You Tarzan. Me Jane? No. „I’m Mephisto – you’re Anabo. Since I’m the one who caught your scent, it means you’re intended for me.” In my very private op...moreYou Tarzan. Me Jane? No. „I’m Mephisto – you’re Anabo. Since I’m the one who caught your scent, it means you’re intended for me.” In my very private opinion there are only two possible and healthy viewpoints to adapt when reading The Mephisto Covenant: Incredulous Outrage and Guilty Pleasure. My own has been a mixture of both, but as my final 3-star-rating shows, I primarily went with the latter and consequently had a shitload of fun. I am aware of the fact that there are also readers who consumed the story with a I-want-to-be-her-and-I-need-someone-like-him-in-my-life-feeling bursting in their breasts, but I personally consider that kind of mindframe in combination with the book in question as ‘pretty peculiar’ at best. If you would sort yourself into that category, please stop reading my review right now for your own good.
The good, the bad and the outrageously ugly: It is surely pretty difficult to base your world-building on selected pillars of Christian mythology – multi-fold and controversial in itself as it is – without inducing some of your potential readers to have a fit. For theologists, philosophers and psychologists are still searching for answers to the good-and-bad-dilemma: Do good and bad exist? Are we born inherently good, inherently bad or something mish-mash in between? How much of the kind of person we turn out to be is fixed by our genetic cocktail and how much is learned or instilled by the society that nurtures us during our formative years? What or who is responsible for a human being to grow a conscience or the ability to feel empathy? As someone who works in the educational sector I strongly detest the genes-only theories. I believe that genes do place certain limitations, but they do not make anybody good or bad. In The Mephisto Covenant there are a few people (view spoiler)[like Sasha’s Dad (hide spoiler)] who are born being entirely good and happy and unable to hate or envy or begrudge. And they effortlessly stay that way no matter what life dishes out to them. On the other hand there is the majority of people, who sometimes make selfless decisions and on other occasions selfish ones. Heaven, Hell and Purgatory are all more or less reachable destinations – depending on the lives they lead. But – and that made me inexplicably mad – when tempted by evil minions of an ambitious wannabe successor of Lucifer, they are unable to resist selling their souls by default. (view spoiler)[The heroine has to experience all her living family members and all her friends succumbing to temptation and turning into unspeakably evil and cold abnominations literally over night. (hide spoiler)]. The Purgatory gatekeepers/enforcers are technically employees of Lucifer, but because they are keeping the God-intended balance, they are doing the right thing by Him as well and - being trustworthy and hardworking lads - they have been promised one chance each at soul peace and heavenly bliss: The appearance of their own private Anabo who have to be seduced into loving them: Anabo are rare decendants of Eve’s daughter Aurora, who had been conceived before her mother’s Fall from Grace. Anabo are so pure that they get physically ill in the vicinity of evil, they are so good that they are downright boring, they are not sexually attractive to human men and they are slap-my-other-cheek-too-meek and frighteningly passive. (view spoiler)[For example, Sasha gets groped between her legs in the school caféteria by a student who sold his soul and all she does is crying and silently enduring. Luckily the plot commences to show her transformation from being 100% bland and pure to being a seductive Mephisto-mate with a sense of self-preservation and a minimum of temperament. (hide spoiler)] The bad-boy-naive-girl scenario is kind of annoying like hell, but with the right dose of exaggeration also a workable breeding ground for guilty pleasure:
Wanted: Half a dozen angelic virgins for six damaged hell-hotties: I didn’t have the nerves to actually read one of them until the very last page, but both concept and realisation of this first book in the Kyanos Brothers’ series strongly resemble those of the Black Dagger Brotherhood installments by J.R. Ward and the Midnight Breed books by Lara Adrian – paranormal romance targeted at adults. We have one hot, dark, dangerous, experienced pack guy overcome by his longing to be loved eternally by a fragile, naive, irresistible, virgin female who has a fierce kernel, an otherwordly sexual appetite and some guy-polishing essence hidden somewhere in her demure wrapping. But that female is always – mainly subjectively seen – off limits to that guy, which makes him want her more and at inconvenient times, kindles his jealous streak, his inner animal, his inner cry-baby and several other inners. Certainly angelic Sasha is reluctant to date a guy from hell, but after an irreversible “whoopsie” moment, she is all “I want your scent all over me, Jax” and he is all “I’d want to kill anyone who touched you.” Although I asked myself why on earth would somebody write a “Brotherhood” series for teens I have to admit, the untouched female thing works better for 17 years old Sasha than for a 26 years old lawyer or accountant.
