I resolved to hold my own hand and collect enough courage to finally read "No and Me". I am glad, because it has been a very beautiful and rewarding e...moreI resolved to hold my own hand and collect enough courage to finally read "No and Me". I am glad, because it has been a very beautiful and rewarding experience, although at some points I was almost too afraid to go on turning the pages. The ending is realistic and fitting, but also so very, very sad, uncomfortable and soul-haunting.(less)
I had swapped this on a sudden whim and now, now I am completely baffled by how much I loved reading it. I have to clean the appartment and bake a tar...moreI had swapped this on a sudden whim and now, now I am completely baffled by how much I loved reading it. I have to clean the appartment and bake a tart, but I am still sitting around in my pajamas because I was shortening and shortening the minimum amount of time I need to get things done - only because I did not want to put Marcelo aside. His story has - much to my surprise - turned out to be powerfully addicting. Don't you love these little wonders you come across as an unsuspecting reader? Although I crave them, they shock me again and again.(less)
It's the first thing we show any new visitors to our house. "Look what our foreign exchange student left for us," we tell them. "It must be a cultural...moreIt's the first thing we show any new visitors to our house. "Look what our foreign exchange student left for us," we tell them. "It must be a cultural thing," says Mum. I solemnly promise: Should a Thumbelina-sized Eric (His real name is too difficult to pronounce for us) ever decide to stay at my place as a foreign exchange student, I am going to refrain from buckling him into a car seat, where he would be blocked from seeing the world (Easy, since I don't own a car). I will coo about each bonbon wrapper and bottle cap he chooses to pick up, visit him daily in the pantry (I don't have a pantry; but maybe he can stay in the cupboard that houses our pasta, the Nutella and the Knäcke) to see how he is faring and switch my long, dangling earrings for silver hoops so he can accompany me "Jenks-style" to enjoy his "cultural thing" and to sprinkle his almost unbearable, black-and-white cuteness across my life. (less)
6 stars! I had ordered the mini edition because it costs only about a third of the regular hardcover, but after squinting very hard to get all the tin...more6 stars! I had ordered the mini edition because it costs only about a third of the regular hardcover, but after squinting very hard to get all the tiny, marvellous details - there are even more that in the two cardboard adventures meant for toddlers - I quickly decided that I needed the large original to keep and "read" over and over. I don't know who I like best. Cow Lieselotte (in the US edition she is called Millie) herself, or the hens (who are forever knitting, eating popcorn, styling their combs with hair curlers, or making shadown figures on the wall while listing to the lady farmer's good night story in the cow shed), or the pigs, ... or the timid goat and the pony, who are afraid of tigers crashing in on them after dark, or maybe the sturdy lady farmer in overalls, wellingtons and meticulously made up lips? I don't know. I love them all and would hug and lick the book - had I not wrapped it up again. Plus, the jumbled disarray of everyday things (from notes to cheese to bonsai trees) in the farmhouse reminds me a lot of the house I grew up in. Ah, nostalgia.(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)
"'I told you that love sucks. But is anyone listening to me? No. England could fall off the map and you’d just smile and keep playing soccer.' JANE IR...more"'I told you that love sucks. But is anyone listening to me? No. England could fall off the map and you’d just smile and keep playing soccer.' JANE IRANIAN"
Oh, yes, in this sandwiched volume soccer-playing Gracie Faltrain takes control – of lots of things and unfortunately not in a good way at all. When I closed my copy of The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain, Gracie had finally learned the lesson that soccer is a team sport and that winning takes the combined efforts of all players, but when I delved into the sequel I quickly understood that there is plenty of important stuff Gracie is very far from understanding. Apart from the fact that Gracie needs to become less self-centered and explosive, the most important mantras that have to be forced into her skull are “Winning at all costs might be quite costly” and “Helping others starts with respecting them.” To exchange the second hand-stitched proverb for a simile I could also say that Gracie barrels through people’s lives like a highly-motivated bulldozer driver, who deliberately mistakes rare wildflowers for weeds while keeping his earplugs in to drown out the noise of the tree huggers. Or, if I wanted to express Gracie’s problem without a trace of pomp, I would say: Because Gracie thinks she knows what is best for everybody, she meddles without restraint and without looking back whenever she can:
