I resolved to hold my own hand and collect enough courage to finally read "No and Me". I am glad, because it has been a very beautiful and rewarding e...moreI resolved to hold my own hand and collect enough courage to finally read "No and Me". I am glad, because it has been a very beautiful and rewarding experience, although at some points I was almost too afraid to go on turning the pages. The ending is realistic and fitting, but also so very, very sad, uncomfortable and soul-haunting.(less)
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)
'The Lover's Dictionary' consists of short, seemingly unconnected passages narrating the story of a two-years-old relationship between a man and a wom...more'The Lover's Dictionary' consists of short, seemingly unconnected passages narrating the story of a two-years-old relationship between a man and a woman living in New York.
Hidden behind alphabetically sorted terms, that call out for sophisticated definitions, it covers the ordinary, yet inexplicable stuff that the relationship entails: Its beginning, the (almost ?) end, highs, lows, changes, effects, fears, irritations, dependencies, surprises, misunderstandings, lies, laughter, resentments, passions, habits, secrets, toothpaste caps, everything. The undertone wavers between wonder and hurt.
Most of the 'dictionary's entries' felt so profoundly true and a lot of them had a familiar flavor. Some of the familiarity wormed an astonished smile out of me, some wrapped me up in sadness.
But inspite of the narrator's palatable love for his nameless partner I simply couldn't bring myself to like the girl. Maybe her shininess already got cracks in my view, when she confesses to be pregnant right in the second entry. I didn't know her or her motivations then, but her laughter immediately inspired my dislike. Later I discovered her to be one of those persons who let alcohol turn them into the sparkling center of a party regardless of the discomfort that transformation might cause others around them to feel. I just cannot stand people like that.
Still, I felt the hero's emotions. And I rooted for him and for his perfectly ordinary love in all its uniquess.(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)
In all likelihood this 'review' of mine will not turn out to be a helpful contribution for those who are still on the fence concerning their own possi...moreIn all likelihood this 'review' of mine will not turn out to be a helpful contribution for those who are still on the fence concerning their own possible future enjoyment of A Corner of White. I assume it will rather represent a futile attempt at explaining my wholly unexpected decision to let go of the story after only 145 pages without having unearthed particularly annoying or offending or even mediocre aspects that would lend a sufficient foundation to my reluctance to pick up the beautifully covered hardback after putting it down at lunchtime.
See, although Moriarty's Ashbury books scored only four-star-ratings from me, they all contain a smaller or larger amount of some secret, magic ingredient which I crave and adore in fiction. I seldom shed tears when I am in the company of books, yet I bawled my eyes out when I was reading The Murder Of Bindy Mackenzie. I simply loved that crazy mix of e-mails, court room materials, letters, diary entries, history book excerpts and refrigerator notes in the other volumes - especially because of the distinct voices, the occasional hilariousness, the dashes of mystery and the wonderfully normal characters.
I had already mistakingly expected another fully satisfactory, almost perfect book, when I bought a brand-new copy of The Spell Book of Listen Taylor, which also disappointed me in a major way. But in hindsight I explained my lack of enjoyment with the fact that that book had been written and published for an adult audience as I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes before it was dusted off and forcibly reshaped into something the Ashbury-reading crowd might spend money on - girly covers included. Moriarty's 'real' young-adult-centered output would continue to be on the brink of flawlessness, I assured myself.
And thus I put A Corner of White on my wish list at a time when the available information did not amount to much beside the 'Kingdom of Cello' as the location, and when the probability of the book being eventually born sounded as unreliable as Stephenie Meyer's long forgotten statement about the cannibalistic mermaid saga she planned to write as soon as her creative well restarted to sprout sellable sentences. I managed to make myself wait for the international edition instead of spending a fortune at the Fishpond and I never resorted to epilepsy-inducing .gifs or the internet equivalent of ecstatic shouting, but believe me, I wanted to read Madeleine's parallel world experience pretty badly.
Today I finally curled up with that coveted 500g of printed paper and started to read - confident of the extraordinary superb time lying in wait for me. Friends of mine had used promising words like weird and whimsical in their reviews, expressions that happily rolled around in my mind like dogs in a puddle.
Unsurprisingly I did like Madeleine, I rediscovered a flavor of Moriarty's signature wacky mothers in Holly and I took pleasure in finding out the parallels and the differences between ""The World"" (ours) and ""The Kingdom of Cello"" (a place equipped with electricity and other recognizable means of civilization, but also prone to partly dangerous 'Color attacks') , which severed all passable portals or cracks between them and us about 300 years ago. The boy from Cello, Elliot, who lost his beloved father to a vicious and violent Purple - or to a boost of marital infidelity as some neighbors are secretly assuming - was the kind of hero you cannot help rooting for, too. Plus there were Cambridge, UK, some pleasantly weird teachers and their teaching methods, a father-daughter-problem begging to be solved and two far-from-bland side-characters, Jack and Belle (view spoiler)[- although I was not fond of Jack's wart on his middle finger. He can keep his coarse hair and may even grow a row of buck teeth, but warty-handed teenage boys are gross in my opinion (hide spoiler)].
All these seemingly fine prerequisites, all the skillful writing and all the originality did not save me from gradually losing interest. My enthusiasm slowly tickled out of me until I did not care particularly for either Madeleine, Madeleine's game-show-addicted mom and her lack of trivial knowledge, Elliot, Elliot's missing dad, the Butterfly Child, the Color victims, Cello's anti-monarchy movement or the still to visit magical, dragon- and werewolf-infested north of the country.