A puddle of molten latex, double standards and other sexy stuff: All the pleasure that derives from the boy-girl-talks, the conquering, the steamy scenes in their graphic glory, the whimpering, the possessivenes and so on, practically has to be guilty, because the reader is constantly reminded of the double standard that is generously being applied. When the heroine starts to feel sexually attracted to the hero, she states “I am turning into a dirty girl in a virgin’s body.” And that she is finally having sex in raw measures is only allowable, because with the decision to give in she binds herself to her partner for eternity. He on the other hand had “been alive a thousand years and had sex with thousands of females” - without even looking into their eyes in order not to frighten them away by his hellish expression, because of his male needs. The reader feels compensated for this gender injustice, when under the gentle hands of his naive virgin our thousand-females-in-back-alleys-jewel “suffered every guy’s ultimate humilitation, trying to turn his body away.” Yes, you’ve got that right. Other ridiculous fun-scenes include one in which he creeps in on her while she is trying on jeans in the mall and is standing there “in a pair of jeans and nothing else.” I wrecked my brain but couldn’t remember a situation in which I took off my bra to try on trousers. And I particularly loved the explanation for his forgoing condoms: Being a creature from Hell Ajax is so hot, that condoms simply melt on him. Burned vagina. Mhhh! This leads us to
Poly-function-juice(s) or “It's in the spit, Bro.” Maybe you are already overwelmed by all the sensational stuff human urine can be used for like curing acne or cooking a Chinese delicacy called Spring Eggs using only prepubescent boy urine. Well, then you have not heard of Mephisto spit and sperm, which are not really two different liquids, but rather the same magical stuff – although the latter is much more “potent” so to say. Mephisto sperm is not one half of conception. Conception simply happens when an Anabo “wishes” for offspring. Isn’t that brilliant? I honestly admire it when authors are brave enough to use ideas that appear to be born at drunken school-girls’ sleepovers into their world-building. Mephisto spit and sperm, in the following shortened to MSaS, functions as an aphrodisiac, it makes the receiver crave the excreter (view spoiler)[it triggers the transformation process from Anabo to Mephisto. But not like inhaling a virus, more like swallowing vitamins: The more you assimilate, the quicker you change. (hide spoiler)], it makes the receiver resistant to memory deletion (view spoiler)[ it binds, brand-marks (hide spoiler)] and it heals – broken bones and also skin. Therefore Ajax’s Daddy’s priceless advice before the big night is “heal as you go”, meaning, hmmm, accompanying penetration with sloppy kisses? But one of the best tricks MSaS has up its sleeve is that it automatically inserts a permanent tracking mechanism in the Anabo it enters. (view spoiler)[That means every Mephisto – even the evil fallen one that hunts Sasha will be able to locate her without consulting GPSn or Google. How fitting that Ajax and Sasha simple have to copulate like there is no tomorrow in the night before she goes on a dangerous one-woman-mission in Moscow instead of waiting a few more days. As I said: So much silly fun. (hide spoiler)]
If you cannot decide whether you should give The Mephisto Covenant: a try, I would say that the safest option to enjoy the journey is reading the book as if it was its own parody. Spit-laden snorts guaranteed. But I wouldn’t spend money on it.
A note: I based this review on a pre-publication review version, which might considerably differ in places from the novel available on the market. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
4,5 stars!! I am quite overwelmed by how much I liked Ballad, since after reading Lament I expected a sequel that would also barely make it into the "...more4,5 stars!! I am quite overwelmed by how much I liked Ballad, since after reading Lament I expected a sequel that would also barely make it into the "It-was-enjoyable-but-didn't-touch-me" category. In most cases sequels even take a slight - or not so slight - drop for me. Surprisingly Ballad turned out to be what I wished Lament had been: A beautiful but eerie story in which humans meet dangerous, but alluring and likable faeries. Both worlds are shaken up. Both main characters change because of the encounter. James was the character I liked best in Lament, anyway. And his story told in turns with faerie muse Nuala tucked at my heart strings in a way Deidre's narration would not and could not. (Oh, how I wished for a miracle in the end! A sure sign of success of the author's efforts to engage the reader.) I was so very afraid of Nuala hurting James in the beginning, but after a few chapters she started to grow on me, which is how it should be in my opinion. Ballad, which was featuring Deidre, too, in the form of unsent text messages, confirmed my slight dislike of "the cloverhand" and opened my eyes to why Lament and I could not and did not really click. A short comment on the cover: It fits "like a fist on an eye" as we would say in German.
