My Reading Month December

My last reading month this year was nice and relaxing though I barely managed to read anything during the holidays. Somehow, I was visiting relatives and friends or spending time baking and decorating or simply on the phone using the off time to catch up with the ones I could not see in person. But still, I managed to listen and to read a fair amount of books, though I will not finish my reading challenge this year. But more on that in another post. Let’s start with some numbers.

  • Books: 6 (though many short ones)
  • Audiobook: 5
  • Pages (only books): 728
  • Pages (incl. Audiobooks): 1227
  • Minutes listened: 1950 min. (over 32 hours)

Books:

Rob Reef – Stableford ( Ein Golf-Krimi aus Cornwall)

This whodunit novel was a well structured and entertaining read, with an interesting protagonist, obvious and not so obvious clues, a group of suspects, and a report by the amateur detective at the end. A detailed review is already on this blog (here).

Stableford Ein Elch packt aus

Peter Gaymann, Andreas Hauffe – Der Weihnachtsmann kann einpacken. Ein Elch packt aus

This Christmas book is a short and fun read about Santa Clause’s character traits reported by a more or less sober reindeer. Cute.

Kirsten John – Gefährliche Kaninchen feiern Weihnachten

What is going to happen when the dad meets mom’s new boyfriend – chaos ensues and Christmas is about to be cancelled. But then again it is Christmas and there are some miracles about to happen…or at least some common sense.

Gefährliche Kaninchen feiern Weihnachnte Tilda Adventskalender

Andreas H. Schmachtl – Tilda Apfelkern: Alle warten auf Weihnachten

This is an advent calendar in stories. Each day has a short and sweet story that is somehow related to the one before and after, yet stand alone. I just love Tilda, the white mouse.

Andreas H. Schmachtl – Tilda Apfelkern: Oh du schöne Weihnachtszeit

This is the bigger version of an advent calendar. The book contains 24 stories building up to Christmas that can be read completely alone but again build a whole story. Each story is followed by either a Christmas poem or song and a recipe or an instruction for some handicraft to do with you children. It is beautifully illustrated and there are some nice recipes and ideas in here.

difficult fruit Tilda Apfelkern - Oh du schöne Weihnachtszeit

Lauren Alleyne – Difficult Fruit

This collection of poems is just stunning and wonderful. I have never been the greatest poetry fan and I was a little reluctant at first. But this was just fantastic (and maybe even more fantastic because I have met the author and she is wonderful, hilarious and charming – and incredibly talented).

Audiobooks:

Rita Mae Brown – Claws and Effect: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery/ Mord auf Rezept

This is one of the Murphy Brown stories. I have never read one before but since I really enjoy crime novels with animal investigators, I had to pick this up and give it a go. I really enjoyed the story, the narrator was really good, and it did not bother me that this book is somewhat later in the series. I might not have understood all the relationships between the human characters that well, but again this did not bother me.

Frauke Scheunemann – Ziemlich Unverbesserlich: Eine Familienkommödie

This German book deals with a widowed female lawyer who has a unique and interesting case load, two children, a meddling but loving and supportive mother-in-law, two italian neighbors, a weed plantation, and a little bit of investigation. It was a lovely and heart-warming story that made me laugh and sometimes cringe. Great entertainment.

Petra Durst-Henning – Die Russische Herzogin

The historical novel deals with the part of the Romanov family tree that was married and shipped to Germany. Olga is married to Karl and fairly unhappy as is her niece Wera, who is shipped of to live with her aunt in Germany. Both have to get used to a different country as well as bury many of the hopes and dreams yet their friendship helps create some form of happiness for themselves.

Iny Lorentz – Das Vermächtnis der Wanderhure

This is the third installment in the series about a (former) prostitute in the middle ages in Germany. After everything seems to finally settle down for Marie and her family, fate strikes yet again. Interesting and nice story and a wonderful narrator. She could read anything to me really.

Sabine Martin – Die Tränen der Henkerin

This is the second book about a female executioner – her past and her lies catch up to her and her past wants revenge. I enjoyed the story, though I wholeheartedly disliked her husband.

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Grace Draven – Radiance

Radiance

eBook
published: 2015
pages: 297

Blurb:

~THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE~
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.
~THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE~
Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.
Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ fantasy novel with some “adult content”
+ two members of different courts have to marry to sustain an alliance
+ fascinating world creation

My Opinion:

Two very different worlds collide in this fantasy novel. Brishen and Idilko are not only from different kingdoms but also from different species. In order to preserve an alliance between the two, Brishen, a prince least important in the line of succession, and Idilko, a niece to the king, have to get married. Thus, both travel to their new home (Brishen’s home) where they are not only close to the border of another enemy kingdom but where they will have to get used to the foreignness of their partner.

The book itself was an enjoyable read. Both characters were content or at least had accepted their fate and were not fighting it. The relationship between the two protagonists was interesting and progressed at and understandable pace. I was intrigued by the different worlds and cultures that the author created, something that I like most in fantasy and the aspect that has to convince me.

