I still remember the day I spontaneously bought my first Carolyn Mackler: I browsed through the musty shelves of a second-hand shop on Charing Cross RI still remember the day I spontaneously bought my first Carolyn Mackler: I browsed through the musty shelves of a second-hand shop on Charing Cross Road, London, somewhat disappointed that most of what they had to offer were Penguin Classics (I had read a lot of those in an earlier reading phase of my life), coffee-table-sized volumes about gardening stuff and sticky, fly-poop-infested psycho-thrillers. In pre-internet times a trip to an English second-hand-shop used to be like Christmas Eve, because imported books in Germany belonged to the category of things I could only afford in small doses. And now, I was standing here again, at a former location of my dreams, on the verge of leaving empty-handed. On my way to the outside-bound staircase something white and pink grabbed the last ray of my waning interest: A slim and well-worn copy of Vegan, Virgin, Valentine, the only young adult novel that didn't seem to be as old as me. I dragged it half-heartedly to the counter, mainly for the sake of buying a used book - reminiscent of the times when I was twenty, a university student on summer break and touring England with my heavy backpack and a tight budget. I never expected to fall in love with that book and its heroine. After that I read and adored Guyaholic and after that I got disappointed: The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things and Love and Other Four-Letter Words didn't make the cut for me. They were well written, they touched serious issues, but they didn't stir anything in me inspite of ... well yes, inspite of being real Macklers. Thus, when "Tangled" was announced I decided to buy it, but also to wait for the paperback edition. My expectations were not particularly high anymore and a lot of luke-warm and confused reviews had turned up pre-publication.
You might have noticed: I haven't said anything about "Tangled" yet. It is kind of difficult for me, because I really, really liked it, much better then the butt- and the four-letter book, but I don't as feel mushy-gushy as I felt after putting the Valentine cousins' stories aside. Let's say, I think I regained my believe in Carolyn Mackler's abilities and I would recommend giving "Tangled" a try without hesitation. Opposed to some irritated reviewers I think the four narrations - covering four months in succession - do fit nicely together. There are no repetitions and the important things do get tied up. There are some thin, lose ends, but I really didn't mind leaving one strand of the braid for the next one in view. Honestly, there were no puzzled "What?"-moments for me. At the end of each "report" I found myself rooting for the narrator, even for the supposed player Dakota, whom I despised in Jena's part and didn't particularly care for during the first chapters of his own. I admire the way Mrs. Mackler is able to pull that off, since I am the sort of reader who can hold a grudge against a character for several of volumes of a multiple-installments-series. Somehow she managed to sneak past my wall of inner grumbling and made me relent. Congratulations! Still, when I had to chose, I guess, I'd say liked Owen's story best. I have a thing for shy, geeky, underestimated guys and I welcome a whiff of realistic but sweet teen-romance anytime. What about you, Nomes?...more
3.5 stars altogether. At the age of nine Dara Cohen, former Little Miss Maine, found out by chance that she had an older sister who left home for good3.5 stars altogether. At the age of nine Dara Cohen, former Little Miss Maine, found out by chance that she had an older sister who left home for good half a year before Dara's birth. Dara's mother refused to discuss the matter stating that Rachel had been a bad person whose criminal actions against her own family made any attempt at revoking contact unnegotiable. Until Dara got seventeen, obese and into the center of her parents' idea of parental behavior in a family crisis, she had swallowed her mother's vague explanations unquestioned. But when Dara criticizes her parents' dislike of her obesity in a multi-media-autobiography project for school and experiences their scornful lashing out for pointing out their flaws first hand, she sees Rachel's flight from home in a new light. If her parents decided to take her out of school instead of acknowledging to have problems to accept her weight gain, how bad can Rachel's 'crime' possibly have been? It takes Dara a lot of courage to locate her unknown sister on a goat farm and ask her to take her in for the rest of the term and the following summer holidays. It takes some hesitant dancing around each other to detect the things that connect them, to talk about the past and their family and to grow a strong sisterly bond between them. And finally it takes some kissing, some swimming, some singing and some goat cheese to make Dara become comfortable around herself and to determinedly go for the things she wants from life. I especially liked about „Truth and Beauty“ that - Dara is beautiful although she is overweight. (view spoiler)[And in spite of losing a handful of pounds because oft lugging around goat shit and eating homemade food, Dara neither decides to diet nor is any resolution made that hints at future