Nina Blazon – Laqua: Fluch der schwarzen Gondel

This book is written by a German author. For a short English review see further below.

Nina Blazon - Fluch der schwarzen Gondel

Hardcover
Verlag: cbj
veröffentlicht: 2012
Seiten: 384

Klappentext:

Der Dunkle Doge erwacht

Ein gruseliger, zugiger alter Palazzo, Dauerregen und eine grantige Urgroßmutter. Na großartig! Kristina und Jan sind zunächst nicht gerade begeistert, dass sie die Ferien in Venedig verbringen sollen. Dass sich des Nachts seltsame Schemen aus der Lagune erheben und katzengleich die Wände der Häuser hinaufgleiten, macht die Sache für die beiden Geschwister auch nicht besser. Als dann auch noch ihre Großkusine Sara verschwindet und sie sich auf die Spur des gruseligen Dogen begeben müssen, beginnt für die Kinder in den Gassen Venedigs ein fantastisches Abeneuer, das seinesgleichen sucht. (Amazon)

In Kürze:

+ wunderbar, spannendes Abenteuerbuch
+ liebenswerte Protagonisten und gruselige Wesen
+ so lebendig beschrieben, dass man das Gefühl hat, neben den Figuren her zulaufen

Meinung:

Venedig ist definitiv eine Reise wert – sei es in Person oder aber in einem Buch. Ich habe dieses tolle Abenteuerbuch für Kinder verschlungen. Es war spannend, unterhaltsam, ein wenig gruselig, lustig und einfach nur toll.

Kristina und Jan müssen die Ferien bei ihrer Oma in Venedig verbringen, die nicht nur komische Bräuche hat, sondern auch nicht begeistert ist, dass ihre Enkel und ihre Tochter über Weihnachten da sind. Also versuchen die Kinder ihre Zeit abzusitzen. Dabei begegnen sie nicht nur Geistern sondern treffen auf eine schwarze Gondel. Um dem Geheimnis auf die Spur zu kommen und ihre Tante zu retten, müssen sich die Kinder nicht nur mit den verhassten Familienfeinden anfreunden, sondern sich auch dem Dogen stellen.

Ein wirklich wunderbar erzähltes und spannendes Abenteuer, das einen nach Venedig entführt. Die Figuren sind liebenswert, sympathisch und nicht verzogen, die Freundschaft zwischen den Kindern der verfeindeten Familien ist natürlich und wirkt nicht erzwungen, die Geister und dunklen Gestalten sind schaurig und die Großmutter ein liebenswerter Muffel.

Es war durchgehen spannend, die Kinder sind kindlich geblieben, mussten aber Mut beweisen und gelegentlich Hilfe in Anspruch nehmen. Der Schreibstil war flüssig und die Handlung so lebendig beschrieben, dass ich das Gefühl hatte, mit durch die Straßen Venedigs zu laufen und genauso nass zu sein wie unsere Protagonisten.
Es ist ein wirklich tolles Abenteuerbuch was durchaus auch für Jungen geeignet ist (trotz eines bisschen Verliebtseins).

Bottom Line:

Ein tolles, spannendes und unterhaltsames Abenteuer im tollen und mystischen Venedig.

In English:

Kristina and Jan have to spend their christmas vacation with their aunt at their grandmother’s house in Venice, who is not thrilled that they visist her at that time of the year. As both parties are not happy to be there, mysterious things start to happen and they discover some strange protection spells their grandmother uses – but against what. While ghosts and mysterious black gondolas appear the children have to stop an old family feud to discover the truth and safe their aunt.

This is a fast-paced and wonderful adventure story: The protagonists are likeable and no brats. The friendship between Kristina, Jan and the children of the rival family develops naturally and is not forced. The ghosts, strange creatures, and the black gondola are a little scary and the grumpy grandmother quite loveable.

The story was fast-paced and the writing fluent. The descriptions were so wonderful and vivid that I felt I was running through the streets of Venice myself and I was as wet and cold as the protagonists at times. The children remained childlike, had to show and develop courage, yet also asked for help when they needed it.

This is a great adventure story for girls and boys even though there is a little love around (but you barely notice).

Rating:

rating 4

My Reading Month January

A new year and I am still reading less than I want to, but I listen to a lot more audiobooks. My way to work is a little longer and the house work does not seem to decrease, therefore my hours of listening to audiobooks have increased quite a bit this month. In addition, going through all the personal paper work and cleaning those files cabinets out is a lot more bearable with a nice audiobook.
I digress, so let’s get started.

