"Notes from the [Family] Blender" is a book which grew only slowly on me because of one of the two main characters (yes, this book has switching point"Notes from the [Family] Blender" is a book which grew only slowly on me because of one of the two main characters (yes, this book has switching points of view by two different authors): During the first chapters the guy, Declan, presents himself to us as the kind of teenage boy I always thought I could live without knowing: The sort that is forever playing violent xBox-games, listening to music which revels in sheer brutality, watching non-stop internet porn and talking the rest of the time about their own penis and its voluntary and involuntary activities. Ughh. The reader gets the chance to peek beyond this partly constructed persona a little farther into the story, when Neilly, the girl-part of this strangers-become-siblings-in-a-patchwork-family-equation, detects the hidden sweet traits of her "new bro" on the spot, smiles cheekily and unoffendedly about his guess-how-many-goth-chicks-I-have-nailed-bragging, threw in some counter-remarks and unabrasedly went ahead to instruct him about how to get a girl without pointing out that she sees straight through his armour. I unexpectedly started to like Declan and cheer for him right along with Neilly. I began to understand the emotions he had piled up inside of his mind since his mother's car-crash-death which happened right in front of his eyes. And in the end I felt for him even in situations Neilly did not. Neilly is a heroine I instantly liked. Same goes for her mother Carmen. The rest of the parental crowd (three more guys) and another new step-brother, the angelic Griffin, did not convince me so much. Also I think that the church aspect is a bit too preachy, a bit overdone. In case you wonder: No, this story does not point out the usual Christian doctrine. The church youth group both sets of parents urge their offspring to attend is one that worships Jesus, Buddha and Mother Earth in one person, has the congregation's motto "Love Makes A Family" inscripted above the entrance and offers commitment ceremonies to same-sex couples whom the state Neilly and Declan reside in refuses to unite in marriage. In addition the evils of drinking alcohol and taking drugs were shouted repeatedly at the reader along with the debatable message that it is super-easy and cool to stay away from illegal substances, because the interestingly wicked people abstain anyhow. All fine and alright with me, but I like it better when authors drive down the road determined to tell a great, believable story withought swaying into the sermon line and without stopping at picnic areas to to hand out flyers on "How to improve our intolerant and godless society".
Recommended to fans of multiple-point-of-view-contemporary YA who do not mind to be lectured a bit....more
The first three quarters were 2.5 stars, the ending was definitely 3 fully-colored ones.
+ The story was not boring. I had no urge to stop. At no pointThe first three quarters were 2.5 stars, the ending was definitely 3 fully-colored ones.
+ The story was not boring. I had no urge to stop. At no point. (But I wouldn't have searched for the book either, should I have mislaid it somehow.) + The heroine is likable, a bit clueless, yes, but intelligent enough and likable. + And the hero is hot and a bit self-loathing. + There were some very funny scenes woven in. Two or three times I even contemplated the possibility of extracting a quote, but my lazy side won. + The sex-crazy unicorn is cute, but if it were not for its crucial part in the plot, which required some witty talking, I would have loved it better had it kept his snout(?)/muzzle(?) shut. For your visualization: I imagine Phineas the Unicorn to look like a chihuahua-sized off-white "My-Little-Pony" with a sparkly horn, a firm little pouch from slurping too much bacon and cereals, lazy, half-closed eyes and pinkishly blue male equippment. + I loved the last scene before the very last. I have to admit I am a sucker for those heart-broken guys who have to come to terms with the fact that they have fallen for a girl but do not feel entitled to act on it. I enjoy the pain in their faces. Even more if they are the usually cocky types. If this scene was not there I would have rated the book 2 stars only. - The world-building needs some final strokes. - The plot is choppy. - A lot of explanations do not really make sense. (For instance, why are all these Fairies, Angels and Demons running around in Portsmouth if they do not have a human TouchStone yet. Is it a requirement to exist among humans or not?) - A lot of scenes are very random, partly enjoyble, witty or sexy, but pointless. I concluded that they were written first and then aimlessly connected with the rest of the story because the author or editor did not have the heart to throw them out. My friend Kim from Belgium tried to make her not-being-a-native-speaker responsible for her irritation while I first thought I had blown some fuse while turning the pages. Kim, we are both not to blame. I am positive. - The instant attraction (Dreameater meets hyperdreamer, who has an overflow of nightmares. Let's shout B-I-N-G-O.). I've had too much of it. - The evil ones are oh-so-evil.