- For months Gracie is convinced that her best friend calling from overseas will unquestionably be grateful to be interrupted, because it is obvious that Gracie’s problems are more urgent, more severe and much more interesting than the ones she was about to elaborate on. - Gracie pulls all possible strings to “rescue” her quiet, brilliant, library-affine and moderately contented replacement friend Alyce from staying unpopular and - in her unwavable point of view – unhappy forever. (view spoiler)[She forces Alyce to attend parties, to buy different clothes, to flatten her frizzy hair, to tutor a nice, but simple-minded jock for romantic purposes; she ignores her outspoken protest and signs Alyce up for a speech competition; she brazenly avenges every bad word class queen bee Annabelle shoots into her friend's direction - not noticing that crashing into a personal defensive protector actually triggers the inner bully in her arch enemy -, and she makes one of her soccer mates ask the poor girl out to the ball and then brags so loudly about Alyce having scored a date that the embarrassed guy can only save his face by rescinding his invitation. (hide spoiler)] - Although Gracie’s dearest wish is for her parents to mend their relationship, she ruthlessly ruins the first tender moment between them, because she immediately needs them to act on her behalf. - Gracie decides to ignore both her mother’s and her boyfriend’s plea not to do anything and calmly destroys the fine layer of scrab that had recently formed on the festering wound that had been inflicted when Martin’s mother left her family years ago (view spoiler)[by putting an ad into the local paper (hide spoiler)]. - Gracie tries to pressure her boyfriend into ending his friendship with her nemensis by resorting to childish name-calling and popcorn blitzes at the movies. - In order to build up some victory feeling among her team mates Gracie humilitates other soccer teams on the field and then makes sure that they know that they have been bested by someone smaller, quicker and fitter. ”’We’re the only team everyone hates. What does that tell you, Faltrain?’ I ask. 'It tells me we’re better than everyone else, Martin,’ she answers. ‘Faltrain, they should measure your head for science. I reckon it’s the biggest I’ve seen.’ MARTIN KNIGHT”.
Even though I have to admit, that I saw a little something of my younger, impulsive self in Gracie, because I grew up in a family that did not snub shouting, dumping the contents of water bottles and sugar pots on people’s heads or asserting one’s opinion by force as part of the daily war, and because “Live and let live” was a motto that did not come naturally to my parents, Gracie’s enthusiastic hole-digging, which lasted almost 200 of the beautifully worded pages and – regardless of several intervention attempts by her mother - got her in deeper and deeper, was a pretty painful process to behold.
If I had not had the chance to get to know and treasure Gracie so much in the multi-angled first installment, I would probably have lost patience with her antics and rated the story, which is mostly told from Gracie’s one deluded point of view, down quite a bit.
But since it is a middle book, I suffered, but I suffered in hope. ”'Boy meets girl. Girl meets ground.' LOCAL NEWS WEEKLY” writes about a game of Gracie’s team. And so I never really doubted that once Gracie hit the bottom hard she would wake up, come to her senses and finally get it right.
”‘I’ve lost him, haven’t I?’ Love’s like an egg. Break it, and you might still have almost every bit of yolk and white, but there’s no way you’re getting that back in the shell. And even if you could, there’d be still all the cracks. It’s why Mum and Dad are taking all winter to grow the smallest bit of green. It’s why Mrs. Knight never came back. ‘Yes, Gracie, love.’ Mum doesn’t bother lying. ‘I think you’ve lost him for now.’” ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Whitley Johnson is definitely not me, nor have I ever been her. I used to feel out of place at most High School parties I attended, when all my friend...moreWhitley Johnson is definitely not me, nor have I ever been her. I used to feel out of place at most High School parties I attended, when all my friends were drunk and sprouting nonsensial things, while I mentally steeled myself to dodge puke fountains left and right. And although I more or less hated her most of our teenage years, I worried myself to pieces when my sister partied in one of the bars in the neighboring village and stayed over at places of friends of whom I hadn't heard before.
