My Reading Month January

My reading year 2014 started pretty good. I think I have left my reading slump behind.  I managed 6 books already, which I think is a good start. Let’s see how it continues.

Marissa Meyer – Scarlet

I started my reading year with Scarlet and it was a very good start. This second installment in the Lunar Chronicles series was even better than the first. I haven’t had many books that were better than the first one, usually they are worse. But not Scarlet. I enjoyed the continuation of the story of Cinder. I thoroughly enjoyed Scarlet’s story line (which wasn’t as predictable as was Cinder’s in the previous novel) and I liked how the story came together. I am very much looking forward to the next book.

flut und fangzähne 2

Marcus Sedgwick – Flut und Fangzähne

This is a lovely, weird and quirky adventure story with a weird and quirky family. Raven Edgar lives in the castle with the family Otherhand and believes to be the only intelligent and not constantly self-involved member of the family. He is the first who notices the danger the castle and the family is in. It’s a fun read with a lovely narrator, a house with an own will, danger, adventure, and a hero raven.

Jennifer E. Smith – Die Statistische Wahrscheinlichkeit für Liebe auf den Ersten Blick

I actually picked this book up because of the title. It intrigued me. Two young people meet on a plane ride across the Atlantic and connect before they are thrown back into their own lives and realities. How much time do you need to impress someone or to feel connected? The book was entertaining and raised some interesting issues when both protagonists faced their problems and fears.

die statistische wahrscheinlichkeit

Agatha Christie – Cat Among The Pigeons

Another interesting, entertaining, and somewhat thrilling crime story, with not enough Poirot in it. Again I wasn’t sure for a very long time who the murderer could be or what the motive is. In the early part of the investigation I though I knew, only the be thrown again. But a good read through and through.

Uschi Flacke – Das Mädchen mit den Seidenraupen

Another historical young adult novel. The story is set in 16th century Lyon and the author described the time and setting so vividly that I felt like I could smell it. The descriptions were beautiful, the story interesting (I learned about silk and silk production in the 16th century), and the protagonist annoying, but she was young. 🙂

das mädchen mit den seidenraupen

Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades

This is a lovely short story which is set between The Battle of the Labyrinth (the 4th book) and The Last Olympian (the final book in the series). This is again a wonderful story. I had to laugh so many times. I just love Percy Jackson!
And with this book you get two in one. If you turn the book, you get another – Horrible Histories: Groovy Greeks which is a short and funny telling of ancient Greek history.

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December/January Book Haul

Marissa Meyer’s Scarlet and Pauline Francis’ Rabenlady/Raven Queen where the two books I got for Christmas and since I have already read them and the review will be up shortly or is already up, I won’t do a whole blurb-what-I-think-about-it thing on it.

But here are the books I bought in January. I really shouldn’t have gone on Ebay right after Christmas. People really want to get rid of their books. Which is good for me, but bad for my shelves. There is no space on them anymore… Anyway.

Petra Schier – Suche Weihnachtsmann biete Hund

Julia ist das Alleinsein satt. Am Heiligabend möchte sie endlich nicht mehr einsam sein. Also gibt sie eine Anzeige auf: „Vorzeigbarer Weihnachtsmann zwischen fünfundzwanzig und fünfundvierzig gesucht.“ Doch alle Schreiben, die sie erhält, sind an einen Mann gerichtet. Will sie da jemand zum Narren halten? Julia braucht eine Weile, bis sie begreift, dass höhere Mächte im Spiel sind, die ihr bei der Suche nach dem Glück helfen wollen. Zu ihnen gehört auch Nick, ein äußerst eigensinniger Schäferhund.

After I read my first Christmas novel/novella last year, I just bought another for this year. It’s a long time until Christmas, but it was an offer I couldn’t resist.

