Audiobook Experiment – Sophie Kinsella

As I have mentioned before I have started to listen to audiobooks. I was always reluctant as I honestly thought that it would be to boring and my attention would drift away from the narration all the time. Surprisingly that is not the case. Although it took me quite a while to get myself to listen to an audiobook, I have recently discovered that they keep my mind distracted enough from the exhaustion I feel when I run in the morning (well the speed is probably more of a crawl than a run, but I move).

The first book I listened to was Sophie Kinsella Remember Me?, but I listened to this in German thus the review will be in German with a quick note in English at the end of this entry.

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audiobook/Hörbuch
gelesen von Diana Staehly
time/Zeit: 239 min
publisher/Verlag: DVA

Blurb:

Als Lexi Smart im Krankenhaus aufwacht, ist sie schockiert: Nach einem Unfall sind die letzten drei Jahre komplett aus ihrer Erinnerung gelöscht. Die junge Frau mit dem Mercedes-Cabrio, dem Chefposten und dem millionenschweren Ehemann soll sie sein? Und dann taucht da auch noch ein höchst attraktiver Mann auf, der behauptet, eine leidenschaftliche Affäre mit ihr zu haben. Gelingt es ihr diese Chaos in Ordnung zu bringen? Und vor allem: Wird sie je wieder herausfinden, wer sie wirklich ist?

In Kürze:

+ die Geschichte war kurz und kurzweilig wie Kinsella halt so ist
+ das Hörbuch wurde wunderbar gelesen von Diana Staehly
+ die Hauptdarstellerin war mir sehr sympathisch
+ die Handlung war interessant wenn auch vorhersehbar
+ leichte Sommerlektüre

Meine Meinung:

Lexi Smart wacht nach einem Unfall im Krankenhaus auf und kann sich plötzlich an die letzten Jahre in ihrem Leben nicht mehr erinnern. Sie ist nicht nur mit einem Ehemann konfrontiert, den sie nicht kennt, sondern auch mit einem fordernden Chef, hinterhältigen Kollegen, dem attraktiven Geschäftspartner ihres Mannes – einfach einem ganz neuen Leben.

Skeptisch bin ich gegenüber Chick Lit immer ein wenig. Zwar habe ich schon einige Romane von Sophie Kinsella gelesen und sie auch genossen, aber leider gingen mir die Hauptdarstellerinnen doch das ein oder andere mal auf den Keks. Daher war ich nicht sicher, ob dies das richtige Genre für mein Experiment mit Hörbüchern ist, aber wer nicht wagt…

Ich war sehr positiv überrascht. Die Geschichte war sehr schön, wenn auch vorhersehbar. Die Hauptdarstellerin sympathisch und angenehm. Das hören war dementsprechend ein kleines Erlebnis.

Meiner Meinung nach lag diese positive Überraschung zu großen Teilen an der wunderbaren Lesung von Diana Staehly. Durch ihre freche, lockere und sympathische Art war mit die Geschichte niemals zu viel oder zu nervig, die Hauptdarstellerin erschien mir selten naiv und nervend.

Fazit:

Wie die Geschichte ausgeht, kann man sich denken, aber trotzdem ist es eine entspannte, witzige, leichte Unterhaltung, die besonders an warmen Sommertagen fast schon erfrischt.

Despite my reluctance to listen to audiobooks and to start off with a chick lit novel from Kinsella, it was a great experience and got me into the habit of listening to books.

The story is predictable: woman wakes up in hospital after accident and has forgotten the past years. She is confronted with a husband she does not know; a job, a boss, and colleagues that are challenging to say it mildly; and the mysterious but attractive business partner of her husband. Within all this chaos she tries to rediscover her past and define her future.

Aside from the predictability the story is lovely and easy on the ears as is the reader Diana Staehly. It is due to her reading that the main character is not annoying the hell out of me for once (sadly other chick lit characters have done this to and for me) but is rather charming and lovely.

