I don’t want to grow up – My love for children’s books seems endless.

I enjoy reading children’s books. I am for sure not the intended audience but I love reading them. Not all of course, but the majority.

Funnily enough I enjoyed reading books from authors like Barbara Wood and others when I was about 13 years old – why I have no idea. During my studies in which I read many classics, I turned to fantasy and during the past say 4 to 5 years I discovered or better rediscovered my love for children’s books. Maybe I liked them because (of)

  • the nostalgic factor of my own childhood,
  • the fact that children are mostly straight forward and don’t hide what they feel,
  • they see things differently maybe even clearer.

Whatever the reason, they are fun, entertaining, usually contain a moral and just beautifully written and thought out.

As the international children’s day has been on June 1st, I just want to share some of my favorite children’s books which some might categorize under different or more specific sub-genres but from me they are still books for children – and in the end, I am still a child and will always be my parents kid no matter how old I am.

   

 

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Derek Landy – The Faceless Ones (Skullduggery Pleasent #3)

Skulduggery Pleasant – Die Diablerie bittet zum Sterben

© Loewe Verlag

paperback
publisher: HarperCollins/
Loewe Verlag (German)
published 2010
pages: 432

Blurb:

Valkyrie screamed, sprinting toward Skulduggery.
He looked up and reached out to her, but it was too late. . . .
If you’ve read the other Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy (and you really should have read them by now), you’ve seen it all before: Some bad guy wants to bring about the end of the world, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie fight valiantly to stop it from happening. A few people get hurt, sure, but everything’s all right in the end.
Well, not this time.

In (Very) Short:

+ the third book in the series
+ fast-paced, sarcastic, fun, thrilling
+ not everything is black and white

My Opinion:

Well, since this is a third book in the series, I will refrain from summarizing the story in order not to spoil the previous books.

I listened to this as an audiobook and really enjoyed the story. It was fast-paced, sometimes a little predictable and than other times it was full of twists and turns that I did not see coming. I reconnected with old friends, I met new characters, I saw the toll this was taking on Valkyrie and I enjoyed the wit and sarcasm of the skeleton detective.

The books never lack action and fun, likeable characters and witty lines, and good old butt-kicking action. I also like that not everything is simply painted black and white, and of course the conspiracy aspect because it keeps you at your toes.

Bottom Line:

Another great adventure in the series.

My (late) Reading Month August

August was a good reading month – I did listen more than I read, but all in all it was good. This time I will start with a little statistic and will then turn to the titles.

  • Books: 3
  • Audiobooks: 6
  • Pages (only books): 939
  • Pages (incl. Audiobooks): 2995
  • Minutes listened: 2231 min. (over 37 hours)

Books:

Jessica Fletscher and Donald Bain – Coffee, Tea or Murder?

A Murder, She Wrote novel about a flight to London and the death of one of the participants. Good as always.

Emma Grey – Schuld war nur der Tee

Crime story set in England – mysterious deaths of seemingly random people, an unkown substance and a police officer with problems, a past, and alcohol.

Kai Meyer – Seide und Schwert

A fantasy adventure set in China with people who live on clouds, dragons, and the undying (and no not vampires).

Audiobooks:

Hape Kerkeling – Ich bin dann mal weg

One of Germany’s most famous and popular comedians on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela – it is not a comical book but it sure has some comical moments.

Rita Falk – Dampfnudelblues und Schweinskopf al dente

Two regional crime stories set in a small town in Bavaria: each crime is a little more absurd than the one before, but quite hilarious and funny.

Derek Landy – The Faceless Ones/ Die Diablerie bittet zum Sterben

The third installment of the Skulduggery Pleasant series – this time fighting the faceless ones, needing more than a little humor to survive this disaster. (We’re not retreating, we’re advancing in reverse 🙂 )

Susanne Fröhlich – Aufgebügelt

A chick lit for the older more mature chick: about being left, leaving and finding new beginnings.

Iny Lorentz – Das wilde Land

The third book in an emigration saga of a family who fled Germany to make their way in the new world and finding a place there.

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

My Reading Month April

I am happy with my reading month. I managed quite a few books as well as audiobooks. I will start of with the books I have read this past month.

