Eigentlich ist "gelesen" nicht ganz richtig, denn ich habe das mittlere Drittel des Buches überblättert. Das lag nicht daran, dass das Buch "schlecht"Eigentlich ist "gelesen" nicht ganz richtig, denn ich habe das mittlere Drittel des Buches überblättert. Das lag nicht daran, dass das Buch "schlecht" oder "schlecht geschrieben" war - im Gegenteil.
Ich glaube, dass das Leben von einer vietnamesisch-chinesischen Flüchtlings-Klein-Familie im Norddeutschland der 90er Jahre sehr realistisch und auch emotional beeindruckend dargestellt ist.
Für mich persönlich aber war die Lektüre - vermutlich aufgrund der überlagernden Trostlosigkeit/Schwermütigkeit kein "Vergnügen", welches für meine Bewertung mit Sternen die Hauptgrundlage ausmacht. Ich brauche keine rosa Wolken und kein glitzernden Einhörner, aber das bessere Verhältnis zwischen Mini und ihrem Onkel und Mini und dem Koch Bao am Ende des Buches haben für mein Wohlbefinden nicht ausgereicht.
Ich weiß nicht genau weshalb, aber "Lucinda" und "Cloudwish", australische Jugendbücher mit vergleichbarem Setting und Anspruch, haben mich viel stärker gefesselt / interessiert, obwohl die Lebenswelt der Protagonistinnen weniger mit meiner in Verbindung stand als Minis, die sogar meiner Generation angehört.
The smalltown Grebe reminded me a lot of Neptune (the hometown of Veronica Mars). It just wasn't as shiny as the little pseudo hollywood and the beautThe smalltown Grebe reminded me a lot of Neptune (the hometown of Veronica Mars). It just wasn't as shiny as the little pseudo hollywood and the beautiful, powerful and ruthlessly corrupt families with their moneyed fingers stuck deep into the police department pie were people who had clawed themselves to the top by spreading their car parts business across the country instead of being software tycoons and film stars.
Romy Grey had a bit of Veronica's personality - and of her burden, too. The drugged party rape with the blank memory and the victim blaming in tow, the unfiltered hate of the town's uppers that is blown towards her, although it had been "caused" by her parents, the steep fall from being the queen bee's pet to the school's dirt rag, her decision to face the crowd each day and be visibly tough about it, the shame, the hard-faced denial of being wounded inside, the reluctance to involve others in her pain and her suffering and finally the jaded opinion of every new aquaintance she makes because of those awful experiences.
The main difference between those girls is that Veronica is out on a mission for cold revenge and for getting justice, which makes her case easier to witness. Occasionaly she brakes down and has a frail, human moment, which tugs on your heartstrings, but otherwise you just root for her and you smirk, when her geniality calculatedly blows in someone's slack-jawed face.
Romy, in comparison, tries to stay under the radar, to not to let herself be jabbed, tripped, terrorized ... killed ... by her menacing peers each new day, to disappear, to forget, to run, to think of her own past as of the misfortunes that happened to another girl. And, feeling unbelievably raw, you cannot help but wonder how she manages day by day, being held together only by several meticulously applied layers of face paint and nail polish....more
"An Ember in the Ashes" represents the satisfying sort of a three-star-book to me: A great way to spend a few hours in a cruel YA world with overly be"An Ember in the Ashes" represents the satisfying sort of a three-star-book to me: A great way to spend a few hours in a cruel YA world with overly beautiful people attracted to each other in a love-quadruple while leading heteronomous lives that might be ended in a second on a whim of mysterious ancient creatures or bad, bad humans. It's well-written on top of that....more
***2.5 stars***. Well written. Chillingly creepy characters. Creepy setting that remains a mystery. Claustrophobia. Helplessness. Fate. Symbols. Power***2.5 stars***. Well written. Chillingly creepy characters. Creepy setting that remains a mystery. Claustrophobia. Helplessness. Fate. Symbols. Powerful flowers. Nordic mythology. Past, present, future. Horror. Sacrifice. Vampires. Based on a painting by Carl Larsson. Seven lives, seven loves. Human bonds through the ages that did not touch me. Rather devoid of the blurbed-about romance. Weird, but not the kind of weird I love (view spoiler)[ like One Whole and Perfect Day or Chime(hide spoiler)]. Disappointing. ...more
*** Beware! This comment-turned-into-review contains a spoiler *** I can imagine how 'The Vanishing Moment' would appeal to readers who are less wimpy*** Beware! This comment-turned-into-review contains a spoiler *** I can imagine how 'The Vanishing Moment' would appeal to readers who are less wimpy than I am, considering the beautiful writing, the multiple POVs and the crafty way those three stories run into one.