Das Fest der Elfen – Phantastische Weihnachtsstorys

Elfen, Geister und die Wahrheit über Santa Claus

Vereiste Täler, dunkle Nächte und winterliche Reiche – hier begehen Elfen, Dämonen und Zauberer ihr höchstes Fest. Könige verfallen weihnachtlicher Magie, Feinde werden zu Verbündeten und Santa Claus findet sein Schicksal.

Another Christmas related book this time a fantasy Christmas book. I have never heard of anything like that before when I saw this at a book store. Well, and since Christmas is gonna be here soon enough… 🙂

January Haul

Trudi Canavan – The Last of the Wilds

The war between the Circlians and Pentadrians is over, but the cost has been high and both sides.

Although the architect of the White’s victory, Auraya feels no joy. Her days are spent trying to reconcile the Dreamweavers and the priesthood, while her sleep is filled with nightmares. The dead haunt her and the only one she trusts to help has vanished.

Still struggling to come to terms with the increasingly powerful memories of the long-dead Mirar, the Dreamweaver, Leiard, flees into the mountains with Emerahl, perhaps the last of the Wilds. Emerahl is powerfully gifted, and helps Leiard to make sense of his strange jumble of memories. What they discover will change his life, and the world, forever…

Trudi Canavan – The Traitor Queen

Events are building to a climax in Sachaka as Lorkin returns from his exile with the Traitor rebels.

The Traitor Queen has given Lorkin the task of brokering an alliance between his people and the Traitors, and Lorkin has had to become a feared black magician in order to harness the power of an entirely new kind of gemstone magic. This knowledge could transform the Guild of Magicians – or make Lorkin an outcast for ever.

What can I say about Trudi. I love her. I think her world building is great, I love her writing. These books screamed my name. I want to finish the Traitor Spy Trilogy and the Traitor Queen is the final installment, so I had to get it. And I decided that I will only start the Age of Five trilogy when I have all of them. Waiting a year for the next installment is challenging, because I forget quite a bit over time. We’re all getting older. 🙂 I know the Age of Five trilogy is already complete, but for now I am collecting.

Jessica Fletcher – Murder on the QE2

Jessica Fletcher, Cabot Cove, Maine’s acclaimed mystery writer, finds herself in treacherous waters when a dream voyage in the transatlantic luxury liner Queen Elizabeth 2 becomes a nightmare journey into danger.

Jessica has accepted an offer that seems too good to be true. All she has to do for a fabulous free trip on the QE2 is give a pair of lectures on the art of the mystery and script a play to entertain her fellow passengers. But when a legendary leading lady is slain, the drama turns deadly. Jessica barely has time to champagne and caviar as she sorts through suspects who include a TV mogul and his trophy wife, a famed Italian chef, a dashing mountain climber, the judge in a notorious California murder trial,and a boatload of other beautiful people with ugly secrets. When murder strikes again, Jessica must combine her sleuthing skills with her writing talents to craft the masterpiece of their mystery-solving career – before the world’s premier floating palace sinks in a sea of blood.

I stumbled across this book by accident and what can I say – I love Murder She Wrote. It’s funny, entertaining, and it has Angela Lansbury. I have read one of those novels before and they are quite good. So I couldn’t resist, when I stumbles across this one.

Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades

Anything Percy Jackson is fantastic!!!! I have nothing more to say. Love him.

Christine & Christopher Russell – The Warrior Sheep Down Under

Tuftella, the Fairest Ewe if All, has been imprisoned in a far and distant land filled with emus, kangaroos…and crocodiles! Only the Warrior Sheep can save her – with a little bit of help their fairy godtingy.
And so the Warrior Sheep head Down Under.
But if their fairy godtingy is supposed to be helping, why does she seem so keen to get rid of them? The Warriors are facing their biggest challenge yet…

This is the third installment in the Warrior Sheep series. I have read the previous ones and when I found this one as a bargain, I had to grab it. It’s gonna be interesting to see how they actually get to Australia. Their way to America in The Warrior Sheep Go West was wonderfully weird already.