  • Books: 2
  • Audiobook: 8
  • Pages (only books): 736
  • Pages (incl. Audiobooks): 4864
  • Minutes listened: 3404 min. (over 56 hours)

Books:

Martin Wehrle – Sei einzig nicht artig.

This non-fiction book is maybe something like a self-help thing, though it does not tell you how to do anything really. Basically, this book illustrates how many of your choices have been somehow made by other people in your life or by society as a whole and not by yourself. You don’t always (or sometimes never) choose things because you want them or like them but because of what is expected of you – and you don’t even really notice it. Or some things you notice, but it helps that someone else points them out to you again. Anyway, I really enjoyed this read. This does not mean I am going to change my life or my habits or my thought patterns right away, but at least I think a little about it. Sadly, this is written by a German author (yeah for readers who read German), and I doubt this will be translated into English. I am sure, though that there is a similar book on the English-speaking book markets.

dem pharao versprochen

Marliese Arold – Dem Pharao Versprochen

Another German book this month was written by one of my favorite children’s book authors. After I started reading and listening to her magic girls series (about witches, who were exiled into the human world and now have to hide their witch powers so they are not discovered), I came across this story set in Ancient Egypt. Anchesenamun, the sister and wife of Tutanchamun, is a the center of this story as she and her best friend are thrown into the intrigue and politics of the Egyptian court. Not only is she barely teenager, she is also in love with someone else and if that is discovered it could cost them their lives. I enjoyed the setting of the story, since I loved reading novels set in Ancient Egypt when I was younger and I thoroughly enjoy Ancient Egyptian mythology. It was a nice story for young girls, that did lack a little bit of action for me. Since it was more a story dealing with emotions rather than an adventure story, I had a few difficulties to relate to the main character, but then again I am quite a bit older than the intended reader.

Audiobooks:

Kai Meyer – Die Muschelmagier/ The Pirate Emperor (The Wave Walkers #2)

I enjoyed this novel as much as the first in this pirate adventure series. Jolly and Munk continue to save the world, yet their magic and power affects both quite differently. This part follows Jolly a little more and we get to read less about Munk, which I personally did not mind since I was getting on my nerve. However, the narrator was fantastic as always and the story thrilling.

Eva Stachniak – Der Winterpalast/ The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great

I have listened to quite a few historical novels, but this is my first set in Russia. The story follows a young girl who works at the royal court and becomes a spy. She also becomes friends with a young and unsure Sophie – later Catherine the Great – whom she is dedicated to, only to learn that there are no friendships at court. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the setting. I remember some of the historical facts from school, but this made me want to catch up on my Russian history.

Petra Durst-Henning – Die Champagner Königin

Isabelle has married a man her parents did not approve of, when he inherits a vineyard and the move to France. The young woman is enchanted by the landscape and the possibility of a bright future. Yet nothing is a pretty as it seems: a rival is already waiting to destroy them and fate strikes a devastating blow. It was a nice and easy story, that was entertaining and enchanting (I felt a little mesmerized when listening to the descriptions of the landscape). A good audiobook.

Sabine Ebert – Die Entscheidung der Hebamme

The is the third installment in the series about a midwife in the middle ages. Old rivals always return, fate strikes again and again, and cruelty seems to reign supreme. It was a good story, at times it felt a little jumpy as they try to cover quite a large time span. I just need a little break from the series and I am sure the main character would need that too. How much can happen to one poor person.

Der Winterpalast die rebellin

Lena Johannson – Die Ärztin von Rügen

I was in a historical novel mood, as this was my forth in a row. Yet all of them set in different times or at least different countries. This was a rather slower audiobook as this was not so much about action and abuse of the female character (as many novels set in the middle ages are). Anne has lived and worked with her father (a doctor) all her life. But when the train comes to Rugia a lot more doctors come along and not all of them are pleased to see her work as a doctor’s assistant. And then there are two young doctors who do not mind her at all. It was a lovely and slow book, that was entertaining, yet I could see so many things from afar long before she noticed any of it – which made me a little annoyed at her but also took away some of the excitement.