weight loss. (hide spoiler)] The lurking message is rather „(Re)Think Thin“, her presentation’s working title. - The characters are painted multi-faceted and multi-colored instead of just black and white. - (view spoiler)[Although being gay and the hardship of dealing with intolerance, prejudices and unaccepting family members are depicted in a way to make you think, the homosexual characters themselves are not without flaws or prejudices. Being the target of prejudices does not make you automatically someone who treats everybody else correctly. (hide spoiler)] - The romance is not all-encompassing. We do not experience Dana mooning uncontrollably over her love interest. (view spoiler)[ We just see her forming a friendship, being surprised by Milo's attraction to her, starting to fantasize a little about kissing and then just kissing him. No talk of being boyfriend-and-girlfriend or HEA. Just some rather stressfree teenage attraction. (hide spoiler)] - Some questions remain unanswered. We never learn what happened to Bette. - The ending presents no fairytale solution. (view spoiler)[ Dara‘s and Rachel’s parents do not break down tearfully and admit they should not have let their daughter go and should have tried to reach out to her instead. They do not apologize to Dara for blaming her for her weight gain and her making family problems public. They stay who they are. They piss everybody off right until the last page. But the novel shows us that you can make do in spite oft that. Dara and Rachel have become a family. And they will be happy. (hide spoiler)]
Yes, I recommend this book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
My almost completed review just disappeared with an uncontrolled flick of my finger and I am too frustrated to start afresh. So, I am just going to spMy almost completed review just disappeared with an uncontrolled flick of my finger and I am too frustrated to start afresh. So, I am just going to sprout some random points that explain why I do not recommend the book and why I won't try to read anything else by the author in the future:
- The book is really short (that is reason why I finished reading the book after all), even for a fairytale retelling. Unfortunately that does not mean that the arc of suspense is higher angled. No. This story has no real climax and almost no plotline to speak of. Can somebody tell me why the North Wind sent the Winter Child to Grace and Kai? Who was the one with the ice splinter? Both? Grace? And when is it removed? Were Kai and Grace Deidre's last stop - or what?
- The book is fairytale-like in the original sense: a lot of moral finger-waggling in front of the reader's face and even more perpetual output of sayings and wise surmises about life and happiness and wishes and curses and whatnot - you know, the stuff that usually belongs on a hand-stiched kitchen towel.
- The book is one slim volume of a larger series. And in my opinion it shows. It had an unpleasant off-the-rack bytaste. I felt like the author had the assignment to complete one fairytale retelling each fortnight.
- The book has no real romance. Everyone gets his or her happily-ever-after - completely out of the blue. There weren't even the stars of a fairy's magic wand to be admired. "Poof - I am your prince. Poof - tell her you love her, but be quick about it. Kneel, all of you who want to be married. A five minute slot has just been opened for you."
- The book is poorly researched. I do know that this is a fairytale retelling and no real-world place is actually mentioned by name, but I hate half-hearted pseudo-researchers. If you are not sure, dear author, place your plot into a fantasy world and use plain English, okay? Grace and Kai have Scandinavian surnames, which fits the Danish origin. But "Grace", Grace is no Scandinavian name. If you did not like Gertrud, Mrs. Dokey, you could have searched for a softer sounding Danish name. I assure you, there are plenty. Grace speaks of her grandmother as her "oma". Oma is a German word. In Danish and Norwegian it should be "bedstemor", in Swedish it's "mormor". Well. And one last thing that came back up sour was that Kai's father worked in the coal mines and dies there. There is almost nothing to mine in Danmark apart from some clay, some minerals and a bit of oil in the North Sea. It would have been possible to shift the story to Germany, but then some other adaptions would have been necessary. The random mix annoyed me a lot.
If you squint a little, you see that the cover says this is "The Story Behind the Book by Roger McGough". I reread this "picture book" again this weekIf you squint a little, you see that the cover says this is "The Story Behind the Book by Roger McGough". I reread this "picture book" again this week and I am as amused as when I picked it up in a British bookstore about 15 years ago. The messy black and white drawings are are little ... well messy, but combined with the story you have somthing that makes shameless and cynical fun about the publishing industry, contemporary methods of book marketing, writer's block and celebrities who are conveniently transformed into published and acknowledged writers although they "can't write for toffee". Like Princess Gloriana they turn up in their "courtroom" and announce with authority in their voices "I've just wrote a story and I want it published."