Rating:

rating 3

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Jim C. Hines – The Stepsister Scheme

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paperback
publisher: DAW
published 2009
pages: 344

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures till you finally reach that inevitable line: “And they lived happily every after …” Guess what? It’s not true. Life in never-never land isn’t all sweetness and light. Cinderella – whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (née Danielle de Glas) – does marry Prince Armand. And (if you can ignore the pigeon incident) their wedding is a dream-come-true.

But not long after the “happily ever after”, Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia – otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty – comes to the rescue (she’s a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away.

That’s when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her own very Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting.

Can the three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some fantasyland’s most nefarious villains?

In (Very) Short:

+ new, refreshing, and kick-butt take on the traditional fairy tale
+ mixture of Charlie’s Angels meets fairy tale princesses
+ an interesting new recreation of the storyworld and the individual tales
– took me a while to warm up to the characters
– maybe a little to drastic change for the young reader

My Opinion:

I have seen many retellings and versions of the traditional fairy tale on TV and lets just say not all of them were that great – some were simply bad. Given my experience I was reluctant to accept any form of fairy tale rewriting. But as they say: I can’t judge a book by its cover and may parents always urged me to judge only things that I know about or in this case have read.

So, with a rather negative predisposition I started this adventure and it was not as bad as I expected. (And given the book cover I expected bad.) It took me a while to warm up to the story and the characters, but I am very glad I read this book.

The recreation and reinvention of the fairy tales are interesting, logical, and necessary to understand the characters’ development into the versions they are in The Stepsister Scheme. The princesses themselves are not damsels in distress that need to be rescued but can rescue themselves and each other. The bond between the girls is refreshing, surprising, and not too stereotypical.

The fairy world so innate to the fairy tale is given a more detailed frame than in the traditional story. The world is far more complex and I hope it gets more attention in the following novels.

The story itself is a closed, but there are a lot more adventures and fairy tales that want to be retold.

Still, aspects of the retelling might be a little too much for the little ones.

Bottom Line:

This book is an interesting retelling of the traditional (in this case 3 traditional) fairy tales with kick-butt heroines, loveable side kicks, and some true love in the midst of things. I intend to pick up the next installment.

Rating:

rating 3

Peter David – Into the Void (Star Trek New Frontier #2)

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paperback
publisher: Pocket Books
published 1997
pages: 151

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

Roll Call:The Crew of the U.S.S.Excalibur:

Captain Mackenzie Calhoun: An unorthodox, decisive young captain who loves his crew and his ship, and loves testing their limits even more.

Commander Shelby: A woman of strong opinions and strong values, Shelby never hesitated to tell her captains when she thought they were wrong, and Mackenzie Calhoun won’t be any exceptional.

Burgoyne 172: The chief engineer of the Excalibur, with the decisiveness of Calhoun, the strength of Shelby, and the gender both. Burgoyne is a Hermat, and when s/he sets his/her sights on you,s/he isn’t and easy…person…to refuse.

As the Thallonian Empire succumbs to violence to violence and insurrection, the U.S.S. Excalibur p prepares to launch on her humanitarian mission of mercy. But her departure is destined to be a memorable one, as Calhoun contends with an unexpected stowaway, a stormy relationship with his crew, and – light-years away – frightened refugees aboard a dying ship.

In (Very) Short:

+ easy, breezy read
+ new adventure, new crew, new problem and hence no entangling with existing story lines
+ divers group of characters and aliens esp. those not common to the occasional Star Trek viewer
+ multiple perspectives from different crew members
– it’s the length of a novella rather than a novel and thus only deals with individual parts of the overall story line

My Opinion:

Just like the first book, House of Cards (Book on Amazon), this story is quite short and crisp. Maybe even a little short for my taste, but at the same time a great in-between read.

As the overall story line is for the ship to go into the Thallonian Empire, we learn about the Starfleet members that make up the crew of the Excalibur. We get to know their relationships and their animosities towards each other.

Similar to House of Cards, where we learn about the captains back story as well as getting glimpses into the Thallonian Empire, Into the Void also gives the reader inside into different crew members as well as adversaries towards the mission. I thoroughly enjoy the alien component of this stories as we get to read about aliens unseen in the different series and movies.