P.S.: I am sorry, Jessi, for stowing Ballad away on my keepers shelf after having set up your hope. Borrowing is certainly possible ;-).(less)
I would rate "My Big Birkett" 3,5 stars if I could. I loved the funny style, the metaphors and the wackiness. (I mustn't forget to save some quotes fr...moreI would rate "My Big Birkett" 3,5 stars if I could. I loved the funny style, the metaphors and the wackiness. (I mustn't forget to save some quotes from the first chapters and maybe from the later ones, too.) But I didn't expect it to be that sad and - in parts - hopeless, even. I cannot say that the sadness doesn't fit the story. Barging through the De Head family home purely on humor would gloss over too many cracks that have to be visible and ugly. My heart hurts for Raven De Head, really. All in all I am quite stunned by the mixture of wit, humor and reality.(less)
I'll file this under "read" instead of "unfinished" because I really finished reading three stories out of four without skipping. There is nothing tru...moreI'll file this under "read" instead of "unfinished" because I really finished reading three stories out of four without skipping. There is nothing truely wrong with this book. It's just not for me. So since the year ends and Christmas break is also amost over now, I make a clean break and throw this out. Sorry, book, maybe you'll find another, better owner next December. Volunteers from Germany willing to provide a good home always welcome.(less)
I still love this book (it has been my fourth time now). Abigail is a kind of anti-heroine, but her personality is interestingly multi-faceted, Beatie...moreI still love this book (it has been my fourth time now). Abigail is a kind of anti-heroine, but her personality is interestingly multi-faceted, Beatie and the rest of the Bow Family are so entertainingly vivid and Abigail's time-travel-experience is believably painted in loving detail (up to the accent of the Scottish immigrants and their Glasgow Marble patterned woolen stockings). There is no denying that the ending is cotton candy pink; it successfully underlines the two - disputable - messages the author is trying to shout in our direction: a) Real love on first sight exists b) The ability to love deeply and truly is not connected to age or experience.
4.5 stars. I hope I'll take the time to elaborate later. It was a great, thrilling story with some great and lovable characters, but it had some unnec...more4.5 stars. I hope I'll take the time to elaborate later. It was a great, thrilling story with some great and lovable characters, but it had some unnecessary lengths and some points that bugged me.
And when I compare it to Brenna Yovanoff's The Replacement, which I have rated four stars going on five as well, I have to say that I think although the romance is done better in Nevermore, the writing style / language is more beautiful / better crafted in The Replacement and also the scenes and the characters of the horror parts where eerier, more unsettling, in my opinion more imaginable, vivid. I found myself repeatedly skipping passages in Nevermore - partly driven by the urge to know what would happen, partly because they failed to install the pictures quickly enough in my head. I think if a scene description is truly well done, it keeps you glued to each and every word regardless of the danger lying ahead.
And ... I do not mind hints at sequels and some unresolved aspects, but I do not like having only half a story in my hands. Some solution should be given. That's my opinion.(less)
Yes, I know it looks horribly cheesy. I swapped it on an impulse ...
Clarifying notes concerning my rating: The story deserves only three stars. But I...moreYes, I know it looks horribly cheesy. I swapped it on an impulse ...
Clarifying notes concerning my rating: The story deserves only three stars. But I have to take into account that I stayed up tonight much later than it was sensible - just in order to finish the book. So another star is only fair for Julia Quinn's light and pleasing historical romance. In contrary to other reviewers I am quite content with the amount of steaminess. More would have definitely put me off.(less)
Mermaids are my favorite creatures – always have been. Consequently I notice with glee all those merfolk novels that lately have started popping up le...moreMermaids are my favorite creatures – always have been. Consequently I notice with glee all those merfolk novels that lately have started popping up left and right. And I am very, very grateful to Hartcourt and to Netagalley for accepting my request for a review copy.
