The writing definitely shows skill and the heroine has a certain realistic flavor, but I noticed quickly that "Lovely, Dark and Deep" is one of those...moreThe writing definitely shows skill and the heroine has a certain realistic flavor, but I noticed quickly that "Lovely, Dark and Deep" is one of those grief-centered books, which are too depressing for me.
After I while I couldn't stand Mamie/Wren's prickly leave-me-alone-I'm-fine-mantra anymore, and I tsked and growled, when I saw she was so blinded by cloaking herself in her own pain that she had the nerve to thoughtlessly ask a guy sick with MS, walking on crutches and admitting that it isn't safe for him to go on driving a car, why he thought he would not resume his studies in fall: If he lost his interest in architecture.
I stopped reading at 21%, and I don't think I will pick it up again. But I am confident that this is the right story for a lot of readers: Dead boyfriends, small-towns, broken friendships, famous dads and gorgeous, terminally ill hunks are an attractive combination, I believe. (less)
Pennsylvania was a strange state. No one knew who Ruby was. Should you - like me - love beautiful, dream-like writing and glittering, complex character...morePennsylvania was a strange state. No one knew who Ruby was. Should you - like me - love beautiful, dream-like writing and glittering, complex characters who constantly hover just outside your grasp in a gray area between evil, half-good and plain crazy, yet do not mind not getting solid answers at all, there is a serious chance for you to fall for 'Imaginary Girls' by Nova Ren Suma.
I read the eerie, eerie debut novel featuring a tight, strange bond between two sisters, a siren-like femme fatale clutching a whole small-town in her fickle fingers, an alcoholic, hippie mother, some sexual awakening, some painful growing up and growing a conscience, a caring father, deaths, ghosts and hot, lazy summers with a Goodreads group of 'German Girls Reading English Books' - thank you, girls, for voting for this gem as our January group read; without you it would be still gathering dust on my Kindle - and I was delighted by the rich multitude of explanation possibilies the plot offered as our order-seeking minds tried to press the book into a fitting genre corner and to make sense of heroine Chloe's subjective narration. Although only a dozen readers went into discussion, a colorful palette of constructions presented itself - and almost all ideas sounded quite sound: Drugs, dreams, traumata, split personality disorders, deal-offering monsters, paranormal gifts that are limited geographically, even painfully staged pretenses of paranormal gifts to mislead and mind-control the heroine.
... To me, personally, Ruby came across like a twisted and dangerous, yet somehow caring variation of Mary Poppins. I am not exactly sure why. Probably because of her spontaneity, her cheerfulness, her firm reign, her randomly offered secret bits and pieces from her personal Knigge, or simply her magnetic personality?
The book which 'Imaginary Girls' reminded me the strongest of is my beloved 'Chime' - which is not for everyone either. Since Franny Billingsley is so slow in producing another masterpiece I can blissfully roll around in, I am happy when something remotely comparable in style turns up to entertain me in between.
You see, I am rather reluctant to issue a general recommendation, but I also do not want to leave my positive rating uncommented and my praise unuttered. You might be disappointed or frustrated, but you might also miss something unusual and great.(less)
"He stuck his shovel defiantly in the ground, then took off his little red hat and held it in both hands. 'You have a name?' 'Twinkle.' 'Twinkle,' I s...more"He stuck his shovel defiantly in the ground, then took off his little red hat and held it in both hands. 'You have a name?' 'Twinkle.' 'Twinkle,' I said slowly. 'The Destroyer,' he added. 'Your name is Twinkle the Destroyer?' He nodded. 'Of course it is. Why wouldn't it be? Okay, Twinkle the Destroyer, I take it you guys have been popping my tires?'" Who doesn't love fierce, little garden gnomes named Pip the Briger of Pain, Gnoman Polanski or Twinkle the Destroyer? And who doesn't think that Lish McBride’s dialogues between her mellow necromancing hero Samhain LaCroix and multiple, wackily paranormal or frighteningly normal creatures like Pello the dread-locked, beer-bellied, leery satyr, who enjoys to attend council meetings clad neither in glamour nor in anything else that restricts his manliness, huge, vegetarian, strangely sexy bigfoots bursting with mating pheromones, vampire dandies with parasols, popker playing minotaurs, the human underdog Frank, the weregrizzly Ramon and ... last but not least the most interesting pukis in literature, James Montgomery, are prizeworthily funny, clever and naughty? Well I, for my part, I do. A lot of scenes in this sequel to the exciting and entertaining "Hold Me Closer, Necromancer" provided me with blissful moments of mirth.
