Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant #2)

Skulduggery Pleasant 2

Paperback
publisher: Harper Collins
published: 2009
Pages: 416

Blurb:

Skulduggery and Valkyrie are facing a new enemy: Baron Vengeous, who is determined to bring back the terrifying Faceless Ones and is crafting an army of evil to help him. Added to that, Vengeous is about to enlist a new ally (if he can raise it from the dead): the horrible Grotesquery, a very unlikable monster of legend.
Once Vengeous is on the loose, dead bodies and vampires start showing up all over Ireland. Now pretty much everybody is out to kill Valkyrie, and the daring detective duo faces its biggest challenge yet.
But what if the greatest threat to Valkyrie is just a little closer to home? (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ the second book in the series
+ witty and hilarious dialogues
+ likeable and relateable female protagonist

My Opinion:

Since this is the second book in a series, the following review might and probably will contain spoilers.
Stephanie is learning to control her magic, she is Skulduggery trusty colleague and she enjoys her life surrounded by magic, weird creatures and sleuthing skeletons. After defeating Serpine, another super villain seems to be on the rise, Baron Vengeous and he wants to bring the Grotesquery back to life, a creature that can call back the Faceless Ones. Skullduggery and his team now have to do everything to stop that or the world will end – once again.

I am not necessarily sure in how far this really is a detective story since the main protagonist – the skeleton – calls himself a detective. There are some elements there and he uses deduction, yet the book reads more like a magical adventure story than a crime story.

It is great to meet old and witty friends such as Skulduggery, Stephanie, Tanith, China Sorrows and her brother. But I also really like the villains. They are such a divers group driven by different motives, some adhering to their own code, others having no code at all.

Stephanie is a likeable and relateable character. Though she is getting the hang of the whole magic thing, she does fail, she needs to be saved and she is hurt multiple times. I like that she is not a hero overnight and that she learns slowly. I also enjoyed the scenes where she reflects on her family and all the things she misses out on. I don’t think she will change anything because she loves what she does so much, but she does acknowledge it at least.

The writing is wonderful, the dialogues extremely witty. “We’re not retreating, we’re advancing in reverse.” – is just one wonderful example. The narrative pace was thrilling and captivating, the characters are loveable, rounded and still mysterious, the story is concluded but we still don’t know who the one responsible behind it all is. Thus, leaving ample material for new adventures.

Bottom Line:

A wonderful exiting adventure story with great character, witty dialogue and interesting villains.

Rating:

rating 4

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Alan Bradley – The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag/ Mord ist kein Kinderspiel

Flavia de Luce allgemein

Audiobook
published: 2010

Blurb/ Klappentext:

Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacy are over—and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer has had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets.
Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Brontë sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head? (Amazon)

Nie zuvor hat die junge Flavia de Luce einen so aufregenden Theaterabend erlebt: Der begnadete Puppenspieler Rupert Porson schlägt das Publikum in seinen Bann, und beim furiosen Finale gibt es sogar eine echte Leiche! Die Polizei tappt zunächst im Dunkeln. Nur die brillante Hobbydetektivin Flavia findet heraus, dass jemand die elektrische Anlage der Bühne manipuliert hat. Doch schon bald stellt sich die bange Frage, ob die neugierige Flavia ganz allein gegen den Strippenzieher in diesem mörderischen Marionettenspiel bestehen kann … (Amazon)

In (Very) Short/ In Kürze:

+ Flavia de Luce’s second crime
+ a likeable characters, funny interactions and a trusty bike called Gladys
+ an interesting crime story
+ Flavias zweiter Fall
+ liebenswerte Figuren, unterhaltsame zwischenmenschliche Interaktionen und die gute alte Gladys
+ ein spannender Kriminalfall

My Opinion/ Meinung:

Flavia de Luce’s second mystery is as entertaining as her first one. This time a famous puppeteer is electrocuted during one of his shows and all of Bishop’s Lacy is watching – including Flavia and her family sitting in the first row. Of course, Flavia can’t help but put her nose where it doesn’t belong (according to the chief investigator), but what can she do. She is curious and small enough for people not to take her to serious, yet she has a keen sense of observation. After discovering an array of possible suspects, hidden pasts and more or less interesting secrets it might just be that Flavia is in over her head.