The novel itself is to short for me personally and ends with a cliffhanger (of course!) leaving the reader hanging as well as ensuring me to buy the next one.

Bottom Line:

I love Star Trek and that’s why I love the book. This is a nice, exiting read that requires imagination as many aliens are visually unknown to the knowledgeable Star Trek viewer. If you don’t like Star Trek…

Rating:

rating 4

Book Haul June Part 2

I got these lovely books right before the end of June. Part of me is mortified because I barely manage my To Be Read pile. The other part of me just loves to unpack and to have books. There is only very, very little space in my bookshelf left. However, I manage to find a place for these treasures.

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Kristine Cashore – Fire

Blurb:

Her beauty is a weapon – and Fire is going to use it.

Fire’s exceptional beauty gives her influence and power. People who are susceptible to it will do anything for her attention, and for her affection.

But beauty is only skin deep, and beneath it Fire has a human appreciation of right and wrong. Aware of her ability to influence others, and afraid of it, she lives in a corner of the world away from people – not only to protect them but also to protect herself from their attention, their distrust, and even their hatred.

Yet Fire is not the only danger to the Dells. If she wants to protect her home, if she wants a chance to undo the wrongs of the past, she must face her fears, her abilities, and her royal court full of powerful people with reason to distrust her.

I have read the first installment Graceling and when I started a series I usually want to continue and finish it. Of course I also enjoyed the story. Unlike other trilogies (and this is part of one) the main characters in this book are supposed to have little to no connection to the protagonists of Graceling. I am not sure how all parts are going to connect but I will know once I read it.

Stephenie Meyer – The Host

Blurb:

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of their human hosts, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading soul has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too-vivid memories. But she did not expect that Melanie would refuse to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man she loves – Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires. Wanderer yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search the man they both love.

I have read Meyer’s Vampire books and although they were quite an enjoyable read, I prefer my vampires to burn in the sun and not freaking sparkle. But that is just my personal preference. As this is supposed to be a little bit more alien and maybe even sci-fi like, I want to give it a shot. But apparently it is supposed to be a little lovey-dovey, so I definitely have to be in the mood.

Cassandra Clare – City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments 4)

Blurb:

The Mortal War is over, and Clary Fray is back in New York. She’s training to become a Shadow Hunter and to use her unique power. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And – most important of all – Clary can finally call Chase her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions that could lead to a second bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side – along with the power of the curse that’s wrecking his life. When Jace begins to pull away from Clary without explaining why, she is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: She has set it in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

After I finished the first book City of Bones, I was enraptured. The love story… I could live with that. I surely did not see that development of the first book coming. Yet I have not read the other installments (and I got this as a present). But the next novels are surely on my To Be Read list because it contains some interesting character constellations and mysteries as well as another world-within-our-world story.

Angie Sage – Septimus Heap: Magyk

Blurb:

The Magyk begins here.

Septimus Heap, the seventh son of the seventh son, disappears the night he is born, pronounced dead by the midwife. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across an abandoned child in the snow – a newborn girl with violet eyes. Who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to the Heap’s beloved son Septimus?

I came across these novels in a bargain bin and it sounds like some classic, different world fantasy and magic story. So I hope for an adventure story with a little less romance and until death do us part sentiments.

Moira Young – Blood Red Road (Dust Lands)

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paperback
publisher: McElderry Books
published 2011
pages: 459

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

To escape, she will have to fight.

To survive, she will have to lead.

Saba’s world is shattered when her twin brother, Lugh, is captured by four cloaked horsemen. Determined to rescue him, Saba sets off into the lawless, wasted landscape left behind by the Wreckers. It’s a brutal world where Saba discovers some surprising things about herself: She is a fierce fighter, a cunning opponent, and above all, an unbeatable survivor. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang girl warriors called the Free Hawks, Saba is off to save her brother – and maybe her whole world.

In (Very) Short:

+ post apocalyptic, dystopian novel
+ fast paced story
+ a heroine that I could not identify with but that I learned to respect
+ an annoying but loveable little sister who is more fierce and tough than anyone could have expected
– had to get used to the language and the missing quotation marks

My Opinion:

When Saba’s twin brother Lugh is captured, she sets out to rescue him. Followed by her stubborn little sister, who Saba would have loved to leave behind and die, she faces the world beyond her home.

