One whole and perfect book filled with wacky, but realistic and endearing characters, family problems, love, forgiveness and a whole bunch of delightf...moreOne whole and perfect book filled with wacky, but realistic and endearing characters, family problems, love, forgiveness and a whole bunch of delightful coincidences - felt like it was written just for me.
I am so glad that I had finally caved in and ordered a copy. The Printz Honor title entered and left my wishlist several times starting in 2008, when the home of my virtual shelves was still at Anobii.com. But somehow my positive gut feelings overpowered the doubts brought on by the bad average rating and the lack of gushing reviews.
And here I am: Grinning and perfectly happy after rushing through the multiple-voiced story of the Samson family, which made me cry twice in one evening.(less)
"'What's so funny? […] That you take a little spill from a horse and everyone wants to rearrange the world so you don't suffer a moment of inconvenien...more "'What's so funny? […] That you take a little spill from a horse and everyone wants to rearrange the world so you don't suffer a moment of inconvenience?' 'No,' she said, and her voice was even. 'That I would wait a month in agony just to hear you insult me. I'm a miserable girl indeed, don't you think?'"
The lion’s share of my rating decision is always based on my own personal enjoyment of a book. And my ability to enjoy a book certainly depends on the characters and how they manage to move me, the world-building, the believability, the writing style, the pull, the absence or existence of certain things, but expectations and my reading history play a great part, too (This is, by the way, also one of the reasons why I want the option to rate each book more than once).
I loved-loved reading this dystopian young adult adaption of my favorite Jane Austen novel so much that I went on reading on my walk from the train station to my workplace, and that I did not mind the embarrassing stares from other commuters, when I soaked tissue after tissue in plain view, because feeling so sorry for Elliot North hurt almost as bad as feeling sorry for Anne Elliot does. I would not say the book is perfect or flawless. Persuasion is, in my eyes, but I did not expect perfection. But what did I expect? Obviously my expectations were somehow met, but apart from the fact that they were astonishingly high in spite of my extreme dislike for Diana Peterfreund’s unicorn experiment Rampant, I did not press them into a shape before starting to read. But maybe I can reconstruct them so the still undecided potential reader can compare them to her own.
I am one of those young adult fiction readers who rather embrace both the still raging dystopian trend and the slowly rising science fiction tendency as long as the world building is not so vague that my reading process slows dangerously down towards a full-stop, because of all the question marks in my head that beg to be dealt with, or so silly and illogical that little Miss Sneer gets comfortable on my shoulder and starts whispering atrocious ways to make fun of the whole mess into my weary ear. When I encountered the first descriptions of For Darkness Shows the StarsI hoped for “Persuasion in Space”. Some reading experiences later I shifted my hope in the direction of something like Landry Park by Bethany Hagen, also an Austen-like love story set in front of a neo-feudalism future, which shows a lavish elite in a small, autarkic America exploiting and oppressing the the descendants of those people, who supposedly caused the nation's fall, by forcing them to handle nuclear waste. That second expectation has been fulfilled to the dot: Peterfreund's post-apocalyptic structure is quite similar, although the upper class' mindset is different: The heroine's ancestors survived with their genes and brains intact, because they condemned genetic enhancements and prosthetic organs on principle, while the majority of their high-tech-loving society involuntarily “reduced” their own and their offspring's brains to something functioning on toddler-level. The conservative survivors felt that their reluctance to play God had been rewarded. Consequently they shunned the non-bio-technological progress that had been made shortly before the so-called “Reduction” as well - including solar lamps and solar-powered vehicles. They embraced their new god-given superiority and kept their mentally reduced subjects alive by feeding and clothing and controlling them in exchange for hard labor. The recent increase of mentally healthy born “Children of the Reduction”, who call themselves “Post-Reductionists”, demand being granted freedom of choice and equal rights and are not afraid to tinker with forbidden technology, shakes up the regressing system of wealthy, God-fearing slave-owners and crumbling, rusty machinery. Although not much is said concerning where on our globe this small, secluded island is and how life looks like in "Channel City" or other places outside the large estates, I was very content with the world-building. I am aware that others might find fault, but I thought that the situation on the brink of a possible revolution was the perfect back-drop for a "forbidden" romance.
