Having reread the entire book now (I've only done highlighted re-reading before), I felt like a few additions to my review were iUpdate (May 08, 2014)
Having reread the entire book now (I've only done highlighted re-reading before), I felt like a few additions to my review were in order.
It is still true that this book is very well written, and should be enjoyable for you if you're the least bit interested in either its subject or its author. What I didn't realize at the time though was how much this book helped me and how much I actually took from it. I'll just list a few of my highlights (because it feels wrong to get too personal in a review), and you can see the honesty and vulnerability for yourself. And as much as I would love another book considering her recent second EPT triumph, I shall forever be grateful for this one, and I will surely reread it many times again.
"'the river' is beautiful. It is the last card you are going to see in the hand, yet the language reassures you that it's not really the end. It's just the river flowing. The game courses on, a single body of water, always changing, but always the same."
"I think nostalgia is a primal emotion, like fear and anger and (maybe) love. It just seems otherwise, because it has a long name and is tricky to define out loud. So you might mistake it for one of those fiddly, sophisticated feelings like schadenfreude or low self-esteem. But nostalgia is simple, baic, instinctive and it was always there. [...] One of our first impulses was to feel nostalgic even for times we had never seen. And you can feel nostalgic for something even while it is happening."
"Sometimes you cannot think about the whole game. It is too big, too difficult. So you have to play it hand by hand. You make the decisions you are capable of making. You play as well as you are capable of playing. You are as good as you are capable of being. You make the mistakes you cannot avoid making. That is fine. The game has its own momentum. Sometimes, it is enough just to hang on. Sometimes, hangning on is the toughest challenge and the greatest triumph."
There are several reasons why you might want to read an autobiography - because you are interested in the author, because you are interested in something that is talked about, or because you have a liking for autobiographies in general. (Or because you've been given it as a gift...).
I am slowly getting into reading autobiographies, and biographies in general, and that might have helped my interest in the first place. Second, while not being very knowledgeable, I have developed a thing for poker, and this book has been hailed as a good narrative of how poker came to be the phenomenon it is today. And third, I adore Victoria Coren. Not so much her poker playing, as I really know too little about it, but her wit and humour when she appears on TV or radio, and the way she writes her newspaper columns. Her writing columns is very nice - if you like her, you've got more to read, and if you don't know her yet, you can simply go to her website, and you can sample her writing for free :).
Seeing how you must have liked her writing - since you're still reading the review ;) - you can safely move on to the book, and won't be disappointed. Poker terms are explained in the back (Thank God!), and once that problem is out of the way, this is a very entertaining read, brilliantly structured, and well thought-out. On top of that, it helps to see that things will work out eventually if you stick to them, even if the start is somewhat chaotic. And that is a good message to identify a book with :).
PS: No poker-related rating, as you might have guessed from the intro ;).
PPS: This book has now managed to earn a complete re-read (I know a bit more about poker and Victoria now) - and I still think it's great, I just wish there was an audiobook version as well :)....more
Everyone has a type of book they would not touch with a ten-foot pole. For some these aReview also published as a guest post on floralcars.com --------
Everyone has a type of book they would not touch with a ten-foot pole. For some these are self-help books, for some they are Science Fiction, and for some they might be those love stories you can buy at the gas station. For me, it is autobiographies.
The way I see it, there are several things that could (and quite often do) go wrong. The author could have lead a boring life. They might be bad storytellers. Their writing might lack personality (this is especially terrible with comedians who are not as funny on the page as they are on the stage). Beyond all of that, my worst fear is always that I might not like the author anymore once I've read all the thoughts they wished to share. I am slightly less worried when it comes to columnists - they write whatever they think anyway, and so it seems like a relatively safe choice.
For me, AA Gill is the safest choice there is. His columns have always made me at least think or smile, if not laugh or cry or become outraged. 'Pour Me' talks about his journey into and back out of alcoholism, and it covers the broader themes of his life in the process.
There is writing, which he fell into only in his thirties, there is travel, and how he discovered the joy of reporting from distant places, there is art, which he abandoned for writing, there is sex and there is food, which appear to be equally important and meaningful, there is his dyslexia, which caused him to dictate his columns, there are many, many drinks - and there is his outlook on humanity, in the people he meets, in the things he observes, in the conclusions he draws.
If you've never read anything by AA Gill, this book might be a jarring read. He draws upon metaphors that present a dramatic shift in tone, he writes as though he is talking, he is a walking lexicon and does not hide his wide vocabulary, and he sometimes meanders in and out of the topic he is going on about at any given moment. It takes a little while to get used to it, but being the storyteller that he is, he makes sure that no random insert is ever truly random.
That being said, this also makes this book a rather long read. It took me about ten months It need not be so long for you, but as I would with a collection of columns, I would advise against trying to read it in one go.
'Pour Me' has become one of my all-time favourite books, even though this high praise may only stem from my love for the author, and is still no indicator of my feelings toward autobiographies.