But, as I am concerned, the story is too realistic and thus much too bleak and dark. My heart doesn't survive an overdose of shitty parents.
And in this particular case the shittiness in the parental department came in 3D (no, 4D, actually) and in colour - even though there were differences: Bob and Fergus had it worst. They practically lived in hell without anybody noticing.
In addition, no magically realistic candy solution can lure me into feeling cushioned when one of the main characters I've come to respect or care for is wiped out and makes my poor heart drop. (view spoiler)[ To me a dead person remains a dead person even if another self of him or her lives a better life in a parallel universe/existence. I don't feel the consolation - at all. (hide spoiler)]
'The Vanishing Moment' belongs to the good-but-too-hopeless-and-too-depressing category. I was certainly invested, but I did not enjoy being the recipient of this multifoldedly sad tale. Even to upset to shed a tear, I guess....more
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 thoseThe 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 a 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 that 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 wasn't safe for him to go on driving a car, why he thought he would not resume his studies in fall: If he had 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. ...more
*** The review may contain some spoilery concerning the first half of the plot ***
Finally over. *sigh*
That short outburst above had been my "review" r*** The review may contain some spoilery concerning the first half of the plot ***
Finally over. *sigh*
That short outburst above had been my "review" right after I had finished reading the book, and as far as my Goodreads.com account was concerned I planned to leave it at that. Now, more than three months later, I have accumulated enough emotional distance to deal with the story again.
I do not remember the exact wording, but when I was handed Alma Katsu’s debut The Taker in March, it came with the promise to be something like Die for Me aimed at the slightly older young adult reader. "Today" the line would probably use the words "A New Adult Die for Me" instead. The ambitious novel has unquestionably its merits and strong points, which I will come back to later, and will appeal to a certain target group – which I to my shame have not been able to label yet -, but it miserably failed the above mentioned pitch in both aspects: The only things The Taker has in common with Amy Plum’s successful paranormal romance are that it deals with the idea of immortality and that part of the plot takes place in Paris. And although two of the three narrators focus on the respective hero’s and heroine’s teenage years, I would never hesitate to sort the novel into the "regular adult" section next to dark books on the blurry edge to paranormal like The Gargoyle or thrillers about mentally unstable killers, who tell their own story in hindsight and drift off to their grandparents’ unhappy childhoods while they are at it. It should go without saying that I would never discourage a teen from picking up books from those shelves. I would say: Read what you want to, but know what it is you are wanting. And that is why I am sitting here to elaborate.
The Taker could be called a gloomy thriller, dark historic fiction or a book about alchemy and magic. But furthermost, as the title hazily suggests, in its core The Taker is a frightening study of obsession in different ugly forms. The story is arranged in three chronological, but interwoven layers told from three points of view.
The most recent layer shows us middle-aged, jaded small-town surgeon Dr. Luke Finley, who is divorced, lonely and extremely weary of his future in the unfriendly town St. Andrews, Maine. When a beautiful murderess is brought in by the Sheriff for the medical check-up that has to precede her police interrogation, he immediately falls so hard for the young girl and her weird explanations of being immortal and having done her companion a favor by ending his much too long life, that he risks everything to help her flee across the border in a "borrowed" car and becomes an accomplice without even looking back.