Romance. Oh yes. In a novel that is meant to be reminiscent of Jane Austen's work I expected romance. Preferably some that swelters and slowly burns and involves misunderstandings, old wounds, clever bickering, heated discussions about morals, love, society and the burden of being part of a family, musings about having to do the right thing, and letters and haughtiness and involuntary touches and the angst to be too late or to have made the wrong decision. A romance between a heroine I thoroughly adore and admire - in spite of her little flaws - and a swoon-worthy guy, who has his pride or his aloofness, who struggles with his feelings, but who is ultimately the good guy. That expectation was very well met.
I think I tentatively wished for a reincarnation of Persuasion's cast. Not only because Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth are my favorite Austen couple, but also because the Musgrove family, specifically Charles, his mother and Anne's younger sister Mary are such a fabulous breeding ground for Austen's trademark wicked fun and for the emergence of squirm-worthy encounters between Anne and Captain Wentworth. In For Darkness Shows the Stars no clones are to be found. But true to her Post-Reductionist protagonists' mind-frames Peterfreund did not hesitate to mix and match, to experiment with Austen's best outcrop: You will find a lot of Anne and more than a half of Captain Wentworth; Elizabeth and Mary are conglomerated into still-unmarried Tatiana, Baron North is at first as silly and vain and self-centered as Sir Walter, but surprises us later with additional character traits. The Admiral, his wife and Captain Benwick play a much greater role, while Lady Russel, Mrs. Smith and the older Musgroves are absent. Louisa and Henrietta work beautifully as one person, Mr. Elliot has a new shell, Charles is still available and not embarrassing at all and Mrs. Clay has been completely remodeled and relocated. Due to the focus on the new dystopian setting previously unknown characters are introduced. In this aspect my expectations have not exactly been met, but apart from craving a little dose of satire I did not suffer any want. For I learned to my own surprise that I really loved to hunt for traces of the well-loved characters in the newly created ones and I discovered that the chemistry and the relationships between Elliot and Kai, Elliot and her sister/father, Elliot and her neighbors and tenants strongly resembled the ones of the original. And that the repercussions of Elliot's decisions affected me as much as Anne's decisions and Anne's feelings of right and wrong did.
I cannot say for sure, but when I look back at my recent reading habits - the occasional, self-prescribed re-reading of all-time favorites and the huge craving for something new, preferably fresh from the printing press – I am convinced that I did not really wish for a in-minute-detail-retelling of a story that I have read approximately eight times in the last 20 years and that in my opinion cannot be told in a better way than it already has been told. In my opinion that would have been the equivalent of a Shakespeare play translated into sparse, modern language and acted out on a Battlestar Galactica set. Diana Peterfreund uses the Persuasion storyline as an inspiration and rewards the reader now and then with scenes that make our inner detective snip our fingers in appreciation: "Ah! That will turn into 'The Long Walk', probably ending with some touching," or "This is probably the equivalent of the weekend in Lyme". I can only say I loved that feeling. To me rushing unexpectedly into these scenes felt like being surprised by old friends visiting. My expectations concerning the plot have been exceeded, so to say, although I have to admit I guessed the Innovation's party's big secret much too early and am not completely satisfied with the ending. (view spoiler)[How can Elliot feel suddenly so at ease leaving the lives of hundreds of workers in the hands of Dee, who is trustworthy, but inexperienced in managing an estate, and who will be defenseless, if Elliot's father chooses to attack in an imaginative way? (hide spoiler)]
And finally I can say that this is the Persuasion retelling that I loved best of the three I have faced until now. I also liked Melissa Nathan's contemporary chicklit version Persuading Annie, but I loathed the change of point-of-view in the fan-fiction-like None But You.
What are your expectations, when you are faced with a retelling or an adaption of a story your adore and the decision whether to go for it or not?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I stayed up very late to finish this and although I looked out for it I didn’t guess the Watkins‘ secret. Plus there is humor, a sweet romance (no, tw...moreI stayed up very late to finish this and although I looked out for it I didn’t guess the Watkins‘ secret. Plus there is humor, a sweet romance (no, two) and an assortment of very interesting, flawed and realish characters. That combination qualifies for a five star rating. I hope I’ll find the time to review this before the next book captures my thoughts. Thank you so much Flannery, for pointing „Flat-Out Love“ out to me. I had never heard of it before.(less)
Bookers, I have to admit I pulled an Alexa on this group read. Sorry, girls and Teccc. Do not punish me with a reading ban or something like that. I h...moreBookers, I have to admit I pulled an Alexa on this group read. Sorry, girls and Teccc. Do not punish me with a reading ban or something like that. I have three days off this week and when I woke up this morning I really believed it was the 14th already. But now I see it is Santa Lucia Day. This mix-up wouldn't definitely have happened to me if people in Germany ran around the house with candle crowns on their honey-blond heads like they do in Sweden on December 13th. The lack of tradition has done me in!