I would recommend it to anyone, but I would caution the target demographic: This book was marketed as a support for people wanting to get sober, and I am sure that this not remotely true. It might help to read the related chapters, just to see someone else going through the same things, but AA Gill has even stated in interviews that he has no interest in how someone becomes an alcoholic, and there is no detailed description of his therapy either. If you want to read about that, look somewhere else. For everyone else though, I can only recommend reading it, and then trying to live a life even half as full as his. Hopefully filled with less drinks though....more
... just one thing up front - in case you actually haven't read the previous two titles, don't read this one, you'll end up with as much headache as M... just one thing up front - in case you actually haven't read the previous two titles, don't read this one, you'll end up with as much headache as Max trying to understand philosopher's logic ;).
With "The Fiend and the Forge", Henry H. Neff takes the "Tapestry" series even further than he did with book 2. I still remember not liking the fact that the first book in the series, The Hound of Rowan, was being compared to the Harry Potter series, but I guess that's now the problem of all books where children are introduced to magic (not that I don't like ~love~ Harry Potter ^^). I remember thinking that it had a lot of really great ideas and I liked the inclusion of art history, which is rather hard to come by in a young-adult book. With the second book, The Second Siege, and the arrival of all the new fighting techniques, Irish mysteries and the really thoughtful handling of explaining all the different aspects of the siege and the prize of a war, I thought the series took a major leap (albeit a very good one), and was on the verge of not considering it young-adult material anymore. The third book now definitely deserves an age restriction in my opinion, what with Max experiencing the cost of war, being a gladiator, being imprisoned, being tortured.
I'm not sure how much I like the fact that the book isn't all about David. It's a great idea to not actually follow the real hero but rather his protector, it's certainly more interesting to watch Max's adventures than to see David studying all the time and it does help the surprise reveals in the end, but I've grown to love the character of David (a lot) and I think it's sad that he doesn't explain himself or talk to Max as often as he used to in the previous books. Plus, Max can be rather annoying sometimes and not all of his excentricities can be explained away by him having a bad temper, whichever way it might be influenced by his blood or not.
Also, I still have a problem with time frames - from a general point of view of being in one place for three weeks to having been there for months just two pages later, to a sense of wonder how members of orders can just slip away for rescue missions that last a few weeks, down to a question of Max's character because sometimes it's just weird to have him do some things that maybe a man of thirty or forty years would do, but probably not a boy of sixteen. I know that part was explained in book two, but I still have some difficulties grasping the concept (especially when Max experiences one of his flares of temper in between me realizing it^^).
Also I think that despite being quite long this book threw up a lot more questions than answers, so I'm looking forward to No. 4, and am rather hoping it won't take quite as long ;), because it was an interesting and entertaining read, despite the sometimes rather gruesome themes. I loved all the new ideas, but it took some time taking it all in; I'm guessing a re-read of the entire series is in order before the publication of the next book.
I'm naturally hoping for more David in book four, plus a lot of answers to all the questions that have been raised, maybe a visit to the other Kingdoms, and perhaps a glossary for all the species floating around the text, because I had to look up about 70% of them (and most of them didn't get a result on Google ... Do smees actually exist in folk tales or legends?). Plus, I'd love to see more of the teaching and studying, althoug I'm afraid that Max is too old now to still attend classes.
P.S.: Luckily enough for me, there's no love triangle (please keep it that way!). P.P.S.: There's one thing in here that actually made me think of HP7, but in the worst way possible, and I would not have needed that happening! Especially as I couldn't have predicted it and so wasn't prepared for it at all :(. ...more
This is part of my "238 books in 238 days"-challenge. You can follow my progress here. --------
Two years ago I've first read a book by William Trevor.This is part of my "238 books in 238 days"-challenge. You can follow my progress here. --------
Two years ago I've first read a book by William Trevor. It was called "Love And Summer", and I was rather bored while reading it, as you can see from my review here. I also gave it five stars. I've reread that book a lot since then, and I've slowly come to love William Trevor's gift for precise sentences, unhurried storytelling and taking a story all the way to its conclusion. These traits are at work in "Two Lives" as well; I have felt at home from the moment I started reading it. (And I haven't been bored; I guess I've grown up a little.)
Reading Turgenev In contrast to "Love and Summer", where a young woman has an affair that goes nowhere, Mary's courtship in this "novella" is much more adult, and the results are much more complex. It isn't hard to see why Trevor's characters would read Russian literature with an emphasis on nature and rural living, considering their own background. It's easy to assume that big problems only arise when there is something big at stake, but here love and life are enough to risk sanity for. The structure of the book, which combines two narrative threads, is confusing at first, but works out beautifully in the end, and I am sure I will enjoy it a lot when I re-read this story.
My House in Umbria I've recently read Aravind Adiga's "The White Tiger" (2*), and, like this novella, it features someone describing him-/herself as uneducated telling the story of his/her life. Both characters make their own sarcastic observations about their lives, both are unapologetic for what has happened. The only difference is that one of them (this one) is well exectuted. The other isn't. Mrs Delahunty is a believable character even when her imaginations take over, and her struggles are understandable and real. Moreover her own comments have an impact on the story and the reader. Independant of that, the subject matter is quite interesting as well and, as this is the first of Trevor's stories that I've read that isn't set entirely in rural Ireland, I was also intrigued to see whether he could write about another country as well as about his own. He can....more
Eins möchte ich gleich vorausschicken - das wird nicht das objektiGerman book, German review. For other reviews, see 238 books in 238 days. -----------
Eins möchte ich gleich vorausschicken - das wird nicht das objektivste Review, das ihr jemals gelesen habt. Ich liebe Christoph Marzi, seit meine beste Freundin mir zum ersten Mal Lycidas in die Hand gedrückt hat, und bisher hat mich noch jeder seiner Romane auf seine ganz eigene Art angesprochen. Egal welches Buch, es war noch immer das richtige Buch zur richtigen Zeit und so auch diesmal.