Mermaids and other humanoid water-breathers can be tackled from completely opposite angles, because there is always a mystery around them: the "We-above-the-waterline-cannot-know-for-sure-factor". Thus opposed to vampires (getting sucked dry can only end badly) and other monsters they can be pictured as cutish and harmless glitter-girls living in pink mother-of-pearl cities, but there are also selkies, who are not to lose their seal skins, and legions of inhumanly beautiful and alluring, but cruel, calculating, heartless and cold-blooded hunters - out to mesmerize the male two-legger. Face it, the majority of the European legends and fairytales does not present us with with wavy redheads singing happily along with the starfish chorus, but with death-bringing voices luring Orpheus into dangerous waters (Homer), hairy Lorelai distracting seafarers by shaking her booty on her wood-splitting rock (Brentano and others), clever waternixies persuading millers' sons to accompany them underwater and sending them back completely spaced out and clueless three generations later (Grimm’s), fairy-like undines tricking men into getting them pregnant and thus gaining a soul (de la Motte) and – certainly – unhappy fishgirls who give their voices and their lives for a futile shot at gaining the heart of a rich jerk (Andersen).
Sarah Porter grabbed the siren-theme from the Odyssey, recreated the unforgiving and bleak atmosphere of the European seas by moving the setting to even colder Alaska, cooked up a plausible reason for women to use their enchanted voices deathbringingly and wove a modern retelling for a young adult audience from the strings:
Girls of all ages who die from being abused or reach the point when stomaching more abuse and violence simply isn't possible anymore, turn into magical creatures with superhuman strength, sea-serpent-like glittery tails, angelic, persuasive voices and perfect faces (picture Luce as Alice Cullen with a tail) – if they are coincidentally in the vincinity of any source of water. Being disappointed from mankind and enraged for having been mistreated during their childhoods allows their bloodthirsty enchanted voices, who have a mind of their own, a good leverage. The girls find a home within one of the matriarchic mermaid communities, but spend their days dreaming of wrecking the next ship, of enthralling helpless sailors and tourists until they kill themselves joyfully.
Luce (Lucette) is different. It becomes clear quickly, that her voice is unusually powerful, but more important is Luce's attitude toward her "killer voice". Luce's experience with abusive adults didn't last as long as that of many of her tribemates. After her father’s death – at sea - she had only spent about a year with her alcoholic uncle - who had beaten her often, but had tried to rape her just that one time when she decided to jump. Even the lack of friends didn't matter so much to her during her nomadic life with her thieving father, since she had always felt loved and treasured by him. In contrast to the other mermaids Luce does not condemn humanity as a whole. She still can distinguish between good humans, bad humans and indifferent ones. And – at the latest when manipulating newcomer Anais arrives, who did not really have a reason to become a mermaid and sets a wave of envy and back-stabbing into motion - she comes to the conclusion that her fellow mermaids' souls do not really differ from the humans’ they all hate with abandon and that without their orally transmitted code of behavior everybody would be at each others throats.
In the beginning Luce starts to "tame" her enraged, beautiful voice, gradually steering it to alternative uses, because she wants to shed her crave to kill with it. Later she notices that working with her voice also hones her singing skills as such. Her bottomless admiration for Russian Catarina, the tribe's ruling queen, secret code breaker and star singer, whose friendship she desperately seeks to win, hinders her from being open about her vocal experiments – until it is to late and the bullies' trap is asbout to snap.
Luce is – like Catarina and the orphaned sisters Violet and Dana, too – a strange and unfathomable character. Sometimes she is samarithian on the border to Sainthood, sometimes unreasonable fangirlish or naive, seeking approval and praise at all costs. When she has a real chance at acquiring a friend in depressive Miriam, she blows it without giving the possibility a thought. What puzzled me immensely was her quick acceptance of the so-called Larvaes’ fate: Larvae are abused infants who turned mermaids – and certainly do not age. If not for the code the older mermaids would ruthlessly kill the helpless, clingy babies, who end up in the orcas' jaws most of the time. Luce undertakes only one feelble attempt at saving a Larvae, before she capitulates. They could have easily fenced them in I thought angrily.
Sarah Porter's writing is beautiful, the setting well defined and easy to visualize, the story a little springy and frayed with a little too much stress on bullying and mean girl stereotypes. It also does not please me that the end was a complete hanger that even lacked a proper cliff.