In the course of the middle layer killer Lanore McIlvrae tells Luke the story of her youth in a partly Puritan, party Catholic wood-cutting settlement in Main around 1809 and of her fateful move to Boston at the age of 17. All her life she had – like all the other girls and women in her village – been feverishly craving the undivided attention of rich and otherworldly beautiful Jonathan St. Andrews, who graciously admitted her to become his friend-like confidant, but who was too obsessed with himself and his unstillable sexual needs to bestow any kind of affection on her her or one of his uncountable married and unmarried bed-partners. No means to gain possession of Jonathan had been to dangerous, too evil or to stupid for Lanore, but eventually her parents had to send her to a Catholic convent in Boston to birth and hand over her out-of-wedlock offspring. Right off the boat she fell into the hands of immortal Adair's street hunters, who provided his drug-laden house parties with fresh, dispensable material, helpless girls meant to be fucked to death by the master of the house or his guests. Inexplicably to me – and to Adair's cold-hearted household staff as well – Lanore felt grateful and excited towards her kidnapper for deigning to to save her from bleeding internally to death by making her immortal, and strived hard to become his favorite mistress and to learn the art of seduction from him in order to be able to contribute to the household by luring in prey herself. In fact, her fascination with him began even before her life was out of the danger zone: "Despite my illness [she refers to her shredded intestines and her miscarriage], he had me that evening and I let him, surrendered to the thrill of his weight over me." Adair’s own obsession seemed to concentrate on beauty and perfection at first.
The deepest layer of the three-tiered story narrates the misery of his 14th-century youth in a third-person-point-of-view: His father, a Romanian nomad, sold his teenage son to a creepy, old alchemist employed by an entertainment-crazy Hungarian Count. Along with sympathetic Lanore the reader learns a lot about his complete loss of freedom, his utter loneliness, his purely sexual relationship with the physically and mentally disabled maid, his quiet hate for his unspeakably brutal, immortality-seeking master and his step-by-step foray into satisfying his sexual urges by sleeping with the mutilated corpses of village wenches, who his master regularly raped to death in his private dungeon and had him bury in the forest afterwards.
Yes, there is a lot of sex in The Taker. But, as already stated, the book is no paranormal romance and does not promote love. It doesn’t get very graphic, but it also does not hide anything: There are no glistening drops of fluid dancing on silky body parts to the rhythm of a sensually throbbing loin area. There are hiked-up petticoats in dirty barns, iron chains and primal screams in mouldy underground chambers, bruises and mortally wounded vital organs, there are forced threesomes and frantic, unexpected couplings in motel rooms. Although I can safely say that the romance-novel-style-overdose of sexual visuals is more often than not something I could do without, I would gladly exchange the corpse-groping and all the loveless abuse for some mushy minute-details-narration of how Lord X expertly leads Lady Y to her first orgasm ever. Honestly, I abhorred every single sexual encounter in The Taker, but I guess others might not. But what appalled and enraged me the most is the description of rape victims getting unwillingly aroused while being sexually abused and beaten to pulp. Partly the strangeness of Adair's sexual preferences is put a little into perspective when the secret around his narration's point-of-view (view spoiler)[which I, by the way, guessed much, much too early (hide spoiler)] is revealed, but, still, scenes like that do not sit well with me.
Another thing that stood between me and the ability to enjoy the book were the characters themselves. I did not remotely like any of them. I despised Lanore and her parents, Jonathan, Adair and his minions and certainly the alchemist, but I also did not get Luke, his unhealthy, illogical fascination with selfish Lanore, and his willingness to overlook that she is using him for her means in a very calculated way.
In addition, some of the facts that open Lanore's eyes are not logical at all, and the plot unnecessarily drags in places. I even contemplated giving up during the first third of the book. Plus, I felt as if the author wanted to mislead me in purpose by using elements that make the well-read fantasy reader associate "vampires": In the beginning it seems like Lanore has the ability to read thoughts and Adair's staff member Tilde is described as having sharpened teeth. But both hints turned into dead ends without a later explanation or apology.
Apropos end: The novel's ending points out dangerous things to come. Dangerous things Luke and Lanore remain unaware of. So you close the book with a lot of unease in your guts although you might not feel the urge to pick up the sequel. Do you like that? I definitely don’t.
