Hommage à Bournonville (Peter Høeg)

Hommage à Bournonville collects two short stories by Peter Høeg that were originally published in the collection Fortællinger om natten. Those stories are Traveling into a Dark Heart [my translation of the German title] and the titular Hommage à Bournonville. I read the translation from Danish into German by Monika Wesemann.
Finished on: 5.12.2016

Both stories take place on the same night – March 19, 1929 – but in very different circumstances and places. Both were written beautifully, but I had my problems with both, especially Hommage that I pretty much hated.

After the jump, I’ll talk about both stories individually.

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Re-Read: Coraline (Neil Gaiman)

Coraline is a children’s novel by Neil Gaiman. My edition comes with illustrations by Dave McKean.
Finished on: 23.11.2016
[Here’s my first “review”.] [Here’s my review of the movie adaptation.]

Plot:
Coraline Jones moves with her parents to a new house. Her parents are always busy so Coraline is left to explore things alone. One day she discovers a hidden door in her house and when she goes through, she meets her Other Mother, who is everything a child could hope for and more. But her Other Mother has buttons for her eyes. She wants Coraline to stay, but for that, Coraline will need to give up her eyes as well.

I did a small analysis of Coraline (book and movie version) for uni, so I re-read and re-watched both. And I really enjoyed reading the book again, even though I look at some things more critically now than when I read it the first time.

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Leben ohne Geheimnis [Falling Star] (Vicki Baum)

Leben ohne Geheimnis [translated as Falling Star, literally: Life Without Secrets] is a novel by Vicki Baum.
Finished on 16.11.2016

Plot:
Oliver Dent is a Hollywood star who has just reached the height of his career, mostly because he’s just that good-looking. He meets Donka Morescu, an actress who used to be one of the greats in the silent film era, but was dropped with the rise of sound film because her accent is simply too strong. Oliver and Donka fall very much in love, while Oliver’s friend Aldens, a German, starts dating Francis who dreams of fame and Oliver. But in a world where every action is up for scrutiny by the press and every emotion is tainted by movies, living love can be very difficult indeed.

Leben ohne Geheimnis isn’t a completely bad book, but I liked the idea of this story and the characters in it more than I liked the actual story and characters.

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Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon (Jane Austen)

Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon are works of Jane Austen, the latter two of which remain unfinished.
Finished [reading, not the fragments ;)] on: 26.10.2016

Jane Austen is great, whether in fragments or finished. I very much enjoyed reading all three of the story (parts), although I’m actually happy that Sanditon remained a fragment because I would have different plans for the characters than Austen most likely intended and this way, the path is free for me to imagine it all. In any case, if you enjoy her finished and polished novels, it’s definitely worth checking out her other works as well.

After the jump, I’ll talk about each work separately.

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Night Shift (Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin, Milla Vane)

Night Shift is a paranormal novella anthology with works by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin and Milla Vane [aka Meljean Brook].
Finished on: 17.10.2016

As an avid reader of Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, I had to grab this anthology, of course, even though I’m not familiar with the other series that were featured with novellas here. The resulting collection and my reading experiences were pretty mixed. It’s a quick read in any case.

After the jump I’ll talk about the four novellas separately.

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A Darker Shade of Magic (V.E. Schwab)

A Darker Shade of Magic is the first book in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab [aka Victoria Schwab].
Finished on: 12.10.2016

Plot:
Kell is one of the last people who is able to cross between the Londons – Red London, where he is from, is a place where magic is harmoniously built into life; Grey London doesn’t have any magic; White London is constantly under new and bloody leadership and bleeds magic in this fight; Black London has long been lost and can’t be accessed anymore. Kell is supposed to be an ambassador between the worlds, but he has a sidebusiness smuggling artefacts between the worlds. But when he finds a mysterious artefact that may or may not be from Black London, Kell is quickly in deep trouble. Especially when he meets Lila, a thief in Grey London who senses that there’s more to Kell than just a purse and is set on going on an adventure with him.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a nice, quick read that I enjoyed, although I didn’t absolutely loved it. I wouldn’t have minded if there had been only one book and not an entire series (even despite the unfinished business in this one), but since there is a series, I guess I’ll read the rest as well.

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The Drawing of the Three (Stephen King)

The Drawing of the Three is the second novel in the The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. [Here’s my review of the first one, The Gunslinger.]
Finished on: 7.10.2016

Plot:
After the encounter with the Man in Black, Roland wakes on a beach, the Man in Black’s tarot reading of his fate still ringing in his ear. Before Roland can get his bearings, he is attacked and injured by lobstrosities. In an increasingly weakened state, he starts to move along the beach in search of the Three that were announced to him as his partners. It’s then that he stumbles upon a door that stands on its own on the beach. When Roland opens it, he is transported to another world, New York City, which is deeply connected to his own.

The Drawing of the Three is an exciting read that left me wanting more (fortunately there is more), although there were also things I didn’t exactly like about it.

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Tschick (Wolfgang Herrndorf)

Tschick [literally a slang word for cigarette, at least in Austria; in this case the name of a character] is a novel by Wolfgang Herrndorf.
Finished on: 6.10.2016

Plot:
14 year old Maik is one of those kids who don’t really register and when he does, he’s perceived as weird. Like when he read that homework about his mother and her alcoholism, leading to absolute incomprehension from teacher and students alike. His class mate Tschick on the other hand registers everywhere, despite – or maybe because – rarely showing up in school, and when he does, he’s often drunk. When Maik and Tschick are the only people not invited to the birthday party of popular girl Tanja, Tschick kind of adopts Maik. And even though Maik is uncomfortable at first, when Tschick shows up with an old car and invites Maik to go on an adventure, Maik doesn’t have to think long about the empty summer ahead of him to agree to go along.

Tschick is a nice, quick read with a cool story. I don’t know exactly why it got as popular as it is, but it’s fun to read in any case.

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Dog Boy (Eva Hornung)

Dog Boy is a novel by Eva Hornung (aka Eva Sallis).
Finished on: 23.9.2016

Plot:
When Romochka is four years old, he finds himself all alone and hungry, his mother doesn’t seem to be coming back to him. As he wanders through the streets of Moscow, he sees a dog and starts to follow it. The dog leads him home to its den where it lives with its puppies and their pack. It soon transforms into a second mother for Romochka, and Romochka himself transforms as well as he adapts to his life as a dog.

Dog Boy captures realistically how a child growing up with a wild pack of dogs could play out and packages that into an intriguing story with a strong first half and a weaker second half.

[Slight Spoilers]

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Fingersmith (Sarah Waters)

Fingersmith is a novel by Sarah Waters.
Finished on: 17.9.2016

Plot:
Sue lives with her adoptive family who ply their trade as thieves and with various cons. When a regular collaborator with them, Richard Rivers, called the Gentleman suggests a new con, Sue suddenly finds herself training to become a maid to the rich Maud Lilly. Maud lives in a remote estate, Briar, with her uncle Christopher Lilly, an avid book collector. Gentleman was a guest of theirs and saw the perfect opportunity: he would marry Maud and then get rid of her, but keep her money. All he needs is a confidante who makes sure that Maud makes the right decisions. And so Sue travels to Briar to make sure their plan goes off without a hitch.

Fingersmith was an absolutely fantastic read. Vivid characters, perfect setting, one of the best plot twists in the history of plot twists and a whole lot of feminism. What more could you possibly ask for?

waters_fingersmith

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