Pauline Francis – Rabenlady/ Raven Queen

Rabenlady

Hardcover
Verlag: Kosmos
veröffentlicht: 2009
Seiten: 208

Book on Amazon (Deutsch/English)

Klappentext/Blurb:

Ein Rabe kam in Sichtweite. Er schwebte über uns. Plötzlich nahm ein schwarzer Schatten das ganze Licht weg. Es war ein Falke, der über den Sonnenaufgang flog. Er drehte um und stieß herab. Der Rabe hätte davonkommen können, da war ich mir sicher. Doch er versuchte es erst gar nicht. Er glitt anmutig durch die Luft, bis der Falke ihn mit seinen Klauen erwischte. Selbst da wehrte er sich nicht. Ich sah ihnen nach, bis sie durch noch lautlose Flecken vor der Sonne waren.

Rabenlady schildert die faszinierende und tragische Leben der Lady Jane Grey und erzählt von einer ebenso großen wie dramatische Liebe.

This is a powerful historical novel that brings to life an unforgettable story of love, hope and royal duty, from a hugely talented new author. The life of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen, is all too often remembered as just a line in a history book, but this stunning debut novel reveals the full fascinating and tragic story – a tale of treachery, power struggles, and religious turmoil in the Tudor court. Intricately woven and passionately written, “The Raven Queen” is also a sensitive story of love against all odds that will enchant readers. (Amazon)

In Kürze/In (Very) Short:

+ historischer Jugendroman
+ das Leben und der Aufstieg der Lady Jane Grey
+ erzählt aus der Sicht von Jane und der ihres fiktiven Freundes
+ sensibel, einfühlsam erzählt
– die Erzählung kommt kaum in Schwung und das Ende wirkt gehetzt
+ young adult historical fiction
+ about the life and rise of Lady Jane Grey
+ narrated from Jane’s and a fictional friend’s perspective
+ a sensitive and caring love story
– the story fails to build momentum and the ending seems rushed

Meine Meinung/Opinion:

Als ich über diese Buch gestolpert bin, wusste ich nicht genau worauf ich mich einlasse. Ich hatte von der Autorin noch nichts gehört (ich bin auf dem Gebiet der historischen Romane allerdings auch nicht so bewandert), aber als ich mitbekam, dass es um England und Lady Jane Grey ging, war mein Interesse geweckt.

Das Buch beginnt als Jane einen jungen Mann Ned vor dem Galgen rettet und mit auf die Burg ihrer Eltern bringt. Dabei stellt der Leser schnell fest, dass Ned ein überzeugter Katholik ist, während Jane sich dem neuen Glauben ihres Onkels Heinrich VIII verbunden fühlt. Das ist an sich schon eine spannungsgeladenen Mischung in einer Zeit der religiösen Unsicherheit. Zudem ist Ned auch noch ein einfacher Holzfäller, während Jane direkt mit dem Königshaus verwandt ist. Während also Jane erfolglos versucht sich den zukünftigen Plänen ihres Vaters zu entwinden, ist sie mit den aufsteigenden Gefühlen für Ned überfordert, der wiederum seinen Glauben verheimlicht um zu überleben. Doch wie lange wird das gut gehen?

Das Leben der Jane Grey ist an sich bekannt und die Autorin hält sich auch an die Geschichte, betrachtet den Verlauf aber aus der Sicht der jungen Jane. Pauline Francis stellt lebhaft dar, wie Jane zum Spielball der Macht wird, einer Macht die sie selbst nicht wollte und einer Rolle der sie sich nicht entziehen und der sie nicht entfliehen kann.

Das Buch ist sensibel und einfühlsam geschrieben und bringt durch die beiden Hauptdarsteller die unsichere Zeit der religiösen Ungewissheit näher. Die Geschichte wir abwechselnd von Jane und Ned erzählt und gewehrt dem Leser dadurch Einblick in beide religiösen Gefühlswelten. Es ist in sich ein ruhiges Buch und wer Aktion und Kämpfe sucht, wird sicher ein wenig enttäuscht sein. Leider kommt die Geschichte nicht richtig in Schwung und überspringt zum Ende hin viel um zu einem Abschluss zu gelangen. Jane Greys Regentschaft war nur kurz, trotzdem hätte man daraus mehr machen können. Es wirkte zum Ende hin etwas gehetzt.