But Whitley's story was so excellently narrated that all the right buttons activated themselves in me. The murky depths of small town poison, a persistently growing sisterly bond, a wonderful, edgy romance featuring a nice but definitely unboring hottie and superficial, far from perfect parents handing their teenaged offspring unthinkingly a private little hell to deal with and believing everything is peachy after muttering a half-hearted "Munchkin, I'm so sorry."
Heavens, I guess, I haven't sobbed so much about a book since reading 'The Murder Of Bindy Mackenzie', and I am afraid to inspect my bloated, tear-streaked face in the mirror. Yet, I have to, because the shower is getting impatient to meet me and lunch isn't a bad idea either. I had so much plans for my day off, but a quick peek at the first chapter did me in, *doublesigh*.(less)
I must point out to you quite forcibly now that in no way could a whale live in your pond. You may not know that whales are migratory, wh...more„Dear Emily,
I must point out to you quite forcibly now that in no way could a whale live in your pond. You may not know that whales are migratory, which means they travel great distances each day. I am sorry to disappoint you.
Although Emily receives unquestionably polite but incredulous answers like this one each time she writes, she does not stop pestering Greenpeace for advice. For there is a huge, blue whale in her pond in Plymouth, Devonshire, England, and who would be more capable of helping her make him feel comfortable than the famous experts on all things wildlife and environmental?
I remember picking up this wonderful picture book by the British illustrator Simon James in the 90s, when I was backpacking England and already had dangerously overloaded my backpack with dusty paperbacks and alltime picture book favorites like Me First. Reluctantly I resorted to just jotting down the bibliographic details and stuffing away the paper with an epic sigh. Because seventeen years ago I already loved each of Emily’s letters – flourishly signed with “Love Emily” -, because she never resents Greenpeace their inability to believe the unbelievable. She just sifts through the lines she receives and picks out the usable facts, like the whale’s need for saltwater, its preference for tiny-sized nourishment and its urge to go from place to place. She even reads the letters to her new friend and comes to understand why he might feel a bit restricted and sad.
Now after finally buying a copy to keep I wish I could borrow a piece of Emily’s cheerful tenacity, which refuses her to be disappointed just because someone suggested she might be so. And I hope that I’ll be always not quite grown-up enough to say something stupid like “There is this cute book about that whale-loving kid with a too vivid imagination.” I want to remain that adult who states: “Let me introduce resourceful Emily. She’s got a whale! In her pond! And she exactly knows who to ask for information without even having to involve her parents.”
An interesting thing that I discovered while chosing the correct edition to match my copy here at Goodreads was that the American “translation” not only transports the story from Plymouth to Nantucket (understandable) but it also replaces Greenpace for Emily’s teacher, Mr. Blueberry, which also calls for a different title (Dear Mr. Blueberry). It makes me a bit sad, because Greenpeace and whales are such a great match. And it makes me wonder why the publisher had this essential environmental beacon of our time deleted out of the script. Is Greenpeace an institution not sufficiently known to American prescoolers? Or is Greenpeace an institution American parents do not want their kids to become penpals with? I vividly recollect my own childhood which included the Greenpeace members’ magazine gracing the footstool next to the toilet and my parents making me study the alarming pictures and encouraging me to part from a little of my pocket money to help safe the Aral Sea from drying out or the Siberian tiger from going extinct. I really hope Emily of Plymouth, Devonshire, born in the early 90s of the last century, does not represent the end of something good and necessary.