Personally I like stories that do not avoid problems, but play a hopeful tune and end on a promising if not cheerful note. If you are into dark and evil modern fairytale retellings, which do not magic away the gritty and dirty parts like, for example, Sisters Red (Little Red Riding Hood) by Jackson Pearce or A Curse Dark as Gold (Rumpelstiltskin) by Elizabeth Bunce and you do not mind the complete absence of romance, "Lost Voices" might be just the thing for you. It is definitely an interesting addition the available selection of mermaid fiction.
A note to the cover designer: The cover is outstanding, but the tail is supposed to be much longer! (less)
This reads like a perfect mixture of Hilary McKay and Jane Austen. (Style-wise and situation-wise. For instance, doesn't "Almighty Lou" remind you of...moreThis reads like a perfect mixture of Hilary McKay and Jane Austen. (Style-wise and situation-wise. For instance, doesn't "Almighty Lou" remind you of Lady Catherine?) I had a lot of fun with the story, the characters and the writing - especially the effortlessly witty, but natural dialogues - and I want to get my hands on How to Say Goodbye in Robot even more than before now. As the description already reveals, "The Confessions" are told from different points of view. I love that, but not everybody does. If you are put off by multi-angled stories because you are bored by repetitions, you do not need to skip this one. The plot touches the same moments now and then (because naturally the sisters meet and there are certain key situations), but basically each sister has her own confession to make, her own voice and her own life. Everything is tangled masterfully and the end surprised me beautifully. (I snorted my self into laughter - and consequently startled a couple of commuters at my bus-stop.)(less)
I had read the first 20 chapters for the first time from July 22nd to July 24th in 2010. I liked it then, but I liked it even better the second time a...moreI had read the first 20 chapters for the first time from July 22nd to July 24th in 2010. I liked it then, but I liked it even better the second time around, when the story enfolded its wings in its whole glory.(less)
All three books by Jaclyn Moriarty that I have read until now were a good mixture of a lot of fun and humor (often kindled by the changing perspective...moreAll three books by Jaclyn Moriarty that I have read until now were a good mixture of a lot of fun and humor (often kindled by the changing perspectives), good, good writing (Mrs. Moriarty really makes me believe different persons must have composed the different points of view instead of just her), close observation and some tragedy. In Amelia the tragedy ingredient came in larger portions into the mix. I would label the book as "sad but not hopeless". Also a lot of mystery was stirred in, since, as the title "The Ghosts of Ashbury High" suggests, we have been dealt a ghost-themed story.
I truely liked the book and its messages and its way of tying up all lose ends (even that of Toby's father and Toby's relationship to his mother - I was contented) and I was looking forward to picking up the book again each day after work, but I have to admit I liked The Year Of Secret Assignments and Feeling Sorry for Celia more. Both I plan to reread in the distant - or even nearer - future - if only to enjoy some of those hyperhilarious letters pinned to the fridge or the strange conversations Lydia had with that creative-writing-tutorial-notebook. As "Amelia" is concerned, I believe reading once is sufficient for me - withougt implying I had anything but a swell time with this story. Maybe part of the feeling derives from the fact that all mysteries are now revealed to me and finding out about them has been half the thrill. I don't know. (less)
I liked this very much, but I didn't expect less after reading Feeling Sorry for Celia. It was partly hilarious, partly cute and chicklitish, partly i...moreI liked this very much, but I didn't expect less after reading Feeling Sorry for Celia. It was partly hilarious, partly cute and chicklitish, partly insightful, deep and disturbing and always interesting and cleverly crafted. Highly recommended.
What puzzled me first was the chronology. The novel consists of letters between three boy-girl-pen-pal-couples, diary entries, e-mails, unsuccessful efforts to fill a notebook for aspiring writers, special agent assignments, a court script and more. Occasionally the narration quickly changes from one letter exchange to the next, but in other parts there are - let's say - ten letters going to and fro between the same two persons. This results in the following letters referring to things which happened long before the last letter you've just read. Your brain - or rather mine - does a little flip and you're back on track. (less)
Oh, boy. Large parts of the book were so funny and gut-warming, I could quote every second page. But in the end my eyes burned from held-back tears. S...moreOh, boy. Large parts of the book were so funny and gut-warming, I could quote every second page. But in the end my eyes burned from held-back tears. So, so sad. It is a war-time story, I KNOW, but, Mr. Kluger, couldn't you just let him survive to humor me?
Oct. 18th: I've just re-read the last 40 pages and got wet eyes again. How can a book be so hilarious and so tragic at the same time? I just love Steve Kluger's style.(less)