"Bücher haben eine Seele. [...] Keiner muss die Seele eines Buches suchen. Die Seele des Buches findet den Leser. Das tut sie immer."
Faye ist jemand ganz nach meinem Geschmack. Sie ist eigenständig, wenn auch manchmal total verpeilt. Sie liebt Bücher und Musik, und sie liebt es, vor sich hinzuträumen. Sie hasst es zu telefonieren und herumgegängelt zu werden, und bei Leuten, die sie gut kennt, ist sie auch manchmal schon recht vorlaut. Faye nimmt die Welt im Ganzen war, und sie sieht überall Geschichten. Das macht ihre Welt lebendig, und es ist leicht, mit ihr früh zum Buchladen zu eilen und beinahe selbst außer Atem zu geraten.
Als Faye Alex kennenlernt, ist sie sofort von ihm fasziniert - und schon bald entwickeln sich lange geschriebene Unterhaltungen. Oft sieht man nicht viel mehr als die Texte, die sich die beiden schicken, aber das genügt dann auch schon. Man fühlt mit Faye mit und kann sich bald ihre Reaktionen selbst ausmalen. Alex hingegen ist ein Mysterium, nicht nur für Faye sondern auch für den Leser, und tatsächlich habe ich bald ebenso wie sie versucht, hinter sein Geheimnis zu kommen. (Was natürlich Unsinn ist, wenn es so einfach wäre, das ich es hätte sehen können, wäre auch Faye schon eher draufgekommen.)
Mitten durch die Liebesgeschichte fliegen die bunten Herbstblätter in Brooklyn, und New York erblüht auf jeder Seite neu. Auch Filme, Bücher, und - natürlich - Musik finden immer wieder Eingang in die Erzählung, und schon bald hatte ich meine Playlist für den Herbst zusammengestellt.
Ohne das Ende vorausnehmen zu wollen, möchte ich hier mein Faible für in sich abgeschlossene Romane bekunden - die gibt es heutzutage in diesem Genre leider viel zu selten. Dazu ein tolles Setting, Charaktere mit denen ich mich gut identifizieren kann, viel Musik, hin und wieder etwas Humor, und Christoph Marzis unverwechselbarer poetischer Stil - das ist mein Zauberbuch für diesen Herbst, und es wird auf meinem Nachttisch bleiben, bis die Tage so eisig werden, dass "Lycidas" wieder seinen angestammten Platz einnimmt :)....more
Expect spoilers for Earth Girl (#1) and Earth Star (#2).
Having loved Earth Girl, I was really apprehensive about the extra-terrestrial thing and the mExpect spoilers for Earth Girl (#1) and Earth Star (#2).
Having loved Earth Girl, I was really apprehensive about the extra-terrestrial thing and the military when I started Earth Star. But I really liked the second book as well, finally admitting to myself that I actually do have a liking for the military - and for the subtle manipulations used all through the book. Therefore, when I went into book three, I was less apprehensive, because even though I worried a tiny bit about miracle cures and whatnot, I trusted Janet Edwards enough to make the right decisions and don't disappoint me with an awful ending or hideous twists to the story to make it "more exciting".
I did however have to find myself the right time to read this at though, because the prologue screamed at me to put the book down and come back later when I would be able to finish it in one sitting. I managed that (almost), and finally found some quiet time to dive back in.
Jarra's general grumpiness, which just switches its target from time to time, is still there, as is her tendency to think that everything that happens is because of her. (This is also the expectation one has as a reader, even though "Earth Star" has told us that there is deviancy in the higher ranks of the military, assholery in bureocracy, and we all know that Lecturer Playdon knows fully well what he's doing at all times.) Fian is as helpful and understanding as ever, and there is still no triangle (THANK YOU!).
The alien thing is sitting there, waiting, and tbh, I kinda lost interest. Which is not due to faults in plotting, but rather down to me and my love for politics. And there is A LOT of politics in this book. The reader learns more and more about the world, especially about Jarra's heritage in Beta sector. And there is a lot of political intrigue, and when Jarra mentioned that she had completely forgotten about the alien box, I had as well. Then something happened with the alien thing, and more politics in between, and then there's the ending; final and well-rounded, but also open to the future, and I like it. I like imagining what might happen next.
But mostly I just really loved the politics :)....more
Having bought the book for the retelling of "The Beauty and the Beast", I was very pleasantly surprised with the Dystopian setting. I do have a thingHaving bought the book for the retelling of "The Beauty and the Beast", I was very pleasantly surprised with the Dystopian setting. I do have a thing for Dystopia, and somehow even more so when it comes in unexpected guises.