The action did increase towards the end of the book and seemed a bit rushed at that point compared to the pace before. The characters’ actions were relateable, and the story left some lovely hints for the next installment.

Beware that there is some adult content in this book, which I was not prepared for since I did not read the blurb. Thus I was a little surprised by it.

Bottom Line:

An interesting fantasy read with a whole new world and some good old lovin.

Rating:

rating 4

Marliese Arold – Magic Girls: Gefangen in der Unterwelt (#4) (Incl. Short English Review)

This book is written by a German author and I listened to this audiobook in German as well. For a short English review please see further below.

CIMG0284 Rätsel des Dornenbaums

Hörbuch gelesen von Sabine Falkenberg
Information zum Buch:
Verlag: Arsedition
veröffentlicht: 2009
Seiten 176

Klappentext:

Elena sorgt sich um ihre Hexenfreundin Miranda, die sich ganz plötzlich sehr krank fühlt. Ist etwa der Fluch des Schwarzmagiers Mafaldus Horus daran schuld? Eines Morgens ist Miranda dann auch noch verschwunden. Elena findet heraus, dass sie von zwei geheimnisvollen Kuttenmännern entführt worden ist. Um Miranda zu befreien, muss Elena in die Unterwelt eindringen, wo der schreckliche Herrscher der Dunkelheit regiert. Nur gut, dass nicht nur die Menschenmädchen Nele und Jana Elena bei ihrer schwierigen Aufgabe zur Seite stehen, sondern auch der junge Zauberer Eusebius, in den Miranda ein klitzekleines bisschen verliebt ist. (Amazon)

Meinung:

Handlung: In dem vierten Buch geht es diesmal für alle Beteiligten in die Unterwelt – auch für die Nicht-hexen. Diesmal wird wenig Schnick-schnack um Schulprobleme oder Teenagerthemen gemacht, sondern es geht gleich rasant zur Sache: Miranda wird entführt und ihre Freunde begeben sich an die Rettung.

Charaktere: Die Figuren sind liebenswert, einige auch nervig (Mona), manche nicht anwesend. Besonders das relativ normale Verhalten der Mädchen und die immer aufkeimende Angst, die bekämpft werden muss, machen die Figuren sympathisch und authentisch.

Stil/Sprecher: Die Schreibstil ist sehr angenehm und leicht. Die Erzählweise war für mich aber sehr anstrengend, da ich die Stimmen, die den jeweiligen Figuren von der Erzählerin zugewiesen wurden, doch gelegentlich nervten.

In English:

The fourth novel the two teenage witches, who are banned to live in the human world, are in trouble. Miranda gets kidnapped and Elena and her human friends decide to rescue her.

The story was fast-paced from the beginning and this time all (witches and humans) are traveling into the witch world and even further.

The characters are likeable and don’t pretend to not be afraid. They are scared and have to fight their fears in order to help their friend. It made the girls very relateable.

Though the writing was easy and fluent, the narrator was a little tricky. I did not agree with the voices she assigned to each character which made listening a little annoying.

Sabine Ebert – Die Spur der Hebamme (Incl. Short English Review)

This book is written by a German author and I listened to this audiobook in German as well. For a short English review please see further below.

2165189
© Droemer Knaur Verlag

Hörbuch gelesen von Elke Schützhold
Information zum Buch:
Taschenbuch
Verlag: Knaur
veröffentlicht 2007
Seiten: 672

Klappentext:

Mark Meißen im Jahre 1173: Marthe und ihr Mann Christian könnten glücklich und zufrieden im durch den Silberbergbau erblühten Christiansdorf leben, doch da erreichen sie schlimme Neuigkeiten: Heinrich der Löwe ist von seiner Pilgerfahrt ins Heilige Land zurückgekehrt, und mit ihm Christians ärgster Feind. Erneut ist der Meißner Markgraf Otto von Wettin in die Kämpfe gegen den mächtigen Herzog von Sachsen und Bayern verwickelt. Und er ernennt ausgerechnet Christians Feind zum Vogt des Silberdorfes. Christian will seine Frau in Sicherheit bringen. Doch sie wird von einem fanatischen Medicus denunziert und muss sich vor einem Kirchengericht verantworten. Verzweifelt sucht Christian nach ihr, aber sie scheint spurlos verschwunden … (Amazon)

Meinung:

Handlung: Im zweiten Buch der Hebammen Saga von Sabine Ebert treffen wir auf alte Bekannte und neue Feinde. Diesmal konnte ich der Handlung besser folgen und ich hatte nicht das Gefühl, dass ich irgendetwas verpasse und der Erzählung nicht folgen kann. Marthe wird nicht nur vor dem Kirchengericht wegen Hexerei angeklagt, sondern muss sich auch noch vor intriganten Geistlichen und Weltlichen verstecken besonders von ihrer Gabe der Sicht darf niemand etwas erfahren, aber alle Wände haben Ohren…

Charaktere: Marthe und Christian sind zwei sympathische und gut entwickelte Figuren. Ich habe aber besonders die Dorfbewohner ins Herz geschlossen. Egal wie nett und edel Christian sein mag, er kuscht oft vor seinem Herren, während die Dorfbewohner sich ihren Gegnern stellen wohl wissend, dass es ihnen das Leben kosten kann.