I look really forward to discussing this over at the Corner!!!(less)
***Read for the first time from August 04 to 07, 2011*** How happy I am that I spontaneously gave in and ordered this odd, little jewel .... It was dark...more***Read for the first time from August 04 to 07, 2011*** How happy I am that I spontaneously gave in and ordered this odd, little jewel .... It was dark, strangely compelling and utterly beautifully written ... and completely different from what I had expected.
It’s the turn of the century in rural England. The Industrial Revolution with its affluence of metal and electricity has forced most of the Old Ones, elemental spirits, bogs, brownies, fairies and the like, to disappear. But in Swampsea and other mucky places magical creatures still roam free. Dark Muses feed on the creativity of unsuspecting males until they drop dead or go mad, monsters shoot out of slimy holes to bite off your hand, the Boggy Mun strikes people with the deadly swamp cough and flying witches screech frightening things at people who lost their way in the dark while flashing “their girl parts” at them. Consequently witch trials are still in fashion around Swampsea. Female citizens who are fond of dancing or giggling and look quite the part are swiftly hanged when not able to produce a watertight alibi. Briony Larkin has always known that she is different, because she always felt at ease in the swamp, Brownies, Wykes and Strangers actively sought her out and “Mucky Face”, a water elemental, calls her Mistress. But it had been her late Stepmother who convinced her that she was a witch, capable of wicked things and incapable of human feelings. For great parts of the book it remains unclear why and how Briony caused the parsonage library to burn, why “Mucky Face” crashed in a huge wave down on her stepmpother and caused her spine to break and what is the deal with arsenic poisoning. But witch or no witch - inspite of her many mock-irritated complaints to the reader (“How has Rose lived for seventeen years and no one has killed her, not once?”), Briony’s love for her autistic / obsessive-compulsive twin sister Rose was apparent. Briony believed her own wicked personality to be the cause for her difficult twin’s disability and her own urge to care for her to be enforced propriety, but in everything she nonchalantly said or did, a fierce tenderness shone through.
Thus I became very interested in getting to the bottom of the riddle, in Briony clearing the fog that clouded her memories since the strange illness which ailed her for a year before her stepmother’s supposed self-poisoning. And thus I cheered for Briony when self-proclaimed “bad-boy” Elderic, the swamp drainer’s lively son, moved in, treated Rose just right, promised the lesson-hungry Briony to share his private tutor with her and made her almost forget to hate herself.
Now the prominent question (after considering the average rating) is: Would you become interested and willing to cheer, too? Well, honestly, I don’t really know, but let’s take a closer look:
- I liked the unconventional writing style – clever, reflecting, a little odd, cheeky-naughty and layered with a fine coating of hidden hurt – right from the start. To be precise, by page 3 or 4 I was head over heels in love with it and almost believed the story had been composed for my benefit alone. I did not mind a bit Briony’s habit of dropping vague hints here and there and leaving blanks in the description of her family’s misfortunes and current situation. Because I somehow understood her state of mind. I strongly suggest reading a sample chapter before investing money, because the writing is pretty consistents throughout the book and you will find out pretty soon if you adore or despise Briony’s voice. - The pacing was of the slower sort, but I did not mind a bit. On the contrary: I longed to savor each page, to let the sentences melt into my consciousness. If you crave action, film-worthy monster-fights and scenes that flash by in quick succession, better look for a different book. - I liked the Victorian setting with its well-founded, but badly acted-upon superstitions and hidden otherworldly dangers. And I did not mind a bit that the hero did not possess superhuman qualities and the heroine did not perform magic and summonings and other acts, which are usually mandatory for the paranomal teen romance protagonist, day in and day out. - I admit, I expect some romance from a five-star-worthy novel. It’s a personal requirement. And I enjoyed Briony’s growing infatuation and her jealousy of Elderic’s affections for Leanne. But but I did not mind a bit that the love-story did not blossom into novel-consuming proportions and that endless repetitions of the “I-Can’t-Live-Without-You-Mantra” were somehow missing altogether. If you need to melt into a kneeless puddle at least once in each chapter, go search for another book. - In some parts “Chime” turned out to be quite “horrible”, meaning ripped out hands or swallowed people. But but I did not mind a bit. I enjoyed the gothic vibes. If you prefer your main characters unmaimed, I can help you choose another book. - The title and the cover turned out to be exactly fitting. Seldomly a heroine’s face looks close to her description: In this case it does. Briony is porcelain-skinned with velvet-black eyes and blond hair.