In spite of that I believe the novel to be superfluous as a novel. Usually I am one of those readers who make a wide berth around short-story anthologies and anouncements of prequel 0.7 and sequel 1.5.2. But in the light of the material presented in "Necromancing the Stone" I am sure a couple of shorts titled "How to Mailorder a Chupacabra", "Bare-Assed Hiking with Pello", "Social Security for the Sexy Bigfoot", "Puking on a Pukis", "The Day Frank Became an Honorary Gnome" or "High on Goddess Juice" would have done the trick very nicely indeed.
See, the problem is the real plot. It is simply not enough around of it to fill a whole book, and the arc of tension – if you insist of looking for one – resembles rather a limp fishing line than a taut string of a bow ready to snap. The narration is split up more or less betweeen Sam and the evil, evil, evil, evil necromancer Douglas, who is a bit dead, but preparing to resurrect and reclaim everything ... and certainly to take revenge, but who has magically stored a fragment of his soul in a object (see title), which is in unsuspecting Sam’s hands but is needed in Doug's to get the action to full throttle. So there is a warning (*yawn*), some dreams, that reminded me of a young Tom Riddle, a little murder (*yawnyawnsob*), some bonding, some council-this-and-that, some re-woeing of Bridgin, the pigeon – ehhr, no, werealpha-in-spe -, and a flashy 5000 Watt bulb anouncing the final solution of the final kind-of-battle precisely at the 39% mark. That meant: enough potential to drive me nuts with boredom between the giggles.
I am not sure whether I want to read the third volume or not. But I do not want to miss out on any new attempt the author throws on the market in the future. For she is a talented one. I won’t go back on that. (less)
4.5 stars. Kate is a very, very cool and tough girl. I love reading about her. Drawbacks are the - for me - sometimes slightly too cheesy romance betw...more4.5 stars. Kate is a very, very cool and tough girl. I love reading about her. Drawbacks are the - for me - sometimes slightly too cheesy romance between her and Vincent and the occasionally too high predictability of the story. Still, the plot kept me on my toes anyway, the atmosphere was great and the characters all stayed dear to me.
Thank you so much, Amy!! Especially for one of the 'endings', which fulfilled a wish of mine. I leave this world with a pleasantly mushy heart: Aching a little, but also bursting at the seams.(less)
Maura would say "That's the universe calling for you on line two, Orla" or something like that [...]. In the next room over, Orla was talking to eith...moreMaura would say "That's the universe calling for you on line two, Orla" or something like that [...]. In the next room over, Orla was talking to either her boyfriend or one of the psychic hotline callers. With Orla it was difficult to tell the difference between the two sorts of calls. Both of them left Blue thinking she ought to shower afterwards.
”The Raven Boys” has been one of the books I anticipated so much that I placed a pretty early preorder on the hardcover. And, if you look at my status updates, you can see that I breezed through it in practically no time, because I did enjoy reading it and did not want to read other books in between in order to wait for my group of reading buddies to catch up.
Right from the start I loved heroine Blue Sargent, the likeably different non-psychic in a small-town, all-female household of delightfully wacky, but genuine tarot-card-reading fortune-tellers, without reserve and glued myself to her every move. Her family was like a mix of the Obermeiers in “Olfi Obermeier und der Ödipus” and the Delaneys in “The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney”, but in contrast to the hero and the heroine in the before mentioned novels, Blue feels perfectly comfortable being her mother’s offspring and contributes to her family’s business, too: Her presence is like an amplifier for everything spiritual, magical and life-energy-related. Blurry visions get clearer, spirit voices get louder and ley line energy flows freely when Blue is in the vicinity. I looked extremely forward to the possibility of wonderful Blue falling in love with a boy and struggling hard against her emotions, because her cards again and again predicted the too-early demise of a boy she will kiss. I was eager to meet the mysterious boy who had only one year or less to live: The doomed boy, whose spirit appeared to Blue on St. Mark’s Eve on corpse road.