Yet, I should not hide that although I easily anticipated most of the important plot mysteries, I think that the story-within-story-within-story structure has been well-planned and well-executed, that both historical eras seem to haven been well-researched and intricately depicted, that the writing shows talent and promise indeed. Savour, for instance, the novel's very first sentence to get a taste: „Goddamned freezing cold. Luke Finley’s breath hangs in the air, nearly a solid thing shaped like a wasp's nest, wrung of all its oxygen.“ That is beauty in the midst of mess, isn’t it?
Dear publisher(s), are you sure you had checked the spelling of the final version thoroughly before handing it over to the printers? I am pretty conviDear publisher(s), are you sure you had checked the spelling of the final version thoroughly before handing it over to the printers? I am pretty convinced the historical young adult novel about a nineteenth century high society girl being shipped from London to New South Wales as a convicted thief of her own jewellery had been meant to bear the title Scatterbrain instead of Scatterheart. Certainly, Hannah Cheshire is a bit fickle, too, as far as her ability to fall in love, recognise love and give love is concerned, but who would expect otherwise: Hannah grew up having no mother, no friends and no companions beside her teacher and her cold, calculating fraudster father, and is barely fifteen when the latter flees out of the country under the pretense of a sudden business trip and leaves his helpless offspring to face her fate completely unprepared and alone. But Hannah's stupidity, her naiveté and her inability to process and use what is happening and being said to her deserves a big, fat single-worded title. Scatterbrain undoubtedly sounds nice. I would prefer Peabrain, though ... or - even better - Fleabrain to underline the convict ship theme and evoke all kinds of authentic images - just like writing does. I will come back to the rather applaudably graphic scenery in a minute. I just have to elaborate some more to defend my dislike of Hannah and her 'friends' and foes - everyone, more or less.
Hannah is well bred. A real lady. She even tries to shake her fellow inmates’ hands in her London prison cell. And she seems to be well equipped enough to learn, for her private tutor, Thomas Behr, enjoyed immensely to stuff her with scientific theories that had not been on his employer’s lesson plan. But at the same time Hannah managed to live almost fifteen years in the midst of London society, in a large house full of lively, gossiping servants, in a house with a daily newspaper on the breakfast table, without mustering the slightest amount of curiosity about her father’s business, about his plans for her future, about how a household is run and things get done. If someone dares to prod and ask for details, she is completely content with giving placeholder answers like "My father is a gentleman". A normally curious girl would have been embarrassed to have been caught clueless and would have put a lot of effort in finding out afterwards. Not Hannah. Hannah trusts that her father means well and will tell her everything she needs to know in his time. Therefore Hannah does not protest or wonder, when Thomas and other servants get fired, Hannah does not draw conclusions when her father, who promised to marry her to a wealthy man of high standing, asks her to dress up for a dinner with a business partner of him who is fiftyish, proportionless and so boring Hannah even considers that one evening as a waste of time. When all her former servants have left the house for good, Hannah has no idea where the contents of her chamber pot usually go. So she just amasses them day after day in her room. Her idea of London topography is so hazy that she loses her sense of direction on her quest for a pawnbroker. She does not know anything about reproduction. She has learned everything about star constellations, but has not heard that they are used to navigate ships. I had the impression of a time travelling heroine when it became clear that she did not know that boys commonly began their career in seafaring as young as nine or ten in her time. And I could not believe that Hannah is still particular about her food after two weeks in a mouldy prison cell and four unconscious days on the convict ship. It drove me mad that she does not explain at her court hearing that the supposed stolen earrings were hers and that she never asks for details, when Long Meg, Tabby, Molly and other fellow prisoners throw hints and warnings about her new friend, Lieutenant James, or the ship’s cruel and syphilis-marked doctor into her direction. She must notice that all of the women around had precious life experiences as a hierarchy’s lowest members. But she never gets the faintest idea that they could show her the ropes, which would keep her out of danger. Her birth makes her superior in her eyes.