I'll end this perusal with a quote: "Once we got to eating, the idea of happiness returned to me. Not the feeling, the idea. Would a regular girl be happy simply eating a hot meal with a great deal of chew to it? Maybe happiness is a simple thing. Maybe it's as simple as the salty taste of pork, and the vast deal of chewing in it, and how, when the chew is gone, you can still scrape at the bone with your bottom teeth and suck at the marrow."
Have you decided? If not, take you time ... until the next 'Chime'.
****** My first thoughts, written right after reading (2011/08/07): I am still wavering between four and five stars and have to let my impressions/emotions simmer for a night, because I know I liked the second half slightly less than the first, but because I am also sure that I really I loved this book, the heroine's voice and - among other things - her relationship to her sister Rose. My copy is full of little plastic Post-it-strips that need to be typed and my head is full of thoughts to be formed, my heart is full of cravings for more works by the author and my jealous soul longs to be able to command written language to bow to my every whim like she is.
***** 2013/03/02: After my first re-read I feel so mushy and so abundantly happy inside and I can only barely refrain from quoting half the book. Briony and Rose have become even dearer to me. Knowing where the story went meant I was at leisure to savor all the tiny bits and wondrous pieces. It is probably safe to say that I've found an all-time-favorite. Or is that pretentious after only two years of infatuation? People - and readers - change, even when books do not change with them.(less)
I have selected the authors I want to display as my favorite ones with care - writing one of my favorite books does not automatically switch me into f...moreI have selected the authors I want to display as my favorite ones with care - writing one of my favorite books does not automatically switch me into fan mode - yet one of my very first thoughts - when thoughts were more or less possible again after ripping myself away from life in Charyn and Lumatere - was: "I need to persuade Goodreads maintanance to install a huge, visible gap between word magician Marchetta and the rest of the writers I unquestionably adore."
Some more coherent brain activity and a fond trip down the Memory Lane of Reading History shoved things back into perspective, for what would my childhood have been like without the influence of Astrid Lindgren's books (I even went to evening school with a bunch of summer-house-owning adults for three years to learn Swedish) and I cannot imagine my university years without repetitive re-reads of Jane Austen's work (including her letters and the so-called Juvenilia). Still, as far as my contact to books-which-caused-dangerous-infatuation is concerned Melina Marchetta belongs into her very own category of powerful writers, too. The emotions, the reading experiences her books offer, are incomparable to everything else I have encountered and they grab me and squeeze my heart from an unguarded angle each time – even though I fully expect to be tackled by now.
I love all of Marchetta's stories and I treasure the collection of funny, witty and wise dialogues about friendship and family and life in general that I have underlined or copied from her novels. Orphan Froi's journey into the country of his adoptive homeland's enemy as a trained assassin-spy-fake-impregnator of crazy Princess Quintana, who - as the last-born female - is supposed to end her nation's infertility curse by giving birth to the first baby, is no exception:
Although my fickle memory failed to provide me with all the geographic, political and social details I should have remembered from inhaling Finnikin of the Rock a year before, the lush scenery, the danger, the fragile past-war negotiations in Lumatere and the complicated schemings at both courts roped me firmly in and had me flipping the pages at inhuman speed. But everyone who interupts to say that other authors manage to connoct equally thrilling fantasy plots is certainly not wrong.
On the contrary: Admirable as Marchetta's stories are – fantastic or realistic with twists and turns and satisfactory solutions and all that stuff favorites are made of – their true, distinctive magic is hidden inside the characters. When it comes to Marchetta-made characters I feel like a snake dancing to an enchanted flute's song: My loyalty, my love and my repulsion place themselves at the author's whim.