So this is not going to be my next favorite urban fantasy series. And I will not mention it in one breath together with the Rachel-Morgan-Series, the Kate-Daniels-Series, Mercy Thompson or Sookie Stackhouse again. But it was worth the try and the time was not wasted. I had fun. ...more
What a potent mixture: - An alternative history setting that has the human states and kingdoms huddled around the equator since the repelled-by-warmthWhat a potent mixture: - An alternative history setting that has the human states and kingdoms huddled around the equator since the repelled-by-warmth vampire (homo nosferatii) clans crawled out of their hidden spots to initiate the Great Killing in 1870, leaving only enough human prey alive to keep as cattle herds. - Steampunk elements like pneumatic sailboats cruising the skies that somehow underline both the excotic atmosphere of the strange British-Egyptian-Persian Empire and the war-and-power-crazy American States, who have dropped a little farther south on the globe (Who doesn't hate Senator Clark with all her heart? do I ask). - Gruesome horror scenes provided by cold-blooded, underestimated, zombie-like vampire clans who can fly by changing their bodies' density and who swoop down onto their human cattle leaving the streets of former Europe littered with mountains of decaying flesh and carpets of crunched bones. - Action, action, action: A fearless, faceless vampire hunter, a brave princess skilled in martial arts, armies, vampires ambushes, traitors ... - Dangerous politics, weak kings, cunning planners, advisers who are to be trusted or not to be trusted, a vampires prince with a craving to be human and a vampire prince with a craving to rule the world. - Predudices, conceit, sibling love, hope, the essence of being human. - Subtly changing points of view. - A but later started sweet, sparkling and heart-warming Beauty-and-the-Beast-worthy impossible romance between a dashing, idealistic, vulnerable hero with an aching heart and a strong-willed and lovely heroine, which even includes a library (of fifteen volumes). - An ending of the sort which ties most of the lose strands but wets your mouth for more adventures to come.
What did I think? I thoroughly enjoyed it and I thought "What a potent mixture!" Didn't I say that already? Recommended!
Note: Although the date on the cover says "It's now 2010" this is no science fiction story set in the future. Apart from the steampunk elements the alternative history novel could be set still in the Victorian Era....more
A lot of creepy suspense, an interesting heroine - who I in spite of the first-person-narration never really got to know - and a certain Veronica-MarsA lot of creepy suspense, an interesting heroine - who I in spite of the first-person-narration never really got to know - and a certain Veronica-Mars-in-Private-School feel, but a not so very unexpected mystery, a lot of repetitive scenes, a half-hearted boy-girl friendship, a half-hearted romance and a half-hearted, truly deflatingly unsatisfactory ending, which I really didn't like. ...more
"Please Ignore Vera Dietz" is a well written problem-oriented book.
It tells the story of 18-years-old Vera who recently lost her best and probably on"Please Ignore Vera Dietz" is a well written problem-oriented book.
