FAIL!!!! This was supposed to be a read-along AND my copy had been given to me by my reading buddy Nomes as a present. But this morning I simply swallFAIL!!!! This was supposed to be a read-along AND my copy had been given to me by my reading buddy Nomes as a present. But this morning I simply swallowed the thing whole, paper, cover, spine and story. I even forgot to mind my Skype appointment with my sister and her daughter. Luckily my sister is as much addicted to books as I am - so I suppose there will be a kind of grudgy absolution coming from her end. But, Nomes and Simcsa: I am so sorry. And I look forward very much to discussing everything with you soon and in detail....more
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 eithMaura 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. ...more
'Get in.' He demanded. [...] I got in the car, against my better judgement, because I didn’t want to cause a scene. [...] 'You understand that I just'Get in.' He demanded. [...] I got in the car, against my better judgement, because I didn’t want to cause a scene. [...] 'You understand that I just met you, right?' 'Yes. You understand that the woman you were about to have lunch with is my aunt and she just disappeared in a matter of minutes, right? You understand that perhaps there is more going on than you could possibly comprehend, right? You understand that I am trying to get you home safe, right?' His blue eyes pierced me and my body felt numb. I did understand. I handed him my keys. 'My house is at 504 Briarwood Court.'
You like that? Good for you. To me this passage embodies everything I dislike about a certain type of paranormal young adult romance. And although I have read only 7% of the self-published mermaid novel, I can tell that I would label the whole package as unbearably awful. Therefore there is no sense in reading the remaining 93%.
If the 'teaser' above made you kind of excited, you might be pleased to hear that the story deals with a freshly graduated orphan called Seraphin, who has had water phobia since she went into the ocean against her father's explicit prohibition, which is somehow connected to her father's mysterious death. Rich Seraphin has lived for years Cinderella-style with a family friend, who resented her presence in the house. She made do with only one true friend, her biology teacher Ms. Z., who starts blathering about legends and merpeople and guardians and successions and prophecies out of the blue and right on graduation day. After Seraphin has laughingly established that she doesn't believe in mermaids, she witnesses said teacher-friend, who announces that she will have to leave town directly after lunch, to make the biology department's goldfishes do as she says using plain English to communicate at them. Just as Seraphin contemplates becoming a believer (Praised be Nemo!), Ms. Z's grumpy, shy and gorgeous nephew Joseph barges in, flickers his mesmerising eyes from ice to navy blue and back, stops himself from releasing a very secret secret and takes the first-I-have-to-pretend-to-hate-you role with aplomb. Phew! Just in time, because fifteen minutes later he needs to be the ill-tempered-and-tight-lipped-knight-in-shining-armor. Our friendless heroine of the later-to-be-revealed superior qualities is about to faint and cannot drive or think or walk and talk.
This marks the opening of the fantastic curtain: I am sure there will be a lot of mistrust and bickering and withholding of information. There will be fulfilments of prophecies that demand sacrifices of vast proportions to be made. And there will be goldfish lingo to be learned. In the end there will be peace and harmony in Earth’s oceans again. How inspiring! But alas, I cannot stay. You tell me, if I am right. But make it quick, okay?
Disclosure: I received a Smashwords Coupon from the author to download the e-book for free. ...more
When I decided to put Cold Magic aside, after 67% of very little pleasure and a lot of struggle, I felt pretty angry and offended. Angry, because readWhen I decided to put Cold Magic aside, after 67% of very little pleasure and a lot of struggle, I felt pretty angry and offended. Angry, because reading these 360 pages took a huge effort and did not dole out the tiniest reward. Offended, because the book, written by an author with quite some published writing to show as a proof for her skills, made me question my ability to focus, my ability to absorb and understand what I read and - for a short, shocking minute – the functionality of my Kindle’s page-turning buttons. I think I would have met the same experience with more detachment had I bought a glowingly praised debut cheaply at Smashwords. Probably I would not have stayed as long on board of the shipwreck, but I would have said with conviction: It’s not me. It’s the book. It’s unreadable, but it shows room for improvement. But how can I say that about a book which has 1.800 ratings that produce an average of 3.8 out of 5? How can I say that about a book that makes others buy the sequels for good money? You see my dilemma. But I refuse to take the blame. I rather dance the Cha-Cha with my fury as a partner. And because I do not want to appear as someone impersonating Rumpelstiltskin without a plausible cause, I am going to breathe in and breathe out and defend my sanity.
