The Cockatrice Boys (Joan Aiken)

The Cockatrice Boys is a young adult/children’s novel by Joan Aiken.
Finished on: 10.9.2016

Plot:
The United Kingdom is facing a plague of monsters, called cockatrices, of all shapes and sizes that pretty much overran the entire country. But there are the Cockatrice Corps, an army special unit dedicated to fight the monsters. As they ride the train across the country fighting monsters along the way, they are joined by Dakin as a drummer boy and a little later by his cousin Sauna who seems to have a way of knowing things she couldn’t know and who has spent the last few years tied up at her aunts place so she doesn’t break anything. And maybe those two are just what the Corps needed to finally get ahead in the fight.

The Cockatrice Boys didn’t really convince me, unfortunately. I thought it was often confusing and rarely all that funny. It just left me scratching my head.

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Die Sonne war ein grünes Ei (H.C. Artmann)

Die Sonne war ein grünes Ei. Von der Erschaffung der Welt und ihren Dingen is a collection of fairy tales/myths by H.C. Artmann. The title literally means: The sun was a green egg. Of the creation of the world and its things.
Finished on 5.9.2016

Plot:
The creation of the world as you’ve never seen it before: Maybe the sun really is an egg. Maybe Coffee Mill and Paper Kite are responsible for the creation of living things. Or maybe it was a magician and false prophet. Or…

Artmann created some very fantastic (in the literal sense) and weird stories, but in some ways they are more of the same old, same old – especially with regards to sexism. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the collection for the most part.

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The Fall (Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan)

The Fall is the second novel in The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
Finished on: 1.9.2016
[Here’s my review of The Strain.]

Plot [with SPOILERS for the The Strain]:
The vampires have effectively taken over the world and the Master doesn’t need much more to achieve his goals, supported by billionaire Eldritch Palmer who is still hoping for immortality. In New York, there are only a few pockets of resistance left. One of them is the group surrounding Ephraim and his son Zach, who are both still reeling after Zach’s mother and Ephraim’s ex-wife Kelly was turned into a vampire. Their group further consists of Abraham Setrakian who has been fighting vampires all his life, Nora Martinez, Ephraim’s former colleague at the CDC and Vasily Fet, an exterminator who sees vampires as yet another pest. On their own, they will stand no chance against the vampire threat. But they still have to try.

The Fall couldn’t quite keep up with The Strain, taking a few turns that I didn’t like that much and leaving a couple of things unclear. I still want to know how everything will end, but my enthusiasm has notably cooled.

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Auroras Anlaß [Aurora’s Motive] (Erich Hackl)

Aurora’s Anlaß is the first novel by Erich Hackl. It was translated as Aurora’s Motive and is based on the actual lives of Aurora Rodríguez and her daughter Hildegart Rodríguez.
Finished on: 28.8.2016.

Plot:
One day, Aurora Rodríguez gets up in the morning, takes a gun and shoots her teenaged daughter Hildegart with whom she has always been close. Then she goes to the police to confess. Aurora brought up Hildegart on her own, and she worked extremely hard to groom her into a feminist, critical thinker and political leader – and Hildegart was a highly gifted girl who showed every promise to fufill her mother’s dream. So what could have possibly led her to do what she did?

With Auroras Anlaß, Hackl combines historical research with literary writing and a dash of journalism, telling a fascinating (true) story in an extremely intriguing way.

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Company Town (Madeline Ashby)

Company Town is a novel by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on 25.8.2016.

Plot:
New Arcadia is a city and a huge oil rig off the Canadian coast run by the Lynch Company. Hwa is one of the many residents. She works as a bodyguard for the local escort services and the sex workers’ union. It’s pretty much the only work available to her, on the one hand because she is a martial arts expert, but on the other hand because she doesn’t have any bio-engineered augmentations like everybody else – Hwa has Sturge-Weber Syndrome and was never deemed worthy for investments like this by her mother. Those facts are also what bring her to the attention of the elderly head of the Lynch Company, Jonathan Lynch. His heir Joel is being threatened, so he hires Hwa as a bodyguard for him. Hwa’s loyalties are torn, though, as her former protegées are being murdered most gruesomely and she really needs to figure out what’s going on.

Ashby very much won me over with her previous novels, vN and iD. Company Town isn’t connected to those two, but shares with them a smart and in-depth look at a possible technological and political development from an innovative angle. I loved it.