On her way to her brother she learns to survive, to trust her fighting instincts (the Red Hot) and to accept help.

Saba is not the most sympathetic character when we meet her. She is narrow-minded, stubborn, has anger management issues and the only important thing in her life is her twin brother.

She would walk over dead bodies to save him including her little sister Emmi’s, who she hates. This feeling between the sisters is mutual and the only reason they stick together is to fin Lugh.

Although I understand that Saba is annoyed by Emmi (the child never does what she is told), Saba is supposed to be the grown up. But she cannot control her dislike for her little sister. Instead of trusting Emmi’s instincts – something I as a reader was willing two do after the first incident – Saba ignores and berates her.

Despite my initial reluctance to identify or at least like Saba, I learn to respect her. She tries hard to change and trust people, although it could potentially bite her in the butt.

The dynamic between the main characters is quite obvious and almost a little stereotypical. Yet the mystery surrounding Jack makes me question his true intentions. Throughout the story little hints and tidbits where left, which made me wonder how he fits into the whole picture.

Although the story is closed, there are many cliffhangers for further installments. What is the role of the mysterious Demalo, what will happened to the country now, what is Jacks true motivation, what will happen to the Free Hawks and the Raiders?

Bottom Line:

I had a lot of difficulties getting used to the language and the missing quotation marks. I have played with the thought of interrupting the book because it was so distracting to me. But I am very glad I didn’t do that. This book is an interesting take on the dystopian, post apocalyptic genre, with a heroine that I felt ambivalent towards and a story that left many questions open. Rebel Heart here I come.

Rating:

rating 4

Maria V. Snyder – Poison Study

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paperback
publisher: Mira Books
published 2007 (first published 2004)
pages: 409

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

CHOOSE:

A QUICK DEATH OR SLOW POISON…

Yelena has a choice-be executed for murder or become food taster to the Commander of Ixia. She leaps at the chance for survival, but her relief may be short-lived.

Life in the palace is full of hazards and secrets. Wily and smart, Yelena must learn to identify poisons before they kill her, recognise whom she can trust and how to spy on those she can’t. And who is the mysterious Southern sorceress who can reach into her head?

When Yelena realises she has extraordinary magical powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic in Ixia is punishable by death…

In (Very) Short:

+ fast paced story full of mystery, intrigue, politics, and a little magic
+ a protagonist who acquires skills and then becomes heroic
+ wonderful sidekicks
+ a protagonist that is fine with being saved
+ loving relationships between characters that are not necessarily romantic

My Opinion:

Yelena can choose between being hanged or becoming the food taster for the Commander. One way her life will surely end, the other it might just take a little longer. So, she becomes the next food taster.

The reader is thrown into the life at court, a life of politics, spies, assassination attempts, and an opportunity to run from the past.

Yelena is not instantly heroic. She is attacked and has to be saved several times. Something she accepts and does not resent. As she learns to distinguish all the poisons, she also learns how to defend herself and how to fight. Her ability as an acrobat is an advantage, but Yelena still has a hard time to acquire skills.

Although the supernatural aspect of her life furthers her skills and helps her development as a fighter, it is not the dominant factor that drives the narration. Magic is important when the story unfolds yet it is not the only aspect that makes Yelena special.

The story itself is a mixture of mystery, political thriller, and fantasy and lives from its characters. The novels sidekicks (Mag, Janco, Ari, etc.) create a divers range of relationships that are heart warming and also offer comic relief.

Bottom Line:

It is a fast paced story that lives from its action as well as from the characters relationships. Yelena resembles more of a “normal” girl (despite her magic) who has to learn to survive and trust. A mixture of Rae Carson’s Elisa and Sarah J Mass’ Celaena. I am looking forward to Magic Study.