When I came across this book I had not idea what I was getting into. I had not heard about the author (though I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to historical fiction), but when I read that this was about Lady Jane Grey, I wanted to read it.

The book begins when Jane save a young man from the gallows tree and takes him to the homestead of her family. We know that Ned is a catholic while Jane is raised in the new faith of her uncle Henry VIII. This in itself is loaded with explosive potential in a time of religious uncertainties. But Ned is also a poor commoner and Jane’s bloodline is royal. Jane tries to wrench from her father’s plans for her and is overwhelmed by her feelings for Ned, who keeps his faith a secret in order to survive. But when will he be discovered?

The life of Lady Jane Grey is known and Pauline Francis sticks to the historical facts, but offers the reader the perspective of Jane (or the version that Francis’ believes her to be). Francis creates a vivid picture of how Jane is a pawn in a game, confronted with power that she herself never wanted and forced into a role that she cannot escape.

The book was written beautifully and with a lot of care and familiarized us with a time of religious uncertainty through the main protagonists Ned and Jane. The story is narrated by Jane and Ned alternately and grants the reader access to both competing religious worlds. This is in itself a quiet book and if you are looking for action and fights, you will be disappointed. Sadly the story does not build momentum and seems to skip things in order to come to a conclusion. Though Lady Jane Grey’s reign was short, Francis could have expanded on that part. Towards the end the story was too rushed.

Fazit:

Ein ruhige, sensible und an sich stimmige Geschichte über Lady Jane Grey auf ihrem Weg zum englischen Thron.

A quiet and sensitive story of Lady Jane Grey and her way to the thrown of England.

Rating:

rating 3

Reading Resolutions 2014

I set up a couple of reading resolutions for this year. I usually don’t sit down at December 31st and think about resolutions because that generally does not work. However, some have been spinning around my head for a while now. So it took me a while to decide which ones to really go for. (I have many wacky ideas and by now I know to wait just a little while before the first start to disappear again or the rational part of my brain takes over). Most of these reading resolutions are my personal challenges. There are probably many versions of those challenges out there, but their goals are often really to high for me. So, I came up with some goals of my own.

1. Reading Challenge 2014

Host: Goodreads
Goal: 65 books

Last year I managed to read 60 books (and my original goal was only 50) and this time I upped the ante and am trying to read 65 books. I think that will be a tough one especially since I am currently still in a little bit of a reading slump, but it’s the beginning of the year. Things will eventually pick up again.

2. Classic Challenge 2014 (personal challenge)

Host: Me
Goal: 6 books

Since my reading is generally quite fantasy heavy and I still have so many unread classics on my shelves, I will try to include more in my everyday reading. So a little challenge might help me to keep up with that resolution. I have put the titles of my classics in a jar and once I finished one, I will just draw the next.

3. Attack on the TBR pile 2014 (personal challenge)

Host: Me
Goal: 12 books

My TBR pile slowly increases and though I read a bit, there are more incoming books than outgoing. So 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 [2014] (and they really do it on their own – they really want to come, you know. Really, I have almost nothing to do with it 🙂 ), don’t count here. It’s quite ambitious, but well, here goes nothing.

4. Finish Series Challenge 2014 (personal challenge)

Host: Me
Goal: finish 5 series

There is a wonderful Finish-Book-Series Challenge called Serial Killer Challenge by Martina from martinabookaholic, but that is just way to high a goal for me. If I manage to finish 5 series (trilogies, multiple book series etc.) that would be quite an achievement.