I can understand that readers who bought this for younger kids (Why? There is no color, only a heap of scribbly lines!) tend to rate this low, because I think this delightful, illustrated "fairytale" landed in the kiddie section by mistake/miscalculation. Older children on the other hand surely laugh about both the royal parents who promote their daughter's book at all costs ("buy this book or be beheaded") and the Prince who saves her face (and his kingdom) and adults ... adults can chuckle with evil glee, because they perfectly understand the long-nailed pokes into the kidney.
4.5 stars altogether. Thank your, Teccc, for repeatedly recommending the book to me, thank you, Corinne, for trading it and thank you Jessi, for chall4.5 stars altogether. Thank your, Teccc, for repeatedly recommending the book to me, thank you, Corinne, for trading it and thank you Jessi, for challenging me to read it last month.
Review follows - I hope.
TBR Pile Reduction Challenge 2011, Book #9 (challenger = Jessica)...more
Gathering Blue is not as powerful as The Giver is, but it captivated me quickly as well and offered a lot of food for thought. Recommended. "GatheringGathering Blue is not as powerful as The Giver is, but it captivated me quickly as well and offered a lot of food for thought. Recommended. "Gathering Blue" is no sequel like the series suggests, but a companion novel.
Street Corner Bookers’ Pile Reduction Challenge, #20 (challenger: Morgan)...more
All of these titles tackle the question of what is really needed to make us human, what should be scrapped up and remolded, when large parts of our body or our mind are gone - if we can that is, of if there should be a physical limit to holding up our excitence here on earth, of if we are allowed to tamper with an organism that has officially already ceased to be and to try our hands at creating artificial intelligence that mimicks or copies the ones of actual persons, and finally, of if the new person - physical or digital - will be me when is has aquired my memories and my personality.
Robin Wasserman's approach to point out - not answer - these dilemmas is a very thrilling and emotional one. It resonated within me for a while this morning. Certainly it helped that the post-war, post radioactive crises setting with a strict split of the world's population into bonus-points-stuffed haves in spacious, digitally/technically enhanced country-based buildings and company-bound, no-rights, no medical-favours have-nots in contaminated city-ruins had a pretty realistic feeling.
Although the book ends on a cliffhanger, I do not need to rush out to get the sequel - which doesn't mean I would mind to read it eventually.
If not for the ending which left too many questions unanswered I might have even rated "The History of Love" even five stars. After a little difficultIf not for the ending which left too many questions unanswered I might have even rated "The History of Love" even five stars. After a little difficulty to immerse myself in the story during the first few chapters, the first switch to a second point of view caught me and tangled my attention firmly into the intricate net of interwoven story-lines. I have to say that I am rather surprised about how much the quirky, prickly and partly hard-to-like main- and side-characters meant to me as their history, their hurt and their everyday problems revealed themselves. To illustrate: When I switched off my reading-light yesterday evening there were about 40 pages left. At three o' clock in the morning I got up with a desperate sigh and read them, for I spent my night half awake, unaware of running the mental hamster's wheel: I had used the past four precious hours trying to puzzle out the last mysteries. When I went back to bed at a quarter to four, my get-the-damned-thing-behind-you stunt did not have the planned effect: Until the harsh alarm-clock sound bounced against the bed-room walls at 5:20 I wore myself out persuading my brain not to think about the things still not cleared up. Was there something my overworked brain muddled up or my squinting eyes overlooked? If you are cleverer than me (I am glancing into your direction, Amy), please help me to remove the fog from my mind so I can sleep soundly the coming night:
What about Leo? (view spoiler)[Does he really die on the park bench holding Alma Singer's hand or is he just overwhelmed and cannot answer. I fear it's the former. (hide spoiler)] What about Bruno? (view spoiler)[Is it true that Bruno died in 1942 and his late friendship with Leo, their living together in one apartment building is just an elaborate outcrop of Leo's imagination? Or does Leo only say this to upset Alma who he for a second takes for an apparition of 'his' Alma, who had been in love with Bruno, too? I cannot believe that all these meetings at the kitchen table, in the music hall, the surprise under the cushion and their sprint to the station was not real. And ... how could it be that Alma was together with Bruno after Leo? She split up from Leo being pregnant. (hide spoiler)] What about Bird? (view spoiler)[Was it his doing, the translation of "The History of Love" being delivered to Leo Gursky? There must be something wrong with the time line then. He goes out with the manuscript on the last Saturday, but Leo receives the envelope much, much earlier. If not Bird, who? (hide spoiler)] Who finally was that secret benefactor who spent 100.000 Dollars on the translation from Spanish to English? I really didn't get it. And what about his name appearing in Isaac's novel? What about Bernhard? What about Zvi? (view spoiler)[Why did he think Leo did not survive the Holocaust? Because Leo's family stayed when everybody else left? (hide spoiler)] What about Alma? (view spoiler)[Why did Leo waste five years to look her up in Brooklyn? Because she really left him and he tried to forget that tiny fact? Is this to show how much of his own soul Leo already killed and how much he relied on make-believe? (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
2.5 stars. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this much although I liked the setting and the idea. Partly to blame is my inability to like any member2.5 stars. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this much although I liked the setting and the idea. Partly to blame is my inability to like any member of the cast. The last third of the book was only a frantic rush from page to page in an effort to get it over. I felt like I was too far in to let it go and mark it as unfinished. But it was more like taking care of a chore than having a good time with a great story. Uhhg. I am so spent that even my review sounds like spontaneous combustion. Sorry, Surface dwellers and Fringers. This girl needs to power up....more
Flappy-eared, double-nosed, telepathic aliens, music, danger, time-travel, friendship in unexpected places, searching for your roots, futuristic futurFlappy-eared, double-nosed, telepathic aliens, music, danger, time-travel, friendship in unexpected places, searching for your roots, futuristic futures, Blade-Runner-style bars, gut-wrenching loneliness, highly-original, tongue-in-cheek twists, bluesy sadness, snarky humor. Wow. Just my kind of sci-fi. This my second five-star-read within eight days. I feel so lucky - kind of like overdosed on "Bliss-sticks". Thank you, all you Goodreaders who have been - voluntarily or involuntarily - pushing this at me. Especially Flannery, who sent me her copy (which is now at Janina's - long story)....more
I was skeptical after I read a ton of reviews and saw that Becca Fitzpatrick recommended it (very bad sign in my opinion), but I decided not to cancelI was skeptical after I read a ton of reviews and saw that Becca Fitzpatrick recommended it (very bad sign in my opinion), but I decided not to cancel my pre-order and have a go. Now I have to say: I really liked the book. And I liked the heroine and her love-interest (I mention only one, because that manipulative control-freak behavior of RetCh, the conscience-free faerie, cannot be counted as love-triangle worthy. He just used her loneliness and her craving of any kind of physical contact to reach his goal. There is really NOTHING to recommend or excuse him apart from good looks. So don't try to convince me of the opposite. Aprilynne Pike wrote in her blurb "...One won Evie's heart and the other won mine." I enjoyed Mrs. Pikes debut well enough to rate it three stars, but after this disclosure of her bad taste in evil guys I will be very wary of books to come).
After reading her story I can even understand Evie's girlish preference for pink, sparkling clothes and tasers and her motivation to give her Taser and her knife pet names: Since she turned eight she has been living underground, held like a dumb princess in an ivory tower, fed with only the information necessary to tag and bag random paranormals for the International Paranormal Containment Agency that is her "home" and shamelessly uses her unique gift of seeing beyond every kind of magic glamour. All her confidants are grown-ups. She is home-schooled by a permanently depressed female werewolf and High-School is something that happens on TV. If you were Evie, would you not jump at every possibility to shop with your otherwise business-like guardian for some ultra-girlish clothes, which resemble the stuff the actors on your favorite Teen TV Drama "Easton Heights" flaunt? Would you not try to be a little normal, to be a teenager? Evie does not own rhine-stone-studded hand-bags because she never leaves the Center outside of a mission. So she compensates by decorating her weapon and giving it a silly name.
Apart from the difference in age and that unhealthy degree of helpers syndrom Rachel Morgan has, Evie's personality reminded me a lot of this favorite urban fantasy heroine of mine. I don't excactly know why. But she was not at all how I had imagined her to be.