Let's have a look at Froi. Holy Snot, that boy! I could not really understand why Evanjalin forgave him and insisted on dragging him along after what he attempted to do to her. I mistrusted him until the end of Finnikin of the Rock, I imagined him to be ungracefully bulky and I found his disability to pronounce Lumaterean words pretty inattractive. I admit I even had been a tiny bit apprehensive and wondered "How will she keep my interest by lugging me around inside his head for a whole middle volume? Probably an impossible task." And now here I am having delayed writing a review for almost two month, because my love for "that boy" and his own mottled crew of side-characters had rendered me speechless. Froi is still Froi. No question. But he turned out beautifully. Even his flaws (all of Marchetta's characters are equipped with just the right dose of flaws) were beautiful to me. Froi even made it into my "Top 5 Male Heroes of 2011" without having to battle other opponents. When I was reading his story I repeatedly got annoyed by Finnikin and his royal wife and consequently had to snicker, because in those moments I recognized the firm hold Melina Marchetta's writing has on my emotions.
After Froi let's focus on Quintana. You've probably read some strange quotes or studied Flannery's review featuring the now almost famous ugly-witch-sketch of Charyn's bird's-nest-hair-bearing princess. It is true: The schizophrenic girl is unspeakably filthy, has no table manners or fashion sense, and totters through her prison-like castle engulfed in an unkempt mass of brownish hair when she is not stuffing her face with food from other persons' plates. Yet right along with Froi I inexplicably fell in love with her. Making something like that happen requires some serious voodoo.
Therefore I bow my head in awe and impatiently await the publication of Quintana of Charyn, the final volume of the trilogy. I refuse to take sides (view spoiler)[Isaboe or Quintana (hide spoiler)] in advance, because I know Melina Marchetta will push my devotion and my hope into the direction she wants them to be anyway.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Post-plague, underground, dystopian fiction set in a smallish, harsh, survival-of-the-fittest society, a deserted, crumbling New York City, unexpected...morePost-plague, underground, dystopian fiction set in a smallish, harsh, survival-of-the-fittest society, a deserted, crumbling New York City, unexpected friendship, a hint of romance and super-gory zombies!
"Enclave" turned out to be extremely engrossing. Although, sometimes, I was a little chicken to turn the page and find out what happened next, I craved to return to the story with a feverish intensity each time I decided to shut down my Kindle, since nourishing my body, working for my living and catching the minimum amount of sleep seemed to be a sensible thing to do, but felt oh so annoying. Do you realize how lucky I am to have once again experienced that kind of addicted rush that turned me into someone who reads on a daily basis in the first place? If you glance at my current average rating of 3.1something you maybe do. I admit, I tend to forget again and again the huge emotional difference between reading a book I like and devouring a book with zest - sticky bones, minor flaws and all. Right now I am in the middle of an unquestionably clever, worthwhile book (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms), and I eventually want to find out how it ends, but in comparison to spending time with the "Enclave" consuming it feels only marginally entertaining (to me).
When I wrote my original review yesterday - right on my Kindle - I thought I had to be fair and reduce my enthusiastic rating by half a star at least because of the completely unnecessary beginning of a love-triangle subplot and certain vagueness concerning the survival of a person who got dear to the socially already very deprived heroine - and certainly to me. Mainly because other books I have read would have suffered the same "punishment". Yet after Maya supplied me with a blog entry by the author in which she addresses the love-triangle-accusation and other reader complaints (http://www.annaguirre.cm/archives/201...) my fear for a "Who-on-dystopian-earth-should-I-love-now" sequel did not wholly subside, but turned into something wholesomely optimistic and made me wonder whether having a book which I enjoyed as much as "Enclave" really deserved to anonymously drown in the crowd of four-star-worthy books on my "read" shelf. My rating system is heavily depending on gut feeling and my personal enjoyment. Being fair is to my books would be a ridiculous endeavour. Another thing that helped me understand were the author's notes at the end of the book. I had been wondering how the community in the "College" Enclave had lost and forgotten so much of our culture and of former "Topside" life after a mere half century maybe. Deuce does not know about the moon, about rivers and snow, or what a zipper is, what a wedding invitation might be for, and what the material plastic is called. Aguirre explains that in her imagination only the the rich and powerful had the means to flee the cities when the catastrophe happened. So the people who survived and made the survival of the next generation possible by forming topside gangs and underground enclaves had been the underpriviledged and poor. People who - at least in the beginning - did not care about written material or about handing their offspring a sense of their species' history. It made sense to me. And the information about the long shelf-life of canned food smoothed my skeptical frown. What I still do not get is how the underground clans make do without carbonhydrates. Apart from rare finds (tinned fruit etc.) Deuce's community lives on meat, fish and mushrooms only. I know that the Enclave's ancient-looking eldests are only 25, but is the human brain able to function without glucose? I am not sure, but in the end I find I do not really care.