And here is where my rainbow-colored balloon was condemned to slowly deflate: Although mystery boy Gansey and his friends Adam, Ronan and Noah, who - like him - are Ivy-League-bound students of the prestigious, private boarding-school Aglionby, are far from being cardboard characters, I didn’t fall for them at all. Their sharp angles and their unique edges failed to evoke my interest and their Holy-Grail-like quest to locate the exact route of one of three criss-crossing ley lines, and consequently the secret burying ground of the corpse of the Welsh legend Glendower, seemed pretty random, forcefully molded to fit to the rest of the story and artificially constructed altogether. The use Gansey - and his evil competitors, too - had for the power granted to the person responsible for ancient Glendower’s reawakening was eventually explained, but it did not convince me as far as the degree of obsession and urgency was concerned.
In addition, there was - contrary to the book flap's promise - no true love in sight. Blue is described as a very sensible person, who is determined not to fall in love, because she does not want to be the cause of someone's death. Her frightened realization, that steeling her heart against love - which unerringly will find a crack to slip in anyhow - did not have the slightest effect at all, could have been an extraordinary drama to behold. But Stiefvater chose the route of lukewarm first attraction for one boy, whose attentions are kind of welcome and gratifying, and a curiosity-based, growing familiarity lined with bickering and headed towards a friendship between like-minded persons for another one, who at first seemed to be incompatible. In short, that means: No passion for Blue in volume one, but seeds in the soil for a solid love-triangle in volume 2.
By the way, volume 2: Quite a number of questions remained unanswered and quite a lot of puzzles stayed unsolved. I do not mind a book that leaves room for a sequel. (“Shiver”, for example, has been such a book for me. I could read “Linger”, if I ever felt like it, but I do not have to.) But I resent books that make no sense on their own. “The Raven Boys” does not really end on a cliffhanger, but you cannot fail to notice that the story is incomplete.
I guess I will enjoy reading the sequel eventually. But I can assure you that nothing will seduce me into preordering the hardcover. My hardcover copy of “The Raven Boys” is back on the market, by the way. I see no sense in keeping it. A lovely cover alone does not earn my precious shelf space. All in all: A good read, but also a disappointment. (less)
“Slipping my clothes off, I took a minute to check myself out in the mirror. [...] Damn. I may not be Jessica Alba, but I could probably have been her...more“Slipping my clothes off, I took a minute to check myself out in the mirror. [...] Damn. I may not be Jessica Alba, but I could probably have been her body double.” You got to love a heroine like Hadley Bishop, at least according to the author’s agent, who gushes that the main character of Life's a Witch “is impossible not to like”. Well, I seem to possess special abilities, for not liking Hadley turned out to be very, very easy. In fact, the heroine’s personality is one of things I disliked most in this debut, which has a lot of potential to get a spot among my personal five worst reads of 2012 and which should have been titled better “The Witch is a Bitch” in my opinion. But I will return to Hadley later.
I read Life's a Witch during the short time span it had been available as a cheap and self-published Kindle version on Amazon – that is after its supposed stellar success on the novel writing platform Wattpad.com, and before Simon and Schuster, the new licence holder, made the author take it off again (makes sense) – but after the success story of the acclaimed internet novel aimed at young adults was suddenly mentioned everywhere – including Publishers Weekly and Wall Street Journal. Since there are other – in my opinion much more talented – self-published authors making the leap to be represented by major publishing houses, too, I chalk the strangely broad media coverage down to the fat foot the author already had inside the publishing business’ door due to her former position as an editor at the magazine American Cheerleader before it was sold. I also glimpse with lots of skepsis towards the 15 Million readers the novel boasts to have attracted and satisfied as it was born and developed on the writing platform Wattpad.com. When I had a look, only 900 comments were attached to the entry – and a lot of them reactions of the author to every praise and question. I admit I am not familiar with how the community works, but I guess readers rather mean clicks, because A) I certainly have been tempted more than just once to stop reading and to delete the file from my Kindle with a flourishing gesture, and B) because I had never heard of Life's a Witch before and I believe the fame of a novel loved by 15 Million readers would have reached us here at Goodreads no matter what format.