“ALYCE: 'Gracie's got brown hair, like me. She's about the same height, too. People notice her. I think it's her voice. It's always louder than you ex...more“ALYCE: 'Gracie's got brown hair, like me. She's about the same height, too. People notice her. I think it's her voice. It's always louder than you expect and covered with laughter. I was surprised when she said she didn't want to work with me. I don't know Gracie very well, but I remember once in Year 3 she gave me an invitation to her party. She spelt my name right. Everyone always spells it with an 'i', even the teachers. Ever since then I thought she would be nice. I never thought she'd look at me like I was nothing.”
The blurb on the cover of my paperback edition of Cath Crowley’s YA debut says "A novel about scoring the perfect goal ... and the perfect boy" and the back cover text starts with “Goal-kicking supergirl, soccer star”. In combination with the rather bland design and the simplistic title I imagined the book to be a middle-grade story about a girl who has to keep her balance between starring in a mainly male domain and being just a girl in love. A story about gender, thinly coated with a layer of romance. A story like Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, but aimed at a younger audience and told with a lighter, fluffier voice. A story I might like.
My conclusions turned out to be very wrong. I would say The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain is a book about relationships. It depicts how what we do and say and feel affects others and how others affect us. I never would sort it as middle-grade (Gracie is in Year 10), and although it contained more than a few laugh-out-loud-moments and a truckload of hope, 'fluffy' and 'light' are words I wouldn’t tolerate to be used around it. Gracie Faltrain is a very short book. Most of its pages are not even half-way filled with words. But the sentences are on the spot, heart-wrenching and almost poetic. I want to quote them all. I want to read them again. I do not like the book. I love it, fiercely. I treasure it even more than Graffiti Moon and I immediately went over to the Fishpond to order the sequel, Gracie Faltrain Takes Control.
Soccer team striker Jake Morieson complains about Gracie that "She plays soccer like she’s out there alone. And that’s no way to play." Gracie herself claims that "The game’s won when I get on that field." Statements like these do not paint a pretty picture of the main character – or of any other character either. The narrator flips the point of view from head to head and treats the reader mercilessly with the repercussions one person’s behavior has on the others. If you tend to judge people you meet very early you might quickly decide to dislike Gracie for perpetually hogging the ball, for mooning about a shallow boy, for being upset about her best friend’s departure to Europe - without even once asking her how she dealt with being relocated to a far away and unknown country - and for being mean to her classmate Alyce. You might cluck your tongue because Martin Knight’s mother left her kids without a goodbye and because Gracie’s father Bill returns less and less frequently home to his family on the weekends although his daughter and wife need him. But if you patiently wait for the respective opposite point of view, it almost audibly clicks inside your head you begin to feel and root for everybody, because somehow you get their emotions and you find a bit of yourself in most of them. But at no point the interwoven thoughts and fates turn the story into something soppy. The book always felt incredibly real and honest to me.
Surprisingly the voices I liked best were the ones of Gracie’s parents, Helen and Bill, who love each other, but who feel their common ground and their reasons to hold fast to each other slip quietly away:
"BILL: I'm always looking for what will make me whole. What will make me happy? Somewhere along the way I started to think it wasn't Helen anymore. She hasn't changed. Her laugh is still the one I remember. Her finger is still the one I put the ring on all those years ago. I can't understand why I don't want to curve next to her, keep her back warm anymore. Surely you don't lose love like keys?"
”HELEN: [...] That’s when I see him again for the first time. Really see him. He is forty and tired and travelling everywhere with the books he loves so much piled in the back of his car. 'I forgot about your bookshop,’ I say. ‘Baby, you and Gracie are more important to me than books or a shop,’ he answers, and I think two things: when I get back I will find a way to give him his dream, but more importantly for the moment, he called me baby."
Cath Crowley managed to express their thoughts about each other and about their crumbling bond so achingly beautifully that I wished she would attempt to write an adult contemporary in the future. I am convinced she would ace it as well. She is simply that good at words and at understanding how a human being ticks – no matter how old or young.
”ANNABELLE: Did you see those undies? NICK: You have to admit, she has a great body.” (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)