I enjoyed this book and this audiobook as much as the last. The story developed at a decent pace which was neither to fast or to slow, the crime was not to gruesome or at least I didn’t read it as that, the writing was fluent, detailed, effortless and the narrator (though I only listened to it in German) was fantastic.

This time the focus of the investigation has shifted from Flavia’s family to the town of Bishop’s Lacy. Thus, the author came up with a fascinating bunch of characters inhabiting the town (in addition to the ones introduced in the last book): a madwoman from the woods, another rather weird woman seemingly praying in the dovecote, reproachful and fretful women, a former POW, a weed smoking puppeteer.

The current case is interwoven with past mysteries, Flavia still gets “tortured” by her sisters, and of course there is a lot of chemistry.

Flavia’s zweiter Fall ist so unterhaltsam wie ihr Erster. Diesmal wird ein berühmter Puppenspieler während einer Vorstellung von einem Stromschlag getötet und fast ganz Bishop’s Lacy schaut zu – auch Flavia und ihre Familie, die in der ersten Reihe sitzen. Natürlich kann sich Flavia nicht zurückhalten und steckt ihre Nase in Dinge, die sie nichts angehen (meint zumindest der Ermittler). Sie ist neugierig und jung genug um nicht für voll genommen zu werden und sie hat eine ungemein gute Auffassungsgabe und einen guten Spürsinn. Flavia identifiziert eine Menge möglicher Verdächtiger, deckt dunkle Vergangenheiten auf und enthüllt mehr oder weniger wichtige Geheimnisse. Je mehr Entdeckungen sie macht, desto gefährlicher wird es für sie. Ist sie der Situation vielleicht doch nicht gewachsen?

Mit hat dieses Buch wie auch das Hörbuch wieder sehr gut gefallen. Die Erzählung hat sich langsam aber stetig entwickelt und war dabei weder zu langsam, so dass man nicht mehr weiterlesen wollte, noch zu schnell, so dass man nicht folgen konnte. Der Beschreibungen und der Fall kamen mir nicht besonders grausam und blutrünstig vor. (Natürlich ist es kein schöner Tod – falls es so etwas überhaupt gibt – aber es kommt einem beim Lesen nicht gruselig und ekelig vor.) Der Schreibstil war flüssig, detailliert, leicht und mühelos und Andrea Sawatzki als Sprecherin war wieder einmal fantastisch.

Diesmal lag der Fokus der Geschichte primär auf dem Dorf und den Bewohnern von Bishop’s Lacy und nicht auf Flavia’s Familie wie im Buch davor. Daher ist in diesem Buch eine interessant und außergewöhnlich Ansammlung von Charakteren zusammengekommen: eine verrückte Alte aus dem Wald, eine anderes verrückte Frau, die in einem Taubenschlag betet, unzufriedene und oftmals auch gehässige Frauen, ein ehemaliger Kriegsgefangener und ein kiffender Puppenspieler.

Der Fall ist mit dunklen Geheimnissen aus der Vergangenheit verwoben, Flavia wird immer noch von ihren Schwestern gequält und es geht wieder um viel Chemie!

Bottom Line/ Fazit:

It is an entertaining and fun second mystery.

Ein unterhaltsamer und guter zweiter Fall.

Audiobook Review/Kurzrezi: Eva Völler – Zeitenzauber: Die Magische Gondel & Hilke Rosenboom – Die Teeprinzessin

The following audiobooks are written by German authors and read in German, so the review will be in German as well. I don’t think they will be published in English at all. The first novel is a fantasy/time travel novel in which a young girl travels back in time during her visit in Venice and is suppose to stop something horrible from happening. If she can’t, she will be stuck in the past. The second book is a young adult historical novel about a young girl, who disguises herself as a boy and travels to China to buy tea and meets quite a few adventures. Both were a joy to listen to.