What I also liked were the various commonly known paranormal lores (faerie, vampire, werewolf, mermaid, elementals ...), their adaption and their integration into the book's world-building. Nicely done. I think I will pickup the sequel "Supernaturally", when it comes out in paperback....more
This is it, the moment I had feared: I am sitting in front of my computer and frown. I am scrutinizing the small list of all-time-favorites displayedThis is it, the moment I had feared: I am sitting in front of my computer and frown. I am scrutinizing the small list of all-time-favorites displayed on my Goodreads profile. And I know one of them has to go. It is a sad step, but inevitable. For Where She Went is simply that overwelmingly good. I really, really loved If I Stay and I anticipated the sequel from Adam's point of view like a druggie longs for his next shot, but I still wasn't prepared for the bone-shattering impact. For the turmoil of Adam's emotions after Mia dumped him without even the hint of an explanation, his fame with his band "Shooting Star" and his utter loneliness, angst and despair, his trying to go on, to cope, to cheat himself, for my strong urge to wring Mia's pretty, slender neck when the two of them meet again by fate or chance and she cheerily treats him like someone nice but essentially irrelevant from her former, pre-Julliard life.
About 30 minutes have passed since I closed the book with a soft snap and looked snotty-nosed and leaky-eyed up to my hesitant husband, who tip-toed around me not sure if mentioning breakfast to me would be in the range of acceptable things at that particular state of after-reading-shock. He has fed me rolls and mango marmelade and I have returned near enough to earth to write this review and to make the choice mentioned above.
So, seriously, if you haven't considered buying this book but are positive that a good book in your book does not indispensably have to include a paranormal creature, a murder or the end of our civilization, Do Consider Now. Reading the precessor from Mia's point of view is certainly beneficial, but not necessary.
An afterthought: Reading a six-star-plus book like this makes me wonder again why publishers choose to buy manuscripts that will inevitably balance out to be raved about by a few, hated by a lot and treated like cheap, disposable tights by most: They last a night of fun and are used to polish boots or given to the perpetually broke flatmate or sister afterwards. Dear agents and editors: Please hold out patiently. Read books like this one, repeat after me: "The real thing is out there." and keep your eyes wide open. Otherwise I'll hold you responsible for my misplaced time.
TBR Pile Reduction Challenge 2011, Book #15 (challenger = Nomes)...more
I can't really comprehend that I am sitting here pressing determinedly the five-star-button - in spite of the first chapters, which obviously have beeI can't really comprehend that I am sitting here pressing determinedly the five-star-button - in spite of the first chapters, which obviously have been patched together rather sloppily and almost caused me to switch books with one click on my Kindle, ... and in spite of the undeniable cliffy. Yet - here I am am doing precisely that and feeling completely comfortable with it.
Really, at the beginning I had the fleeting, horrible impression my paranormal "favorite" Infinite Days would manage to catch up with me. The cruel, excitement-addicted, immortal heroine - unable to feel for mere mortals - and her gang of equally shiny, but worthless companions, who break a taxi driver's spine for fun. I got very angry about repetitive sentences that should have been edited away and I moaned about unbelievable scenarios like an immortal girl hiding a burn-mark from her best friend under a scarf for over a hundred years - in spite of drunken and drugged party nights, shared hotel rooms and beach holidays, or like the same girl being shocked about said best-friend's pleasure at causing someone deadly pain. As if it would be possible to hide a personality this rotten for over a century from someone that close to you.
I held out and was rewarded with 180-degrees-style improvement. From the moment Natasya boarded the plane in order to leave her old life behind, the nasty crinkles smoothed out and the story enfolded beautifully in front of my eyes. And Natasya/Lilja "magickally" wormed herself into a cosy nook of my heart - the one reserved for heroines, who are prickly and nasty and damaged on the outside, but hurt and helpless and lovable deep within.
"Immortal Beloved" could probably be described as a cross between Rachel's Holiday, Secrets of Truth and Beauty and maybe Succubus Blues. It is the story of a girl whose long, long life has made her unable to feel attachment, unable to sleep without "self-medication", unable to decide for herself what she really wants. It is a story of a girl at the point of no return. A girl who turns herself in at a rehabilitation center for wayward immortals, because she vaguely remembers a woman inviting her 50 years ago to come and stay with her should she hit the bottom end of things and change her mind. The rehab plot unexpectedly uncovered some very interesting strings of thought about the burdens of immortality, but also about a fulfilled life in general. That might have easliy turned into something preachy-soppy, but Natasya's own snarky, sceptical attitude and her ongoing inner monologue fueled by exaggeration lightens the mood and gives her stay at "River's Edge" a pretty hilarious note.
