I had just unwrapped the Spring Catalogue of the German publisher Loewe, when I fell fast and hard in love with the cover of “Im Herzen die Rache“. It...moreI had just unwrapped the Spring Catalogue of the German publisher Loewe, when I fell fast and hard in love with the cover of “Im Herzen die Rache“. It might easily become my favorite cover of 2013.
I couldn't recollect the author's name at all. So I made the trip to the Goodreads database to unearth the original title - wondering how on earth I could have missed something so beautiful and alluring.
Well. Maybe you can imagine that deflating moment of utter disappointment: The low average rating, the undecided description (Is it horror, thriller, pseudo-realistic, mean bitches being bored, Greek-myth-hype-paranormal-off-the-rack-ware that is offered to us or just a story about someone who mistrusts her hairdresser ...?) paired with calm, level-headed, believable reviews that uncover the written mess in all its glory ...
I am devastated. How can Loewe dangle such a pretty package so seductively in front of my eyes, when all that is to be had is a 'Mogelpackung'?
A friend lent the family saga, which begins during World War I in Thessaloniki and supposedly ends there in the present, to me in order to express her...moreA friend lent the family saga, which begins during World War I in Thessaloniki and supposedly ends there in the present, to me in order to express her gratitute for the many discarded books I had shoved at her before. I couldn't possibly say 'no' although I knew right from the first glance at the book flap that the book and I would be facing unsatisfactory times together. Since the hardback has been already gathering dust for a month and in fact belongs to my friend's elderly mother, who wants it back, I sighed dramatically, but picked it up today - determined to get the book behind me fast. But ... where has my former discipline gone? Not a trace of it is left. Unfinishing books has become as normal to me as finishing one is. And thus, the urge to slam the covers shut grew and grew until I finally succumbed: On page 64. Heavens, what shall I tell my friend?(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)
2.5 stars altogether. *** There will be spoilers. But then I have surely been the last girl on the planet to read this book. So what? *** ”His gaze lin...more2.5 stars altogether. *** There will be spoilers. But then I have surely been the last girl on the planet to read this book. So what? *** ”His gaze lingered on my face, and warmth blossomed in my belly. ‘Maybe I’m just curious why she is so enamoured. Dee doesn’t take well to strangers. None of us do.’” This quote is extracted from one of the 'friendlier' scenes in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s young adult paranormal series starter Obsidian, which openly celebrates the hotness factor of supernatural jerks by calling out to the readers “The jerkier, the hotter! This hero knows that he’s an «asshat», but he likes it that way and doesn’t feel the need to make things right. Hail to the champion of demeaning superpower users!” I am certainly aware of the turn-on-effect the attraction between the moody catch (i.e. Mr. Darcy, Edward Cullen, Damen Auguste or Patch Cipriano) and the average girl with drawbacks (i.e. Lizzy Bennett, Bella Swan, Ever Bloom - such a ridiculous name – or Nora Grey) can have on the female reader.
And I do love Mr. Darcy and Edward as well – especially in those helpless moments in which they realize, that their scheming or their pride has done them in and that love hurts. But in contrast to Damen or Daemon and other “sexy demons” they are finally able to put their earlier off-putting behavior into perspective. Although far from perfect, their efforts to keep a distance to the objects of their desire become relatable somehow. I cannot relate to cruel or deliberately mean, though, and am puzzled that so many girls can. Daemon is Damen’s successor in the shitty-heroine-treatment department: He is equally full of himself and purposefully embarrasses, taunts and insults Katy, but he also feels entitled to account for his modus operandum by stating that he is a guy, that he is just “that awesome” or by changing the subject to something that is basically another way to make Katy squirm or boil in a not so cute way.
Of course the feeble solution presented later is that staying away from the oh-so-special human Katy and preventing the forming intimacy between her and his only sister were necessary to keep his species safely undercover. But this - fully expected - explanation for the heightened jerk-factor did not convince me in the least. There is a huge difference between treating your neighbor like she is dirt - or worse - and keeping your polite distance to someone you are not keen on spending time with. Everyone who is not elephant-skinned gets the signals of disinterest. Plus, the childish, partly hysteric the-likes-of-me-do-not-play-with-the-likes-of-you mantra is rather a perfect trigger of a rising awareness and suspicion than a hint at the desire to be let alone. After the big, long-awaited revelation Daemon justifies his need to let Katy in on the secret by claiming that he had to, because she was about to find out anyway. But then he has his trackable superpower stunts to save her (from being hit by a truck *ding-dong*) in mind, instead of the obvious cause, namely his and bitchy non-girlfriend Ash’s ongoing insistence to differenciate noisily between "us" and "them": ”Daemon was quiet and then he laughed. ‘You’re not really like them.’ ‘Like who?’ […] I had no idea what he meant by the whole not like them or needing a friend like me.” ... Or later ... ”Ash’s smile faded. She took a step back. “This is her?’ […] ‘I can’t do this, Daemon. Maybe you guys can be okay with this, but I am not.’”