I realized my loss of personal involvement only when it was much too late to do something about it. I feel inexplicably sad, because my expectations had been so high and so solidly founded. I feel cheated by my own mind, because I cannot and do not find fault. I know, I could ignore my boredom and resolve to go on reading, but unfortunately I did exactly that just yesterday, when I had to admit that Lips Touch: Three Times and I did not match in spite of my deep admiration for Daughter of Smoke & Bone. In short, I do not have enough determination to repeat the experience so soon.
So, is it just me or is it a mixture of misplaced expectations and unfortunate reading constellations? I do wonder.
The only cure for book-caused self-doubt I know, however, is reading the next book. And I'll do precisely that as soon as I can. Cross your fingers and wish me luck!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"'I told you that love sucks. But is anyone listening to me? No. England could fall off the map and you’d just smile and keep playing soccer.' JANE IR...more"'I told you that love sucks. But is anyone listening to me? No. England could fall off the map and you’d just smile and keep playing soccer.' JANE IRANIAN"
Oh, yes, in this sandwiched volume soccer-playing Gracie Faltrain takes control – of lots of things and unfortunately not in a good way at all. When I closed my copy of The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain, Gracie had finally learned the lesson that soccer is a team sport and that winning takes the combined efforts of all players, but when I delved into the sequel I quickly understood that there is plenty of important stuff Gracie is very far from understanding. Apart from the fact that Gracie needs to become less self-centered and explosive, the most important mantras that have to be forced into her skull are “Winning at all costs might be quite costly” and “Helping others starts with respecting them.” To exchange the second hand-stitched proverb for a simile I could also say that Gracie barrels through people’s lives like a highly-motivated bulldozer driver, who deliberately mistakes rare wildflowers for weeds while keeping his earplugs in to drown out the noise of the tree huggers. Or, if I wanted to express Gracie’s problem without a trace of pomp, I would say: Because Gracie thinks she knows what is best for everybody, she meddles without restraint and without looking back whenever she can:
- For months Gracie is convinced that her best friend calling from overseas will unquestionably be grateful to be interrupted, because it is obvious that Gracie’s problems are more urgent, more severe and much more interesting than the ones she was about to elaborate on. - Gracie pulls all possible strings to “rescue” her quiet, brilliant, library-affine and moderately contented replacement friend Alyce from staying unpopular and - in her unwavable point of view – unhappy forever. (view spoiler)[She forces Alyce to attend parties, to buy different clothes, to flatten her frizzy hair, to tutor a nice, but simple-minded jock for romantic purposes; she ignores her outspoken protest and signs Alyce up for a speech competition; she brazenly avenges every bad word class queen bee Annabelle shoots into her friend's direction - not noticing that crashing into a personal defensive protector actually triggers the inner bully in her arch enemy -, and she makes one of her soccer mates ask the poor girl out to the ball and then brags so loudly about Alyce having scored a date that the embarrassed guy can only save his face by rescinding his invitation. (hide spoiler)] - Although Gracie’s dearest wish is for her parents to mend their relationship, she ruthlessly ruins the first tender moment between them, because she immediately needs them to act on her behalf. - Gracie decides to ignore both her mother’s and her boyfriend’s plea not to do anything and calmly destroys the fine layer of scrab that had recently formed on the festering wound that had been inflicted when Martin’s mother left her family years ago (view spoiler)[by putting an ad into the local paper (hide spoiler)]. - Gracie tries to pressure her boyfriend into ending his friendship with her nemensis by resorting to childish name-calling and popcorn blitzes at the movies. - In order to build up some victory feeling among her team mates Gracie humilitates other soccer teams on the field and then makes sure that they know that they have been bested by someone smaller, quicker and fitter. ”’We’re the only team everyone hates. What does that tell you, Faltrain?’ I ask. 'It tells me we’re better than everyone else, Martin,’ she answers. ‘Faltrain, they should measure your head for science. I reckon it’s the biggest I’ve seen.’ MARTIN KNIGHT”.
Even though I have to admit, that I saw a little something of my younger, impulsive self in Gracie, because I grew up in a family that did not snub shouting, dumping the contents of water bottles and sugar pots on people’s heads or asserting one’s opinion by force as part of the daily war, and because “Live and let live” was a motto that did not come naturally to my parents, Gracie’s enthusiastic hole-digging, which lasted almost 200 of the beautifully worded pages and – regardless of several intervention attempts by her mother - got her in deeper and deeper, was a pretty painful process to behold.
If I had not had the chance to get to know and treasure Gracie so much in the multi-angled first installment, I would probably have lost patience with her antics and rated the story, which is mostly told from Gracie’s one deluded point of view, down quite a bit.
But since it is a middle book, I suffered, but I suffered in hope. ”'Boy meets girl. Girl meets ground.' LOCAL NEWS WEEKLY” writes about a game of Gracie’s team. And so I never really doubted that once Gracie hit the bottom hard she would wake up, come to her senses and finally get it right.
”‘I’ve lost him, haven’t I?’ Love’s like an egg. Break it, and you might still have almost every bit of yolk and white, but there’s no way you’re getting that back in the shell. And even if you could, there’d be still all the cracks. It’s why Mum and Dad are taking all winter to grow the smallest bit of green. It’s why Mrs. Knight never came back. ‘Yes, Gracie, love.’ Mum doesn’t bother lying. ‘I think you’ve lost him for now.’” ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)