It tells the story of 18-years-old Vera who recently lost her best and probably only friend Charlie Kahn twice: First a few months ago when the a group of up-to-no-goods called The Detentionsheads, led by notorious liar and exaggerator Jenny Flick, decided to assimilate Charlie into their group and reached their goal by systematically alienating Charlie from Vera (lies, rumours, ridicule), and last and finally when some prank or coup involving cruel abuse of animal center pets and The Detentionheads caused Charlie's sudden death. Vera admits to the reader that - in contrast to the police - she knows the exact circumstances of her former friends demise and that someone - who is not Charlie as everybody presumes - is to blame. Because of this exclusive knowledge and her refusal to act on it Vera feels haunted by Charlie - whom she loves and hates - and by their shared past as neighbors and playmates. Vera had a harmonious childhood, which is rather surprising since her parents, both high-school drop-outs had her at 18, and her father, a teenaged alcoholic, stopped drinking only when he recognized that this baby daughter’s life was endangered because of his problem. After her mom left the family to become a Las Vegas dancer, her father’s only concern became to keep Vera from fatefully following her parents’ steps. His motto: „Fight you destiny and ignore everybody else’s problems“. Vera isn’t good at either: She always resented not being allowed to get help when noise errupted next door and lately she has to stock up her secret stash of Vodka coolers under her driver’s seat pretty often. Charlie’s life seemed to be much more normal to the outsider, but Vera knew – without having to talk to Charlie about it – that behind closed doors violence and abused ruled the house, which resulted in Charlie acting aloof and cool, rebelling against his weak mom, dressing in dirty and torn rags, keeping her and everybody else at distance and having trust issues even with his oldest friend.
A friend of mine said he couldn’t comprehend why Vera had been friends with Charlie in the first place and what she admired in him. I did not ask myself these questions, although I did not like Charlie. First, because if you admire someone from early childhood on it sticks. My brother did not stop hanging around a slightly older kid from our neighborhood even after that thug almost suffocated him by stuffing grass down his throat to amuse his entroutage. Second, because broken kids sometime develop some addictive or interesting traits: They manage to repaint their reality in brighter colors because they have to cope. Others naturally get sucked in easily. Charlie used to pray to the Great Hunter and he built his tree house – his means of escape – with unmatched enthusiasm.
So, you see: I think this book deals with serious problems (domestic violence, bullies, alcoholism, repeating the past, finding your way ...) and it depicts them in a realistic way. I even liked Vera and her dad, even her mom. But when I noticed I was flicking the pages quicker and quicker not because I was so excited, but because I hoped the story would end soon, I decided to call it quits at page 139.
For me, personally, it is absolutely necessary that a book offers me enjoyment. I like to ponder about a story and I admire stories that delve under the surface, but I need hope throughout the book and I need a little fun. I was never able to connect to those young adult books that solely dealt with teenage drinking or drugs or rape or unemployment or mental deseases in order to cause awareness. (= No Christiane F. for me, please). Consequently I was looking for the secenes that made Ellen Hopkins publish the blurb „Brilliant. Funny. Really special.“ to no avail and I was severely disappointed. Others have different expectations when reading a problem-focused story and these expectations are obiously met (see average rating). So do not be put off because of my taste in YA. But if you are rather like me, I recommend Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr or Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson. Both do not paint pink, but offer a certain something, too. ...more
"He looks again towards the door, expecting Mum to walk in and remind him of something he's forgotten. He smiles awkwardly. 'Is that it, Dad? I've got"He looks again towards the door, expecting Mum to walk in and remind him of something he's forgotten. He smiles awkwardly. 'Is that it, Dad? I've got to go.' 'Your Mum said I should mention ... um ... satisfaction.' 'What!' 'She said young men should know things, should be told things so that the girl won't be ...' his eyes plead for understanding, '... disappointed.' [...] 'No worries, Dad. My biology teacher said I was a natural.' Dad looks confused. 'I'm kidding, Dad.' [...] Poor bloke, having to do the dirty work while Mum's off with her gang. 'Dad? What did Grandpa tell you about sex?' 'He said if I got a girl pregnant, he'd kill me.'"
The phrases "Darcy means what he says. He just shouldn’t say it aloud. [...] He’s a teenage boy, he can deal with it. If only he’d learn to keep his mouth shut." make him sound like someone who perpetuously says annoying things or is generally misunderstood by his peers. This is not the case. Sixteen-years-old Darcy Pele Franz Walker just occasionally succumbs to the dangerous urge to say what’s on his mind. So do I - because sometimes watching people’s jaws drop is totally worth the price. Just yesterday I managed to keep myself from saying to the train conductor sucking frantically on his cigarette in the middle of the platform that "This is a non-smoking station. Please show respect to non-smokers, Sir." in the mechanical voice of the loudspeaker lady. And I only barely got away on my bike after remarking to a young guy waiting for his two friends, who were urinating onto the pavement, that it must be quite embarrassing for his poor mates to have such weak muscles in the groin area. Darcy has that sassy streak among his character traits, too. Plus there is always something Shakespearean waiting on his tongue. Popping out witty comments doesn’t make Darcy an ousider, it just interferes with his intention to better stay off the radar of class thug Tim and his brainless but mischief-loving side-kick Braith.
