My Madder Fatter Diary (Rae Earl)

My Madder Fatter Diary is the second collection of diary entries Rae Earl wrote as a teenager. It follows the events after My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary.
Finished on: 10.8.2017

Plot:
It’s 1990. Rae has to face her A Levels and figure out what she can and wants to do next. But figuring yourself out is a tall order even when you don’t struggle with your mother, have mental health issues and no proper help with that, when you aren’t fat or in love with the most gorgeous guy on earth. That means that life’s a tall order for Rae, but at least she has the big personality to match it.

My Madder Fatter Diary manages to bring Rae’s story to a nice conclusion (as much as you can bring a life story that doesn’t end in death to a conclusion). It’s a hugely enjoyable and emotional read that I absolutely loved.

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Re-Read: The Loop (Nicholas Evans)

The Loop is a novel by Nicholas Evans. I read the German translation Im Kreis des Wolfes by Bernhard Robben.
Finished on: 5.8.2017

Plot:
Hope, Montana is shaken – the wolves have returned to the woods around town, and the first cattle has been taken. Unofficial town leader Buck Calder will not have it – he just wants those wolves gone. But there are species protection laws and the local specialists send for Helen Ross, a biologist specialized in wolves, to try and figure things out. Helen is in need of a change of scenery and jumps at the chance, clashing pretty much immediately with Calder, but finding an unexpected ally in Calder’s young son Luke.

I read The Loop when I was a teenager (after having loved Evans’ The Horse Whisperer) and was very much taken with it back then. Reading it about 15 years later, it doesn’t quite hold up to my fond memories of it, but it is a decent read.

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The Wind Through the Keyhole (Stephen King)

The Wind Through the Keyhole is an extra novel in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King that is set between the fourth – Wizard and Glass – and the fifth novel – Wolves of the Calla without actually advancing the major plot. It was also written after the seven actual novels of the series were finished.
Finished on: 28.7.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
The ka-tet Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy get trapped in a storm, a starkblast. As they wait it out, Roland tells them the story of when he and Jaime De Curry were sent west to Debaria as young men to investigate the claims of a town that a shapeshifter is terrorizing them. In Debaria Roland finds that the only person who might be able to identify the shapeshifter is a young boy, Bill. They, too, have to wait for a bit, so Roland tells Bill a story he heard in his own childhood, of Tim Ross and his magical quest to avenge his father.

I liked this interlude that provides us with yet another look at Roland’s youth. In fact, it might be one of my favorites of the series – although mostly for the story within the story within the story that was a beautiful fairy tale.

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My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary (Rae Earl)

My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary (renamed after the TV show to My Mad Fat Diary) is a collection of diary entries Rae Earl wrote as a teenager.
Finished on: 17.7.2017

Plot:
It’s the 80s. Rae is 17, mad about boys and music and lives with her mother in a council house. She’s also struggling. The relationship with her mother is strained, but that’s the least of her problems. Rae is fat which makes her incredibly insecure and she also has mental health issues that make her life even more difficult. But she’s also funny, smart and there are the boys in her neighborhood to obsess about.

I watched the TV show based on this book (and its sequel) and fell in love with it pretty immediately. And now that I finally picked up the book, I loved it, too.

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Wizard and Glass (Stephen King)

Wizard and Glass is the fourth novel in the The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
Finished on: 11.7.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah and Oy manage to defeat Blaine and arrive at the Topeka railway station, Kansas. Only it’s not the Kansas of Jake’s, Eddie’s and Susannah’s world. Something awful has happened here. As they leave the city, they come close to something Roland calls a “thinny”, an eerie hole in the dimensional fabric. As they camp for the night, Roland tells them the story of where he encountered a thinny for the first time, which is also the story of his first big love, Susan Delgado.

Most of Wizard and Glass is spent in Roland’s past, a “detour” from the quest I very much enjoyed, even though I had some issues here and there with a couple of things.