Apropos hints. I kind of liked the prostitute Long Meg and her balance between life-saving selfishness and sympathy for the underdog. But I could not stand her meaningful, but worthless hints and her strange, sudden self-destructive behaviour on the ship. The first just served to make the reader uneasy about the unknown dangers Hannah would be surely soon facing, the latter did not fit her personality. She could have taken Hannah aside and told her bluntly what happened on the crew’s deck at night, scattered Hannah’s romantic illusions about her supposedly white-armoured gentleman. But she doesn’t. She does not even tell Hannah her suspicions, when the two of them go to rescue little Molly. All of it is a second rate stylistic device to show Hannah sinking deeper and deeper into her self-dug whole of rich-girl-naivety – from which she will emerge chastened, wizened and refined, I suppose.
The other person who haunts Hannah oracle-like with warning metaphors should not even be on that ship. Tabby is old and brittle. The Australia-bound convict ships transported young and middle-aged strong women to serve their time, work hard and become brides or mistresses. Someone on the brink of dying of old age would not have been invested in.
Hannah’s love interest on that ship is so obviously two-faced from the beginning (He sits on his jacket, she sits on the floor in a puddle), that reading their romantic scenes was not fun at all.
The main part of Scatterheart is meant to be a dark, realistically hopeless tale, I suppose. I think Lili Wilkinson researched life on London’s streets, life in London’s prisons and life on convict transports quite thoroughly. For Scatterheart is brimfull of disgusting odours - vomit, pus, urine, dried menstrual blood, festering wounds, bad teeth -, visuals – the ship, the cell, the dirt, coarse clothing, hooked-up skirts, worms, blood, corpses -, and sounds – moans, cries and crackling laughter. There is a heap of creative swearing in the story, a lot of raw sex and violence. And although I admire the painted picture, I liked the young adult novel Abby Lynn, written in the 80s by Rainer M. Schröder a whole lot more. It also deals with an innocent girl who is convicted for theft and befriends an older woman who looks out for her on a convict ship. It also does not gloss over the exchange of sexual favours for food, the sadistic bride buyers on the lookout for young bed warmers, the undernourishment and so on. But it tells the story of friendship in unexpected places, the story of hope, a beautiful romance. It shows you normal people speaking plain text instead of sprouting riddles. But if you thought Abby Lynn was too cheerful and aimed at a too young readership, you might enjoy Scatterheart. Well, I didn’t. I stopped at page 216. A certain event killed the last curiosity in me to learn the two women’s fate.
Another similar themed novel I have wanted to read is Scout by Nicole Pluss. But after this personal flop I am not so sure anymore. I will also stay away from the rest of Lili Wilkinson’s work. I also only barely liked the characters in her young adult crime story A Pocketful of Eyes. Now I am convinced we are simply not compatible.
A last word according the German edition: What is the use of spreading the text on so many thick-papered pages with an enormous white margin around the text? It is unnecessary bulky to hold and carry around, unnecessary expensive and a waste of wood and shelf space. I would never have bought this edition. I only borrowed it, but I hope it does not exceed the maximum weight for book parcels. ...more
*** Decided to let it go after 244 exhausting pages and the slowly forming wish that the buggers, whoever they were, got them all and ate the planet f*** Decided to let it go after 244 exhausting pages and the slowly forming wish that the buggers, whoever they were, got them all and ate the planet for lunch. ***...more
The Fermentation Process of Mayonnaise .That would have been one of several other possible title versions for the young adult novel by Jennifer E. SmThe Fermentation Process of Mayonnaise .That would have been one of several other possible title versions for the young adult novel by Jennifer E. Smith. Its connection to the plot would have been only slightly less tangible than that of the ultimately chosen one. For both are simply examples of the fake summer research topics Yale University student Oliver wittily invents on the spot to impress the girl in the airplane seat next to his.
The big difference between the saucy title and the lovey-dovey one would not have been my lack of determination to have a go, since I had already enjoyed two of the author’s rather uniquely written books (The Comeback Season almost made it into my favorites list of 2011), which both are more of the problem-oriented sort and hesitatingly serve a bit of romance on the side. The big difference would have been the direction of my expectations and thus the depth of my disappointment.