I used to say that to me an enjoyable story begins and ends with likable, complex characters and a believable setting. To my own astonishment I have to step back from that opinion now. For I liked paranormally gifted Catherine "Cat" Hassi Baharal, her cousin Bee, enemy and love interest Andevai Diarisso Haranwy, a powerful cold mage (view spoiler)[and Cat’s newfound brother the easy-going, shapeshifting ladies’ man Roderic (hide spoiler)]. And I admit that there are a lot of great ideas thrown into the world mix: A very alternative, slightly steampunky version of Europe, magicians, whose presence kills fire, a parallel spirit world, sabertoothed werecats, dragons, feathered lizard-like trolls. The combination should unquestionably trump superhuman jerks pursuing brainless, insta-love-seeking girls in front of a cardboard backdrop any day. It does not. For Cold Magic is not a story. It is a mess that needs to be chucked or rewritten from scratch.
Like most of the fantasy readers out here I am bored by long monologues meant to introduce the unfamiliar, fictional world and its inhabitants. I also find books that treat the reader like an old acquaintance, who is already in the know, pretty difficult. When I was reading Cold Magic I came to the point at which I desperately wished for the arrival of an enormous info dump to finally get me on track or for a scattering of some new and helpful puzzle pieces to add to my inner picture. Both wishes remained unfulfilled. In almost each chapter the same incomprehensible, unstructured information about the last millennium's world politics, the wars, the Hassi Baharal family, their niche in the world as spies, messengers, sailors, wandering scientists, sociologists and whatnot was repeated in different words, sometimes even by different means, like in a letter or as a part of a diary. But each repetition remained lacking, vague and foggy. If I were a drug user, I would surely have double-checked my dose. Instead I checked myself for lack of sleep, for symptoms of a beginning cold and for symptoms of beginning dementia. I hated these self-directed doubts, really hated them. And I have no reasonable explanation for the novel’s lack of structure. Maybe the author taught a beginners' creative writing class, threw the same keywords at each of the participants, had them write her heroine’s background, liked all results equally well and promised to use them all at some point of her next book? That cannot be, can it? But strange ideas like that flitted through my brains and messed with my sanity.
The aspects that made me look closer at my Kindle’s buttons were repetitions in the plot. I know that a normal road-trip plot contains some routine essentials: Scenery, clothes, food, sleeping arrangements. But a narrator could cut them short, if nothing important is to be conveyed by elaborating on them. For example, in each of the inns the carriage stops at the heroine is greeted by a detached, but matronly person and is then waited on by a red-haired, silent, young girl who brushes her long, black hair and praises it. Eventually I stopped reading in order to find out whether I really had made reading process or whether my Kindle had jumped to a scene I had covered some time before. My Kindle worked just fine. The book didn’t. And, as far as I know, there was no surprise reason presented later - like a flame-tressed wonder girl who could portal from inn to inn. Accordingly it is just senseless almost-cut-and-paste to emphasize how boring and monotonous a cross-country-trip can be? Or is it sloppiness?
In addition to those repetitions there is a lot of redundant rambling and straying from the straight, narrative path. Little Cat-Riding-Hood stops to pick flowers and chat with random wolves whenever she pleases, while the baffled reader stands aside nervously clutching grandmother’s lunch basket.
So, no. It’s not me, who is damaged. It’s the book. I am sure. And I believe that every reader who did not experience my discomfort has just been graced with a superhuman ability to effortlessly combine scattered puzzle pieces, find the odd herb among the weeds and straighten tangled stories in the back of her mind. Contented readers, you have my full admiration. Ordinary readers, you now have my warning. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I had been determined to be charmed out of my socks by this book. But after reading 47 pages I am still struggling to build up a connection to the proI had been determined to be charmed out of my socks by this book. But after reading 47 pages I am still struggling to build up a connection to the protagonist or the people surrounding her. Being an impatient reader I have decided that a quarter has been effort enough. ...more
I really liked Evie in volume one and was more than willing to overlook her flaws, for who wouldn't have any after suffering that strange, manipulatedI really liked Evie in volume one and was more than willing to overlook her flaws, for who wouldn't have any after suffering that strange, manipulated and isolated upbringing.
But right after starting 'Supernaturally' I felt like screaming my guts out in annoyance. Intolerable, that girl, her whining, her utter dependence on her college-bound, immortal sweetheart, her sick gushing, her refusal to ignore all warnings and her determination to happily march into desaster, her complete boringness.