"Of Beast and Beauty" comes with original ideas (Can I just say that I love how the rose was used in this version?), great writing and a (relatively) fast-paced plot, so the read was over much quicker than I anticipated.
I loved Isra's voice, I loved the other voice, I just had some trouble with Gem. He feels much younger than he is supposed to be, especially considering his background. I had to remind myself sometimes how much he had been through, because he seems a bit child-like at times. Nevertheless, this is a great pairing (and no doubt who is the decisive one in this), and I kept rooting for it until the end, which is all I ask of a romance novel :).
The setting and style of writing keep "Of Beast and Beauty" a notch above almost all other retellings - except for For Darkness Shows the Stars. Hence it's 4.5 stars, and I'm a bit undecided. Feeling generous though, and I will definitely read the next thing Stacey Jay writes, so there we go. 5 stars. ...more
I wasn't too sure about wanting to read the second book in the "Earth Girl" series. I'd loved Earth GiNote: Review contains spoilers about Earth Girl.
I wasn't too sure about wanting to read the second book in the "Earth Girl" series. I'd loved Earth Girl (see my review), and I've had quite a few series in the past where I'd loved the first books but not the follow-ups. Then came the pink cover and the aliens in the description, and I was even more sceptical. What I loved about Earth Girl was the history, the different cultures, Jarra's military "experiment". I was sure that this would be lost in the second book. And I was happy to see that I was wrong :).
There are some difficulties in the first chapter - mostly due to the most unfitting recaps since the explanation of Quidditch in every Harry Potter book, but once the story got going, that was out of the way. Jarra gets drafted into the military - and as it turns out, there are a lot of good reasons for her superiors to do so. Those lines on the book cover might tell you the usual thing about Jarra being the one and whatnot, but luckily there are really good explanations for why she is chosen to do what she has to do. That she then does a good job of it is another matter - I was afraid there would be no real reason for her to get the power that she does. There is.
There's also something missing that is currently used in basically every young adult trilogy - the third guy. Fian and Jarra are a couple with a load of problems, and they show us that they try to work through them as the adults they are becoming. Jarra's faced with a lot of new problems, some her own fault, some way out of her control, and once she opens up, she learns that she can rely on Fian and her ever-widening circle of friends and extended family. There's some side character development as well, though not as deep as Jarra's or Fian's.
In the last book I could really identify with Jarra - once I got over all the teen reactions and the hero worship of the hot dude -, this time I've found something where we differ. Jarra doesn't like maths or science. I do. And luckily for me, Fian knows something about this as well. And what with Jarra being interested in everthing about Fian, she listens to scientific conversations just because he takes part in them. She may not be fascinated by all that stuff, but I am, and I'm happy that it's all conceivable and doesn't sound fake to me.
We get to see more of the changes that have happened since our own time - Jarra gets to go around Earth, delves into abandoned projects and other people's perceptions. Thankfully there is no wonder cure (yet), so we can still explore society's reaction to Jarra and her handicap. I wonder about the next book though.
What with this being a trilogy, there is one thing I worry about, and that is the fact that I have yet to see a satisfying ending that doesn't leave out half of the interesting reactions to the previous climax. In the first book I just missed something, here I seriously thought the ending was quite abrupt - I wonder how it will work out in the third book, when there's no follow-up in which the author can show flashbacks to the previous book. But this is still a year away - in the meantime I'll enjoy re-reading the first two books and spending time communicating with aliens in my mind :).
"The Final Empire" tells the story of how a rebellious group of thieves and 'magicians' (Allomancers) takes on the task of overthrowing the tyrannous"The Final Empire" tells the story of how a rebellious group of thieves and 'magicians' (Allomancers) takes on the task of overthrowing the tyrannous Lord Ruler and throwing the land into chaos, to bring on a new rule, that will be more fair to all people, especially the ones that have been supressed under the old rules. It (mostly) follows Vin, a young street thief, while she discovers her strong Allomantic powers, receives her training, and has to help overthrowing the Lord Ruler all at once.
As I've come to expect from a Brandon Sanderson book, "The Final Empire" shows a highly interesting magical system, this time based upon metals (and using the power within them to enhance your own abilities). It's not about being able to do everything one would like to do, and there are strict rules that have to be followed, thus making for pretty thrilling action sequences. And they require a lot of explanation, but I think it's handled quite good since the information isnÄt all in one monologue, but rather scattered over a lot of chapters, depending on Vin learning about a particular subject. Plus, there's a glossary at the end for easier understanding (which I actually didn't really need).
The Characters are extremely likeable, funnily enough, since I very rarely enjoy all the "good" people that are introduced in the course of one book. There are backstories given for all the major characters, so one can understand their motifs quite good.
My favourite character is Sazed, who - among other things - has a large knowledge about all kinds of religions, and constantly tries to convince the others to convert to one of them. He - and another guy who loves to talk about philosophical questions - help to keep this book something extraordinary, more than just a simple tale of a rebellion. Their constant questioning of the crew's - and the general people's - knowledge lift this book up to a standard comparable works don't show. Also, they put a lot of questions into one's head, that remain long after the read is over.