It is true: After discussing the book and my personal reception of it with my friends over at the the Street Corner Bookers I am sure: The title – cute and original as it is - is to blame. For the title made me remember and desperately wish for a remake of an almost 40-years-old German young adult novel I have read and savored several times in spite of its ugly cover and its boring title: David und Dorothee.
The equally slim volume, which is narrated in switching first person points of view, shows two lonely teenagers on the verge of leaving their old lives behind stranded for a long night at Frankfurt Airport. The seventeen-years old girl has just missed her flight to Vancouver, where she will spend an exchange year. Her taxi has splashed a young guy whose mournful eyes remind her of the David in her illustrated childhood Bible at home. After silently passing him a few times on the escalators, she donates a pair of knitted socks to him. He is fifteen and still deciding if his plan to hike North and sign on as a helper on a cargo ship will really solve his problems. After some futile attempts to impress the older girl he relaxes into being just himself and into opening up to the complete stranger. We never learn his true name. But we learn both his and Dorothee's deepest secrets and fears, we observe them playing running games, trying out arcade games, inventing stories, singing, playing the guitar, dancing the Sirtaki with an old, Greek cleaner, eating nostalgic food, getting a little tender and silently counting the hours. When she boards the plane taking only the blue, floating ball from the arcade hall with her, which he spontaneously told her to keep as a reminder of the night, your heart aches. You so wish until the last minute for one of them handing over an address slip or a promise. Both of them hesitate but decide for themselves it would destroy the perfect night's magic. So you feverishly calculate how probable it is for them to maybe find each other again a year later.
When I put The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight on my wishlist, I hoped for a similarly bittersweet wave of emotions. But there was none – not even the tug of an out-going tide. I wouldn't even call the boy-girl part of the plot cute or sweet. There was no perceptible love-on-first-sight. Oliver represented to Hadley a welcome – because passably attractive - distraction from her looming boredom, her inconveniently wandering thoughts (the dreaded wedding of her dad and her yet unknown stepmother) and her fear of confined spaces. Her sudden urge to stay with him at the European-Non-European fork at Heathrow's imigration control happened like something entirely random and unexpected, because there was no tell-tale admiration, no built-up-I'll-be-losing-him agony that would have prepared the reader for Hadley's change of mind and demeanor.
Even later, when they meet again, the relationship between the two stays sparse and a little morbid. The hero and heroine in You Are Here act quite similarly, but the road-trip story does concentrates more on the joined unraveling of family problems than on the – certainly not unwelcome – subtle romance. The title and the cover underline the main focus and make the reader expect the right thing, whereas in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight the reader expects romance and gets no real love-story but some strange divorce drama that results in family peace, but nonetheless remains kind of unresolved. Am I right to conclude, that Hadley's dad was the one with the love on first sight, which in his book allowed him to leave his wife and his daughter without much ado and without seeking out his daughter for a real conversation before having her adorn his his wedding reception as the only stranger in the midst of his newly acquired friends and family? I know – from personal experience – that a separation does not have to be preceded by life-changing catastrophes or long-hidden secrets. But still, I came to despise ""The Professor"" and his surfacial, happy-go-lucky behavior more and more the longer I had to face his presence.
What made me press the 3-star-button, you'd like to know? Well, the writing is still exceptionally good. And the disappointing title might even not have been the poor author's idea in the first place. Maybe she pleaded for The Fermentation Process of Mayonnaise , but had to give in to the marketing department in the end. Who knows?...more
In short: I kind of liked the hero, but the family, especially the parents (so many kids but almost zero interest in them, plus "Dad hates Noah", theIn short: I kind of liked the hero, but the family, especially the parents (so many kids but almost zero interest in them, plus "Dad hates Noah", the eldest ...), was so very weird and displayed strange dynamics. In addition the sad undercurrent carried the later crashing tragedy with it almost from the beginning like a slowly built-up tsunami which caused me flipping the pages with very little enjoyment. I am a hope-or-spark-of-hope-focused kind of reader. I need a healthy dose of it even in the darkest story. "Invincible Summer" does not belong into the darkest corner, don't misunderstand, but it had me reading with a hollow feeling in my guts that I do not like at all....more