I was really relieved not to have to read about the hot-hot-hot love-interest without reprieve. He is of the - in my opinion - hot sort and I began to look forward to Natasya's encounters with him (nothing like enemies falling for each other hard, isn't there), but I was glad that the romance was not taking over the already interesting story as soon as the potential supernatural heartbreaker made his first entrance.
I have to say, I not only guessed the connection between Natasya and Reyn, I really knew when she implied that his face looked familiar. But at that point I did not mind anymore. I was too much enamoured already to care.
So. Same as with Die for Me for instance, falling in love with this book has been an entirely individual process that cannot be easily explained by check-marking off its shining points. Thus it makes recommending it to all my friends a tricky thing. I won't do it to be on the safe side. I certainly do not want to be lynched. But realize that maybe you are missing out on something rather satisfying and heart-cuddling.
I, for my part, crave to read the sequel now. But ... I, too, know what a sequel can do to a lovely story (exasperated sigh). ...more
Meh-meh. I really think that a bEarding-school story would have been far more orginal than this "followed-all-baking-instructions-for-paranomal-young-Meh-meh. I really think that a bEarding-school story would have been far more orginal than this "followed-all-baking-instructions-for-paranomal-young-adult" boarding-school girly-girl, let's-kiss-the-presumably-hot-and-bad-but-taken warlock, "three-mean-girls-shall-you-be" witchy-washy is.
Please pat me on my back! Finishing this with only skipping half a page now and then took almost all my witch-power for today....more
Bill Keaggy, the author of this book, which is best enjoyed in little chunks as a coffee-table treat, has been into grocery lists for some time, obvioBill Keaggy, the author of this book, which is best enjoyed in little chunks as a coffee-table treat, has been into grocery lists for some time, obviously. He operates a website, http://www.grocerylists.org/, entirely devoted to found grocery lists and stuff that is connectible to them. I do love wacky hobbies like that, I admire books about subjects that I never guessed would fill a whole volume and I can perfectly comprehend the strange curiosity that bubbles up when you find something in someone else's handwriting, which the writer did not treasure enough to keep or properly dispose of - or which someone used as a bookmark and then forgot to take out again before returning the borrowed book (you won't believe what I have picked out of libary books over the years): Your might automatically start to connect the meager dots, to spin tales around the age and gender and social standing of the person who threw away the paper, about the purpose and the destiny of the products, the poem, the exam, the calculation. Bill Keaggy's mind operates that way as well and I liked that about his book. He uses a rather snarky approach and in a lot of cases I enjoyed that as well. I had a big-time-snort-and-cough more than once reading Milk Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found. What I did not enjoy was the condescending manner Bill tackles the lists with he assembled for his spelling-error-chapters. In fact I despised his gall to call people who and whose circumstances have to be absolutely unknown to him "dumb" and "loser" and other similarly unkind names. It might be a bit alarming that a certain pretty high percentage of the lists found by and given to the author reveal their writers' poor ability to spell correctly, but that is no reason to make generic assumptions about all these persons' intelligence or lives. There might be immigrants, tourists, children, shoppers with bad eye-sight or dyslexia and other limitations among those who - for their own eyes only - jotted down what they planned to buy. I sincerely hope that I do not lose one of my lists or reminders in the vincinity of the author's hunting ground. Who knows what label he would decide to stick on my personality? Three stars, because I enjoyed browsing through the lists and I definitely had more fun time than anger-filled moments....more
"If you'd only let me come by myself, none of this would have happened. Having you around makes everything worse.' She buried her head under her pillow"If you'd only let me come by myself, none of this would have happened. Having you around makes everything worse.' She buried her head under her pillow. 'Stop it! You're so cold! You're heartless, you little robot!' The pillow muffled her words, but they still stung. 'I feel things,' I said. 'I'm not a robot!' I stamped my foot and screamed. Then I burst into tears. I touched the wet little drops and held them toward her. 'See, I'm not a robot. This is proof."