Coupled with Brandon's beautiful use of the English language, "The Final Empire" makes for a very enjoyable read, that probably gives its reader more than just a few hours of happiness for having read a really good book. Plus, in case you have the UK Edition, because of the gorgeous cover art it looks very nice on your shelf :).
PS: For all the German readers: Wenn ihr genug Verständnis für das Englische habt - und das müsst ihr jetzt, sonst hättet ihr diese Rezension nicht überlebt ;) - dann würde ich dringend empfehlen, die englische Ausgabe zu lesen. Die deutsche Übersetzung ist GRU-SE-LIG (schon alleine die Tatsache, dass ein Teil der Namen mit übersetzt (oder geändert) wurde. Bis hin zu der unschönen Übertragung eines Dialektes. Scheinbar ins Plattdeutsche...)!!!...more
Like many others, I stumbled upon this book when someone sent me the book trailer. I've always had a policy of looking for pretty book covers, becauseLike many others, I stumbled upon this book when someone sent me the book trailer. I've always had a policy of looking for pretty book covers, because to me they signal that someone cares about the book in question. And when the publisher cares enough to create such a beautiful trailer, then I should surely be in for a treat.
The trailer reminded me of a Tim Burton movie, and this shaped my expectations a lot. And as it turns out, that was a good conclusion to jump to. Because "The School for Good and Evil" is a fairytale - with all the fun and magic, but even more so also with all the strangeness and brutality that go with it. It has always been fascinating to me that children like fairytales so much when they're so extremely scary, and "The School for Good and Evil" fits right in.
The book starts out on a humorous note. Our two main characters - pretty Sophie and outcast Agatha - are introduced. Both are slightly over the top, as are the town's other inhabitants, and this makes the beginning a lot of fun to read. Take this random quote for example:
Agatha: "If you say anything smug or stuck-up or shallow, I'll have Reaper follow you home." Sophie: "But then I can't talk!"
It is obvious from the beginning that Sophie has no chance in hell to end up in the School for Good, and so the next few chapters when the two of them are taken and discover their schools are a fun exploration of Chainani's incredibly creative ideas. What with Agatha's lack of belief in the reality of fairytales and the sarcastic comments on some of the more famous stories ("These are prince and princess [...]. They died of starvation on their honeymoon because they didn't pay attention in classes."), it is obvious that the author has a lot of love for fairytales, but also sees the funny side.
When the first really scary thing happens and the two friends try to find their way back home, things take a turn for the worse. The last third more or less reads like a nightmare. It's a trainwreck and you can't help but keep reading and hoping everything turns out fine in the end. Using a random quote to illustrate this as well:
"Do you know how I know?" Her face darkened with sadness. "Because I'll only be happy when you're dead."
Agatha and Sophie are both affected by their schools and what happens around them. Agatha is built to be the sympathetic character, but somehow I love Sophie's Evil-ness as well. The supporting characters are almost always likeable and very individual as well, which makes it easier to keep track of them, because there's quite a lot going on for a middle grade book.
Although I could guess parts of the plot early on, there were quite a few things about the ending that managed to surprise me (or break my heart). And happily, this book actually has an ending. You can read this as a standalone and won't miss a thing. (You probably won't, because you liked it so much that you will read the next one, but still. You could. Theoretically.)
What with the publication of the second book only happening next year, and the film being planned for the year after that, you could kill some of the time on your hands by visiting the book's official website and finding out which school you would belong to. I am apparently 73% Evil and proud of it. (I'm also 100% Slyth, so you might have guessed that.)
Once again, I find myself trying to review a memoir and not knowing what to say.
To be absolutely honest, I should probably give up any pretense of beOnce again, I find myself trying to review a memoir and not knowing what to say.
To be absolutely honest, I should probably give up any pretense of being objective - I really really like David Mitchell (the comedian^^), and the only way I could have hated this would have been if it was poorly written, badly structured, extremely cheesy, totally shallow, or completely different to the person you think you know from the telly. As it is none of those things, (and, as a bonus, actually really good), I had no chance but to love it.
If you don't like David Mitchell, you probably won't like this either (you might like the interesting bits that are strewn in, but you'd have to get through the awful parts about himself as well), but then why should you want to read it in the first place. If you're indifferent ... well, I don't know, I can't quite picture it. But give it a go ;). If you like him, GO AND BUY THIS BOOK! It is witty, intelligent, informative, and a great way to spend your time. What more could you possibly want? :)....more
German book, German review. For other reviews (in English), you can check out my blog: 238 books in 238 days. ------
Für mich war "Zu den Anfängen" ganzGerman book, German review. For other reviews (in English), you can check out my blog: 238 books in 238 days. ------
Für mich war "Zu den Anfängen" ganz klar das richtige Buch zur richtigen Zeit. Ich mag langsame Bücher, in denen dem Leser erlaubt wird, sich richtig auf die Geschichte einzulassen. Ich mag Fantasy-Romane, in denen man sich auf einzelne Charaktere konzentrieren kann, auch wenn das Schicksal der ganzen Welt auf dem Spiel steht. Und ich mag Poetisches - Gedichte, sprechende Namen, Erzählungen, bildhafte Sprache, alles was eben so dazugehört.