Eva Völler – Zeitenzauber: Die Magische Gondel

Klappentext:

Venedig 2009: Die 16-jährige Anna genießt ihre Sommerferien. Bei einem Stadtbummel erweckt eine rote Gondel ihre Aufmerksamkeit. Seltsam. Sind in Venedig nicht alle Gondeln schwarz? Kurz darauf wird Anna im Gedrängel einer Bootsparade ins Wasser gestoßen und von einem jungen Mann in die rote Gondel gezogen und befindet sich plötzlich im Jahr 1499! Anna muss nun in dieser Epoche zurechtkommen. Sie sucht Sebastiano, den Jungen, der sie hierher geholt hat, damit er sie zurück ins Jahr 2009 bringt. Doch dann erfährt sie, dass die rote Gondel erst zum nächsten Mondwechsel wiederkommt. (Amazon)

Meinung:

Handlung: Anna genießt ihre Ferien in Venedig nur um plötzlich in der Zeit zurück zu reisen. Dabei soll sie ein Ereignis verhindern ansonsten kommt sie nicht wieder ins 21. Jahrhundert zurück. Aber keiner sagt ihr welches. Die Handlung ist durchgehend flott und gut aufgebaut. Es wird nicht langweilig. Die Beschreibungen der Zeit und der Stadt sind detailliert, schaden der Spannung und dem Erzähltempo aber nicht. Ich hätte auf die ewig wiederkehrende Toiletteproblematik das ein oder andere Mal verzichten können.

Charaktere: Die Figuren waren sympathisch und gut gezeichnet. Vielleicht manchmal ein wenig nervig, aber recht liebenswert.

Schreibstil: Flüssig, angenehm, schnell. Das ich dies als Hörbuch gehört habe, fand ich es sehr angenehm und er hat mich schnell in die Geschichte gezogen.

Fazit: Ein gelungener Zeitreiseroman, der gut gelesen wurde und gut unterhält.

Hilke Rosenboom – Die Teeprinzessin

Klappentext:

Hamburg 1859: Die 15-jährige Betty Henningson fasst einen kühnen Plan. Anstelle ihres Kindheitsfreundes Anton schifft sie sich in Richtung China ein, um dort eine Teelieferung entgegenzunehmen. Als entdeckt wird, dass sie ein Mädchen ist, muss sie in Kalkutta von Bord und beschließt, sich nach Darjeeling durchzuschlagen. Dort trifft sie ihre große Liebe, den jungen Teehändler John Francis Jocelyn wieder. Seine Mutter, eine ehemalige chinesische Hofdame, regiert die chinesische Teemafia – und ist hinter dem Tee her, den Betty erworben hat. Henriette Hübschmann entführt die Hörer mit ihrer erfrischenden Stimme an die attraktivsten Schauplätze Asiens – Shanghai, Kanton und Darjeeling. (Amazon)

Meinung:

Handlung: Betty muss nach Hamburg, wo sie als Dienstmädchen anfängt und von einem Chaos in das nächste stürzt. Sie lässt sich auf einen Deal ein und geht als Junge verkleidet auf die Reise um Tee für ein Teehaus zu erstehen. Dabei macht sie auch Bekanntschaft mit der Teemafia. Der Handlungsbogen ist spannend, auch wenn alles sehr schnell passiert und die Zeit manchmal gerafft wirkt. Ich habe mich oft gefragt, wie einer einzigen Person so viel zustoßen kann.

Charaktere: Betty ist vielleicht etwas naiv und stur, aber für ihr Alter eine angenehme und sympathische Protagonistin. Ihr ehemals bester Freund ist ein (Schimpfwort bitte hier einfügen) und ging mir sehr auf den Keks.