[SPOILERS]

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Ash (Malinda Lo)

Ash is a novel by Malinda Lo, a retelling of Cinderella.
Finished on: 23.6.2017

Plot:
After her mother’s death, Ash and her father were very close until he brought home a new wife. When he died shortly thereafter, and Ash was left alone with her stepmother, things turned for the worst. Now, with a stepmother prone to violent outbursts, the only solace Ash can find is in the fairy tale books she reads. It’s no surprise that she starts to wish, fairies would come and take her away. What is more surprising is that an actual fairy prince, Sidhean, seems to hear her wishes and comes to bring Ash some solace. But then she meets Kaisa, a beautiful, strong huntress, and her wishes start changing.

Ash is a beautiful, queer retelling of Cinderella with the dangerous kind of fairies – what’s not to love about that? I don’t know, because I sure did.

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The Tombs of Atuan (Ursula K. Le Guin)

The Tombs of Atuan is the second of the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Finished on: 21.6.2017
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Plot:
Tenar is the high priestess to the Nameless Ones who guard the Tombs of Atuan. She’s been chosen as a child for her role, renamed Arha and she’s always tried to do her best, even when her duties involved ordering the killing of prisoners. But one night, she finds a man, the wizard Ged, in the labyrinth under the tombs and traps him there. But she can’t bring herself to do her duty and let him starve. Instead they start to talk and Tenar starts to question the way things are for her.

The first of the Earthsea novels wasn’t really my cup of tea, and it was the second book of Le Guin’s that I didn’t click with, so it took me a while to get around to this novel. And much to my surprise, I actually … liked it.

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Der junge Herr Justus (Marie Louise Fischer)

Der junge Herr Justus is the first novel in the Weigand Saga by Marie Louise Fischer.
Finished on: 17.6.2017

Plot:
Justus is a medical student in Berlin and he takes his studies very seriously indeed. That is why he didn’t have time yet to meet his cousin Clementine who works as a maid in Berlin. To be fair, he’s also not particularly interested in meeting her and be reminded of their small town roots. But on New Year’s Eve 1899/1900, they have a date. Clementine is incredibly excited, having always hoped that Justus will want to continue the puppy love they experienced as kids. But things don’t quite work out that way. Not only is there a child – born out of wedlock to Clementine’s colleague Rosa – that Justus claims as his own, but Justus also meets the beautiful and rich Stephanie von Stucken and falls for her.

While the book touches on many issues that would have been interesting to read about, it is more interested in sensationalist twists and turns rather than a thoughtful approach.

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The Vegetarian (Han Kang)

The Vegetarian is a novel by Han Kang. It’s based on her own short story The Fruit of my Woman. I read the translation to English by Deborah Smith.
Finished on: 8.6.2017

Plot:
Mr. Cheong has been married for Yeong-hye for several years, leading a quiet, unremarkable life, which is just the way he wants it. But that changes rather drastically when, after a series of bloody dreams, Yeong-hye suddenly decides to stop eating meat. This decision singles Yeong-hye out and with it comes a distance from her family and deep discomfort for Cheong, who just wants things to be normal.

The Vegetarian is a very interesting book that works on many levels, except – at least for me – on the emotional one. Even as I appreciated the novel on an intellectual level, I remained at a curious distance, never really feeling the impact of events.

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Iron Council (China Miéville)

Iron Council is the third novel in the Bas-Lag series by China Miéville.
Finished on: 4.6.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other books.]

Plot:
Cutter knows he has to find the Iron Council, the perpetually moving train full of rebels and dissenters who fled New Crobuzon. Among those rebels is Judah, who Cutter used to be very close to. And now Cutter has gained knowledge that the New Crobuzon militia is ready to strike against the Iron Council. Meanwhile in New Crobuzon itself, things are brewing, too, and Ori knows he wants to have a part in it, a hopefully very active part.

As usual with Miéville, Iron Council takes work to read and it takes a little time to get into this. But it’s worth it to stick with it, as Miéville gives us not only a wonderfully intricate world and complex characters, but also an awesome political slant.

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