All das hat "Zu den Anfängen" zu bieten. Zu meiner großen Freude gibt es auch Kapitelüberschriften - das ist etwas Unbedeutendes, aber es gefällt mir, wenn ich das Inhaltsverzeichnis aufschlagen kann und mich anhand des Titels erinnere, was in einem Kapitel geschehen ist. Im Anhang finden sich eine Karte und ein Glossar. Dies hab ich zunächst übersehen, habe aber auch so ohne Probleme in das Buch hineingefunden. Ich habe gelesen, dass einige Probleme mit den kurzen Sätzen hatten; mir ging das nicht so. Ich ahb mich beim Lesen irgendwie ein bisschen heimisch gefühlt; als hätte ich schon Erfahrungen mit der Autorin gesammelt.
Mir gefällt, dass E.L. Greiff viele Themen eingearbeitet hat, ohne dabei belehrend zu wirken. Am Ende wirkt die Grundeinstellung des Buches selbst wie ein Wasserfluss - Dinge geschehen eben und man sollte sie geschen lassen. Erst wenn ein wirklich gravierendes Hindernis auftritt, wird mit aller Macht dagegen vorgegangen.
Das Buch ist nicht wirklich abgeschlossen, trotzdem kommt man Ende etwa bei einer Atempause an und ist nicht zwanghaft auf den nächsten Band angewiesen. Das finde ich bei ersten Bänden immer sehr positiv, dennoch bin ich kein Fan der dreimonatigen Wartezeit bis zu Band 2. ...more
Short English review: Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin in the modern world. Category: totally underrated German books. Nice story, great writing.
---------Short English review: Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin in the modern world. Category: totally underrated German books. Nice story, great writing.
------------ Ich bin irgendwann mal im Buchladen über dieses Buch gestolpert und weiß gar nicht mehr genau, warum ich es eigentlich mitgenommen habe. Wegen dem Cover sicher nicht, denn das ist zwar schick, aber auch unglaublich nichtssagend. Dann stand es ein ganzes Weilchen bei mir im Regal herum, wie es Bücher eben so tun, bei denen ich mir nicht so ganz sicher bin. Bei einer Umräumaktion (okay, bei einer Wir-fangen-eine-zweite-Reihe-im-Regal-an - Aktion) ist es mir dann wieder in die Hände gefallen, und ich hab dann doch einmal den Text auf der Rückseite gelesen. 'Hmm, Rumpelstilzchen, interessant', dachte ich, und ließ es in der ersten Reihe stehen, ohne mich weiter damit zu beschäftigen. Irgendwann hatte ich dann einmal Langeweile und hab es doch mal aufgeklappt - und mich sofort verliebt.
Ganz ehrlich, das war mieses Marketing wenn ich jemals welches gesehen habe, denn dieses Buch ist echt toll. Vielleicht nicht für jedermann, aber für junge Erwachsene, die einen Hang zur Nacherzählung von Märchen haben (und davon gibt es wirklich viele), ist "Der geheime Name" genau das Richtige. (Für meine Oma auch, also spielt das Alter scheinbar keine Rolle.)
Es gibt kein riesiges Sortiment an Charakteren, aber das braucht es auch nicht. Fina, unsere Protagonistin, ist frisch und lebendig genug, um den Leser in die Geschichte hineinzuziehen, und ihr männlicher Gegenpart ist ebenfalls interessant, wenn auch zu Beginn recht ungewöhnlich. Der teilweise recht ruhige Stil passt sehr gut zur Moorlandschaft, und wie man über einen stillen Sumpf schaut und bei jeder Luftblase zusammenzuckt, so wartet man auch hier immer gespannt auf die Katastrophe, die bestimmt schon hinter dem nächsten Gestrüpp lauert. Die Beschreibungen lassen das Moor lebendig werden, und auch wenn das nicht immer unbedingt erwünscht ist (gerade wenn man wie ich nachts um drei darüber liest und ohnehin schon Geisterstunde herrscht), kann man sehr gut mit Fina mitfühlen.
Das Ende ist schön abgeschlossen (endlich mal ein Einzelband), auch wenn es mich ein wenig betrübt, dass ich noch nichts Neues von der Autorin gesehen habe. Oh, und ich habe eigentlich mal auf eine Geschichte gehofft, in der es Rumpelstilzchen gut geht, aber ich bin mit dieser Variante auch zufrieden (und das sagt schon einiges).
Oh, und das Marketing war ***. Aber das sagte ich ja schon....more
As this book is the fourth in a series, I'll try to give you a spoiler-free overviewReview crossposted to my "238 books in 238 days" blog. -----------
As this book is the fourth in a series, I'll try to give you a spoiler-free overview for books #1-3 first. If you haven't read them, you should stop reading the review after that.
"The Hound of Rowan" tells the story of 12 year old Max, who is invited to study at the Rowan Academy of Magic. Children and paintings are disappearing, and soon Max and his genius friend David have to use their newfound powers to battle ancient demons. This book has been compared to the first in the Harry Potter series, and while this annoys me to no end, the tone is somewhat similar.
"The Second Siege" sees Rowan under threat from the afore-mentioned demons. Max and David must travel far to ensure its safety. From this book onwards, the series is rather epic and complex, and probably no longer suited for really young readers.