Ursula Niehaus – Das Heiligenspiel

Another novel set towards the end of the middle ages centers around the young woman Anna who is neither pretty nor desirable and surely not loved by her mother. She manages to live a somewhat comfortable and happy life when rumors start to swirl and make her out to be a saint. She tries to explain and rectify those assumptions, yet people don’t believe her. With those rumors and the changes in her life, envy comes crawling out of the woodwork. It was a good read, though I could not relate to Anna and I had difficulties with the development of the story and thus her life. There seem to be too many coincidences that always put her in awkward positions, yet there was nothing she could have done either. I just seem to have difficulties with the lack of control she had and the missing desire to have control.

Ulrike Schweikert – Die Herrin der Burg

I haven’t noticed how historical novel heavy my audiobooks were this month. Another historical novel set in the middle ages centering around two half sisters who are thrown into the turmoil of a brewing war. Though the premise was interesting and the book had good reviews, I had quite some issues to get into the story: to many places, names, and characters. It was confusing and it took me a while to figure out what was happening with whom and who belonged to which side. I can honestly say, that I still don’t know for sure. Maybe I should have read this one instead of listing to it and maybe I should have freshened up on my history lessons from school before starting this novel.

Trudi Canavan – Die Rebellin/ The Magician’s Guild

Trudi Canavan is great. I have read this book some time ago in English and now I listened to the German audiobook version and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was fun, entertaining, and narrated and translated well. I really like Sonea and I could not stop listening, just as I could not stop reading back in the day. The story world is great, the characters likable, the story well constructed. I loved it again.

Maggie Stiefvater – The Raven Boys

17675462© Scholastic Press

Audiobook (German)
Information on the book
Hardcover
publisher: Scholastic Press
published: 2012
pages: 416

Blurb:

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore. (Amazon)

In Very Short:

+ ley lines, ghosts, premonitions and supernatural occurrences
+ divers group of characters
– the narrative pace was to bumpy and the story did not captivate

My Opinion:

This first installment of the The Raven Boys Cycle introduces the main characters – the Raven Boys – Blue and the search for ley lines and the power that those hold. Not only do they discover some strange, supernatural occurrences, the truth about the past and one of their group, they also get caught up in lots of emotions and future destinies.

It was an interesting story, with a well-developed and even paced story line, which was partially solved towards the end yet left many open questions for future books. Still, at different points in the narration, it felt halted and slowed down before it picked up again. The premise was interesting, yet it lacked the ability to captivate me.

The characters are a divers group of people, most of them being exposed to future troubles and possible destinies yet all determined to fight those visions. The story was already hinting at some kind of love triangle problem – that I am not that thrilled about, but that was not foregrounded either.

The writing was melodic and easy, yet also quite slow. Sometimes attempting to be poetic and thus taking attention away from the narration. It did not add to the story, but it might have been a problem due to the translation.

Bottom Line:

It was a good book and an interesting story line, yet I am not sure whether I should give the English version a try. At this point I am not sure I want to continue the German one either.

Frank M. Reifenberg & Gina Mayer – Die Schattenbande legt los (Incl. Short English Review)

This book is written by a German author and not yet translated into English. For a short English review please see further below.

Die Schattenbande 1

Hardcover
Verlag: arsEdition
veröffentlicht: 2014
Seiten: 240

Klappentext:

Klara, Otto, Paule, Lina sind: Die Schattenbande!Neugierig, flink und furchtlos sind sie immer da, wo ein Verbrechen Aufklärung fordert … Als Otto verdächtigt wird, eine ehrwürdige Großfürstin umgebracht zu haben, müssen die Schatten handeln! Wer steckt wirklich hinter dem Mord? Welche Bedeutung hat das letzte Wort, das die Großfürstin mit Mühe über die Lippen brachte: Soljanka? Und was sind die sagenumwobenen »Tränen der Zarin«, von denen die Schatten bei ihrer Spurensuche erfahren? Immer tiefer geraten die Kinder in eine Welt voller zwielichtiger Gestalten, wovon eine ihnen letztlich den Weg aus dem Dunkel zeigt: Madame Fatale aus der »Schwarzen Katze« … (Amazon)

In Kürze:

+ ein historische Kinderkrimi
+ ein wunderbar spannendes Abenteuer mit liebenswerten Figuren
+ etwas kriminelles, etwas übernatürliches, etwas menschliches – es ist für jeden was dabei

Meinung:

Dieser wunderbare historische Kinderbuchkrimi war ein wirkliches Highlight. Lina, Paul, Otto und Klara leben in den20ger Jahren in Berlin und überleben mit dem eine oder anderen kleine Diebstahl, Gelegenheitsjobs und einigen wenigen guten Freunden (einigen sehr wenigen). Dabei stolpert Otto über eine Leiche und wird auch gleich des Mordes verdächtigt. Nun liegt es an den Freunden ihn zu entlasten – ohne geschnappt zu werden und zurück ins Waisenhaus zu müssen.