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

I picked up the second book in the series because I wanted a nice and easy read and the Aurora Teagarden series did not disappoint. It is advertised as a mystery book which it really isn’t. Aurora just happens to be at the places where dead bodies are found and she spend a few thoughts on them. This does not make it a crime story. But her private life is compelling and so is the effortless writing of Harris. It just washed over me and I had to continue.

Charlaine Harris A Bone to PickHieronymus Frosch  Das hat die Welt noch nicht gesehen

Andreas H. Schmachtl – Hieronymus Frosch: Das hat die Welt noch nicht gesehen

This German children’s book is lovely and wonderful and focuses on stories about an inventor frog and his friends. It is a fun read, beautifully illustrated and the book is made up of many stories that can be read individually. Really great for reading to a child. And since a frog is green, so is the color of the fond.

John Farman – The Very Bloody History of Britain (Without the Boring Bits) The First Bit!

Another quick read was the history of Britain without the boring bits – and it sure was bloody. It is an interesting take on the subject of history and I enjoyed reading it. Kings and queens seem to be quite weird. Fun.

Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire

The second installment in this series was again really enjoyable. The story was fast-paced from the beginning, adventurous, exiting, fun, with incredibly funny dialogues. I loved it.

Skulduggery Pleasant 2

Bette A. Stevens – Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s Tale

This children’s book is a lovely little story about the monarch butterfly Matilda who wants to fly so bad and is told to be patient. It is a lovely book with beautiful illustrations. Wonderful.

Now onto my audiobooks that I listened in April.

Kristin Cashore – Die Beschenkte/ Graceling

I have read this book some time ago and now listened to the audiobook when I came across this. I enjoyed it as much as the first time. The premise is interesting, the characters well-developed, and likeable, and the translation was really good (I occasionally peeked into the book and compared). Totally recommend this.

Sabine Weigand – Das Buch der Königin

A German historical novel about an „old“ queen who gave birth to her child in a market place because people believed she wasn’t really having a child at 40. It was a good and entertaining story but was drawn out a little at times.

Veronica Roth – Divergent

I loved this audiobook. I found the unabridged version in English in my local library and I was thrilled to have it. The narrator was fantastic, the story well-paced and the characters well-developed. I enjoyed the main characters, the minor characters, I loathed the antagonists and wasn’t bothered by the love story thing. Great fun!

Andrea Sawatzki – Tief durchatmen, die Familie kommt.

This book is written by a German author/actress and focuses on one complicated family during Christmas time. It was an entertaining book though I had difficulties warming up to the female main protagonist. But the family was chaotic and I really enjoyed the end.

Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant (#1)

Derek Landy 1

paperback
publisher: Harpercollins
published 2007
pages 384

Book (English)

Blurb:

Twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley inherits her uncle Gordon’s estate and is promptly attacked on her first solo visit to the property. A mysterious skeleton-detective, Skulduggery Pleasant, comes to her rescue, explaining that he thinks Gordon was murdered and that she may be next. The two join forces and set off to solve the crime in a series of magical adventures that take them into a world filled with ancient evil creatures, including Nefarian Serpine, who seeks the Scepter of the Ancients and the infinite power it will bring him. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ first book in a series
+ a fun, fast-paced, thrilling detective story with a lot of magic
+ a skeleton-detective – what more do you need really
+ likeable main characters

My Opinion:

Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton-detective/magician, who is a friend of Stephanie’s beloved uncle. Her uncles death was sudden and left Stephanie with a huge inheritance and a lot of problems. Someone breaks into Stephanie’s new house, threatens her, and attempts to hurt her. And then Skulduggery comes to the rescue. Suddenly the girl is dragged into a world that she didn’t know existed and she is determined to find out why her uncle had to die.

The story was fast-paced, thrilling, and fun. It was an easy read that I could not put down. The characters were very likeable, nothing annoyed me about them (the first time in quite a while). Stephanie was an enjoyable character, who was not bratty or self-involved. She was aware of all the things she was not able to do, but that did not stop her from trying. Landy was able to make this feature of his female protagonist a loveable one. Skulduggery Pleasant was, well, he was sarcastic, little too brave, and stubborn. Again not annoying and stubbornness can really be annoying on other characters.