"Enclave" just offered a mix that was strangely irresistable to me – personally: - A fifteen year-old girl, a huntress who takes pride in what she does, who sees the facade of her safe and perfect worlds crumble and starts to question the infinite authority of her community’s cruel and insincere elders. - She gradually falls in love with her topside-born mysterious partner although she had been taught that romance was reserved for the weak and pretty, namely the chosen breeders. - Part of the book’s charm is her open-eyed wonder about the sky, the moon, the buildings and the rest of our civilizations remains. - Part of the book’s thrill is that she and Fade are admirably tough fighters and kill countless foul-smelling zombies out for their flesh in perfect choreography. - This likable pair acts in front of two very bleak, but interesting settings: The dark metro tunnels in which you reach the neighboring enclave only by running three days through zombie-infested territory and the toppled ghost-town of New York ruled by raping, murdering teenage boys who will die young in a fight over their territories. - The move to Topside presents Deuce unexpectedly with a real friend and with a deadly enemy turned into a valued companion.
Well. That somehow does not sound convincing, I know. But how should I talk with my guts? Can you tell me? (less)
Oh, this book has exhausted me. During the second half I cried so much that I was getting concerned about dehydration. I think I have to drink two lit...moreOh, this book has exhausted me. During the second half I cried so much that I was getting concerned about dehydration. I think I have to drink two liters of water or juice now to compensate for all the tears I've shed. I am not sure why Bindy has moved me so much. She has this kind of different view of the world and she is so supersmart. She wants her worthless father and her busy mom to take the time to respond to her mails to help her decide and she is so very lonely. It felt like watching someone through his own opera glass and thus understanding basically what makes that someone tick, yet seeing what that someone cannot see: That she is living her life, apart from the rest of humanity, in a parallel universe. For example when Bindy, in her own focused strange way cooks up ways to help her school-mates to gain better grades and to get on with their lives (aka fighting their inner "teenage monsters"), but nobody is able to grasp what she is doing and why. So Bindy's attempts at being charitable and good disintegrate into smoke and make her appear even freakier in the eyes of the student body. And this inability to communicate, to connect with the world around her - even with her loving aunt and uncle and cute cousin Bella - is responsible for Bindy's mental abilities and physical health going slowly down the drain without anybody going farther than making check-up appointments for her, which are repeatedly ignored by her. All the pointless struggle, all the sadness and the crucial turning point when Bindy spontaneously opens up messed with my heart thoroughly and turned me into this sobbing, snot-dripping wreck. I know this is not really a review, but I am not functioning correctly again yet. When you glimpse at my rating you can see that I actually liked this book although usually I resent books that make me cry. And I liked it - and especially Bindy - although it was completely lacking Moriarty's trademark humor, the healthy dose of romance I normaly crave in each and every young adult book, and - with the exception from the end and a few letter responses from teachers, parents and officials - the use of multiple points of view, which you quickly start taking for granted after having read one or two of Jaclyn Moriarty's funnily gleaming literary gems.
Note on the series: I have not read the Ashbury books in the chronological order and I don't think you have to. I recommend to take the chance and read any of these books should you stumble upon one of the installments randomly.
Boy, Scruples has it's fair share of explicit sex in all thinkable variety. Usually an overdose ruins a romance for me. But when I bought a grubby, we...moreBoy, Scruples has it's fair share of explicit sex in all thinkable variety. Usually an overdose ruins a romance for me. But when I bought a grubby, well-thumbed copy in a small second-hand-store ten years ago, I got addicted for a few months and had to read all the other Krantz books as well - ploughing facinated through the high society glamour and relationship drama and steaminess. Though, each time I see shelves tagged with "guilty pleasures" I immediately think of Scruples and the rest of those sticky sweets. (less)
Financially you are very lucky indeed, if you are born as an inhabitant of the small town Gentry: Although all around the industry’s prospects are ble...moreFinancially you are very lucky indeed, if you are born as an inhabitant of the small town Gentry: Although all around the industry’s prospects are bleak, Gentry still flourishes. This astonishing piece of luck is something best not talked about. That is the consensus of the supersticious townsfolk. Equally hushed are murmurs concerning the random bad luck which eventually strikes among the community: Every now and then an infant suddenly dies.