Also the thing about being friends with nerdy and obnoxious chess-lover Noah oversimplifies the plot. For becoming friends with Noah - appreciating his unwavering attempts at spending time together, at sharing jokes and sad secrets and even a hug (I loved that moment. Talking about it makes me want to keep the book.) -, is one of the key story lines in my opinion. The others are finally bonding with his Dad in spite of not sharing his addiction to playing soccer, finding a balance between cowering and standing his ground in the vicinity of Tim and Braith and – certainly – getting the girl of his dreams.
I enjoyed the whole book, but maybe I liked the getting-the-girl part best. Well, yes, I generally have a thing for romantic subplots, but in Slice the romance turned out to be the sweet, tender and smile-inducing story of how-I-was gotten-by-the-girl, for all the female characters including the love interest, the English teacher and Darcy’s Mum are strong-willed and cool and confident and absolutely wonderful. I loved the short interaction between Darcy’s parents, I understood Darcy’s admiration for his T-shirts-with-a-message-collecting teacher and I even liked Stacey and Miranda of the weekly brandy-and-pink-grapefruit-soaked class-parties, which are responsible for Darcy’s first experiences with the opposite sex.
When I was reading Slice and laughing aloud in irregular intervalls it reminded me of two books. One is the equally Australian, romantic and funny Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood, which is also narrated in an extremely likable male voice. The other one is the French children’s classic “The Little Nick” (Le petit Nicolas) by René Goscinny, because although Slice comes to tell a story with a noticable timeline, it is also a collection of memorable bits and pieces – seemingly unrelated juicy moments from Darcy’s childhood at home and his teenage years with his classmates at school.
Another aspect that makes Slice so very recommendable in my eyes is the believability amongst all the juiciness. Have you watched or read some of these supposedly hilarious stories that show how a awkward hero stumbles clumsily from one mental pothole into the next because he tries to hide or gloss over an embarrassing step he’s made, and in the end he stands in front of a shitload of self-made problems that could easily have been avoided? Slice does - praised be the author - not make use of this common domino-effect-element, not once. There is embarrassment and there is awkwardness, but both in bearable doses and life-like proportions.
Yet Slice has pushed at a stone in my personal domino game called the "greed to read": It has made me want to read the other novel by Steven Herrick that has been lurking around my wishlist for some time: Black Painted Fingernails. If anyone feels like starting a tour or hosting an international giveaway, please give me a shout
The Anybodies reminds me a little of Roald Dahl's books, but it is less cruel. I think I would have enjoyed it very much, had I read it at the age ofThe Anybodies reminds me a little of Roald Dahl's books, but it is less cruel. I think I would have enjoyed it very much, had I read it at the age of about eight. Now, as an adult, I pull the break after 60 pages, because I have so many other books on pile and my curiosity to find out what happens to Fern and Harold, who had been switched at birth by stupid Nurse Mary Curtain, is not so very urgent. I only bought a battered copy, because I loved the brilliant young adult debut Pure by the author so very much. But after having swallowed a large bite I have to say Mrs. Baggott serves different meals to different target groups - which is as it should be....more
After reading 59 pages and waiting five months for summoning up enough motivation to go on reading (all my Goodreads friends seem to love the book witAfter reading 59 pages and waiting five months for summoning up enough motivation to go on reading (all my Goodreads friends seem to love the book with abandon - so what's wrong with me?), I have decided to finally put a lid on the case and throw the book out of its designated and by this time slightly dusty spot on my nightstand. I had this subconscious fear that maybe I have detoriated and am not able to concentrate on "real" grown-up books anymore. All I seem to enjoy these days are young adult novels drenched in romance, coming-of-age-problems and/or magic or adults-targeted Urban Fantasy series' in the vein of "Kate Daniels'" or "Rachel Morgan's" neverending adventures. Thus the task of finishing "The Gargoyle" became a necessary proof of my still "intact" diverse reading habits (among my all-time favorites you will find works by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Haruki Murakami and Astrid Lindren). Today I realized that waiting until I am 40 will not do. Maybe I'll have switched to thrillers and detective stories by 2013. But who cares? All the stories I've consumed stay with me in bits and pieces and fleeting images. And what I choose to add to that conglomated blob of reading history at which time of my life does not define my maturity as a reader. Reading is just my favorite pasttime, not my job. So, dear friends, please forgive me for not trying harder to get this book with its hidden gem of a love-story. I sincerely hope the hero's perfect face and much-needed penis will be presentable again at the end of the book. But finding out for myself takes too much effort. Maybe you will be my Scheherazade and treat me to a very condensed version? I am looking forward to meeting you in the chaiselogue corner.