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The Girl with All the Gifts (M.R. Carey)

The Girl with All the Gifts is a novel by M.R. Carey (aka Mike Carey).
Finished on: 21.8.2016

Plot:
Melanie has a very regular life. She gets up in the morning, gets dressed, sits herself down in her chair and waits to be strapped down by the soldiers lead by Sergeant Parks. When her legs, arms and head are secure, she is rolled to class together with the other children. Her favorite teacher is Miss Justineau who sometimes tells them stories. But her routine is destroyed when she is first carted off by Dr. Caldwell who wants to perform some kind of surgery on her – and then the military base she lives at is overrun by hungries. And suddenly Melanie finds her life turned upside down – and she has to learn the truth about her world and herself.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a wonderful novel. Gripping plot, vivid characters and a take on zombie lore that feels entirely fresh and new. Simply lovely.

carey_thegirlwithallthegifts[SPOILERS]

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Something About You (Julie James)

Something About You is a novel by Julie James, the first in the FBI/US Attorney series, though it can also be read as a standalone.
Finished on: 13.8.2016

Plot:
Cameron Lynde is a successful US Attorney, a career that brought her a lot of work and stress. When she is told that she can’t stay in her apartment due to some construction work, she decides to splurge and rent a room in one of the more expensive hotels in the city. Unfortunately she ends up next door to a room where a politician is having an affair and ends up dead, with Cameron being the only witness. And who else but FBI agent Jack Pallas is assigned to handle the case. He is an excellent agent, but he and Cameron have a history together: the last thing they worked on together made Jack’s career implode almost completely and he is convinced, it’s Cameron’s fault.

Something About You is a fun read and a nice mix of crime novel and romance, but I didn’t fall in love with it.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the first novel in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy by Ransom Riggs.
Finished on: 9.8.2016

Plot:
Jacob has always been very close to his grandfather Abe who told him all kinds of stories of his childhood in an orphanage led by Miss Peregrine, among children that all had very special gifts. Only as Jacob grew older, he stopped believing in those stories. Then his grandfather is attacked and Jacob sees a strange monster that nobody else is able to see. He is unsettled, to say the least and convinces his father to head to Cairnholm, the island where his grandfather’s orphanage was, to find out more about his past and to hopefully be able to separate fact from fiction.

I was really looking forward to reading this. With the old photographs that Riggs actually collected and that served as a starting point for his story, and then as illustrations, the book makes for a gorgeous package. Unfortunately I couldn’t really get into the story.

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Kindred Spirits (Rainbow Rowell)

Kindred Spirits is a novella by Rainbow Rowell.
Finished on: 3.8.2016

Plot:
Elena is a huge Star Wars fan. So when the new film comes out, giving her a chance to see a Star Wars film in the cinema as it is released for the first time, she can barely contain her excitement. And she decides that she wants to queue outside of her local cinema, maybe to prove something to herself and to the world. When she arrives there four days before the film starts, she is the third in line. But other than that, nothing is as she expected. The line just doesn’t grow any longer. So she spends those days with the incessantly talking Troy and the surly Gabe, always worrying about where she could pee. But Elena is determined to see this through.

Kindred Spirits is a fast, incredibly sweet read. Rowell once more manages to create vivid characters with a deep love and respect for fandom. It’s simply lovely.

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Mittelstadtrauschen (Margarita Kinstner)

Mittelstadtrauschen is the first novel by Margarita Kinstner. The title translates approximately to “Medium City Static.”
Finished on: 3.8.2016

Plot:
Marie meets Jakob by chance and the two of them hit it off, despite the fact that Jakob actually has a girlfriend, Sonja and Marie is still very much hung up on her ex, Joe who recently killed himself with a jump into the Danube. Also struggling with Joe’s suicide is his best friend Gery who happens to meet Sonja after Jakob left her. Gery delivers Meals on Wheels and meets Hedi through his job, Jakob’s grandmother and finds an emotional connection with her that he can’t seem to find anywhere else. And everything seems to come back to Joe who has planned something big before his death, something that will impact the lives of those left behind.

Mittelstadtrauschen starts off promising enough, but then doesn’t really keep those promises. I found myself increasingly disbelieving of the story and the characters, and I started hurrying through it just so that I’d have it finished.

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