Stil/Sprecher: Es ist ein leichter, wenn auch langsamer und besonnener Schreibstil, der mit nicht vielen geschichtlichen Details gespickt ist, dafür aber viele Informationen über den Alltag enthält ohne dabei belehrend zu wirken. Mir hat die Sprecherin auch gut gefallen.

In English:

This is the second installment in a series about the midwife in the middle ages. This time the female protagonists is not only accused of being a witch but has plotted against by clergy as well as the aristocracy. And on top of all that she has the gift of sight that nobody is allowed to know, but then again the walls do have ears.

This time the narration was coherent and concise with the right amount of historical and every day details to get a picture and a feeling for the time period in which this book is set. As much as I enjoyed the main characters, I especially liked the village people. Though Christian – the main protagonist – is said to defend his people, he seem to submit to his superior a lot more than his own villagers who stand up against injustice even if that could and will cost their lives.

The writing is altogether effortless yet calm and somewhat prudent. A relaxing audiobook when everything else is rather hectic around you.

Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Beautiful Creatures

https://service.randomhouse.de/content/edition/covervoila_hires/GarciaStohlBeautiful_Creatures_Film_133162.jpg

© cbj

Paperback
publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
published: 2012
pages: 592

Blurb:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ first in a series
+ about witches and caster
+ told from the perspective of the male protagonist

My Opinion:

Ethan and Lena don’t know each other, have never met before, have not seen each other by accident nor knew about each others existence, but Ethan is dreaming about her pretty much every night. Lena is a witch, a caster, who will be claimed by either the light or the dark side of magic. She tries to hide that, she tries to fight it but the time is running out.

This is the first book that I have come across that is told from the perspective of the male protagonist. I enjoyed it, he came to the point pretty fast, was addressing the problems and issues he had and refused to make a fuss. However, sometimes I still felt like it was a little mushy at times.

The caster story was interesting, yet the major focus of the story was on the developing relationship between Ethan and Lena. I liked her cousin Riley, who I believe is not as bad as everybody thinks she is (including herself). The narrative pace was okay, but could have picked up a little bit. The story slowed down in between but picked up towards the end.

I am not sure how the series will continue, since I don’t particularly remember what questions were unanswered towards the end.

Bottom Line:

The story was good, the scheme similar to other YA books, the perspective was new – at least for me.

Paula Hawkins – The Girl on the Train

Girl on the Train

Taschenbuch
Verlag: Blanvalet
veröffentlicht: 2015
Seiten: 446
Book (German)

Blurb:

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train… (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ structurally a good thriller you had to continue reading
+ annoying characters
+ an obvious culprit
+ filled with clichés

My Opinion:

This thriller was all the rage in Germany this reading season. The debut novel by Paula Hawkins was pretty much everywhere. Since it was either loved or hated by many readers, I had to know what the fuss was all about.

The main protagonist Rachel rides the train everyday and watches a couple living in a house near the train tracks. Rachel imagines the loving and wonderful life they have until one day a missing persons report shows the face of the woman Rachel watches each morning. But when she wants to help the search and the investigation, she not only entangles herself into a situation she cannot control but exposes her own demons to the world. Suddenly it gets really dangerous really fast.

The premise and the idea was intriguing. Structurally it was a good and bloodless thriller, which I had to continue reading. Yet I also had to put the book down on many occasions because of the annoying characters.

The story was told from three different and later alternating perspectives and in two different time lines: Rachel – the girl on the train, who battled her own demons (namely alcohol) and her own past, Meghan – the woman Rachel watches from the train who then disappears, and Anna – Rachel’s ex-husband’s affair and now his wife.

I could not relate to either of these women nor to any of the characters in the book and it is quite an achievement that I still could not put the book down for long. Yet I was so annoyed by the women, by the clichés used, by the fact that it was pretty obvious to me who the killer was, I had to stop from time to time in order not to start screaming with rage and fury.

The characters appear to be psychotic nut jobs, who were in desperate need of some common sense. I have met people like that, yet most people have common sense and a general understanding of the world. But apparently there are those in thrillers that don’t. Just as you wonder in every horror movie why someone has the brilliant idea to go somewhere alone when a psychotic killer is on the loose. Well…

Bottom Line:

Structurally this was a good and solid thriller that you cannot put down despite the annoying characters, yet it lacked originality where it should have lacked clichés.

Rating:

rating 2