Handlung, flüssiger Schreibstil, eigenständige Protagonisten und keine plumpen Kopien des ersten Romans.

In English:

This is the second installment in a dystopian series. In the world where men and women hate each other and are at the brink of war, Logan and Gwen cross paths, well, Logan captures Gwen and intents to sell her on the slave market. But of course things change.

I have listened to the first installment as an audio book and I really enjoyed it. The premise was interesting: due to a virus men and women started to hate and kill each other and separated into different societies. While always at the brink of war, those tendencies have grown more certain after the first book. A group within each side tries to keep the sexes separate, while others realize that the effects of the virus slowly disappear.

Altogether this was a good 2nd installment; it was easy to read, fast-paced and fluent. However, I would have loved to learn more about the world that Thiemeyer had created, which he failed to provide. And although both characters are independent characters and no shallow copies of the two main protagonists in the first novel, I couldn’t quite grasp them. I did not understand the decision they made at times. I even saw traps a mile away and they still walk into them blindly despite the fact, that Thiemeyer tried to describe them as perceptive and intuitive.
But all in all, this was a good and entertaining read.

Rating:

rating 3

September Book Haul

So, although I tried not to buy any books the last month, again it did not work and since I am not reading a lot lately, my TBR pile is constantly increasing. Anyway. Here is my little splurge of the month.

Robin Wasserman – Skinned

A year ago Lia Kahn died. A few days later she woke up … with a new mechanical body, unfeeling and inhuman. She has a new family, ‘mechs’ like her, who didn’t judge her for what she could no longer be, and a new life, one that would last forever. At least it was supposed to…
But now everything Lia thought she knew has turned out to be a lie, and everyone she loved and cared about has been stolen away. Someone is trying to get rid of the mechs, once and for all, and Lia must risk everything to save herself and the people she can’t live without. But not before she faces one final, shocking truth … a truth that forces her to make a decision she can never reverse.

I stumbled across this book in the library. Well, the German translation of the book and when I found the English original on eBay I had to have it. It sound intriguing and a little Sci Fi and since I am in the mood for Sci Fi lately, I had to have it.

Robin Wasserman – Wired

This is the third and final installment of the Skinned trilogy (which has now been renamed and republished – though the old covers are so much prettier). Well, I got the first one and they offered the third, so I picked it up assuming that I would like the first part. No, blurb because I don’t want to spoil and be spoiled. (I didn’t read it myself either).

September Haul

Anna Carey – Eve

“Where will I go?” I asked, my voice trembling. The forest spilled out before me, its hillsides lit only by the perfect, glowing moon. This was it. Where I came from, where I was going. My past, my future.
“If you continue straight two miles you’ll come to a road.” Her thin lips moved slowly as she spoke. “Find the signs marked eighty and go west, toward the setting sun. Stay near the road but not on it.”
I wanted to as Teacher more, but just then the beam of the guard’s flashlight rounded the corner of the dormitory building. Teacher Florence pushed me forward. “Go, now!” she urged. “Go!”
And as fast as the door opened, it closed behind me, leaving me alone in the cold, starless night.

Another dystopian creepy something. A virus has wiped out most of earth’s population. Orphaned girls are trained at a school for this new world, but the day before graduation Eve discovers the real purpose of the school and the horrific fate that awaits them. So, she runs away.
Why not. It sounds interesting and it was a bargain, so I just decided to get this one.

Agatha Christie – Hallowe’en Party

At a Hallowe’en party, Joyce – a hostile thirteen-year-old – boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no one believes her, she storms of home. But within hours her body is found,still in the house drowned in an apple-bobbing tub.
That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the ‘evil presence’. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or double-murderer …

What can I say. I finished my last Christie and I just need to have one at hand really. So, I decided to go with the spooky theme of fall and Halloween and got me a Poirot mystery. I will see if this one is as good as the last one, because Nemesis was just bloody brilliant.