5. Agatha Christie Challenge (no time limit)

Host: Me
Goal: To read all of Christie’s novels

This is probably the weirdest challenge of all, but I want to read all of Christie’s novels – and those are quite a few. That’s also the reason why there is not time limit to this challenge because it will probably take my entire life to get that done. And as much as I like Christie, there are just so many novels you can read before it gets boring and predictable. This year I would like to finish her Marple mysteries since I have only three more books left. But we’ll see. So here is to a challenge of a lifetime (literally).

Let’s see how well I do. I will keep you posted 🙂

Sarah J. Maas – Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight

paperback
publisher: Bloomsbury
published 2013
pages: 418

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

Crowned By Evil.

Bound By Duty.

Divided By Love.

Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the Kind of Ardalan’s deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies’ blood – but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, puts those she loves at risk.

Torn between her two protectors – a captain and a prince – and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of the kingdom…

In (Very) Short:

+ 2nd installment in the Throne of Glass trilogy
+ entertaining and exiting, ever-increasing narrative pace
+ so many unforseen twists and turns that I am as unsure who to trust
+ fluent writing, beautiful cover, fantastic story world

My Opinion:

This books caught me right in the early stages of my reading slump. I have been reading on this for a long time, not because it was bad, but because I knew I needed to read this in as few sittings as possible. This is not a book where I could read a couple of pages at the doctor’s office and then put it away. So I needed time that I didn’t have and then there was my reading slump.

After Christmas I had the time and the patience to sit down and read again and suddenly I was done in 2 days. This is the second book in the trilogy and continues with Celaena’s life as the kings assassin. She has so far faked the deaths of the people the king sends her out to kill. That arrangement works fine as she is send into distant parts of the kingdom to do her job. Now she has to work within the city walls. Can she keep up the pretense and who is gonna get hurt?

Just like the first book the cover and the back of the book are amazing and beautiful. The writing again is fluid and vivid and draws you deep into the story. The world building continues to amaze and fascinate me and only with a few but precise hints and glimpses here and there can the reader put the secret of Celaena’s origin together before the characters in the book do. The past history of the protagonist is not completely revealed and I hope it will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion in the final installment.

Though the start of the book was a little slow and lengthy for my taste and the lovey-dovey stuff a little too much, it was necessary for the later part of the story. The pace of the narration slowly increased and towards the end of the book I was breathless. The betrayal that Celaena felt was more evident because of the lengthy and love filled beginning.

Maas is able to create twists and turns that I did not see coming and that keep the series so interesting. Like Celaena I am not sure who to trust and at times I am not even sure whether to trust Celaena or not. Since the story is told from the point of view of Celaena, Chao,l and Dorian, the reader is able to perceive the situation within the kingdom as a whole. But there are still so many things unsaid and unexplained. I still need to know more about the Fae, the other kingdoms, Elena, what happened to Kaltain and Dorian’s cousin, and what happened to Sam and why.

Bottom Line:

A wonderfully exiting book with an ever-increasing narrative pace and a story world that I need to know more about.

Rating:

rating 4

Alan Bradley – I am Half-Sick of Shadows

Falvia4-2

Paperback
publisher: Bantam Books
published: 2011
pages: 293

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

It’s Christmas time and Flavia de Luce – eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry – is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luce’s decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starting the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishops Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening shocking conclusion: a body found strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the lists of suspects grows, Flavia must ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.

In (Very) Short:

+ 4th Flavia de Luce mystery
+ funny and entertaining
+ whodunit mystery
+ the relationships between Flavia, Dogger, and her sisters are the basis of the story constellation and the icing on the cake

My Opinion:

The 4th book in the Flavia de Luce mystery series I am Half-Sick of Shadows is again another wonderful read. I am a fan of Flavia, her investigative method, and her wonderful view on her sisters, the town, and the world.

Flavia is the youngest daughter of Colonel de Luce who lost his wife many years ago. He is too busy mourning his late wife and busy with his stamp collection to really pay much attention to his three daughters. While the older daughters love to torment Flavia, his youngest daughter is a passionate chemist, who loves to experiment and occasionally does that on her sisters.