Another stupid move of the extraterrestrial team was that they all chose to morph their shape into human supermodels when they took refuge on earth. A great way to blend in with the small-town crowd, really! And I doubted that the US Department of Defence would simply finance a couple of hundred harmless seeming teenagers from space a luxurious life without trying to find foster families or group homes for them.
Katy is not entirely helpless or passive. She loves to make use of her middle finger, she uses spaghetti as a weapon and she tries not be over-rolled, out-smarted or made an example of. Still, there were several things I despised about her: - She is often very, very dense. - Her choice of come-backs was cringeworthily childish most of the time. (i.e. she resorts to claiming dangerous things like “I would not play in your sandbox / kiss you / touch you / share your lollipop if you were the last boy in this universe” while trying to tune down her heartbeat. Naturally he is always able to prove her wrong and makes her drool and stutter wearing that smug smirk of his. I wanted her to stay cool and say something like “So what, slimy Six-Pack? I am a teenager. I have eyes and my glands produce hormones. But that doesn’t mean I want every trollop with a yummy exterior to stick his wiener into my mustard pot. Got it?”) - She goes all Bella and asks the – understandable, but exploitable – question concerning the aliens’ method of reproduction and receives the “typically Deamon” counterquestion as an answer: ”’Are you asking if I am attracted to human girls?’ [...] 'Or are you asking if I am attracted to you?’” - She thinks she is “best friends” with the girl next door after meeting her for a couple of times although it is obvious that the chatty beauty only blathers superficially without sharing something personal. - She admits that Daemon had been right when he warned her not to accept another boy's invitation to the dance, because said jock – who had initially been described like he was a perfectly nice and friendly guy – suddenly had a ‘reputation’ as a date rapist. Sure, her date’s drunken fumbling turned out to be physically aggressive, but Daemon’s own advances did not always fare better in comparison, and Katy could also have accepted, but have made her opinion on drunken driving or casual groping simply clear when it started - instead of waiting until escalation and hanging her head in shameful remorse afterwards. I thought it was too convenient to turn someone else into a really bad boy to make the hero’s equally black armour shine in comparison. Plus I hated that Katy just felt it in “every bone” that Daemon would never hurt her. Screw teenage intuition! - She agrees to take a stroll deep into the woods each time she is asked to - just because Mr. Megajerk thinks he can think and talk better under a canopy. I had the faint impression that the author was a little bit too much in love with the twosome forest scenes in Twilight and was not able to resist the compulsion to sample its scenery (see also the truck fiasco). - Her obsession with the nuances of relationship vocabulary. I have constructed a prototype conversation to highlight my point. You just have to imagine it playing in an endless shuffle loop to grasp how intensely Katy’s thoughts were captivated by the subject: - ’Why do you hate me?’ - 'I don’t hate you, but I hate your stupid kind. I don’t want my only sister to be around the likes of you.’ - 'Oh. What do you mean - the likes of me? Short girls with boobs? But you don’t know me. I dislike you, by the way. So.' - ‘You think? I know you are attracted to me.’ - ‘Attracted, yes, I mean, no way. Attraction is too much. I lust after your body. That is, I like your body. But not like like ... Is that clear?’ - ‘Well. I get mightily turned on by your blush. Here. Let me poke my manly errection into your hip to show you. Wanna tumble me in the lake?’ - ‘Oh! No need to use body language, buddy. I swear, I'll show you my finger, when I've caught my breath. So you like me! I didn’t know that.’ - ‘No. I don’t like you. I am just a guy with a blush fetish.’ - ‘As I said, I don’t like you either. But I kind of like the other you. The secret, sweet one that got snatched away by aliens, you know?’ - ‘Erhem. I pretend now that I didn’t hear you say that. Otherwise you’ll get ideas that I might be one of them ... And I have to stay undetected by all means, because I am by far the strongest and most disciplined one of us.‘
As a relatively tame romance, one which ultimately avoids penetration, Obsidian has its fair share of sexual tension: The countless moments involving grabbed chins, widened eyes, accelerated heartbeats, moved strands of hair, thickened voices, grazed skins and quivering fingers did have their merits. I forked out half a star in appreciation of them.