Do you fear this review will be getting far too long? Do not worry. The plot is easy to summarize in a few sentences, because it does not include a lot of turns or characters or layers and unfortunately also not a lot of world building:
Hadley Bishop, the eighteen-years-old high school queen bee and member of the self-declared “good” witch coven “The Cleri” gets to know that the “bad” witch coven - nicknamed “The Parrishables”- has murdered all the parents of all students in her weekend spell-training group including her own mother. Because of her god-given ability to manipulate and lead, she quickly whisks away the complete group of twelve to her family’s magically hidden and enforced summer cabin and trains them to stop the bloodthirsty and powerhungy witches on their path to world dominion as if they were her cheerleading troupe from school (repeat, repeat, repeat). On her day off, when everbody else is trying to stock up the cabin with basic necessities (“Maybe my priorites were a bit ass-backwards, but I figured I could live with whatever food they came back with; finding the right shoes to match my future outfits while also being nature-appropriate was a tougher feat entirely.”), Hadley falls in love with a mysterious and beautiful boy who has either been stalking her, because of her irresistible girl qualities (Hadley’s guess) or because the bad witches sent someone attractive out to get a better angle on what is left of their enemy coven (my guess). Apart from some flashbacks, some group-dynamical outbursts, some ghostly Mom-action and certainly some fighting that’s it. Because of the final question, if dead means really dead when you are a witch, there is still room for a sequel or two.
I believe the author of Life's a Witch is an avid connoisseur of chicklit and – like most of us – a huge admirer of the Harry Potter series (the bad witches, who are returning and have to be fought by teenagers, the silly pseudo-latin spells like “Immobius totarium”). What she probably did not enjoy so much were the Twilight books. Therefore she has made the effort to create a heroine who is the exact opposite of Bella Swan: A truely beautiful and physically fit girl who is popular, because she wants to be popular. Someone who knows her own potential and flaunts it with all her might. Someone who is sure of her own superiority, her magical powers of persuasion and the infailability of her own opinion and judgement. Someone who is unfortunately very conceited, self-centered, domineering, power-hungry, patronizing and condescending, but thinks she is the universe’s answer to her generation’s prayers.
Here is a choice of quotes out of many to illustrate Hadley’s opinion of herself. Enjoy:
“As class president, I made decisions based on what would be best for my classmates. I told everyone what to vote for, what they should care about and set the standards of excellence among my peers. When people didn’t do what I wanted them to, I convinced them to see the errors of their ways.”
“If I had to leave the school in someone’s hands after I’d graduated, I’d want it to be someone like me. Fair, commanding, but friendly. Sofia was all this, which made her a perfect number two.”
“I personally couldn’t care less what anyone thought of me here at Astor as long as I was still the most influencial girl around.”
„I could tell they were all waiting for direction from me. It was clear on their faces. And I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. I was the oldest. I tended to take control of every situation. I was popular, powerful and pretty, everything that usually afforded a person the attention of their peers.”
Hadley does not have friends at school; she has subjects and she behaves in front of them – and in front of her magical training group, too, like the dictator of a small country. She makes all decisions, as random as they often are, by herself and distributes information about the situation, the revealing dreams she has and the magical cabin only in a very filtered way and only to the older teens. She expects blind trust, but at the same time she cares only half-heartedly for the fate of the kids she had made her responsibility. My jaw dropped a mile, when she announced that she wouldn’t share her parents’ room in the cabin with anybody, and a few miles further when she explained the group's sleeping arrangements in retrospect: “It was sort of first-come, first-serve around here, which meant that some unlucky individuals were always stuck with the floor in the living-room or on a row of uncomfortable chairs lined up.” Hadley is the only one who had time to pack a duffel bag before fleeing their town, but she does not consider sharing her toiletries or teaching the others the skin-cleaning spell she had invented. And I couldn’t believe how everybody put their lives into the hands of a girl, who – even after years of weekend group sessions – does not remember every member’s name: “Sonya, I think her name was. I’d never actually talked to her, but I’d seen her around for years. So, if I didn’t know her, it was pretty fair to say she didn’t know me either.” After a small mutiny Hadley promises everybody a chance of involvement, but solves the tiny attack on her single-handed rule by soaking her prep talk with persuasion magic, which makes everbody enthusiastic, hopeful and finally willing to follow. Unbelievable, but true: The heroine’s personality does not evolve during the book.