The world creation was interesting and clever as it left me wanting more. The writing was fluent, effortless and easy as it should be for a middle grade book, but yet not too easy to be boring. Skulduggery’s sarcasm was lighthearted and entertaining, yet not too complex so it could still be understood by the young readers. Yet, still sarcastic enough for the grown readers to make me smile. It was just right. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I will definitely continue the series.

Bottom Line:

Fun and entertaining magician/detective story with great world creation, likeable characters, and a good story line.

Rating:

rating 4

My Reading Months July and August

I haven’t had the greatest of reading months lately, so I decided to sum up both July and August in one post. I am not in a reading slump, but I just don’t seem to have the time or the patience to read. If I manage ten pages before I sleep it is quite an achievement.

Elsemarie Maletzke – Jane Austen: Eine Biografie

This biography of Jane Austen was something that I have been reading over a longer period of time. I like her books and I have seen most of the film and TV adaptations, so I thought it might be right to read something about her life. It was interesting and the author had a way of intertwining Austen’s life and experiences with the content and development of her novels. All in all, a good and interesting read.

jane austen bio

John Green – The Fault in Our Stars

I have refused to read this book for some time now. Firstly, because I wasn’t into the whole cancer book thing lately and secondly, because I try to avoid hypes a little bit. Often I am just disappointed. And honestly, I don’t get the hype around this novel. I am sorry and people will probably be really mad. It was a good book, it was a fast and easy read, but … I don’t know: it was predictable and worst something just irked me – I can’t quite put a finger on it. As I said it was a good book but something about this book made me uncomfortable.

Rick Riordan – The Throne of Fire (The Kane Chronicles #2)

The second book in the Kane Chronicles was a good and solid read. I really enjoyed the Egyptian mythology (and honestly that would save almost any book for me) and the story was fast paced and another thrilling ride, yet I still have problems with the protagonists. Though I understand them a little more this time, both are still annoying and it is actually someone else who saves the day every time they are in trouble. The siblings created a problem that someone else has to solve. I really don’t get why they are always portrayed as the heroes. Anyway. The world creation is fantastic and although the story follows the same repetitive narrative pattern, I thinks it’s still a good adventure story if you don’t want to think too much, but rather want something to wash over you.

verbotene eden 2 Throne of Fire

Thomas Thiemeyer – Logan und Gwen: Das Verbotene Eden #2

This is the second installment in a dystopian series written by the German author Thomas Thiemeyer which has not been translated yet. In the world where men and women hate each other and are at the brink of war, Logan and Gwen cross paths, well, Logan captures Gwen and intents to sell her on the slave market. But of course things change.
I have listened to the first installment as an audio book and I really enjoyed it. The premise was interesting: due to a virus men and women started to hate and kill each other and separated into different lives. While always at the brink of war, those tendencies have grown more certain after the first book. Altogether this was a good 2nd installment; it was easy to read, fast-paced and fluent. However, I would have loved to learn more about the world that Thiemeyer had created, which he failed to provide. And although both characters are independent characters and no shallow copies of the two main protagonists in the first novel, I couldn’t quite grasp them.

Octavia E. Butler – Fledgling

Since a friend of mine has just handed in his dissertation on Octavia Butler’s work and I have read already two of her books, I decided to try to read all the novels that he analyzes in his work. Since I had Fledgling at home, I started with the Vampire book. Yes, this book is about Vampires. And it is actually good. It has an interesting take on the Vampire myth and Butler developed a fascinating world. Though there are some things that I found a little difficult to swallow (and I shouldn’t because I watch and read Game of Thrones – and after that not a lot of things should shock me anymore), it was a good book and enjoyed it. Some characters were a little annoying especially Wright, but that’s probably just me.

feldgling Derek Landy 1

Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant

So after a little more adult read, I decided to grab a children’s novel about a dead guy and magic. That’s sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, at least to me. And it was a great book. The world creation was fantastic, the characters likeable, the story thrilling, and the writing was fluent. Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton magician and helps Stephanie solve the death of her beloved uncle. Suddenly she is in the middle of a world that she did not even know existed. I really recommend this.