"The Fiend and the Forge" is the most difficult book to date, with Max having to grow up really fast to be able to cope with what is coming his way. The world is expanded enormously in this book, and while there is a depressing lack of Rowan and, most importantly, of David, this is also the first time where it becomes obvious where this story is going and what consequences Max' actions might have.
If you'd like to see some of the author's illustrations of characters or places visited in the books, I'd advise you to go to his website. Otherwise please stop reading the review now if you haven't finished reading the third book.
As you may have been able to tell from the above descriptions of the previous three books in the series, I *slightly* favour Max' friend David. And seeing how we see him a lot in this book, and he and Max finally talk about the important things, I had no choice but to love this book. There are also assassins, which is unfortunate for Max, but which makes this a really cool read for me.
Having re-read the previous three books before this helped me to get my mind around the frankly epic worldbuilding, especially since, ever since book two, I have wondered about timing issues and how old the kids really are at any given time. Thankfully, there is a short recap of all the important bits in chapter one, and even though the book could have done with a glossar instead of a pronounciation guide, it was relatively easy to get back into the world. (After the reread that is. Before that I might have been lost.)
As always, I enjoyed the writing style. Like French author Pierre Grimbert, Henry H. Neff doesn't need to tell an interesting story for me to read it, I'd read almost anything he wrote. Luckily enough, the story is quite interesting and, as we get to see David's brilliant mind at work, also a bit easier to follow than in book 3. The story is incredibly dark and complex (that was to be expected after the last one), but there is also humour and humanity. The characters throw tantrums or suffer from over-exhaustion or experience happiness in dark times, all of which makes them feel more real.
Speaking of humour, I quite like Toby, but after the "Harry Potter book 7"-incident in book 3, I was happy that Nick was still important. There are other characters from previous books that get a promotion in this one, out of which Mina is the coolest. She shows certain talents, and her devotion to David and Max is too cute. There are new characters as well (Did I mention the need for a glossar?); my favourite one being Nox.
As with the previous books, Henry H. Neff ends this at a place where there are a lot of unanswered questions, but the spirits are higher than at the beginning of the book, and the characters (and readers) are allowed a break before the adventure continues in "The Red Winter".
PS: I'm aware that I mentioned David in basically every second sentence, but as he is the one character where I wouldn't mind seeing a "Midnight Sun"-style thing, I didn't bother to contain my happiness :). I'll even leave you with a quote.
Max: "I guess the real question is whether you think there's anything I can use?" David: "I'd say you're building a strong foundation for future success."
"The Yellow Birds" offers glimpses into a young man's time in the U.S. Army serving inReview crossposted to my 238 books in 238 days-challenge. -------
"The Yellow Birds" offers glimpses into a young man's time in the U.S. Army serving in Iraq and surviving back home.
Kevin Powers has been lauded for his poetical writing style to contrast the gritty reality of war. And it is true, there is a dreamlike quality to his writing, even though it feels sparse. We get impressions of the things he sees, but there isn't much talk about feeling. There isn't a lot of action (certainly less than I would have expected), instead we get to experience sleep-deprived boys waiting for something, anything to happen, and yet knowing that it probably won't matter anyway.
""How many times have we been through that orchard, through this town, sir?", a PCF from third squad asked. "The army?" "Yes, sir." "This makes three." "All in the fall?" "Yeah, seems like we're fighting over this town every year." [...] "Maybe they'll make it an annual thing.""
I had often wondered what motivated boys to enlist, and for our two main characters the answer is frighteningly simple - there wasn't much else to do. For the author himself it was a way into university. It is hard for young boys and their parents when they know that they've made the right choice in the circumstances, yet there is no way to prepare for what might happen.
The narrative of "The Yellow Birds" jumps around in time. I don't know if I care much for the mystery surrounding our soldier's friend but I suppose it is necessary to create a plot that helps the reader to follow a journey. What it means though is that we get to see the lives of the families back home, and even our main character trying to understand ordinary life again after he is discharged. His thoughts move too fast for him to be able to talk, and at one time he literally goes on for pages without a break. This section felt more heartbreaking than the scenes of war; possibly because I can understand not being able to master your own thoughts, or possibly because, even after all the pictures I've seen on the news and descriptions I've read in books, I'm still unable to comprehend the reality of war.
Our main character knows that his experiences will make him an outsider, even when he's still fighting in Iraq. He would seem like Frodo, saving something for others when that same thing has been lost to him, if he was still able to feel enough to make sense of it.
"I was an intruder, at best a visitor, and would be even in my home, in my misremembered history, until the glow of phosphorescence in the Chesapeake I had longed to swim inside again someday became a taunt against my insignificance, a cruel trick of light that had always made me think of stars. No more. I gave up longing, because I was sure that anything seen at such a scale would reveal the universe as cast aside and drowned, and if I ever floated there again, out where the level of the water reached my neck, and my feet lost contact with its muddy bottom, I might realize that to understand the world, one's place in it, is to be always at the risk of drowning."