A second thing that bothered me was Hadley’s perception of the younger coven members, like 13-years-old Penelope, who readers of the novel should identify themselves with: “And now, the younger girl had permanently attached herself to my lower half. [...]“Please don’t leave us again,” she whispered. Her voice was inaudible to anyone else but me.” How small and young and needy does the author think 13-years-olds are? How big is Hadley supposed to be? An Amazon of Hulk-like proportions?
The last aspect that was pretty unacceptable to me was the ostensibly easy distinction between “good witches” and “bad witches”: “Bad witches” use their god-given powers “for personal gain or wrong-doing”. The villain witch in this novel is confidently condemned without much ado: “His heart is black, so is his soul, and when it’s time to meet his maker – which I anticipate will happen soon – he will be punished for all he has done. The otherworld does not take kindly to those who defy its laws.” But I thought, how much does his behavior really differ from that of his “good” counterparts? Hadley’s Dad is a fundraiser. He spends his persuasion magic “for a good cause” – but what if somebody forks out money, because he or she can’t help it in spite of having had different plans for the cash? Hadley’s Mom sells magical perfumes and Hadley herself worked herself up the high school social ladder by manipulation, by putting designer-clothes-illusions on her everyday wear and by bespelling her skin to glow. The “Cleri’s” solution to keep everyone’s power-hunger in check is teaching less and less useful spells, but later Hadley finds out that all her peers had been busy inventing their own spells to facilitate their lives. When I was reading the verbal exchanges between Hadley and her adversary, it reminded me of countries at war, who both feel their case is right and just and who are both only different sides of the same coin.
There is not much to say with respect to the severe case of instant-love the reader gets served. Maybe it is easiest understood by a short quote: “I could no longer deny it: we were meant to be together. But I still didn’t fully trust him.”
Here I rest my case. As you can see, I do not recommend to read this book. But if you feel the urge to try, I won’t scowl at you. It always comes down to personal taste. I liked Bella Swan in spite of her shortcomings. Maybe you like Hadley Bishop because of hers. (less)
3.5 stars. *** You might come across something you consider as spoilers reading my review.*** "Amy, remember that if you get lost in a forest and the...more3.5 stars. *** You might come across something you consider as spoilers reading my review.*** "Amy, remember that if you get lost in a forest and the ghosts trick you into thinking every direction looks the same – take your undies off, put them over your head and spin around in a circle. Then your path will be clear." Shirley Marr's second novel, Preloved, is thoroughly peppered with indispensable pieces of wisdom like this endearing warning the heroine's mother sends her daughter off to school with. Shirley states at the end of the book that she has all these sayings from her own mum, who may or may not resemble Ivy Lee, a tiny Australian woman of Chinese descent, who operates on a very fixed believe system rooted in ghosts, good and evil spirits, reincarnation and consequently the repercussions of what you do in your present life on what or where you will be in your next one and the time in between. In addition she is a bit forgetful, easily distracted, slightly wacky in general and not the kind of person who cuddles and coddles relatives and friends, which is her case is obviously a culture thing. In spite of that I could seamlessly relate: Although my equally strange and distractible mother - who I am by the way very grateful to for putting so much effort into trying to raise me and my siblings right – pulled her various rules and wild convictions out of a Christian hat. I used to cover my ears and hum to myself, for instance, when other kids started to recite horoscopes from a teen magazine, because "attempting to look into your future will have bad consequences" - and I admit that I still feel kind of queasy today when someone insists on learning my zodiac sign. My mum and I reintroduced hugging into our relationship when I left for university and did not spend so much time with her anymore. I was never called by anything else than my five-syllables-long name (which I do not really mind, but which I noticed when other parents called their little girls "snail" or "bunny" or "treasure" or shorted versions of their given names), and I always resented her tendency to add each and every knick-knack somebody gave to her to the dust-gathering clutter on bookshelves and cupboards and grinded my teeth to dust because of her very annoying habit to tell me exactly what to do and what to change - when all I had wanted was letting her know how things went for or against me in my world. Maybe that is the reason why I feel particularly attracted to mother-daughter stories – in all likelihood you know my huge adoration for Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - and I instantly