My Reading Month August

I know it is very late for a reading month August since it is already October, but what the hell…here goes nothing. 🙂 Slowly I feel that I have my reading groove back at least I had it back for a short time due to late summer nights on my balcony and a nice stress level at work that made me grab an audiobook or two. Yet the groove to publish content more regularly has not yet returned in full force. But I am happy about a little force as well. All in all, I am quite happy with the month of August.

  • Books: 4
  • Audiobooks: 6
  • Pages (only books): 956
  • Pages (incl. Audiobooks): 4300
  • Minutes listened: 6779min. (almost 13 hours)

img_20160814_191219_resized img_20160828_191417_resized

Books:

Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce – Pip Bartlett und die magischen Tiere: Die brandgefährliche Fussels/ Pip Bartlett*s Guide to Magical Creatures

My first read this month is also the book that has gotten me out of my little low. This book is such a lovely story with a wonderful and rich world of magical creatures and great ideas. I enjoyed every minute of the story as well as the beautiful illustrations. A great children’s adventure story about magical creatures and a girl who can talk to them.

Kerstin Rottland – Agathe Bond: Cool wie das Wasser im Pool

Another fantastic and adventurous read is this spy novel with a tortoise as the main protagonist and major spy. A hilarious and fantastic story with beautiful illustrations, quite some adventure and a lot of spy equipment hidden in one small tortoise-shell.

Dora Heldt – Jetzt mal anders

This collection of columns written by a well-known German author were entertaining, sweat, and short. I did not feel the pressure of having to read the book cover to cover but pick it up when I felt like it. The stories cover a wide range of everyday topics and observations.

Martina Sahler – Matilda und die Sommersonneninsel

This young adult book or early teen book – whatever age range this is supposed to cover – is a wonderful summer read for young girls as the story centers around a group of young girls and their long summer vacation. Short, sweat, and entertaining.

cimg6916

Audiobooks:

Kirstin Cashore – Die Flammende / Fire

I have read this book some years ago and I enjoyed every page of it. The same holds true for the audiobook. It was as riveting and exiting as I remembered the book to be. A wonderful fantasy novel with a great protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Eve Chase – Black Rabbit Hall

A family drama with two different timelines that intertwine towards the end. Though I felt like I could predict what was going to happen, the author had the uncanny ability to make me doubt my previously made decisions. The story kept my on my toes and was an entertaining and thrilling audiobook. A great read or better a great listen.

Frauke Scheunemann – Ziemlich unverhofft

The second book centering around the protagonist Nicola was another entertaining and fun audiobook. I returned to the world, the people, and a similar chaotic life of the protagonist with pleasure and passion. Though I was a little annoyed by the story line with her neighbor Tiziano and this attempt at some sort of love triangle thing…the remainder of the story was great.

Lucinda Riley – Der Lavendelgarten/ The Lavender Garden

My second Riley novel was another audiobook for the win column. The story was set in two different times (as seems to be the case with Mrs. Riley) and follows the family history of Emily de la Martiniere – her struggle to maintain a family legacy and the struggles of her family in WWII. The story was riveting, the characters were sympathetic and likeable, both story lines drew the reader in yet were slow enough to enjoy the beauty of the scenery the narrative was set in as well as the writing.

Sarah Lark – Das Lied der Maori (#2) / Der Ruf des Kiwis (#3)

These two audiobooks are the second and third installment in a family tale. I enjoyed the first immensely and wanted to continue with the narrator and the author and the family story. We follow the descendants of the two women that came to New Zealand in the first book – trying to survive in a world and situation that they cannot escape and if they do, they have to endure a lot of pain and suffering.
Though I think you could have listened to these audio books individually without a specific order in mind, I was happy that I listened to them how it was intended. The books were a little more intense than the previous one especially the third installment. This is not necessarily for times when you as a reader are in emotional distress or more vulnerable because the story includes quite an ordeal of abuse and rape into these books. I had to stop on occasion. Despite those scenes the books were very good.

Kristin Cashore – Bitterblue

CIMG0460

paperback
publisher: Gollancz
published: 2012
pages: 547

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace.