Schreibstil: Ein angenehme ruhiger Schreibstil. Er verlangsamt die Handlung nicht, ist jedoch sehr melodisch und weich. Dabei fühlt man sich während des Lesens angenehm beruhigt, möchte aber dennoch wissen, wie es weitergeht. Das hat für ein Hörbuch wunderbar funktioniert.

Fazit: Eine schöne, auch melodische Geschichte mit einer angenehmen wenn auch naiven Protagonistin.

Charlaine Harris – A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden #2)

Charlaine Harris A Bone to Pick

Paperback
publisher: Berkley
published: Reprint 2008
pages: 272

Blurb:

Death comes calling on a small-town librarian whose life is passing her by.
Aurora “Roe” Teagarden’s fortunes change when a deceased acquaintance names her as heir to a rather substantial estate, including money, jewelry, and a house complete with a skull hidden in a window seat. Roe concludes that the elderly women has purposely left her a murder to solve. So she must identify the victim and figure out which one of her new, ordinary-seeming neighbors is a murderer-without putting herself in deadly danger. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ an Aurora Teagarden mystery
+ light and easy read more reminiscent of chick lit
+ not a mystery not a crime story

My Opinion:

Aurora “Roe” Teagarden inherits a fortune, a house, and a skull. After an acquaintance dies and leaves Roe money and a house, she is delighted until she finds the skull. Now she has to decide what to with all that she has inherited and she is left with the task of solving the mystery of the dead person hidden in her new house.

The story was an easy and breezy read. Charlaine Harris has a writing style that will draw you in and not let you go. The story was anything but a mystery. Roe was neither investigating nor doing anything really. She just happens to be at the right place at the right time. She looks what happens around her and asks herself some questions, but basically she does nothing really.

If you don’t read it under the premise of a mystery novel (which I haven’t because I already read another book and I have identified the primary pattern), it is a really enjoyable and quick read. It is more of a chick lit – dealing with her ex, dating another, discussions and problems with her mother – kind of book. It is at least for me.

I enjoyed the read, the characters are quite flat but that doesn’t mater since again I did not expect anything else and was looking for exactly that when I started reading. Something that washes over me.

Bottom Line:

Good read, but nothing to pick up if you really want to read a mystery novel.

Rating:

rating 3

My Reading Month May 2015

May was not necessarily a great reading month, but it was OK. I have read three books and also listened to 3 audiobooks. So, at least I enjoyed six different stories, which is not bad. I really should add my audiobooks to my goodreads challenge. Than I would be ahead of things instead of behind. But let’s get started.

Crown of Embers

Rae Carson – The Crown of Embers

My first read this month was The Crown of Embers, which was the second book in The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy. It was a really enjoyable and fast read, with a likeable yet occasionally short-sighted protagonist, loveable side characters, a lovely word creation and a lot of action right from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Katharina M. Mylius – Bloody Rosemary: Ein Oxford-Krimi

This cozy crime novel was written by a German author and is set in Oxford. The book is Christie-esque, the characters normal and capable to investigate and have a life, the murder mystery was interesting but not gruesome, and there was a lot of intertextual references to other books from the same publisher. Fun and light read.

Touch of Frost Bloody Rosemary

Jennifer Estep – Touch of Frost

I really thought, I am not into the whole special school for special creatures/being kind of thing and I was wrong. Gwen Frost attends a school where the descendants of many historical and mythical people go to school: Vikings, Valkyries, Amazons, Spartans and many more. She doesn’t fit in with her Gypsy gift, she has no friends and then a girl gets killed and her entire world turns upside down. I enjoyed the setting, the story was fast, and the characters likeable.

Audiobooks:

Maggie Stiefvater – Rot wie das Meer/ The Scorpio Races

I have read The Scorpio Races a while ago and I really enjoyed it. And I also enjoyed the audiobook version of it, too. The story is interesting and fantastic yet real and very character driven. I liked both Sean and Puck, I enjoyed the writing which lulled me and drew me in. Still one of my favorites. Maybe because it is a quiet book.