I loved reading 'Bitterblue' , loved it even more than reading 'Fire'. It is very important for me to say that, because I had been extremely hesitant I loved reading 'Bitterblue' , loved it even more than reading 'Fire'. It is very important for me to say that, because I had been extremely hesitant before finally picking it up months after it had been delivered to my postbox. The decision to read a sequel to a story you believed to be perfect as it was is tough, so tough ... and irreversible: You cannot unread a book - especially the parts that bug you will stick like superglue to your otherwise forgetful synapses - same as you cannot unwatch the movie version of a favorite once its visuals have invaded your mind.To illustrate my point: I will always be sorry that I was too curious to ignore what happened after 'Twilight', I am not sure if I ever will read 'Linger' (I own the hardcover), and I had absolutely no interest in seeing anyone impersonate Elizabeth Bennett on screen until Keira Knightley came along.Now, the birth of 'Bitterblue', which I preordered as soon as it was possible, took long and was laced with rumors and speculations: Did the author suffer writers block and was forced to scrape together something unmentionably bad just to fulfill a three-books-contract she had optimistically signed aeons before? Was it true that Cashore's editors demanded that she started from scratch, because her original draft had been unreadable? A bunch of severely disappointed and apologetically outraged reviews by Goodreads friends whose views on books I value fueled the already crackling unease: ... a confusing plot, a lack of drive, unengaging characters, a bittersweet, but unmoving romance were mentioned and - what shocked me most - it looked like Katsa's and Po's hard-won love would fall victim to unpassable differences in opinion or to lack of honesty with each other. Luckily I overcame my apprehension, attributed more weight to the opinions of the readers who proclaimed themselves to be awed and enchanted and the author to have grown as a writer. I hesitatingly started, I got hooked and I kept reading and savoring. I don't mean to say that there was anything wrong with the negative reviews or that I should be weary of their creators' warnings in the future. How many precious hours have been saved, because to-the-point explanations of a novel's drawbacks convinced me not to spend my time or my money. And how many gems have I discovered just because lovingly worded praise on Goodreads made me want a certain book desperately inspite of its uninspiring cover or its boring official description. The discrepancy just shows with vehemence that there is no reader whose reaction to books exactly mirrors mine. In the midst of all the precious advice and the pro and contra of well-written reviews I have to make the decision whether to read or not to read on my own after all - filtering the given information .... and ... trusting my guts.For me 'Bitterblue' turned out to be great fantasy with great characters - in my opinion Katsa and Po were just ... well ... Katsa and Po -, some mystery, some romance and an extremely captivating study of a country that has to heal and rebuild itself after getting rid of a destructive, psychopathic dictator. You would think eight years are a lot of time - plenty to restructure the government, to allow the people to breathe out and enfold - but Cashore's tale effectively shows they are next to nothing. After having been freed from a cruel, poisonous and unpredictable ruler people still have damaged bodies, damaged souls, twisted minds, reduced families, built-up fears, unspeakable memories, strange self-imposed regulations and a lot of mistrust. Queen Bitterblue's band of oldish graceling advisors, her struggle with them and their hesitation to talk about the past and her question whether starting out with a young untried court would not serve her county better reminded me of my own country's last post-war era: The administration in the then recovering Germany had to work, the school system had to go on, things had to be minded asnd supervised. For those practical considerations a lot of the teachers who - whether out of conviction or conformation - had taught kids the Nazi doctrine during Hitler's reign, kept on teaching after the war and a lot of the administrative staff in the cities - the same who probably were responsible for i.e. sealing deportation letters in their former districts or seizing jewish property - served the new aministration. For somehow their expertise was needed; same as the experienced teachers were considered to be necessary to keep the crumbling civilization afloat. That is unsettlingly erie, in my opinion. No wonder most of the population prefered not to discuss their personal war histories and those of their next of kin during the 40s, 50s and 60s. They chose to ignore the past and put all their strength into building the future and getting physically comfortable instead. Consequently there remain a lot of scars under the surface - even after a handful of decades.Bitterblue, who had been a little - and because of her mother's feeble efforts partly sheltered - girl during King Leck's reign of manipulative terror and abuse, experiences a similar kind of unseen eeriness first hand, being an unsure and powerless puppet operating on half-knowledge at first. But she grows as a personality, as a woman and as a ruler. And that is a beautiful and exhilarating thing to behold - her personal sacrifices, throwbacks and the sometimes painfully slow progress nonewithstanding.Thank you, Kristin Cashore, for taking that special amount of time to construct a special story featuring a special - yet ordinary (="graceless") - heroine, who amazed me against all odds....more
** 2.5 stars ** A mixture of interesting ideas, a salute to the different, technical details overload and partly strange, partly prudish views on rela** 2.5 stars ** A mixture of interesting ideas, a salute to the different, technical details overload and partly strange, partly prudish views on relationships, physical intimacy and parenthood....more