This time the de Luce rent the mansion to a film crew shooting a movie starring the famous Phyllis Wyvern – an actress all three de Luce girls are fans off. After Ms Wyvern agrees to help the church of Bishops Lacey by acting a scene from Romeo and Juliet for their benefit, the entire town is stranded at Buckshaw during a blizzard, only to discover a dead body. Flavia and the police start to investigate.

The cover is a lovely continuation of the previous novels and captivates the eye this time in a lovely read. A little bolder than the previous books in purple, light green and yellow. The writing is fluent and Flavia is wonderfully sarcastic and sometimes as lost and overwhelmed with her sisters attitude as an 11-year-old should be. I particularly like her relationship with the family friend Dogger and the chief investigator Inspector Hewitt. Hewitt and Flavia do butt heads yet he is never disrespectful or condescending towards her.

The mystery itself starts a little late this time around and some readers, who read this solely as a crime story, might be disappointed. I, however, was not. After reading many Christie novels I know that it sometimes takes time before a crime is committed or the investigation begins. And I really enjoy spending time with Flavia, Dogger, and her sisters. The crime was a very nice whodunit (and I honestly wasn’t sure who did it) and the end was interesting, exiting, surprising and explosive to say the least. A very good read.

Bottom Line:

An entertaining and funny read with a wonderfully nosy and wicked Flavia and an explosive finale.

Rating:

rating 5

My Reading Month December

My November reading slump continued way into December and picked up again towards the end. During the Christmas days I finally found the leisure and peace to sit down and read a little more and I did read five books this month.

December Haul

Alan Bradley – I am Half Sick of Shadows

My first book this month was the fourth Flavia de Luce mystery. I enjoyed this one as much as the previous books. It is funny, entertaining, I really like the dynamic between Falvia and Dogger, and the crime itself gives the book a nice whodunit touch. If you, however, intend to read the book as a crime story, you might be a little disappointed because it takes quite a while for the crime to take place and the investigation to start. But I read the books because of Flavia, so I wasn’t disappointed but enjoyed my crime free time with her as well as her investigation.

Petra Schier – Vier Pfoten unterm Weihnachtsbaum

I have read my first Christmas novel and I honestly did not know what to expect. I have watched my fair share of soppy Christmas movies, so I thought when in the right mood… The story itself (as most other Christmas story) was fairly predictable, but I wanted a happy end and all that. It was a good and light read that made a rainy day a little easier to endure.

William Shakespeare – Julius Caesar

Since I have so many classic authors on my shelfs because of my studies, I though I’ll try to pick up one of those every once in a while and the first one was Julius Caesar. I don’t feel like I am ready to write a good review about it yet because I will have to read a few more of his works (for comparison). I know I did not enjoy this as much as The Tempest, but Shakespeare has always been good so far.

Sarah J. Maas – Crown of Midnight

I finally finished this book after a long break. I knew that I needed to read Crown of Midnight in as few sittings as possible. This is not one of those books where I read a couple of pages and put it down again. In the first pages I was a little disappointed because it was quite soppy. The focus was on the relationship which was nice but a little too much. That’s another reason it lay for a while on my nightstand. I just wasn’t in the mood. However, the pace of the narration and the story itself increased soon and in hindsight this (for me) prolonged love thingy was necessary to understand the later actions. I was riveted throughout the rest of the book. Not as good as the first, but good.

Pauline Francis – Rabenlady

This was a young adult historic novel that I stumbled upon short before Christmas break and my mother (sneaky as always) secretly bought it for me. It’s about the young Lady Jane Grey (the Queen of England for nine days before Mary Tudor reclaimed the throne) and her life and way to the throne. While she was a historic figure, her potential love interest was imagined, but the story itself was beautiful, somewhat tranquil, and sad. Though the pace of the story was slow, it was an interesting take on a time in which England was midst religious uncertainty – a good read.