Es war ein schneller, spannender Fall: Juwelendiebe, Verschwörungen und ein Mord. Dazu kommt noch ein wenig Übersinnliches: die grüne Frau, eine immer wieder auftauchende Tür und gelegentlich auch Lina.

Die Figuren sind liebenswert und komplex, behalten etwas kindliches und haben eine Reihe interessanter Randfiguren um sich gescharrt – wie die liebe Wirtin, der einfältige Polizist und ein aberwitziger Reporter. Auch war der eigentliche Täter nicht so leicht zu erkennen, was die Spannung hielt. Der Schreibstil war einfach, flüssig und Kindern angepasst, dabei aber auch immer noch für Erwachsene gedacht.

Fazit:

Ein wirkliches tolles Buch über Freundschaft, Verbrechen und Juwelen.

In English:

Lina, Paul, Otto and Karla are living on the streets of Berlin in 1920. They escaped an orphanage and the occassional odd job and theft as well as the help from some well-meaning people keep them free and somewhat happy. One day Otto comes across a dead body and is accused of murder. His friends now have to do everything to clear his name and keep him from getting caught. Their search for answers drives them deeper into conspiracy theories and the underworld of Berlin.

I really enjoyed this story. The characters were well-developed, likeable, and still remained childlike without being helpless. Their entourage included a wonderful mix of people from lovely ladies, to unique reporters, and rather stupid police officers. The crime story was exiting and included: jewel theft, conspiracies, and murder. Moreover, the story included some supernatural elements such as the green lady, the reappearing door as well as occasionally Lina and her hair.

All in all, this was a fun, fast-paced, thrilling read.

Rating:

rating 4

My Reading Challenges for 2016

I have taken a little time to have a look at my reading challenges from last year and see how or if I might adapt them for this year. But I try not to see me not successfully finishing my challenges as a failure, thus I will keep them for this year and attempt them again. However, I have decided to add an audiobook challenge to my Goodreads challenge. I was thinking about combining them, but that somehow feels like cheating, though it really is not. Therefore, I just made up another one. We’ll see how I will manage this year. Good luck with all your reading or personal challenges in 2016.

1. Goodreads Reading Challenge 2016

2016 Reading Challenge

Goal: 45 books

Last year I did not quite manage to read 45 books, but I will attempt it again this year. I think that will be a tough one especially since there are still more changes about to happen in my life. So there might be quite a few times where I simply don’t have the time or energy, but you never know.

2. Attack on the TBR pile 2016 (personal challenge)

TBR challenge

Goal: 10 books

My TBR pile slowly increases and though I read a bit, there are more incoming books than outgoing especially since my library is so incredibly tempting. But I will try to read some that have been on my TBR pile for a while. The books that add themselves to my TBR pile this year [2016], don’t count here. As I have not managed to achieve my goal in 2015, I will attempt it again this year.

3. Finish Series Challenge 2016 (personal challenge)

The Series Challenge

Goal: finish 5 series

There is a wonderful Finish-Book-Series Challenges out there but their goals are just way to high for me. If I manage to finish 5 series (trilogies, multiple book series etc.) that would be quite an achievement. However, this year I will officially add audiobooks to the list. Thus, when I finish a series that I listen to as audiobooks this year, I will add that as well.

4. Audiobook Challenge 2016

Goal: 30 audiobooks

Since I have discovered the joy of listening to audiobooks, I will also attempt an audiobook challenge. As there are quite some changes coming this year, I am not sure how much time I will actually have. Therefore a goal of 30 audiobooks this years is hopefully manageable. We’ll see :)

Report on my Reading Challenges 2015

1. Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015

https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/challenges/2015/reading_challenge_badge-1d630b4e2d13af2e539be9328d0afa68.png

Goal: 45 books
Achieved: 41 books

I did attempt 45 books and managed to read 41. I am quite proud of this though I did not manage to fulfill the goal. Yet, if I would have added audiobooks to my goodreads challenge, I would have managed. Altogether I managed to listen to about a 100 stories over the past year.