Mackie Doyle knows that he, too, would have died as a baby – were it not for his sister Emma, who as a tiny girl nursed him back to health, in spite of the knowledge that the crib held a replacement instead of her brother, and his parents, Gentry’s Methodist preacher and his wife, who taught their changeling son from an early age to keep his otherness (intolerance of blood, iron and sanctified ground and also heightened senses) hidden on all accounts. Their caution even includes a "no-visitors-to-the-house" rule, because they fear their iron-free household might start the community's rumors. Therefore Mackie is quite at a loss when his moody and fierce classmate Tate, whose baby sister Natalie just recently “died,” pesters him of all people relentlessly for answers and help and seems to be immune to his habitual elusiveness. As Mackie’s physical condition worsens, because being perpetually surrounded by iron and blood seems to poison him slowly causing breathing difficulties and fainting fits, and members of his people repeatedly appear, inviting him to return to the dark and underground "House of Mayhem”, he decides to try to find out what really happened to Natalie, to his town and to himself. His visit to one of the two dangerous female rulers of the supernatural realms puts him smack into the middle of a ruthless power struggle between evil in the shape of beautiful decay and maybe-evil-maybe-less-evil in the shape of an ugly, capricious little girl with too many teeth.
I am usually not a great fan of horror tales. I am rather the girl with her head between her knees when things become gruesome at the movies. But Brenna Yovanoff does this mixture of urban fantasy, love story and eerie, eerie, horror fiction so beautifully, so vividly, colorfully, tenderly and poetically I simply had to love it and to savor each description without closing my inner eyes. The disclosure of the shocking facts also works great for the reader: It is clear from the beginning that Mackie knows more than he lets slip, but his eyes get opened wider along with the reader’s.
Mackie is an unusual character, he stands out, but at the same time he is a quite normal sixteen-year-old: He admits admiring classroom bitch Alice because of her attractive exterior and detects only gradually the lovable layers of vulnerable daredevil Tate. I also liked how he interacted with the Morrigan – simultaneously tender and afraid. I was always uneasy about Mackie’s parents: Was their love for their replacement son sincere? What did they hide? But I was kind of envious because of Mackie’s sister Emma and his best friend Roswell, who both loved Mackie so unconditionally and unwaveringly and chased away his fear of being an intruder within the human world and their lives. Brenna Yovanoff has a true talent of showing her readers love in all possible shapes – even that between antagonized celtic goddesses.
It's true, the world-building gets never fully explained. But if one reads the novel vigilantly, it becomes pretty clear that a complete understanding is not intended: “The Lady” illustrates at one point how her people has always been defined by the imagination, the superstitions and the limitations of the humans whose sacrifices, attention, admiration or fear keep them alive. They are what we imagine them to be. They are repelled by what we imagine them to be intolerant of. And that changes with our culture. Interesting, isn’t it?
This book is very good, Brenna. I like it and its ending as it is. It does not need a sequel! (less)
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...more 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.(less)
I loved-loved it. Better than the first volume and in spite of an abundance of elements that usually irk me endlessly: An unsolvable love-triangle (vi...moreI loved-loved it. Better than the first volume and in spite of an abundance of elements that usually irk me endlessly: An unsolvable love-triangle (view spoiler)[I do think Tessa loves Will more, but it is clear, that she does not favor Jem only out of pity. She is attracted to him and genuinely likes him. I hope the author will not conveniently kill off Jem in one of the sequels, but how will she solve this? I need volume three now... (hide spoiler)], the uncomfortable dance around a private secret of one of the protagonists that is responsible for all kinds of pain and misunderstanding and the complete turn-around of one of the characters the reader has started to grow fond of - just to list a few. But never mind. Everything was truely pefect. I feel happy and am still bathing in that warm-stomached after-reading-bliss.
One more thing: Reading a book you really adore and unexpectedly fall in love with makes you be able to see other books you just enjoyed in perspective: After turning the last page I ran straight to my bookshelf, unceremoneously ripped out 13 books I had planned to keep and threw them on my swapping-pile. I love those moments in which I can feel the distinction between 'love' and 'like'. ["br"]>["br"]>(less)