Andrea Sawatzki – Von Erholung war nie die Rede

The second book by this German author follows the Buntschuh family on their vacation where everything seems to get out of control really fast. Annoying mothers and mother-in-laws, even more annoying brothers and sister-in-laws and an even sometimes annoying main protagonist. This time the point of views vary between different characters. It was good and entertaining.

Maggie Stiefvater – Wen der Rabe ruft/ The Raven Boys

The second book by Maggie Stiefvater that I listened to this month was the Raven Boys. It was good book, following Blue, who can connect to ghosts and stuff, and four boys who are looking for an old dude from Wales. I know I should remember more, but I don’t. It was good and interesting, but apparently not so great that I remember. It also had to do with Gypsy things and a ghost and three very different boys and there was murder involved. Again, it was good.

Reading Habits and Rituals #2 with Cathy Ryan

So here is my second reading-habits-and-rituals interview with the lovely Cathy from Between the Lines, who was so generous with her time. I am really happy about this interview.
The post was supposed to be published by the end of May, it is a little later now … well, you know, life sometimes happens.
But let’s get started. First, I will give you a few facts about Cathy (go check out her blog – it’s really great) before diving into the interrogation (sorry, currently working on the defense of my dissertation and hence a lot of crime fiction terminology seems to creep up 🙂 ).

Have fun and enjoy.

1. Where do you like to read? Do you have a special place?

I like to read, or listen, anywhere at anytime but when I’m at home this is my usual place…

IMG_2727

© Cathy Ryan

and I take advantage of any spare minutes to pick up a book or plug myself into the iPod. If I’m doing chores, or in the car, anywhere reading isn’t an option then I’ll listen to an audiobook. So I have a hard copy and an audiobook on the go all the time.

2. When do you read the most? On vacation, before you go to bed?

There isn’t a specific time when I read the most, just whenever I can but always before I go to sleep I’ll either read or listen.

3. Why do you grab a book?

To relax and also to dive into another place and/or another time. This is one quote that kind of sums it up…Great books give you a feeling that you miss all day, until you finally get to crawl back inside those pages again ~ Kathryn Stockett. There are lots more of course, but basically there’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good book.

4. Are you a mood reader or a season reader?

Definitely a mood reader, the season doesn’t matter at all.

5. What do you need around when your read or what don’t you need around you? Do you grab food and drink, do you want people around, does music play in the background?

I like to have a drink at hand but food isn’t a necessity. Music is a distraction, unless it’s very quiet and relaxing in the background. I don’t mind people if they’re reading too, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth attempting to concentrate on a book. Being warm and snuggly is good too, hence the throw on my chair for cool evenings.

6. Did you read a lot when you were a teenager? If yes, did you keep it a secret?

Probably I read the least during my teens compared to later and earlier years, but I didn’t keep reading a secret.

7. Do you tell your friends what kind of genres you read or do you keep them to yourself?

Yes, I’m happy to tell my friends what genres I read, if they’re interested to know.

8. Would you reveal to us what your most embarrassing books/genre is you enjoy?

None of the genres I enjoy are embarrassing to me. Erotic, or M/M, F/F fiction doesn’t interest me but if it did I might keep that to myself 🙂

9. What are your favorite genres?

I like so many, murder/mystery, YA, paranormal, urban fantasy, contemporary, some science fiction and some historical novels…the list goes on.

10. Have your work, studies or school influenced your reading and how?

Broadly speaking I’d say no although school did put me off Shakespearian plays! Having said that it also introduced me a favourite book which is Wuthering Heights.

IMG_2252

© Cathy Ryan

The only view I have when reading is the garden but if I had my choice it would be something like this…A sea view would be the ultimate for me.

Thank you Cathy for participating. I really had fun. If you want to participate in this series, let me know. I’d be delighted. I intend to publish a post on reading habits towards the end of each month.