1. Thomas Herrmanns – Das Tomatensaft-Mysterium: Fliegen in der Comedy Class
2. Sarah J. Maas – The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
3. Patrick Carman – Strengstens Verboten: Wilkommen im Hotel Whippet
4. Beth Revis – Across the Universe
5. Shawn T. Odyssey – Oona Crate und das dunkle Geheimnis des Orakels
6. Terry Deary – Abgefahrene Ägypter
7. Renée Holler – Das Geheimnis des goldenen Salamanders
8. Charlaine Harris – A Bone To Pick
9. Andreas H. Schmachtl – Hieronymus Frosch: Das hat die Welt noch nicht gesehen
10. John Farman – The Very Bloody History of Britain
11. Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire
12. Bette A. Stevens – Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s Tale
13. Rae Carson – The Crown of Embers
14. Katharina M. Mylius – Bloody Rosemary
15. Jennifer Estep – Touch of Frost
16. Octavia E. Butler – Parable of the Talents
17. Rae Carson – The Bitter Kingdom
18. Grace Draven – Radiance
19. Maria V. Snyder – Storm Glass
20. Grace Draven – Master of Crows
21. Sarah J. Maas – The Assassin and the Desert
22. Nina Blazon – Laqua: Der Fluch der schwarzen Gondel
23. Sarah J. Maas – The Assassin and the Underworld
24. Richard Stark – The Handle
25. Jessica Fletscher and Donald Bain – Coffee, Tea or Murder?
26. Emma Grey – Schuld war nur der Tee
27. Kai Meyer – Seide und Schwert
28. Frank M. Reifenberg und Gina Mayer – Die Schattenbande legt los
29. Josephine Angelini – Goddess
30. M.J. Haag – Depravity
31. Agatha Christie – Sad Cypress
32. Paula Hawkins – Girl on the Train
33. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods
34. Claudia Gray – A Thousand Pieces of You
35. Ursula Neeb – Die Hurenkönigin
36. Rob Reef – Stableford: Ein Golf-Krimi aus Cornwall
37. Peter Gaymann und Andreas Hauffe – Der Weihnachtsmann kann einpacken
38. Kirsten John – Gefährliche Kaninchen feiern Weihnachten
39. Lauren Alleyne – Difficult Fruit
40. Andreas H. Schmachtl – Tilda Apfelkern: Alle warten auf Weihnachten
41. Andreas H. Schmachtl – Tilda Apfelkern:Oh du schöne Weihnachtszeit

2. Attack on the TBR pile 2015 (personal challenge)

TBR challenge

Goal: 10 books
Achieved: 6 books

Most of the books I read this year were borrowed from the library or friends and since I had to get them back in a timely manner, I only picked 6 from my TBR.

1. Renée Holler – Das Geheimnis des goldenen Salamanders
2. Charlaine Harris – A Bone To Pick
3. Andreas H. Schmachtl – Hieronymus Frosch: Das hat die Welt noch nicht gesehen
4. John Farman – The Very Bloody History of Britain
5. Rae Carson – The Crown of Embers
6. Rae Carson – The Bitter Kingdom

3. Finish Series Challenge 2015 (personal challenge)

The Series Challenge

Goal: finish 5 series
Achieved: 3 (when I count only books)
7 (when I include finished audiobook series)

I managed to finish three series in book form. Yet when I count in audiobooks, I have finished 7 series. Some of them will be continued within the next year, but I have caught up with the ones published.

1. Octavia E. Butler – Parable Duology
– Parable of the Sower
– Parable of Talents

2. Rae Carson – Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy
– The Girl of Fire and Thorns
– The Crown of Embers
– The Bitter Kingdom

3. Josephine Angelini – Starcrossed Trilogy
– Starcrossed
– Dreamless
– Goddess

4. Iny Lorentz – Auswanderer Saga (Audiobook)
– Das goldene Ufer
– Der weiße Stern
– Das wilde Land

5. Sabine Marin – Henkerin Reihe (Audiobook)
– Die Henkerin
– Die Tränen der Henkerin

6. Rita Falk – Franz Eberhofer Reihe (Stand 2015) (Audiobook)
– Winterkartoffelknödel
– Dampfnudelblues
– Grießnockerlaffäre
– Sauerkrautkoma
– Zwetschgendatschikompott

7. Oliver Pötzsch – Henkerstochter Reihe (Stand 2015) (Audiobook)
– Die Henkerstochter
– Die Henkerstochter und der Schwarze Mönch
– Die Henkerstochter und der König der Bettler
– Der Hexer und die Henkerstochter
– Die Henkerstochter und der Teufel von Bamberg