But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck’s death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck’s reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monea’s past has become shrouded mystery, and it’s only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle – curious, disguised and alone – to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realize the truth. Her kingdom has been under a thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past.

Whatever the past holds.

The two thieves, who have sworn only to steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold the key to her heart…

In (Very) Short:

+ final installment of the Graceling Realm
+ connects the two previous books
+ main protagonists search for the past in order to move on to the future
+ surprising twists in Leck’s history revealed (at least for me)
+ a different approach to the love story (which is secondary) than the previous books

My Opinion:

In the final installment of the Graceling Realm I meet Katsa, Po, and Bitterblue again. Characters I got acquainted to in Graceling but who disappeared from the second book Fire. Bitterblue not only concludes the story but brings all three books together.

Bitterblue is Queen of Monsea after her father was killed and his terrible reign ended. Her advisers have ruled in her name the first years but now that she has grown up, her interest in her people and her city increase more and she escapes the castle during the nights. Realizing that many things are at odds with what she has been told by those she trusted, Bitterblue wants to discover the truth. The truth about her kingdom and the truth about her own past – about her father’s secrets, behavior, and his experiments. She slowly realizes that many want to keep those truths a secret at all costs.

I think this was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and answered questions and doubts I had while reading the other installments. It brought all three books together. I got to meet old friends from the first book and although I have to confess that I forgot quite a lot about those characters (it was a long time ago I read the first novel), it all came back to me quickly. (And it reaffirmed my wish to read Graceling again)

Bitterblue herself is a strong yet not completed or perfect character. She has to learn to come out of her protective shell. A shell she might not have chosen herself but was put in. Her desire and drive to understand what is going on in her kingdom, what happened in her past, and what king Leck really did, are understandable. Whatever happens in your life forms you into the person that you are. She grows with every discovery and is able to take charge when it is needed most.

The trauma caused by the abuse of Leck, the toll it took on the victims and the desire to suppress the past is interwoven into the narrative and is neither subtle nor dominant. Cashore did not shy away to show the consequences of that trauma and I take my hat of to her.

The narrative pace and the story itself were interesting yet seemed sometimes a little dragged. The obligatory love story followed the common scheme in this trilogy but had an interesting twist which I personally enjoyed quite a lot. But maybe it could be unsatisfactory to other readers.

This edition of Bitterblue has beautiful illustrations by Ian Schoenherr which really helped me imagining all those fantastic bridges. They are quite stunning.

Bottom Line:

A wonderful and satisfying finale, which did not shy away from difficult topics and surprising twists. I thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy and can recommend the books wholeheartedly.

Rating:

rating 4

Kristin Cashore – Fire

CIMG0278

paperback
publisher: Gollancz
published 2009
pages: 384

Book on Amazon

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 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 a royal court full of powerful people with reason to distrust her.

In (Very) Short:

+ 2nd installment in the Graceling Realm Trilogy
+ at first has not apparent connection to the first book
+ good story with likeable characters
+ wonderful and interesting world creation esp. the mind influencing animals
– story itself was somewhat predictable and dribbled a little towards the end

My Opinion:

I read the first installment in this series some years ago. But since I already knew that I can understand Fire without remembering every detail from Graceling (and to be fair, I didn’t remember a lot), I thought it was a good choice.

Fire lives in the Dells and belongs to the unique part of that story world. She is the daughter of a monster and a human. The monsters in that world are beautiful and mind numbing, but most importantly they are also very deadly.

Fire hides away from the world in order to keep the people save from her. But when Fire is attacked repeatedly, she has to leave her hiding place to protect her home. She is thrown into the middle of the royal court and the middle of a possible war. In order to trust her abilities, she has to accept her past to navigate her future.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The world creation is interesting and different and the monsters are magnificent and colorful. The main characters are divers and interesting, although the character pairing is quite obvious from the beginning.

The story is a little predictable and sadly looses its momentum towards the end.

The part of the narration that connects this book to the other in the Graceling Realm Trilogy seemed a little out-of-place for me and felt somewhat forced. But all in all it was an enjoyable and entertaining read.

Bottom Line:

A good fantasy novel with an interesting world creation, likeable characters and a good story. I picked up the last installment of this series shortly after I finished this.

Rating:

rating 3