liked both generations of Lee women in Preloved. For inherited wackiness nonewithstanding Amy is unquestionably sweet and funny and warm. She connocts very interesting daydreams and she fantasizes a little about making out with a nice and nerdy gamer boy. (I especially appreciated that this potential love interest is described – by himself – as being rather chubby and not so quick on his feet, and that his being overweight does not render him unfit to star in the heroine's romantic fantasies). Amy is very reluctant to act upon her attraction and I understood that her hesitation derives from witnessing her father's excessive alcohol consumption and the desctruction of her parents' marriage laced with ugly fights and unresolved financial matters. But as the remainder of Amy's off-putting behavior, her self-fabricated state of one-weird-friend-only-loneliness, is concerned, I have to say I did not get that at all and the feeble hints at a possible cause at the end did not convince me or help me understand: Why again did she put her friendship with kindergarten buddy Nancy Soo, who is still caring and clever and snarky, wonderful to talk to and solid enough to lean on, on ice? Why does she spend her time with self-centered boy-magnet Rebecca, who every girl despises for a reason, when there is no benefit in the form of confiding in and relying on each other included in that friendship? Why does she almost revel in her outsider status and utters strange and incomprehensive things when she is obviously on the brink of being suffocated by her physical and mental loneliness? Shirley's dedication at the beginning of the novel - "For everyone who preferes abnormal to paranormal and a bad romance to a love story" - certainly rings true: Amy Lee's spiritual episode in Preloved is no ghost-and-girl-love-story, 80s ghost boy Logan Feldmann is no Jesse de Silva(view spoiler)[I had, by the way, never the impression that Logan might be dangerous as the cover text boldly suggests. He is simply a ghost, popping up randomly, obsessing about his former girlfriend Stacey and remembering very little about himself, which makes his actions a little uncalculatable. (hide spoiler)], and Amy's haunted moments just make the lonely parts in her ache with a longing for touch and laughter, for closeness and romance. The exclusive relationship with someone only she can see beckons strongly to her, because Rebecca's attention is only available as long as no potential admirer claims it. Logan's attention wanders, too, but only Amy can hear and help him, and and his demeanor shows that her well-being and her future matter to him, as well. His questions according to his own past make Amy, who is into preloved films and music and clothes anyway, suddenly want to unravel the knots that hinder herself to live freely, as well. Still, to find my way as a reader through the glittering prism of Amy's far-flung motivations and actions and puzzling school events like an 80s week was quite difficult and occasionally exhausting. The plot jittered and jumped, and I, I tagged along – because in some way Amy's fate had become important to me. Before I end my musings I need to say something about the language and something else about the cover:
As a non-native speaker, who during the 80s experienced the English language solely in the form of textbooks designed in the 70s, I am not really able to sort slang words used by fictional characters according to era, social standing or even an author's creativity. Therefore my impression that Logan's constantly "spewing" of especially fitting vocabulary left a rather forced/artificial bytaste might be the result of being a foreigner with a limited grasp of a multi-facetted language. I even sometimes fear that my own colloquial German is still too saturated with expressions of the decade I started my school career, which outs me automatically as a pretty dated person. As far as the rest of the book's style is concerned I need to stress how much I enjoyed that Shirley's unique brand of humor haunted every single paragraph. For someone like me, who loves her comments and reviews here on Goodreads.com, 270 pages of her "abnormally" good writing in one go is definitely a treat to savor. This review of Preloved is actually meant to be a recommendation.
The cover of Preloved is one of the most beautiful and alluring ones I have come across this year. I fiercely love it and already tried out the dots-of-light-effect on some of the pictures stored on my phone. It also looks more magical than the cute but rather dully colored cover of the modern Cinderella retelling If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?. . That – apart from the 43 long days between dispatch and deliverey – makes it a tiny bit hard to part with the copy again.
... But I am determined to go though with my plan to pass the book to someone else – although I am not sure exactly how. Maybe someone is willing to swap it – internationally – for something on my wishlist or my want-to-own shelf? I guess if nobody contacts me within a week or so I will decide on a Giveaway or an preloved-books-offer at Amazon Germany.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)