The Mill on the Floss (George Eliot)

The Mill on the Floss is a novel by George Eliot.
Finished on: 26.11.2017

Plot:
Siblings Tom and Maggie Tulliver grow up in the mill their father owns. But things don’t go too well and their father is indebted and keeps fighting with his creditor, Mr. Wakem, forcing pragmatic, serious Tom to quit school and work at the mill. Meanwhile the more idealistic Maggie becomes friends with Philip Wakem, the son of the creditor. But their friendship cannot stand in the face of the antipathy between families and puts Maggie at odds with Tom. Years later, Philip and Maggie meet again at the house of her friend Lucy Deane. Another guest there is Lucy’s fiancé Stephen Guest who starts to pay more attention to Maggie.

It was a fight for me to get through this book, but by the end it had gripped me and then it frustrated me again with the ending. Nevertheless, it’s well-written enough that I will definitely try another Eliot in the future.

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Big Night Out (Ed. by Jessica Adams, Maggie Alderson, Nick Earls, Imogen Edwards-Jones)

Big Night Out is a collection of short stories, recipes, song lists, illustrations and edited by Jessica Adams, Maggie Alderson, Nick Earls and Imogen Edwards-Jones. It was published to benefit the War Child charity.
Finished on: 25.11.2017

Big Night Out isn’t your typical short story collection. There really is a lot here that isn’t a short story at all, although the biggest part are short stories. I grabbed it for those (well, I grabbed it mostly for Jasper Fforde‘s short story in it), so I mostly skimmed through the other things, even though some very big names contributed various things (INXSSteve Coogan, and Nick Hornby recommending songs? Anthony Stewart Head sharing a cocktail recipe? Joan Collins‘ beauty tips? Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, and Boy George detailing hangover cures? It’s all there). I did feel that the selection was made on the basis of the people in any case and not necessarily for the quality of their content. But hey, it is for charity after all. If you don’t buy it for the stories, but for the good deed, you’ll get what you expect.

After the jump, I will talk about the short stories in the collection separately and you can find the table of contents so you can see what else is in there.

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Song of Susannah (Stephen King)

Song of Susannah is the sixth novel in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
Finished on: 27.10.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
The ka-tet make their way to our world, but they are split up. Susannah, sharing her body with Mia and her baby, heads for New York, and Jake, Father Callahan and Oy follow them, hoping to catch up before the birth. Meanwhile, Eddie and Roland go to Maine to make sure that they get ownership of the lot where the rose grows to keep it safe. But things don’t quite work out the way as planned.

I am not a huge fan of mystical pregnancies, so Song of Susannah was a bit of a drag in that department, but there was also a lot of pretty awesome meta stuff that I absolutely loved.

[SPOILERS]

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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Kate DiCamillo)

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a novel written Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.
Finished on: 14.10.2017

Plot:
Abilene gets a china rabbit from her grandmother as a gift and said rabbit – Edward Tulane – quickly becomes her most treasured possession. So it’s no surprise that the naturally vain Edward becomes even more convinced of his own perfection. But then he falls overboard from the ship Abilene and her family are vacationing on. This is the start of a long and arduous journey for Edward.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a touching book for all ages that doesn’t shortchange any age group. It really is a beautiful read.

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Carry On (Rainbow Rowell)

Carry On is a novel by Rainbow Rowell. It’s – kind of – a spin-off from Fangirl.
Finished on: 14.10.2017

Plot:
Simon Snow is in his final year at the magical school of Watford. Simon is the Chosen One, prophesised to defeat the Insidious Humdrum, an honor Simon could really do without. Especially since his hold on magic is tenuous at best. But together with his best friend Penelope, who has an excellent grasp of magic, Simon is ready to face the world. Even his roommate Baz who Simon is sure is up to no good. Baz really does think more about Simon than he probably should, but it’s not really because his intentions are evil.

Carry On is a quick, fun read and really drew me in, despite a couple of issues I had here and there. It definitely managed to make me smile.

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A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab)

A Gathering of Shadows is the second novel in Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab [aka Victoria Schwab].
Finished on: 10.10.2017
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Plot:
It’s been months since Kell and Lila had to face White London, and things are settling. Lila has gone to be a pirate as she’s always dreamed, while Kell is trying to find his place with the royal family again. But things are tense, having lost the trust of the King and Queen and still having to figure out the changed relationship with Rhy. With the approach of an international magic contest in Red London, it is even more imperative that things start to run smoothly again. But the other Londons still harbor some surprises.

A Gathering of Shadows was a good, quick read, but I did have my problems with it, starting with the magic tournament angle (incredibly overdone) to character development.

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Blasmusikpop oder Wie die Wissenschaft in die Berge kam (Vea Kaiser)

Blasmusikpop oder Wie die Wissenschaft in die Berge kam (literally: Brass Music Pop or How Science Came into the Mountains) is Vea Kaiser‘s first novel.
Finished on: 26.9.2017

Plot:
Johannes Gerlitzen was the first person to leave St. Peter am Anger, a small mountain village, and to return as an academic, a Doctor (even if he had to trick a little to get his qualifications). Now his grandson, also called Johannes, is groomed by him to also go into science. And little Johannes takes that very seriously, although natural sciences are less his cup of tea. The rest of the village doesn’t really understand the Johanneses, and little Johannes doesn’t understand them, either.

I’ve heard many good things about Blasmusikpop and how funny it is, but I struggled with it. It does get better towards the end, but it does take some time until it gets there.

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Wolves of the Calla (Stephen King)

Wolves of the Calla is the fifth novel in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
Finished on: 8.9.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
The ka-tet – Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy – are still on their quest which leads them through Calla Bryn Sturgis when they realize that they are being followed at a distance. It doesn’t take long for their suitors to catch up with them. It turns out that they are locals, joined by Father Callahan who crossed over from New York a long time ago, and they have come to ask the gunslingers for help. But that isn’t everything that they have going on: Additionally, Eddie and Jake travel to New York in their dreams, going to to-dash, which leads them back to the bookstore Jake visited and that seems intimately connected with The Dark Tower.

There were many things about Wolves of the Calla that annoyed me, making this installment of the series one of my least favorite, even if it still managed to pull me in.

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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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