Beatrice has gotten used to forming only superficial friendships at each school she attends, because she knows she will be leaving after a year anyway. Her father is a highly acclaimed professor of biology who enjoys moving from one prestigious university to the next – always dragging his wife and daughter behind and never sparing more than a flimsy thought on their acclimatization. Shortly before the last move from Ithaca, NY to Baltimore Bea’s mother started to deteriorate from being a slightly childish best friend substitute to being a sickly wreck with unpredictable mood swings, accusatory outbursts and eerily strange behavior: Half nights are spent trying out eye-shadow combinations, day after day chicken is served and the latest household outfit of choice is a red and white polka-dot bikini complimented by chicken earrings made from cardboard cutouts. Bea misses her absent father’s sanity whenever her mother calls her a „heartless robot“ for acting sensible and level-headed. When she starts her senior year at Canton Bea wonders if her mother’s guess might right, because her friendly and welcoming but shallow classmates’ babble fails to spark a real interest in her. Only the company of her assembly neighbor and long-time loner Jonah Tate defies Bea’s sense of boredom and seems to reach out to her on a deeper level. Soon Bea and Jonah, who fights his own past’s and present’s ghost, become something beyond mere friends to each other. Apart from being inseparable at school they meet on air on a nightly basis, calling in at Night Light, a local radio show as Ghost Boy and Robot Girl. But although Bea is happy to mainly depend on Jonah’s friendship and affection and is always more than ready to forgive him his caprices, she has a hard time understanding his jealousy and his efforts to undermine her attempts to keep up her normal social life at school. „Saying Goodbye in Robot“ follows Bea months for month through her last year of high-school, her crumbling family situation, her bitter-sweet journey of gaining and losing and gaining Jonah’s friendship and her personal growths.
Although I felt an occasional and fleeting bump of sympathy for Jonah and although I managed to grasp why Bea felt so drawn to a person so morbid, aloof and repellent, I detested Jonah and his clingy hold on Bea with all my heart most of the time. Bea’s mother’s random reactions turned Bea’s life into an unstable house of cards anyway. Making Bea subject to his beck and call and sabotaging all her relationships didn’t win me over to his side. Bea herself, on the other hand, always stayed dear to me and I felt deeply for her when her mother abused her verbally or used her as a pawn in her crazy game of marriage. I also enjoyed the curious callers of the radio show: Myrna, Larry, Kreplax from the future as well as classmates Anne and AWAE (Ann Without An E) and obstinate Walt. Strangely Natalie Standiford seems to have a thing for indifferent parents that are somewhat off the rocker. Bea’s dad presented himself as unlikable is his own way to me as the Sullivan’s sister’s father (Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters) did.
If the novel did not unexpectedly sprinkle the last chapters with a fine dust of subtle hope (like Bea painting her room black – but putting up hundreds of fluorescent stars in hindsight), I would have rated the book two stars only. Oh, wait, presumably I wouldn’t have. The writing is simply too superb. There is no denying that Mrs. Standiford knows how to wrap her ideas in words. Words that somehow fit. ...more
The third installment of my very favorite fairy and steampunk series featuring my favorite cat ever and the cutest Gremlin alive ... I loved The IronThe third installment of my very favorite fairy and steampunk series featuring my favorite cat ever and the cutest Gremlin alive ... I loved The Iron King and just liked The Iron Daughter. The typical consequence following the law of paranormal trilogies would be that I tolerated The Iron Queen - for old times' sake. But no - I got to be surprised (although I sometimes feel so unsurprisable): In most parts I liked The Iron Queen almost as much as The Iron King and in some parts (i.e. the number of Grimalkin dialogues, the multiple, fantastic steampunk elements, the Puck-and-Ash-banter and Meghan's personal growth) I think it even surpassed it in my eyes.
Before reading The Iron Queen my guess about The Iron Knight/Ash's story was that we would be told some ancient story about his former self wooing Ariella or losing his soul or growing a heart or battling his brothers, but now I am pretty positive that Julie Kagawa is going to treat us with a narration of what happens after The Iron Queen - in Ash's point of view. I cross my fingers that I am right. There has to be a way.
And please, Mrs. Kagawa, write some awsome new series on the side, won't you? I bet it will relax you in the evenings after hours of tweaking Ash's musings and Puck's teasings.
Ohhh ... and I forgot: TBR Pile Reduction Challenge 2011, Book #8 (challenger = Jessica)...more