Rating:

rating 5

Book Haul May/June Part 1

I do love to read books but I also love to buy books. So walking past a bargain is almost impossible for me. So when I found these bargains in a German bookstore I could not walk past them and gave them a new home.

book haul 1

Jasper Fforde – One of Our Thursdays is Missing (A Thursday Next Novel)

Blurb:

IT IS A TIME OF UNREST IN THE BOOKWORLD

Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?

All is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, eager to prove herself worthy of her illustrious namesake.

The fictional Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego, and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.

I have already read Fforde’s young adult novel The Last Dragonslayer which I thoroughly enjoyed and the sequel to this book is already on my wish list. This, however, is one of his more adult suited novels which I have been standing in front of for quite a while now. Since it is part of the series and of course not the first book I have yet to discover if they are meant to be read in a certain order or if I could start with this one right away.

William Goldman – The Princess Bride

Blurb:

Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Wesley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune she vows never to love another. When she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts – who never leaves survivors – her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife as will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautiful ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles.

I have seen the movie many years ago as it is a cult classic film (that’s what it says on the cover of the book) and when I saw the cover, I could not put it back. I think it’s a beautiful cover and when the mood strikes a fairytale might be just the right thing to read on a calm and relaxing day.

Margaret George – Elizabeth I (A Novel)

Blurb:

1588. The legendary Elizabeth Tudor, history’s most enigmatic queen, is at the height of her power. She is the virgin with many suitors; the victor of the Armada who hated, war the jewel-bedecked woman always pinching pennies.

Elizabeth’s flame-haired cousin Lettice Knollys, is her bitter rival. In love with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth’s throne, Lettice’s life has been intertwined with Elizabeth’s since childhood.

This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire: one trying to protect her country and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family. Their rivalry soon involves everyone close to Elizabeth – from famed courtiers who enriched the crown to the legendary poets and playwrights.

And, for Elizabeth, to be married to her people means she must rule as much with her heat as with her head…

I have been circling this book for a while now. I have started to read historical novels just recently and I started with German authors and books. I have read only one book by Phillipa Gregory and I think she must have written hundreds by now. So I start to widen my palate and dive into some Tudor fiction. Anyway I have studied English literature and culture (not hat I remember a lot), but I have been and still am quite fascinated with Queens and Kings of England. I know this is fiction, but I am looking forward to see how much I still remember about Elizabeth Tudor (well Margaret George is not gonna make up new historical facts now is she).

Sara Paretsky – Deadlock

Blurb:

Boom Boom’s body was found floating near the docks, chewed up and spat out by a ship’s propeller. More like brother and sister than cousins, Vic and Boom Boom looked out for each other. Boom Boom grew up to be an ice hockey hero, and Vic a private eye.

And now V.I. Warshawski would like to know how, exactly, her cousin died….

The good old crime fiction genre can never let me go or I can’t let go of it. I have read many crime stories for my many courses, papers, and thesis and although I do favor a little Agatha Christie for a night-time read (as I find her quite calming), I have enjoyed earlier books by Sara Paretksy about detective Warshawski. Still a little too much hard-boiled heroine I want to know if the protagonist is still the same she has been when Paretsky started 25 years ago.

Alexander McCall Smith – Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (An Isabel Dalhousie Novel)

Blurb:

Isabel Dalhousie thinks often of friends, sometimes lovers, and on occasion of chocolate. As an Edinburgh philosopher she is certain of where she stands. She can review a book called In Praise of Sin with panache and conviction, but real life is … well, perhaps a bit more challenging – particularly when it comes to her feelings for Jaimie, a younger man who should have married her niece Cat.

And more disturbance is in store. When Cat takes a break in Italy, Isabel agrees to run her delicatessen. One of the customers, she discovers, has recently had a heart transplant and is now being plagued by memories that cannot be rationally explained and which he feels do not belong to him.

Isabel is intrigued. So intrigued that she finds herself plunging headlong into another risky investigation…

I love his No. 1 Detective Agency novels. They are very calming (again a good night-time read), beautifully written and take the reader into a very different world at least me as a European. Since I have enjoyed those books I do have to have a look at this one because I wonder in how far it is similar in style and pace. I do hope it is quite relaxing as there are just so many Agatha Christies out there.