Street Corner Bookers’ Pile Reduction Challenge, #12 (challenger: Kristy)...more
So predictable. Why does the guy who ends up not being THE guy always have to have some major character flaws? That's too easy, I think. You only haveSo predictable. Why does the guy who ends up not being THE guy always have to have some major character flaws? That's too easy, I think. You only have to wait your way through the book for the - pretty forgettable - heroine to wake up. Sleeping Beauty, 21st Century style. Meh-eeeh. Full-stop after 135 pages....more
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 frI 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....more
I'll file this under "read" instead of "unfinished" because I really finished reading three stories out of four without skipping. There is nothing truI'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....more
No more pondering. CLEAN CUT after 59 pages. And I simply use of my status comments as my review (which feels like re-heating yesterdays dinner somehoNo more pondering. CLEAN CUT after 59 pages. And I simply use of my status comments as my review (which feels like re-heating yesterdays dinner somehow, but also fits since the book itself seems to be reheated and rechewed, too):
"I had low expectations concerning the first [book in the series] and ended up liking it a lot, but not loving it. Usually I abhor second installments that do not go forward, but backward, you know? Like questioning the love you've just found, being secretive again, holding back physically, yada, yada, yada. And if I had read the blurb more critically I would have known exactly what I got myself: A backward-pedalling story."
Hmm. Maybe the blurb was nor written when I placed my pre-order? That would be a really nice consolation for my ego. But I do not really believe it. It's likelier that I was so baffled about the positive surprise that I just clicked....more
The Looking Glass Wars is not really different from what I had expected. It is a well-constructed retelling, that places Alice as the Queen of Hearts'The Looking Glass Wars is not really different from what I had expected. It is a well-constructed retelling, that places Alice as the Queen of Hearts' daughter and consequently the next-in-line for Wonderland's throne. When the evil Red Queen, Queen Genevieve's sister, attacks the palace with her army of card soldiers, Alice - or Alyss - is sent via the Pool of Tears tunnel to a parallel world - ours, but during the life-time of Lewis Carroll, by the Queen's faithful bodyguard Hatter Madigan (you know him), to keep her safe until things have calmed down. Is is kind of fun recognizing the elements of the well-known story and noticing how cleverly they are twisted. But nonetheless I feel inexplicably bored. Why I cannot say. A second sore spot is Alyss age and her behavior during the first chapters. Yes, even I dreamed of certain boys in kindergarden, and yes, I know, princesses start thinking about marriages and political alliances quite early, but that dancing-almost-kissing scene between seven year old Alyss and her ten year old devoted commoner friend Dodge of the royal guard and their respective hidden feelings for each other was depicted far too mature and lovey-dovey in an unrealistic sort of way to me. Add ten years each and it's alright. My opinion is that if an author cannot even partly remember what it was like to be seven should avoid shoving the spotlight on a character of that particular age.
So, I decided to let the book drop at page 80. This is not meant as an discouragement to pick it up and try. Heads-off-screaming Queen Redd is fun and the Diamond Prince's deflated bottom a nice thing to visualize.
Tina, please assign another book to me. I am ready to switch....more