I wonder if writing this book helped Kevin Powers to deal with his own demons. I hope it did. There's been a lot of praise for it, and rightly so. There's been even more talk in the press about the reasons behind this war, and I feel it is important to push the politics to the background for a few moments and see real people whose lives have been afflicted by it. I can't help but think what would have happened, and how soldiers would be treated back home, if the war had not happened thousands of miles away. When our main character gets back to the U.S., he does a short psych evaluation, and then goes back home, meeting people who see him as a hero or people who are angry with the enemy on his account. He is detached from all that, just wants to be forgotten, and it seems to me that that is just too easily done.
"I'd been trained to think war was the great unifier, that it brought people closer together than any other activity on earth. Bullshit. War is the great maker of solipsists: how are you going to save my life today? Dying would be one way. If you die, it becomes more likely that I will not."
My first glimpse of "Earth Girl" was through the arms of my best friend, who had clutched it to her chest in order to protect it - from stealing, fromMy first glimpse of "Earth Girl" was through the arms of my best friend, who had clutched it to her chest in order to protect it - from stealing, from things that might destroy it, from inferior books that might be places on top of it, the like. She had bought it because it looked interesting, and then - unusually for her - she read it when she received the package, and a new obsession was born. I had to fight dirty to be able to borrow it for a read (= "I told her I would not talk to her about it unless I also got to read it"), and as such, when I finally got around to reading it, I did so with a very high expectation. And I was prepared to dislike it, even if I might have thought it perfectly adequate under different circumstances.
In the beginning, I thought my predictions were quite accurate. We are introduced to Jarra and the world she lives in, and it is a little bit confusing, because there's new technology, new social systems, new everything. Jarra herself is a special case - being unable to leave Earth in a society where everyone has and regards those who can't as "throwbacks" or "apes" And in addition to the special rules that apply to her, she's also a teen - who loves weird new words to describe something as cool (like "amaz"), drama series with hot guys in them and talking to her best friend about girl stuff. Luckily for me (and for the author, because it's a great tool for exposition), Jarra also loves history, and tends to go off on a tangent if she hits upon a flimsy connection to a subject that interests her.
Jarra detests her special status as a "Handicapped", and she decides to do something about it. This is where things get interesting, and Jarra, although still a teen at heart, takes a turn for the better. She's angry enough to slip into an off-Earth university for a history course. It still takes place on Earth - as a practical turn on the dig site at the ruins of New York - but her fellow students are all Norms, people who are able to travel and who would despise her if they knew what she was. Jarra is fuelled by her sense of injustice, and she makes some rather stupid personal choices, but in her professionalism on the dig site, she shows her love for the subject. She is knowledgeable enough to compare what she sees now (in 2788) to what it might have looked to people who were alive in, say, 2013.
Sometimes Jarra gets annoyed though, especially during theoretical lectures, once summarizing the 20st century as "world war, financial crisis, world war, bore". It's one of the many fascinating aspects of this book - the look back at the distant time when the reader is alive. A lot of data was lost about Earth during the years before the colonization of space, and the work that historians in Jarra's time do to figure out what was happening in the 21st century is very similar to what historians do today to work out the lifes of people in Ancient Rome. A lot of guesswork, a lot of empathy, and a lot of knowledge about humanity itself.
Another fascinating aspect are Jarra's fellow students. They're from all over the known universe - planets in different stages of settlement, having developed separate cultures, traditions, moral codes. They're linked by a common history on Earth, but that might be irrelevant considering how they behave in the beginning.
Janet Edwards does me the favour of concentrating on all the fascinating things and keeping the annoying ones to a bare minimum. Jarra still loves her favourite actor - indeed compares her classmates and potential partners to him -, there is romance, action and drama, but at the heart of it is a girl with a strong character development and a world you might want to experience if it wouldn't mean seeing the places you love destroyed.
There are a few irritating things - like the ending that leaves a few threads hanging, and the rather longish time it took me to get into it - but none of them are enough to lower the rating for this book in any way. So, it seems my friend was right. And I have to buy my own copy if I want to keep it on my bedside table.
"The Man Who Rained" has been on my wishlist since I've finished The Girl With Glass Feet one and a half years ago. Since then I've reread Ali Smith's"The Man Who Rained" has been on my wishlist since I've finished The Girl With Glass Feet one and a half years ago. Since then I've reread Ali Smith's first book once, and thought about it countless times. I love mystical settings, and I can't begin to tell you how often I was tempted to dry to draw the images that popped up in my head. (Or to go out and take a photograph or two.)
"The Man Who Rained" worked even better for me, and I don't know whether this is because the author's writing got better or because I have an unhealthy obsession with the rain and so feel more at home in Thunderstown. Maybe both.
I loved Elsa because I could relate to her very well. And I loved Finn because he's Finn. I loved the small-town feeling and the weird characters that poped up here and there. I loved the descriptions and metaphors. And, contrary to the weird happenings in "The Girl with Glass Feet", I actually really liked the ending as well.
I can see myself dreaming about this book and its world again, and this alone warrants a spot on my list of favourites. (Also, I just really love the rain.) I highly doubt that there is a humungous amount of people that can't wait to read the next book Ali Smith writes, just because his style is very unique and it might not be for everyone, but I for one am glad to say that I am already anxious....more