John Green – The Fault in Our Stars

fault in our stars

paperback
publisher: Penguin
published 2013
pages 336

Book (English)

Blurb:

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.”Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ fluent and beautiful writing
+ good and fast read
+ emotionally charged novel

My Opinion:

This will be the hardest book to review in a while. It was as hard as reviewing Jesse Andrews book Me, Earl and the Dying Girl which I haven’t published yet, because I am not happy with it. So here goes nothing.

I don’t think I have to summarize anything anymore because many have read the book already or seen the movie by now. I was reluctant to read the book since I am always late to a hype (mere principle really ;) ). I enjoyed the book. It was a good and easy read. I read through it in no time at all and as I said it was good.

However, (and here is probably where the haters start to hate), I don’t get why people are crying and freaking out about this book. Yes, the writing was good, but so is the writing of other authors and honestly the story was predictable. And though predictability is something that I can live with, there was something about that book that just made me uneasy. I can’t really put my finger on it.

The characters were likeable, the writing was fluent and beautiful, yet something bothered me. I still don’t believe that when diagnosed with a terminal illness everybody turns into a Hazel or Augustus and faces their future with sarcasm, irony, and little smart ass witty behavior all the time. Before people scream that I have no idea what I am talking about and that I don’t know what it’s like. It’s true, but I have seen enough people living with terminal illnesses and dying of it, and the book is just not that for me. Maybe this is what made me uncomfortable: the fact that I have seen things that I wish I hadn’t and that I wasn’t prepared to handle. Maybe I am emotionally too close and too narrow-minded to accept Hazel’s and Augustus’ way at this point in time. Maybe at another point in my life I would have cried as well.

Bottom Line:

A good and emotional read, beautifully written and fast to read.

Rating:

rating 3

My Reading Month September

My reading month was not as successful as I would have wanted and I am pretty sure that I won’t be able to complete many of my challenges this year. But I am OK with that. There is enough pressure out there so I am not gonna put any more on me when it comes to a hobby. So, here are the books that I have finished in September:

Corina Bomann – Die Samurai Prinzessin: Der Spiegel der Göttin

The Samurai Princess is a historical novel written by a German author. A young girl (Tomoe) is found by priests after her family was killed and is brought to their monastery. There she learns to fight and waits patiently to exact her revenge for her parents deaths. However, the gods have chosen her to find the three insignia of the emperor. While Tomoe searches for the first regalia – the mirror of the sun goddess Amaterasu – she is caught between two warring families…
The book was sadly disappointing. Although I really looked forward to the book and I liked the premise of it, it was not an easy read. I had to force myself through some of the pages, it was slow, there was a lot of waiting and almost no action. The author wanted to incorporate many myths and aspects that it just got very convoluted. I couldn’t really relate to or sympathize with the character. Sadly not my cup of tea.

swimming with fishes die samurai prinzessin 1

Marie Janice Davidson – Sleeping with the Fishes

After my rather slow historical novel, I wanted something fast paced that just washed over me. So, I picked up my first Marie Janice Davidson book. And it was what I needed. It was easy, fast, sometimes funny, a little predictable, but a good a solid read.

Polly Horvath – Herr und Frau Hase: Die Superdetektive

So, after my fast „adult“ fix, I grabbed this lovely book: Mr. and Mrs. Bunny: Detectives Extraordinaire. I just saw the cover in the library and I had to take it. So cute. Again this was a fast read and a lovely adventure story. I am not sure in how far this really is for children. While I smiled at a few points, I am not necessarily sure kids will get this. The characters were lovable, the writing was fluent, and the illustrations cute and fitting.

nemesis herr und frau hase 1

Agatha Christie – Nemesis

Well what can I say. I needed a fix and I loved every page of it. Miss Marple was part of the story from the beginning (unlike in some of Christie’s other novels). I liked the premise of this story: Miss Marple was asked to help an acquaintance and „solve“ a mystery. But she was not told what that mystery was about. She basically knew nothing. It was a great and easy read with a loveable Miss Marple.