The first sexy lake scene which shows Daemon trying to coax Katy to skinny dip reminded me of one of my childhood favorites, Pictures of Adam by Myron Levoy, in which 14-years-old, traumatized Adam believes he is an Alien, frightens his potential girl-friend, Lisa, by staying underwater far too long and succeeds in getting her to completely undress and join him in the ice-cold water. Wow. That realistic, tender and funny scene was dripping with hormones and restraint and sweet awkwardness! Dark, smirking Daemon and his confident demonstration of feel-up-skills is nothing in comparison. Maybe Jennifer L. Armentrout read that wonderful book in her youth, too (I think she is a couple of years younger than I, though).
To readers who are fond of books with a lot of intelligent boy-girl-bickering in them I would rather recommend the Australian debut Shadows by Paula Weston. Mysterious, supernatural Rafa knows where to prod and poke to trigger an explosion, but he also knows how to steer clear of the jerk trail. I would categorize the included “almost”-sex scene as being very hot and I extremely enjoyed the heroine’s tendency to swear extensively .
Last I have to add that the extraterrestrial aspects concerning asylum seekers from the galaxy farthest from ours - interesting to learn that the universe has an end – severely disappointed me. Although I couldn’t stand the sickly instant-love story I admit that I would probably prefer the scifi romance Neptune's Tears. But the alien teen romance I am willing to gush about is still somewhere out there in the vast void of writers’ minds. (less)
I hope I'll carve out some time to review, but I have to say this is how a fairytale retelling should be in my opnion. Thank you so much, Teccc, for p...moreI hope I'll carve out some time to review, but I have to say this is how a fairytale retelling should be in my opnion. Thank you so much, Teccc, for parting with your copy. It would have taken ages - or maybe forever - until I decided to finally buy it.(less)
Although I liked Archangel, I believe Troubled Waters has been the last Sharon Shinn novel for me. At the moment new authors sprout out of the ground...moreAlthough I liked Archangel, I believe Troubled Waters has been the last Sharon Shinn novel for me. At the moment new authors sprout out of the ground like grass - or nettles - so it relieves me a great deal to cross one off my observation list. I know that this decision is probably a harsh one after just one and a half tries, especially since Troubled Waters is not a bad story.
There is nothing blatantly wrong with the writing or the characters or the setting. Really. It is rather the other way around: The heroine is a kind of smooth uebergirl. Zoe calmy mourns her father, she levelly decides on the right things, she does this at the right time (the reader should not try to look into her head - it is a useless endeavor) and does that correctly and smiles benignly. Her actions, like the actions of the other inhabitants of this fantasy world are solely determined by her biologically given character set (she is coru, which means "water and blood", which results in both an affinity - also the means elemental manipulation - to real water and in the walter-like urge to wander, to go with the flow ecetera) and by the three random blessings bestowed on her at birth by three strangers: Beauty, Love and Power. The constant reminder of who was supposed to act so and so because he or she was wood or stone or air or fire left little room for letting characters just be themselves.
Apart from that I had the feeling that during the first 160 pages not much had really happened - although that is objectively seen not true: Zoe's father dies. On the next day she is fetched by a messenger of the king. She is driven across country in a kind a steampunk-camper. She flees the vehicle, she settles among the homeless although she has plenty of gold sewn into her shawl. She quickly acquires lovely friends and a fulfilling job and draws the random blessing of change at a temple ... which certainly changes her life once more in a major kind of way, which - again - felt completely eventless/unimportant to me. The plot did have notable turning points, but no drive, no compelling force.
If I had not encountered some specimen of excellently captivating fantasy fiction recently I would have said high fantasy and I should just go our separate ways for a while. As it is I just kick the book out. Shoo ...
Teccc, do you want to give the paperback a new home?
I am sure The Monstrumologist is an excellent middle-grade horror novel and one that deserves the Michael L. Printz Honor award, too. More gore and bl...moreI am sure The Monstrumologist is an excellent middle-grade horror novel and one that deserves the Michael L. Printz Honor award, too. More gore and blood and brains (the splattered variety) and monsters and mad, amusingly single-minded and selfish professorism are simply not possible. The etching-style 19th-century medical textbook illustations enhance the lost-diary-illusion the story-in-story narration successfully crafts for the reader. A male point of view ties the bow of the altogether perfect package. But I am usually not someone who feels drawn by horror books written for any kind of audience. And after my 82-pages-long foray into the genre this morning cements my guess that my preferences will not shift into that direction anytime soon. I am really not unhappy that I spontaneously agreed to swap the book for one I wanted to get rid off and experimentally had a go. If my train ride this morning had taken longer, I would even have kept on reading. But as it is and as I am, I will resort to reading Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories on my ride back home tonight. The Monstrumologist has already found a cozy space inside a colleague‘s handbag. I am positive Will Henry James and she will have a fabulous time together. (less)